Q1 2020: Welcome back to Di’s Coffee Corner!

Posted: 02/04/2020

Hello Friends and Colleagues,

2020 has commenced with such a force it has left many of us reeling. First, there were the catastrophic bushfires in most Australian states. Then the weather turned to hail, rain, storms and floods.

We also heard the sad news that Vale Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley AC passed away on the 20th of March. What a loss it was for the Higher Education sector. You can read my thoughts and reflections on working with Denise at UniSA during the decade she was Vice Chancellor, here.

Then there is COVID-19 pandemic creating major problems for our sector, as well as many others both nationally and internationally. Not surprisingly, Critical Incident and Crisis Management Teams are in full operation at all universities. It’s a time of immense and disruptive change.

Now everyone is battling for the ‘new norm’ to ensure students receive a high-quality learning experience and both staff and students are all kept safe and well.

Needless to say, there has been a lot happening in Q1, here is the latest to catch you up.

Shift to fully online

There has been an enormous move to online teaching and learning, beyond what institutions were already delivering. The biggest challenge appears to be moving tutorials and F2F classes to an online environment.

There are many online technologies that enable this. DVE uses Zoom, Skype, Yammer, Slack and we are now testing Microsoft Teams to integrate some of these platforms. We have been working virtually for many years and you are bound to find many useful hints and tips in our Learning Hub.

The enormous challenge for teams has been the suddenness of this transition. As one senior leader said to me recently “we are waiting for the new normal”. I have heard this a lot in recent weeks as I’ve reached out to you all to provide support, advice and assistance.

Teaching will probably change significantly as academics and professional staff discover new ways of delivering innovative new practices. The weekly tutorial does not have to be the same thing every week. There are many articles on Linked In that provide information and advice on this.

Disruption and business processes

We’ve heard a lot about disruption in the sector. This pandemic will force organisations, both in our sector and beyond to do things completely differently.

Although it’s a difficult time right now, it’s a great opportunity to take a good look at your business processes and ask, “why are we doing it this way?” and “is now the time to change it?” We can deliver business process improvement workshops online and assist you with finding more efficient ways of working.

We talk more about process improvement and this in our Q1 Trends and Outlooks section here.

Hot Tips for Working from Home

We recently welcomed a new Higher Education consultant to the DVE team, our Change Manager, Claire Oswald. Claire shared some great tips for those working remotely via video and phone for the first time on her LinkedIn and I thought I’d share these with you here too:

  1. Use headphones – speakers create echoes
  2. Turn off system notification sounds – alerts interrupt the flow of thought
  3. If you’re not speaking put yourself on mute – it reduces background noise
  4. If you have pets make sure we can see them! New co-workers of the furry variety are the best kind!
  5. Check in with your team to stay connected – a good rule of thumb we use is if it takes more than two emails pick up the phone!

The good news!

Let’s not lose sight of the good news occurring in our sector. Here are some highlights that I picked out this last month:

  • After four years Professor Shona Leitch moves from the position of Deputy PVC of Learning and Teaching in the Business College to the Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor Education (Quality and Enhancement) to drive further change at RMIT. Congratulations Shona!
  • Professor Lee D Parker, Distinguished Professor at RMIT was accepted into the Australian Accounting Hall of Fame. A wonderful achievement.
  • Congratulations to Prof Margo Margot McNeill, Dominic Szambowski and Mun Hoe Lee on leading ICMS to 7 years, no conditions for the College re-registration. They achieved a hattrick: 1) 7 years, no conditions for the RTO from ASQA; 2) 7 years, no conditions for the 21 new undergraduate courses from TEQSA and 3) the re-reg for the College. DVE was proud to support ICMS in reviewing some of their courses. Well done team!
  • Congratulations to all the UniSA staff who were recognised at last week’s Academic Excellence Awards.
  • Higher Education women and the knowledge, skills and experience they bring to the sector were recognised and celebrated at most institutions on International Women’s Day 2020.

I want to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for this coming quarter as we settle in to our ‘new normal’. If there is anything we can do to help or support you during this transition, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Kind regards,


P.S. Remember to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter @Di1358.