National grants for learning and teaching

Published 18 January 2016

The Minister for Education and Training, Hon. Simon Birmingham MP, has announced that two University of New England academics have been awarded grants worth over half a million dollars for improving teaching and learning at UNE.


The successful recipients of the latest round of Commonwealth funding are Dr Mark Trotter and Dr William Billingsley.


Dr Trotter will undertake a two-year project, totalling over $1.3m and involving the School of Education and seven universities and 15 industry providers, to develop a world-first learning hub for UNE’s SMART Farm to increase skills of tertiary and vocational students in a range of new agricultural technologies.


“New technologies are revolutionising the farming industry but the education sector is failing to keep pace. The Hub will link real industry technologies with educator resources and student learning packages,” Dr Trotter said.


The other recipient, Dr Billingsley, will design a software tool to help distance and on-campus students work together in design studio courses, by letting students present and critique each others’ work over video.


“Studio courses bring the class together on realistic design challenges, and some of the best learning takes place through students critiquing each other’s work — learning from the difficulties your colleagues have encountered and analysing the solutions they’ve created. They’re especially important for computing, as software is a complex product designed by teams, but are useful in many different disciplines,” Dr Billingsley said.


“The tool I am proposing allows students to take part in this critique process over video, letting students be part of a cohesive virtual design community, wherever they’re here or studying at a distance.”


The Commonwealth grants are administered by the Office of Learning and Teaching, designed to promote excellence in learning and teaching in higher education and both project will start immediately.