UNE is currently undergoing an innovative and future-focused renewal and transformation of its academic programs.
This includes the development of new courses and new course structures. One of the aims includes building a collaborative network of expertise in the area of learning and teaching from within the UNE community.
Associate Professor Mitch Parkes is in a newly established role which will support academics and other teaching-focused staff.
"UNE has always played a leadership role in the provision of high-quality teaching and research to rural and regional Australia. We have a proud pedigree; we were the first university in Australia to be established outside of a capital city."
He acknowledges UNE's staff have the skills and knowledge to bring about the required transformation and renewal necessary to position UNE as Australia's leading online university.
Professor Parkes has been teaching and working in the fields of computer education and online education for 30 years having taught in high schools in Sydney and the New England region and now at UNE.
"I have a great deal of teaching experience in this field. During this time, I have also worked with, and advised, colleagues; supporting them in developing their teaching practice.
"My online teaching at UNE has been recognised by two UNE teaching awards and a national award for teaching excellence. Not only, have I experience as a teacher, but I have also spent a lot of time being a student; particularly an online and distance education student," said Professor Parkes.
"I get what its like to be a student and I would like to think that this helps me to be a better teacher. Finally, I love learning and the processes of learning. After many years of studying in the Science and Computing fields, I took the plunge and completed a Master of History degree at UNE and thoroughly enjoyed the experience," he said.
The teaching focused role involves working with academics in the area known as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. This involves supporting academics as they conduct research into their own teaching practices.
UNE is supporting academics and teaching-focused staff in maintaining the high-quality learning and teaching that UNE has the reputation in providing. There is an enormous depth of talent, commitment and willingness at UNE to provide students with the best learning experience both on and off-campus.
UNE is embracing the challenges of designing and delivering learning that meets the unique needs of diverse groups of students, added to this, the fact that around 80% of UNE students study off campus, this provides its own challenges.
The UNE academics' research findings can be used to inform UNEs' future teaching practice. The publication of research results also benefits the wider academic and teaching communities. UNE is a leader in the field of online and distance education and there is an enormous depth of knowledge and talent in UNE staff. Through our research outputs, UNE can continue to provide leadership in the areas of online and distance education.
Professor Parkes said, "for example, our bespoke degrees allow students to put together a program of study that meets their particular needs. We are currently developing a micro-credentialing framework to both acknowledge the skills and knowledge people may already have and to help them move in and out of university study a great deal easier.
"The delivery of distance education is in our DNA. In this area, I believe UNE will continue to provide leadership into the future," concluded Associate Professor Parkes.