Public seminars to explore broadband possibilities

Published 21 February 2011

opticfibreThe University of New England’s engagement with its students, industry partners and research partners using broadband communication technology will be highlighted in a series of public seminars at UNE that will run throughout 2011.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, launched the UNE-NBN Seminar Series 2011 at the close of the Regional Futures Summit at UNE last Thursday, at which the keynote speakers were the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, the Hon Simon Crean MP, and the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.

The series, co-convened by the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, Professor Victor Minichiello, begins this Wednesday, the 23rd of February, with a presentation on “the role of the Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) in supporting regional and rural research” by Mr Jason Bordujenko, AARNet’s National Video Conferencing Support Manager (Applications and Services). AARNet advances Australian education and research using a broadband communication network that links universities and the CSIRO.

This Wednesday’s event will also include a presentation by Dr Stephen Winn, Deputy Head (Professional Practice and Partnerships) of UNE’s School of Education and the co-convener of the seminar series, on “how a National Broadband Network can enhance the quality of interactions between professionals and their clients in rural and regional Australia”. As an example of UNE’s current use of broadband communication technology to enhance the quality of its professional training, Dr Winn mentioned the real-time linking of pre-service teachers in the school classroom with a “virtual audience” of their supervisors at UNE.

The monthly public seminars will be held in UNE’s Oorala Aboriginal Centre, beginning at 12 noon and running till 2 pm, and everyone is welcome. “The focus of the series is on the use of broadband technology in education, health and agriculture,” Dr Winn said, “including collaboration with other organisations – such as the CSIRO and the University of California Irvine School of Medicine. Both of these industry partners will be presenting in the seminar series.”

The series will also hear from speakers whose organisations are using the broadband network – focusing on the way their industry can increase and improve impact within the areas of teaching and research. The audience will have an opportunity to hear from Microsoft Australia about “Cloud computing and its impact on education and research”, and from Dr Des Maddelena from AiVision about online vision screening and assessment for children via the broadband network.

“UNE is unique in the 80 / 20 per cent split between the numbers of off-campus and on-campus students,” Dr Winn said, explaining that the University aimed to engage its off-campus students through live video and audio links and the interactive sharing of information. The presentation by UNE’s Sue Gregory and Dr Yvonne Masters in May will be titled “Focusing on student engagement and performance via a virtual world platform”, and the seminar in June, presented by UNE’s Dr Laurence Tamatea, will be titled “Knowledge production, exchange and transfer between international students in the field of teacher education”.

In the field of health education, next month’s presentation (on the 30th of March), titled “Examples of i-med education innovation”, will come via the Internet from the University of California Irvine School of Medicine, and in the presentation on precision agriculture UNE’s Professor David Lamb will talk about “Using a broadband network to improve farming efficiency”.

“We hope, through these seminars, to engage academics, students, and members of the public in exploring the implications of the NBN for teaching, research, and community engagement,” Dr Winn said.

For full details contact Leanne White on 0459 805 384.

Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph of UNE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Annabelle Duncan, with the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, at the Regional Futures Summit at UNE last week.