Australasian educational technology: it's a wide open road. Papers from and inspired by ICICTE 2007

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Campus-Wide Information Systems

ISSN: 1065-0741

Article publication date: 28 March 2008

Citation

Fernstrom, K., Henderson, M., O'Grady, B. and Shurville, S. (2008), "Australasian educational technology: it's a wide open road. Papers from and inspired by ICICTE 2007", Campus-Wide Information Systems, Vol. 25 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/cwis.2008.16525baa.001

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Australasian educational technology: it's a wide open road. Papers from and inspired by ICICTE 2007

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Campus-Wide Information Systems, Volume 25, Issue 2.

Australasian educational technology: it’s a wide open road. Papers from and inspired by ICICTE 2007

Welcome to our annual special issue featuring papers presented at the International Conference on Information and Communications Technology in Education (ICICTE). ICICTE addresses the many challenges and new directions presented by technological innovations in educational settings. Each year academic and professional participants at ICICTE gain an excellent overview of current thinking and practices in applications of technology to education. This was exemplified in 2007 by our keynote speaker Professor Rob Koper of the Open University of The Netherlands, who gave an overview the 10,000,000 pan European TenCompetence project (see Stefanov and Koper, 2007):

The aim of the project is to build a European Network for Lifelong Competence Development by establishing a technical and organizational infrastructure for lifelong competence development. The infrastructure will use open-source, standards-based, sustainable and innovative technology to support the lifelong development of competences by any citizen, team or organization (TenCompetence, 2007).

Although TenCompetence is a European Union funded project, it is important that contributions from the accession countries and beyond Europe have been included in the research and dissemination agenda. For example Richards et al. (2007) have contributed work undertaken in Canada. Such cosmopolitanism shows that the educational technology community is taking strides towards the internationalist goals set by Papandreou at ICICTE in 2006 and practical steps toward global interoperability.

Informal discussions of Koper’s keynote throughout the conference noted that TenCompetence seems to be as concerned with fostering international networks as it is about pioneering new educational technologies. Such multi-cultural activity is also a hallmark of ICICTE. While the conferences are based in Greece, they are co-organized between local universities and the University College of the Fraser Valley in Canada. Throughout the conference delegates can find themselves networking with colleagues from all five continents. Conspicuously, despite the travel costs, Australasian delegates have loyally attended year after year; making sizable contributions to the both academic and social life of the conference. Indeed, it is fair to say that ICICTE just would not be ICICTE without them. So the organizers thought it appropriate to acknowledge the dedication of the Australasian contingent by selecting papers from the 2007 event that offer overseas readers a snapshot of current developments in Australasian e-learning and flexible education. This is a timely decision as Australasian institutions have made considerable inroads into Asian higher education and are now turning their gaze towards China. As a forthcoming themed issue of this journal will attest, the Chinese market for e-learning is set to grow considerably and China’s choice of platforms and partners could decisively affect international standards and technologies. With its new Mandarin speaking prime minister taking a public interest in educational technology, Australia is particularly well positioned to enter this emerging market. Competitors and potential collaborators are therefore advised to follow developments in Australasian e-learning closely.

In our first paper, “Educational and institutional flexibility of Australian educational software” Simon Shurville of the University of South Australia and Barry O’Grady and Peter Mayall of Curtin University of Technology set the scene by describing Australia’s rich history of distance and open learning. Having shown that Australia’s educational history has helped to establish a highly flexible and transnational higher educational sector, they hypothesize that it has also shaped an entrepreneurial culture where educational and institutional flexibility are characteristics of Australian educational software. To illustrate the point they investigate three products Harvest Road Hive, LAMS and Moodle and show how each integrates educational and institutional flexibility into well engineered and supported software. While Shurville et al. note that Australia has yet to produce a Web 2.0 market leader they suggest that strong fundamental research into Web 2.0 within Australian higher education bodes well for a second generation of successful educational software products. They also note that barriers remain before flexible education can be fully embedded in Australia and observe that careful change management will be needed to reduce them. Fortunately, Australian academic and professional staff are providing excellent contributions to the literature of change management in higher education (see Rossiter, 2007; Scott et al., 2007; Kelly, 2008). These twin themes are explored in the remaining four papers that comprise this issue.

Our second and third papers both focus on Web 2.0 in context of professional development of faculty. In “Shaping online teaching practices: the influence of professional and academic identities”, by Michael Henderson of Monash University and Scott Bradey of James Cook University is particularly interesting as it investigates the impact of constructionist philosophies and Web 2.0 technologies on teachers rather than learners. Henderson and Bradey work from the premise that lecturers’ online teaching practices are mediated by their continually negotiated identities as members of multiple communities of practice. Their research, which draws on qualitative data from a longitudinal study of five professional degree academics, found that teaching via Web 2.0 technologies can help academics to manage the integrity of their conflicting identities as educators, professional practitioners and institutional employees. This theme is explored further by Henk Eijkman of The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy in his paper “Web 2.0 as a non-foundational network-centric learning space”. Eijkman examines why certain faculty are sceptical of ideas and technologies that reverse the traditional loci of control of authority and knowledge and hence resist embracing Web 2.0 in their praxis. Eijkman suggests that academic developers and indeed all teaching academics need to grasp this non-foundational (Rorty, 1980) nettle lest the potential benefits of Web 2.0 are lost. Eijkman’s paper is notable because it explores fundamental issues in the philosophy of educational technology within a concrete case study of Wikipedia, a practical tool which is used by learners every day whether of not we acknowledge it. Eijkman demonstrates that the non-foundational horse has already bolted and faculty will need the spirit of Phar Lap (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phar_Lap) to catch it!

Our final brace of papers address the issues of embedding high quality technologies and practices for e-learning and flexible education at institutional and national levels. In her paper “A collaborative process for evaluating new educational technologies”, Greta Kelly of The University of Queensland provides a methodology/case study exemplifying a participative and collaborative process for evaluating, piloting and selecting, new and emerging educational technologies. Such work is important because, as Kelly argues, educational technologies are evolving rapidly with concomitant increases in license costs. So institutions are advised to employ evaluation techniques that have been developed and debugged in higher educational contexts to select educational technologies that are fit for purpose. In “Coordinated, collaborative and coherent: developing and implementing e-learning guidelines within a national tertiary education system”, Gordon Suddaby and John Milne of Massey University describe two complementary initiatives focused on developing and implementing e-learning guidelines to support good pedagogy in e-learning practice for the New Zealand tertiary sector. The paper is particularly practical because in addition to considering the pedagogic impact of guidelines based on best practice, it also acknowledges that institutions require an incentives to execute guidelines including they also external motivation, support, and resources. The authors note that “processes will be provided by which participating institutions will be able to monitor the effect and outcomes of the guidelines on the delivery of their teaching and learning and have the opportunity to share the experiences and expertise gained.” (Suddaby and Milne, 2008), which is an excellent example of community of practice in action. Suddaby and Milne’s paper should interest international policy makers, especially of nations that are relatively late adopters of coherent e-learning practice. These papers illustrate how educational technology researchers are gaining recognition at institutional and national levels across Australasia and hence access to policy making. We hope that local and national policy will continue to be enhanced by evidence based research displaying the professionalism and imagination of these authors. If so, then in the words of a popular local song, it will be a wide-open road for Australasian educational technology.

The 2008 ICICTE will be held in Corfu (see www.icicte.org/index.htm). Proceedings will be opened with a keynote from Professor Gilly Salmon, whose influential research has focused upon e-moderating and change management in higher education. Presentations will address subjects ranging from institutional and national responses to technological change through emerging technologies to the use of technology in education to promote democratic ideals, freedom and equality. The closing ceremonies will include the presentation of the UCFV Graduate Student Paper Prize, which we will offer to publish in this journal. We look forward to presenting key papers from the conference in next year’s special issue of Campus-Wide Information Systems.

AcknowledgementsThe authors would like to thank Nicole Levinsky (ICICTE registrar), Professor or Mallia (ICICTE web master), Nancy Pyrini (ICICTE director) as well as all members of the publications and promotions, scientific and steering committees. It would be a narrow road without you.

ReferencesPapandreou, G.A. (2006), “Information and communications technologies: from learning and education to their use in practice”, in Fernstrom, K. and Tsolakidis, K. (Eds), Readings in Technology in Education: Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Communications Technologies in Education 2006, 6-8 July 2006 Rhodes, UCFV Press, Abbotsford, BC, pp. 37 Richards, G., Donkers, P., Hatala, M. and Dufresne, A. (2007), “The validation and brokering of competence: issues of trust and technology”, Interactive Learning Environments, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 10716 Rorty, R. (1980), Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ Rossiter, D. (2007), “Whither e-learning? Conceptions of change and innovation in higher education”, Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 93107 Scott, K., Mahoney, M. and Peat, M. (2007), “Investigating impacts of e-learning projects: do they improve collaborative teaching developments?”, available at: www.aare.edu.au/07pap/07abs.htm (accessed 25 December)Stefanov, K. and Koper, R. (Eds) (2007), “Special issue on learning networks for lifelong competence development”, Interactive Learning Environments, Vol. 15 No. 2 TenCompetence (2007), “TENCompetence frequently asked questions”, available at: www.tencompetence.org/node/123/ (accessed 25 December)

About the authors

Ken Fernstrom teaches communications at the University College of the Fraser Valley in Canada. He is the conference chair of ICICTE and a member of the editorial board of Campus-Wide Information Systems. This is his third special issue of this journal. Ken shares a cabin with a 33 kg Siberian Husky called Flax and music by Louis Armstrong, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus and Muddy Waters.

Michael Henderson is a lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne. He lectures in postgraduate studies in technology in education and both researches and consults in the fields of community of practice, teachers’ professional development, new educational technologies and online teaching and learning. His current research focuses on the nexus of teaching/learning, identity construction and computer mediated social interaction, such as experienced in web 2.0 and multi-user virtual environments.

Barry O’Grady is a lecturer in finance at Curtin University of Technology where he researches derivative securities, accounting issues, market microstructure and corporate finance as well as educational technology. Barry is the co-author of the popular textbook Corporate Financial Management and a keen sailor on the Swan River.

Simon Shurville CITP, FBCS, FHEA is a senior lecturer in information systems at the University of South Australia and assistant editor of Campus-Wide Information Systems. Simon is currently interested in change management in higher education, learner generated contexts and the philosophy of educational technology. He recently co-edited a special issue of Organisational Transformation and Social Change on “ICT-driven change in higher education” with Dr Tom Browne of the University of Exeter. Simon maintains an educational technology blog at http://simonshurville.blogspot.com/ and compares James Halliday’s reviews against reality whenever practicable.

Ken FernstromUniversity College of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMichael HendersonMonash University, Melbourne, AustraliaBarry O’GradyCurtin University of Technology, Perth, AustraliaSimon ShurvilleUniversity of South Australia, Australia