15 October 2012

No Blocks Found yet, for Australian university education

Pedestrian Green Traffic Lights Yerevan
By Heretiq
Wikimedia Commons
Last week I started searching for blockages in the Australian University system, blockages that might prevent the development of more open, networked and ultimately flexible teaching and assessment practices. I've just finished reading:




I used Diigo to keep my notes, and it would be wonderful  if others using this system might pop in and leave some notes as well! I'm reading through these laws in an effort to get myself informed enough to be having deeper level discussions around the opportunities and barriers to new or alternative ways of doing education.

In TEQSA and HESA I found only a few things that might be an issue, if not directly, then down the line in their implementation.


TEQSA

  1. TEQSA accredits courses only, not units of study, so there may be difficulty in getting new units or subjects up that are not attached to an accredited course. In saying that, there is a provision (41) where a provider can apply for self accreditation. I need to find out if it is common or not for a university to make this application.
  2. 26 makes reference to Threshold Standards and 58 makes reference to a Higher Education Standards Framework. Both sound as if they might be devil in detail when it comes to blockages at the implementation level.. I haven't read either through, or even located them yet.
  3. Item 134 spells out the functions and powers of TEQSA, and I couldn't help noticing item 16. the Principle of proportionate regulation. Is that a nod to 'the spirit not the letter'?


HESA

  1. Item 19.40 makes reference to an opportunity for exemption from tuition assurance. I don't know what this means, and am wondering if its a way to make room for experimentation.
  2. 19.115 Makes mention of the Provider to have policy upholding free intellectual inquiry. This strikes me as a significant opening for establishing open and online courses, if having an interest in the content of courses qualifies as 'intellectual inquiry'.
  3. I couldn't get a handle Part 2-2, Commonwealth Grant Scheme, or how the fees and subsidies for courses work, but reckon I had it right back in 2010, all-be-it the actual dollar amounts having changed. I think there might be more money than I first thought to be available.

So, I could really find very little at this top level of legislation that would stand in the way of developing more flexible teaching and assessment practices. I have no doubt I will find them in the detail, either at the frameworks and guidelines level, or the local institute policies and guidelines (including professional accreditation bodies), or most likely in the instruments and tools we use to administer - not to mention the over all assumption that is not necessarily made apparent, about how education happens in Universities.

2 comments:

Joyce Seitzinger said...

Hi Leigh, you're doing a very thorough job there. Blockages I've heard mentioned and that I can see, is that of credit hours, eg x amount of hours = y credit points. Find any reference to that?

Leigh Blackall said...

Good point Joyce.. I'll have to go back to TEQSA I think, as I would expect it would be spelled out there. What I do know is that TEQSA accredit at the course level, and the Australian Qualifications Framework establish the levels of education. Those levels have a framework of time attached, and it is there that the credit points come in. In my experience, the unit of measure we call "credit" seems to vary from university to university, but what remains consistent is the number of hours expected for a subject (unit) and a course. Why we don't just use hours as a unit of measure, and not units.. is a question I have.