Ex-senator for church post. We’re told Michael Tate — former ALP senator, Hawke minister and ambassador turned Catholic priest — is being mentioned as the successor to Archbishop Doyle of Hobart. Archbishop Doyle has resigned and his resignation has been accepted. One church insider notes: “Tate, who is currently Parish Priest of Sandy Bay in Hobart, is familiar with the ways and operations of the Vatican as he was our ambassador to the Holy See for three years in the 1990s.”

CAE, TAFE merger in Melbourne. Victoria’s Higher Education and Skills Minister Denise O’Brien has confirmed what we told you yesterday — the Centre for Adult Education will merge with Box Hill TAFE. You read it here first.

Teaching cuts at Uni of Adelaide. The University of Adelaide is cutting two weeks of teaching for undergraduate students in the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty. The email below is from the dean and vice-chancellor. As one university insider tells us: “When he says that students will be offered student consultation as a replacement, this practice is being forced on casual tutors with no remuneration. Basically they just saved themselves a whole lot of cash (well not that much because tutors don’t get paid a substantial amount) by cutting teaching to students. HECS fees have not dropped.”

From: Jenny Dorsett
Date: 7 September 2011 4:41:53 PM ACST
To: ‘HUMSS Undergraduates Voluntary
Cc: HUMSS All Staff Voluntary

Dear students

The University of Adelaide is committed to ensuring an outstanding learning experience for all students. As a leading research-intensive university, we are in a unique position to offer our students an academic environment enriched with world-class staff and a flexible teaching framework to ensure students gain the most from their courses.

Reforming the learning and teaching agenda

Today’s students view information in a different way and are adept at acquiring it from a variety of sources. The learning and teaching paradigm must shift in response.

Being student-focused and co-creating the learning experience with, and for our students, is an important philosophy which the University of Adelaide is embracing. In practical terms it means offering a variety of means of delivery for course content — from face to face or small group consultation, to online learning or collaborative problem-solving.

Flexible and customised learning is the key for each student in each discipline. While sometimes a tutorial may be the optimal approach; in other cases it won’t necessarily produce the best learning outcome. Forcing a learning experience into a standard and at times constrained format of 2+1 (2 weekly lectures and 1 tutorial) per semester may not always be ideal.

Less teaching does not necessarily mean less learning

Structured learning can and does occur without a teacher present. In fact, this kind of learning builds essential graduate attributes such as resilience, self motivation and time management. Peer review and feedback, self assessment and group projects are all strong examples of activities that support the view that less teaching may be more beneficial to better learning outcomes.

Regarding the recent changes to tutorials in some HUMSS courses, in each instance, they have been replaced with of student consultation time with tutors and lecturers that is more structured and focussed around assessment periods.

Consultation and evaluation

We are keen to work with students on the evolution of teaching and learning at Adelaide, and in particular, in evaluating the changes mentioned above. In the first instance, you are encouraged to indicate an interest in participating in a range of consultation reference groups, around the following themes:

  • online learning
  • assessment
  • experiential learning and internships
  • study abroad and the internationalisation issue more generally
  • use and leverage of the Learning Hub, including developing a code of conduct and ensuring that it is a place of welcome and belonging for all.

On each of these issues, there is no pre-determined outcome. The University is open to change, even if it means we consider changing structures or methodologies that have been in place for some time.

Nonetheless, as with all other areas of the University, we must operate within responsible organisational parameters including human and financial resources, physical space, minimum contact hours and curriculum and assessment rigour. This must be taken into consideration with the clear intent to ensure better learning outcomes and an improved student experience.

We look forward to meeting you soon as we develop this exciting new learning and teaching approach for the University of Adelaide

Best regards

Professor Pascale Quester
Professor Nick Harvey

Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Executive Dean, Faculty
and Vice-President (Academic)
of Humanities and Social Sciences