Collaborating Indonesian language lecturers meet at UNE

Published 17 July 2008

wayang.jpgThe University  of New England hosted a three-day workshop last week as part of a government-funded initiative that is enhancing the teaching of Indonesian at several Australian universities.

Lecturers in Indonesian from UNE – the leader of the Regional Universities’ Indonesian Language Initiative (RUILI) – were joined by their counterparts from the three other universities collaborating in the project: the University of the Sunshine Coast, the University of Tasmania, and Charles Darwin  University.

The aim of the project is to develop and deliver Indonesian language programs based on common curricula, and including advanced units that can draw on the individual expertise of academics from any of the four universities.

Last week’s workshop, on the 10th, 11th and 12th of July, was the third since the project was launched at the beginning of last year with a grant of $369,000 from the Australian Government. The workshop participants discussed the curriculum materials they have created together so far, and future developments.

“The project has enabled us to develop new online materials by collaborating creatively,” said UNE’s Stephen Miller, the RUILI Project Coordinator and convener of the workshop. “Working towards common, standardised curricula has proved incredibly productive.”

Also at the workshop were two academics from Mataram University on the island of Lombok – the Indonesian university that provides in-country language tuition for students from the four Australian universities. Their presence enabled the strengthening of links with their Australian colleagues, and the discussion of initiatives such as professional development for the Indonesian language teachers employed on Lombok as part of the project.

In officially opening the workshop, UNE’s Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services), Eve Woodberry, said that the study of Indonesian was “critical” for Australia – particularly considering the important trade and tourism links between the two countries. She said that projects such as RUILI were “wonderful for the sharing of information and knowledge, and the consequent development of products that are more widely accepted”.

The project is establishing an “open” Web site that will enable Indonesian-teaching universities anywhere in the world to contribute to this collaborative development of teaching materials. The Web site will be launched at the biennial conference of the Australian Society of Indonesian Language Educators next year. There is also scope within the RUILI project for the delivery of the new, collaborative Indonesian language programs – using UNE’s highly successful “Blended Model” – to universities other than the four participants.

“The RUILI project has established the network we need,” Mr Miller said. “While it wouldn’t have happened without the current government funding, which ends in May next year, our collaboration will continue into the future.”

A PHOTOGRAPH  of participants in the RUILI workshop can be seen by clicking on the image displayed here. Stephen Miller is second from right. The photograph, taken at the official opening, also includes Eve Woodberry (third from right) and Associate Professor Herman Beyersdorf (right), Acting Transitional Head of the School of Arts.