UniServe Science News Volume 12 March 1999



Kaye Placing
Educational Technologist, UniServe Science

The 15th Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning In Tertiary Education (ASCILITE 98) was held at the University of Wollongong from 14th to 16th December 1998. The conference was attended by over 250 delegates from all states of Australia, as well as New Zealand, United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.

The programme included four keynote speakers, over 50 paper presentations, 20 shorter presentations on works-in-progress and 10 poster presentations.

The keynote addresses followed the theme of Information Technology: the past, present and future.

Geoff Hamer (Centre for Educational Development and Interactive Resources, University of Wollongong) delivered a short history of IT drawing largely on his personal experiences. Many who attended this address are probably still wondering what IBM really does stand for.

Two different views of the present were presented by Betty Collis from the University of Twente, The Netherlands and Beth Cavallari from the University of Queensland.

Betty demonstrated a project, TeleTOP, currently being used in the Faculty of Educational Science and Technology. This project has involved the redesigning of all of the courses within the faculty reflecting a new instructional approach and makes substantial use of the web as a mechanism for support within the course.

While acknowledging the success of many Australian-developed multimedia packages, Beth questioned the lack of foresight, support and funding being directed towards development of educational software. She made a plea for Australian universities to collaborate in the research into the effectiveness of multimedia as an educational tool, and also, the planning, funding, application for grant monies, production and marketing of IT resources.

In his address about the future of information technology, David Jonassen from Pennsylvania State University, discussed some directions in which technology might transform education.

Contributed papers covered a variety of technology uses with, as might be expected, a high proportion of web-based applications. From the papers I attended, it appears many academics are using the web for communication with and between students, both synchronous and asynchronous, and a number of interesting projects were discussed. While many institutions are using commercially developed web tools such as TopClass and LotusNotes, some locally produced packages such as WebTeach (UNSW) were demonstrated. Assessment is another area where there has been some interesting web-based projects e.g. WebMCQ (The University of Sydney). The resource page on the inside back cover of this publication contains a brief description and URL for web tools that were highlighted at the conference.

Another topic that attracted a number of presentations was the use of technology to facilitate learning environments such as problem based, role play and open-ended learning.

Presentations of science based teaching materials included a CAL module for the interpretation of satellite meteorology, flexible learning modules for fundamental concepts in electro-magnetism, interactive multimedia package for teaching photosynthesis and other resources for introductory biology practicals.

A full transcript of the proceedings in Acrobat format can be found at

Congratulations to the recipients of the ASCILITE Awards. Successful projects included:

Best student project

Lori Lockyer (University of Wollongong) - Health and Health Behaviour.
Best small project
Mary Peat and Sue Franklin (The University of Sydney) - Photosynthesis Experiments.
Best large project
Ingrid Scholten (Flinders University) - The Dynamic Swallow.
John Hedberg (University of Wollongong) received a highly for StageStruck.
Best Internet or World Wide Web usage project
Mark Freeman (University of Technology, Sydney) - Anonymous Asynchronous Web-based Role Play.

The conference dinner was a journey to the land of the "Arabian Nights". Belly-dancers, Middle Eastern music and a snake man entertained dinner guests. Anne Porter from Wollongong proved she has skills beyond statistics by winning the belly-dancing competition.

The theme for ASCILITE 99 is "Responding to Diversity". It is to be held in Brisbane at the Queensland University of Technology from 5th to 8th December 1999. The website is

Sue Franklin and Mary Peat (UniServe Science Director) with their award for Best Small Project.

Sue Franklin and Mary Peat (UniServe Science Director) with their award for Best Small Project.

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UniServe Science News Volume 12 March 1999

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