Tag: Australia

Game changer

As a blogger, I’ve been struggling.

Historically it has been a rewarding pastime for me – both personally and career wise – but it has also been challenging. It’s time consuming, it requires large doses of vulnerability, and on occasion the reaction from my fellow “professionals” has been downright unprofessional.

Combine that with some private matters and a dwindling readership, I’ve been wondering if it’s worth it any more.

Prior to posting I don’t know earlier this year, an illustration tweeted by Harsh Darji convinced me to give it another crack; and I felt passionately enough about transforming conventional digital training into blended learning experiences to follow it up with a potential last hurrah.

Which prompted me to wonder: What do I feel passionate about?

A fuzzy heart shape labelled Over-Thinking leads to a clearly defined heart shap labelled Writing.

After ruminating over the question for a surprisingly long time, I’ve concluded that my passion is nature and its conservation.

I studied environmental biology at uni and got my first full-time job in water management, before the trajectory of my career thrusted me deep into the corporate realm. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different.

After further pondering, I also recognised that I’m fascinated by cryptozoology. Not so much of the Bigfoot variety – although I do find that entertaining and sometimes informative, especially when the investigators employ cutting-edge technology; but rather more along the lines of whether the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) still exists on the Apple Isle or in pockets on the mainland, or whether big cats (Panthera spp.) roam the Australian countryside.

Having done a fair share of it myself, I can tell you that biological surveying is a tricky business. Traditional methods of identifying the various species that inhabit a given area – eg observation, tracking, scat analysis, cage trapping, motion-sensing photography – are a bit hit and miss, to be frank. To get a sense of the magnitude of the task, imagine trekking through the Amazon forest… you know jaguars live there, but you almost certainly won’t see one.

In that light, finding a cryptid is hard – otherwise they wouldn’t be cryptids. Even when video evidence is forthcoming, it’s infuriatingly inconclusive.

Which leads me to another interest: Environmental DNA. Abbreviated to eDNA, this term refers to the analysis of minute traces of organic matter in samples of soil, water and even air to identify the wildlife that’s present in the vicinity.

I consider eDNA a game changer, not only for cryptozoology but also for mainstream ecology. A case in point is the University of Otago’s search for the Loch Ness Monster. While this foray failed to find the fabled plesiosaur, it did showcase a novel approach to biological surveying that found evidence of a whopping 3,000 species in the water. Not only aquatic animals such as salmon, pike and eel, but also terrestrial animals such as rabbit, badger and vole (presumably because of rain washing detritus into the lake from the surrounding catchment).

I’m so enamoured by eDNA that I urge the scientific community to give it a proper go before we “resurrect” the Tasmanian Tiger via Jurassic Park-style genetic engineering.

A tweet by Ryan Tracey stating: Before we resurrect the Tasmanian Tiger, can we please give eDNA a proper go? It can be done with air samples now.

I’d also be delighted to see it used in the hunt for big cats down under, if not to prove they exist, then to prove that they don’t.

Having said that, I realise eDNA is no magic bullet. Firstly, it’s a snapshot: for example, the University of Otago’s survey failed to identify animals such as seals and otters which are known to visit the loch. Then of course you have the politics of science to contend with: fuelled by anecdotes such as the one about the leopard scat sampled from a local zoo being identified as “dog” by a wary lab.

Despite its limitations, however, I contend that eDNA will revolutionise our study of biodiversity.

DNA strands.

Lest I stray too far off topic, I’ll conclude by reaffirming what we already know about Learning & Development: we also benefit from the advancement of technology.

Amid the rise of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the metaverse, what do you consider to be our game changer?

L&D conferences in Australia in 2022

Little did I know in March last year that the Learning & Development Leadership Summit would be the only in-person event that I would attend until the L&D Symposium in November!

The summit was held in downtown Sydney – energised by the hustle and bustle of the city, and convenient to boot.

In contrast, the symposium was held in the gorgeous Hunter Valley – far enough away from the bright lights to be a hassle to get to, but free of the daily distractions of “work” – allowing us to relax, focus, and engage in an immersive learning experience.

Virus permitting, I’m looking forward to attending both the summit and the symposium again this year. Plus I hope a few more events, maybe even interstate…

Landscape of a rolling vineyard in the Hunter Valley

NOTE: The details of the following events may change. Please check the latest information via the links provided.

Future Work Summit
Adelaide, 9-10 March 2022

International Conference on Virtual and Augmented Reality Simulations
Brisbane, 25-27 March 2022

Disruptive Innovation Summit
Sydney, 29-31 March 2022

Learning & Development Leadership Summit
Melbourne, 5-6 April 2022

AITD Conference
Virtual, 6-7 April 2022

iDesignX
Virtual, 1-2 June 2022

L&D Summit Australia
Sydney, 22-23 June 2022

HERDSA Conference
Virtual & Melbourne, 27-30 June 2022

L&D + HR Symposium
Hunter Valley, 2-3 August 2022

EduTECH
Melbourne, 10-11 August 2022

Learning & Development Leadership Summit
Sydney, 20-21 October 2022

Eportfolio Forum
Virtual & Melbourne, 26-27 October 2022

L&D Innovation & Tech Fest
Sydney, 8-9 November 2022

LearnX
Virtual, 23-24 November 2022

ASCILITE
Virtual & Sydney, 4-7 December 2022

If you’re aware of another L&D conference down under, let me know!

Gold vibes only

Australia’s performance in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was impressive, even for a nation that considers barely scraping into the top 10 a national cause for concern.

What was surprising this time around was the proportion of gold medals to total medals – a whopping 37% – which of course makes all the difference in the final tally.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider any medal a tremendous victory (exemplified by the Boomers’ historic bronze) but there’s no doubt the one most prized by athletes and citizens alike is gilded.

Golden beads

Australia’s upward trajectory was observed by Kieran Pender in Back to square one: how Australia engineered remarkable golden Games.

In the article, Pender boils our success down to investing in the right people around the athletes, backed up by systemic reform and attention to detail. In Tokyo, he writes, the Aussie support team “doubled down on dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s”.

And I think he’s right. A culture of excellence breeds excellence. In contrast, a culture of laziness and unaccountability breeds apathy and mediocrity.

It’s why a football team that pays an obscene amount money for a star player won’t win the cup if the back office is mismanaged. One man doth not a team make, despite what the press perpetuates and the fans believe.

The parallel with the corporate sector is clear. Recruiting good people in the right roles and developing their capabilities is critical, but locked-out technology, backwards policy and arcane processes will only hold them back. In such cases, the “support services” are anything but.

The whole system needs to be firing on all cylinders so that the talent within can do what it does best.

Digital Learning conferences in Australia in 2021

Let’s try that again.

Just as we were gearing up for another year’s worth of cutting edge insights and showcases, the coronavirus had other ideas.

While some of the digital learning conferences I had listed for 2020 went ahead as planned, others pivoted to virtual delivery, while the rest were ironically postponed or cancelled.

In this country we are confident in vaccination and elimination, so the following events are expected to proceed this year.

Coffee mug next to a laptop featuring numerous attendees in an online meeting

EDIT: The ongoing pandemic may affect these events. Please refer to each event’s website for more information.

iDESIGNX
Virtual, 24-25 February 2021

Disruptive Innovation Summit
Sydney, 17-19 March 2021

International Conference on Virtual and Augmented Reality Simulations
Melbourne, 20-22 March 2021

Learning & Development Leadership Summit
Sydney, 23-24 March 2021

Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference
Brisbane, 7-10 July 2021

Learning & Development Leadership Summit
Melbourne, 27-28 July 2021

EduTECH / Learn@Work
Virtual, 17-18 August 2021

Eportfolio Forum
Virtual & Sydney, 20-21 October 2021

AITD Conference
Virtual & Melbourne, 27-28 October 2021

LearnX Live! Awards
Virtual, 17 November 2021

HR Innovation & Tech Fest
Sydney, 9-10 November 2021

TECHSPO
Sydney, 24-25 November 2021

Future Work APAC Summit
Adelaide, 24-25 November 2021

L&D Symposium
Hunter Valley, 25-26 November 2021

ASCILITE
Armidale, 29 November – 1 December 2021

EdTechPosium
Canberra, 10 December 2021

This list will grow over time as more events are announced.

If you become aware of another one, let me know and I’ll add it in!

E-Learning conferences in Australia in 2020

The iconic “2020” has dawned.

What does it mean for digital learning?

Let’s find out…

Sydney Opera House at night

EDIT: The COVID-19 pandemic may affect these events. Please refer to the event’s website for more information.

International Conference on E-Learning and Distance Learning
Sydney, 30-31 January 2020

International Conference on Virtual and AR Simulations
Sydney, 14-16 February 2020

Blended Learning & Innovation Summit
Sydney, 24-27 February 2020

iDESIGNX
Sydney, 26 February 2020

AITD Conference
Online, 17-18 March 2020

International Conference on Mobile Learning Technology and Online Education
Online, 26-27 March 2020

International Conference on Education and E-Learning
Online, 8-9 May 2020

Melbourne Learning Summit
Online, 18 June 2020

The Learning Conference
Online, 3-5 August 2020

Future Work Summit
Online, 3 September 2020

LearnX Live
Online, 16-17 September 2020

EdTEchSA State Conference
Online, 29 September 2020

Online & e-Learning Summit
Online, 27-29 October 2020

Learn@Work
Online, 9-10 November 2020

Learning & Development Leadership Summit
Sydney, 9-10 November 2020

L&D Innovation & Tech Fest
Online, 7-11 December 2020

If you’re aware of another Australian conference relevant to e-learning professionals, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list!