2016 CamTESOL Conference
The 13th Annual CamTESOL Conference on English Language Teaching was held on February 18th and 19th in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. CamTESOL is recognised as the premier professional development conference in the Asia Pacific region with an average audience of 1,700 attending annually. This year, the Language Centre sent four representatives to the conference; namely Jacky Worsdell, Sue Hodgson, Helen Askie and Lee Richards. Jacky, Sue, Helen and Lee all presented at the conference and their colleagues look forward to the opportunity to share in their learnings from this valuable experience upon their return. The theme for next year’s conference has already been announced, with details available at www.camtesol.org
Micro-PDs at the Callaghan Language Centre
February saw the launch of a new PD initiative at the Callaghan Language Centre in the form of the Micro-PD pilot program. Micro-PDs aim to offer enjoyable bite-sized 30 minute PD sessions at the Callaghan Language Centre between 11:15 and 11:45 a couple of times per block. The first session was held on the 16th of February by Program Convenor Ben Doran on the topic of Peer Observation of Teaching. Upcoming sessions include Adam Connor’s OK Computer: Using Quizlet in the Classroom (28/02) and Sue Hodgson’s Lively Up your Reading Lessons (23/03). Colleagues interested in attending or delivering a session are welcome to contact Language Centre Program Convenor Ben Doran via email: Ben.Doran@newcastle.edu.au
UON Volunteers has created a centralized portal for all volunteering opportunities at the university:
ELICOS students can sign-up to volunteer and work at events UON central organizes, or register their interest in participating in activities at the Language Centre facilitated by volunteers.
Meet and Greet
The Language Centre’s Student Engagement Program welcomed around 24 volunteers for the Block 2 “Meet and Greet” which was held on February 9th. 17 of these students were from UON central, while 7 of them were returning or continuing ELICOS students. Meet and Greet is an important component of the Language Centre’s Orientation program and provides newly arrived ELICOS students with an opportunity to interact with both local UON students, and experienced ELICOS students from their very first day. SEP coordinator Anne Burnett noted that a visiting Japanese professor was so impressed with the uniformed UON central volunteers that she requested a group photo.
Kitakyushu University Students
Students from Kitakyushu University arrived on Monday and will be studying at the Language Centre for a month-long intensive English Language course and will also participate in 22.5 hours of work experience. Throughout February, Saturdays will be packed full of volunteer opportunities, with Kitakyushu students paired up with UON central volunteers heading out to different locations around Newcastle. Activities include Tree Planting at Dixon Park with Trees of Newcastle, a trip to the Hunter Wetlands, and an ECO-Tour of Newcastle taking in all of the city’s famous tourist destinations.
For Your Diary
ROAC - Recognition of Attainment Ceremony at Callaghan Campus
Date: 27 April 6pm
Venue: The Great Hall
In the week beginning 13 February, the Centre hosted a series of Orientation events for our commencing on campus Newstep, Open Foundation and Yapug students.
At Callaghan, Yapug students were welcomed on 15 February at Birabahn by the Title Leah Armstrong, our Director and Program Convenor, Dr Sharlene Leroy-Dyer. Former students Taylor Dylan and James, helped set our new students at ease.
The Open Foundation online students commenced there Week Zero activities on Tuesday 21 February.
Open Foundation Online Week Zero
Week Zero—Open Foundation Online Orientation
Week Zero is the award-winning online orientation program for students entering Open Foundation Online. The program introduces students to online study using a scaffolded approach sequenced to align with the processes, systems and learning opportunities students will encounter as they enter their courses of study.
After comprehensive external and internal reviews of Week Zero in 2016 which involved input from all staff working with Open Foundation Online, some exciting changes were implemented this year with new resources incorporated to enhance students’ experience.
One of these resources, implemented by Michele Mackay, was an interactive map upon which students ‘pinned’ their geographical location and introduced themselves. We hope that by situating themselves geographically and visually, students will begin to feel part of an online learning community.
During Week Zero students begin community building by socialising in the online Coffee Shop (discussion board), asking questions and helping each other out. This discussion board is moderated by our SLO, Holly Dillon, and where relevant other members of our Study Smart Team. With the growth in student enrolments in the online program this year, the activity in the Coffee Shop was lively which we hope will continue as students make their way into their courses and their Open Foundation Online study.
Retirement: Rosalie Bunn
At Ourimbah on 24 February, colleagues wished Rosalie Bunn a long and happy retirement. Rosalie started at UON as a tutor in Sociology from 1992-6 and worked as an ITAS tutor for a number of years. Rosalie began her teaching with ELFS in 1996, teaching intensive Social Enquiry, and soon after, she taught in the part time Social Enquiry course at Callaghan as well as teaching Culture and Society in Newstep from the early 2000s to about 2009. Rosalie also juggled teaching in our intensive program at Ourimbah from 1998. In 2010, Rosalie was among the first tranche of staff appointed to permanent positions in the Centre. Rosalie was very versatile as she also did a bit of casual primary teaching in the 1990s and 2 semesters as a teacher-librarian in 2003.
Rosalie has a number of passions besides Gil and her family. She is passionate about the Open Foundation Program and the students in the program. Rosalie is loved and admired by her students and many a time students relayed to me how as a passionate teacher she had helped to transform their lives. Having been an Open Foundation student herself, Rosalie fully understood the challenges our enabling students faced. The recent awarding of the ELFS Teaching and Learning Award (enabling) is testament to her great teaching skills. Rosalie kept the management of the Centre informed about what successes our former students attained, she had an encyclopaedic memory of students and if ever we were looking for special speakers for ROAC we invariably went to Rosalie for advice. We are all looking forward to Rosalie's completion of her PhD (so is Rosalie!) which will be an invaluable contribution to the history of Open Foundation and we hope will also be basis of a book on the Open Foundation program.
She is also passionate about the Ourimbah campus and the Central Coast, and is regularly invited to make presentations about our programs and her research. On the campus itself, she is highly regarded across all faculties and is a great ELFS ambassador. She is also a passionate NTEU person; serving on the NTEU Branch committee for 16 years, eight as Secretary, as well as State Division and National Councillor for a number fo years, and a Newcastle Trades Hall Council delegate for over 10 years. This commitment was recognised by the awarding of a Lifetime Membership of the NTEU.
One of Rosalie's recent highlights was attendance at the FACE Conference in Belfast, and she is hoping to have her refereed paper included in their book of conference proceedings.
Foundation Studies Staff PD Days
Excellence in Enabling Teaching and Research
The theme of the February teaching and learning professional development days was ‘Excellence in Enabling Education’ and we once again challenged ourselves to continue to improve our teaching, as well as to promote what we have already learnt about supporting students within an enabling philosophy and pedagogy. The Teaching and Learning PD Day on 22 February included a number of interesting presentations, activities and resources. It was particularly exciting to hold the day at Ourimbah campus, which allowed the Callaghan staff to get away from it all and focus on the activities and us all to enjoy the beautiful environment on the Central Coast. Thanks are due to Joyleen Christensen and rest of the Ourimbah team. Huge thanks also to Elizabeth Bridges who travelled down the day before to set up the rooms.
After our Director Seamus Fagan welcomed us all to the day, we listened to a presentation by Rosalie Bunn that reminded us all of why we are here. Through the narratives of previous staff and students, Rosalie explained what excellence in teaching constitutes in an enabling context. It would be impossible to summarise Rosalie’s insights in this article, but the presentation is available on Echo Centre on the Foundation Studies teacher’s Blackboard site as are all the presentations described in the following paragraph.
Our next group of presentations demonstrated different aspects of excellence in teaching related to the way in which we communicate with students, scaffold learning and engage the students. Megan Sharpe talked about the power of language and how even the pronouns we use can affect whether non-binary/genderqueer students feel safer or otherwise in our classes. Dave Thompson showed us how Memory Aids can be used in an enabling pedagogy to help students to learn. Evonne Irwin, Stephen Allen and Paul Chojenta then spoke of the Blended Learning Pilot and showed the different ways in which blended learning can be productively used in diverse disciplines. Paul’s presentation included creative use of film to teach students in a flipped classroom model, while Stephen’s model helped students to think of Mathematics as a Language, inducting them into the Maths way of thinking using blog postings. Foundation Studies staff are encouraged to speak to Evonne about participating in the next stage of the project.
Finally, Michelle Picard discussed the importance of evaluating teaching and working towards a collaborative culture of positive peer review with the aim of assuring quality, while building staff buy-in. The value of course and peer review in general and models of peer review were discussed as well as how we had adapted our course review plans after the pilot to better suit the needs of our staff, but also to follow best practice in peer review. The updated Course Review documents and list of course review dates are in the Course Review/Renewal tab on the Foundation Studies Staff Blackboard Site and the course reviewers for the first half of 2017 will shortly start work on reviewing the next set of courses.
After the tea break, we divided into two groups in the Computer Suites. One group reviewed each other's Blackboard sites using the revised Blackboard resources sheet, while the other group explored how they could use the Library Guides to support students in their preparation for Assessments. After lunch, we again divided into groups and swopped activities.
On our return to the main room, Tim Hyde and Jess Burden told the meeting about the Just-in-Time communication pilot and plans for 2017. They also encouraged staff to join a Yammer group where they could be kept up to date on the project. Then we all explored our Conflict Resolution Styles and put them into practice developing a Visual of our Ideal Communication Strategy and Review Strategy. In various creative drawings, staff showed that they wanted precise, clear and multi-directional communication between all stakeholders and that they wanted a non-punitive and collaborative peer review system where all were clear about the criteria.
We closed the Teaching and Learning PD session with a question and answer session with Seamus who encouraged staff to continue to work together in the face of challenging times.
In the second Teaching and Learning PD session, the group of volunteers explored how they could disseminate their excellence in teaching and learning through teaching prizes and e-Portfolios. We were fortunate enough to start the session looking at criteria for teaching prizes at a unit, divisional, University and National level in a presentation by Rebecca Reynolds from CTL. We then explored an exemplar of a unit level teaching prize application and looked at how it met the criteria. We also provided feedback on how it could be developed into a Divisional or University level prize application. We also looked at the value of e-portfolios as a portable repository of achievements that can be used to mentor others and demonstrate excellence in relation to standards/criteria for teaching prizes and promotion. We looked at an exemplar e-portfolio and various templates. We also looked at Chalmers et al.'s (2014) ‘Australian University Teachers Criteria and Standards’ as a framework for benchmarking our excellence in teaching. We have developed a version of this framework that includes one additional criteria: enabling philosophy/pedagogy. Material from this session can also be found on the Foundation Studies Staff Blackboard site. Staff who are considering applying for teaching prizes are encouraged to contact Michelle Picard to discuss how we can help you find a mentor to develop your application.
Twenty three staff also attended the research session on 23 February. Since then, staff have said that hearing about colleagues’ experiences of research and its impact was energising and exciting. Like the teaching PD session activities show, the breadth and diversity of expertise in ELFSC is considerable and inspiring. Thank you also to colleagues who shared their personal research interests with the group. More information about ELFSC research will be sent out soon.
Thank you to all staff for their participation and support of all these events! In July, we will once again hold a teaching and learning PD day and look forward to any suggestions as to topics or activities.
Michelle Picard and Anna Bennett