Universities missing a trick for generating revenue

Universities have always had a complex mission around the mix of what they do; from teaching through to research and community engagement. We’re now seeing a new type of demand – that of economic development.

For the Group of Eight and other Universities there’s going to be a growing focus on strengthening collaboration with business and contributing to productivity in the economy. International links also look set to contribute more significantly.

To gain a little more insight on where the potential lies both now and in the future, ahead of his presentation at Higher Education Funding,  I caught up with Robert Chalmers, Managing Director at Adelaide Research and Innovation Pty Ltd, Chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia Inc and Commercial Directors Convenor, Group of Eight.

What do you anticipate to be new funding streams on the horizon?

There is an increasing focus on accessing philanthropic funding streams within universities and we’ve seen a number of major fund raising campaigns launch recently. A number of others are now going through that same process.

Philanthropic funding will be more significant in the future. If you compare Australia to the US, we’re well behind the level of contribution of philanthropy to the funding mix that you might see in the US – I’ve no doubt that will be a big focus.

In response to reductions in funding from government, particularly from a Federal level, there is definitely a lift in interest accessing alternative funding from the private sector. Either from business, industry or venture, or from high net worth individuals.

On the outer edge of new funding streams, something that may not provide a major contribution initially, but will be part of the mix as we go forward, is crowd sourced funding.

Crowd sourcing has an impact beyond just the funding model in validating the promoted concept and improving engagement, but you certainly see the potential of that with things like Kickstarter, the use of Pozible by Deakin and so on. It’s still early days, small start, but into the future, it will be part of a hybrid of different funding streams universities will be juggling.

Do you see any common opportunities missed that could be generating revenue?

When we look at the broader issue of connection and value creation – rather than immediate revenue – the alumni connections are crying out for better engagement. I speak to a lot of people about these issues; all of us recognise that’s an area where universities are not harnessing the connections they build with their students, adequately, after their time with the institution – especially in the context of their commercial interactions.

What obstacles need to be overcome to release the potential for generating commercial interest?

I’d highlight three: awareness of existing successful stories of engagement and impact, awareness of the pathways to engagement, and the focus on areas of need.

Often, universities focus their marketing efforts around the teaching and learning part of the agenda; the students. We’re not so good at marketing the benefits of our research engagement, for our partners, our clients, and the broader community. We’ll talk to research quality and our research eminence, but we’re not systematically focused on talking to the end output or impact of that research and the impact of innovation on productivity.

As a result, people are not aware of what’s out there right now, and what’s making a difference; so they have less appetite to engage. We’re now working to target stories of impact in a digestible format to the person in the street.

We need to concentrate on identifying needs in the community, and bring those back into Universities, so that we can see how we can hook research capacity up to that need and produce a result.

What’s the current focus at Adelaide? Where are you targeting your efforts?

The promotional effort is a very important one for us as a sector, to engage better.

At Adelaide, we’re also looking at our international partnerships, especially the more promising ones, in areas like the US and China. International connections are one of the fastest growing areas of engagement and income. However, we still suffer from tyranny of distance, and there may be some cultural competencies that people need to develop a bit better to engage in the region.

We’ve also done a lot more joint networking sessions with industry associations – to try to bring researchers together with those needs in the industry. The aim is to reach out and understand what the needs are, and then connect capability to them.

Free Blended Learning Webinar: It’s question time.

Watching one of those television debates recently, an idea popped into my head. The thought of having  industry experts answering the hot questions from their peers struck a bit of an intrigue chord.

Shortly after, I started working on our Blended Learning event. I’ve always been a big fan of our eduction portfolio – the pace of change is rapid and it’s pretty inspiring to see the fundamentals of teaching and learning transform.

So that’s how the Blended Learning 2014 Webinar was born. It’s pretty straight forward, it’s free to watch and get involved, and we’ll do the hard work by providing an awesome expert panel.

And here it is… Be sure to register and get involved, we’ve had over 300 registrants so far and we’re getting pretty excited:

Ahead of the 3rd Annual Blended Learning Summit we’ve gathered a few of our speakers, leading experts on blended learning practices, to discuss some of the most pertinent topics when it comes to implementing, transitioning and executing a flexible learning program.

We’ll also be taking your questions to be answered during the webinar so if you have a burning question be sure to let us know.

The webinar will be held on 16 July 2014 from 12-1PM (Eastern Standard Time)

What topics will be discussed in the webinar? (15 min each)

  • Implementing flexible learning
  • Managing the change
  • Putting it into practice
  • Q&A

Register for the free Blended Learning Webinar
You will be able to submit your questions upon registering

Our expert webinar panel:

Associate Professor Angela Carbone
Director, Distinguished National Senior Teaching Fellow, Education Excellence
Monash University
Gilly Salmon
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning Transformations
Swinburne University of Technology
Cathy Gunn
‎Deputy Director and Head of the eLearning Group, CLeaR
The University of Auckland

New Generation Learning Spaces: The essentials

Thinking back to my classroom experience, our weekly highlight was re-vamping the small notice board in the corner. The rest of the room (and most of the other classrooms for that matter) housed square desks and chairs facing the teacher at the front.

Those days are gone. We’re going through a huge transformation; classrooms are being reinvented as studios to suit the new ways in which we both learn and teach.

The future is technology and collaborative based and our educational facilities are adapting accordingly.

Architects are having a field day (excuse the pun) with designs, encompassing innovative buildings, bright colours and new technologies to create truly inspirational and educational experiences. I’ve collected insights, tips and tricks from around the web and spoken to our New Generation Learning Spaces panel to share the best with you:

Immerse yourself

One of the key drivers behind re-imagining the learning space is collaboration. When you think of immersing yourself, you might be thinking it’s something you already do; reading up on the latest teaching methods and so on; but are you physically immersing yourself in the classroom?

There’s no need for the teacher to stand at the front of the room to teach anymore, don’t be afraid to move your desk around, surround yourself with students and have a 360 view of the classroom.

This was a key feature of a recent Third Teacher+ transformation, check out the video of the journey as well as some key highlights from the project here:

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/8-tips-redesign-your-classroom-david-bill

Utilise natural light

Insight from Sean Coleman, Lead – Learning Spaces, Better Learning and Teaching Team, Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) at Monash University:

“Natural light is hugely important to learning spaces; we’re seeing it more and more in tertiary educational spaces. We’re doing a huge refurbishment at one of our lecture theatres currently and the designs feature some huge windows that started to get smaller and smaller during the PCG. You have to push back and keep them as big as possible.

“If there’s too much light, you can always retrofit blinds or window treatments, but let’s just get as much light as we can and provide students with a connection to the outside world.

“It aids in the connection and engagement of the teaching staff and the students, especially if you can see the changes in the season – letting light into what would normally be a dark room.”

Don’t get tripped up by technology

Insights from Barbara White, Senior Lecturer in Information Technology, Charles Darwin University:

“Technology plays a central role when considering the design for a new learning space and this can bring new challenges and opportunities for education providers. I can see in lots of places that teaching students how to use communication technologies as a knowledge practice, as opposed to an entertainment or communication practice, is where some of the issues still are. Learning spaces are certainly providing an opportunity for those things to happen.”

Hon Steve Maharey, Vice-Chancellor, Massey University (New Zealand):

“You need to invest heavily in future-proofing our buildings because the demand for technology is going to rise exponentially. Our new building is set to evolve along with the demand by students and staff for more digital capacity.”

Peter Lippman, Associate Director from EIW Architects:

“There have been a lot of lessons learned about technology and spaces, but we have to understand very clearly that technology is a tool. We have to start with how people learn and think about how we’re going to support that. 

“We have to think about what is good and what is appropriate for the kinds of spaces we’re creating. For example, if you’re just going to do PowerPoint presentations, then all you need is a lap top and a connection to mount it into a projector so you can do your presentation. How different is that from just a blackboard or building in a projector and putting a movie on the screen?

“We need involve all people from all around the university and pull IT engineers out of their caves, because there are many people who have wonderful ideas and should become part of the stakeholder conversation.”

Break down the classroom wall

Insight from Mark Freeman, on his experience designing the Kangan Institute Automotive Centre of Excellence (Stage 2).

“This unique inner city campus was envisaged as a catalyst to assist in transforming all aspects of automotive skills training and research, and automotive component and vehicle testing.

“Previously, all of the different automotive skills units were, to some extent, delivered in isolation, in individual buildings on an older campus. Now, for the first time, all of the skill units are brought together in the one building, and not just in the one building, but also in the same workshop space.

“There’s a lot more collaboration between the workshop skills managers. There’s a lot more day to day negotiation of space and the utilisation of equipment that’s there.

“One of the key benefits is that the students are exposed to a lot more things. Previously they might have existed in the one building for half the day, and then in the other building in another, and effectively those were, to some extent, closed spaces.

“In this particular building the students are exposed to everything that’s happening on a daily basis. There is industry coming in and doing workshops (they’re running seminars, running vehicle and product launches), so the students come into contact with industry. There is industry participation in terms of sponsorship and maintenance of aspects of the facility as well.

 “It’s a lot more of a collaborative environment. It’s a lot more of a transparent environment, and the building as a whole, is a good place to be in. It’s not dark, it’s not damp, and it’s not dirty. It’s light, it’s bright, and it’s a healthy environment.

“It has really lifted everyone’s spirits in terms of the students who are in the building, and also visitors to the building. It has transformed their attitude towards coming to campus.”

A few practical tips:

When you do have walls, write on them.

First came the transition from chalkboards to whiteboards, but why limit the space? Walls are often filled with clutter, or just left as wasted space. Why not integrate whiteboards across your entire wall space. Not only will this utilise the space in your classroom, but by opening up the room you’ll be helping to encourage spontaneous collaboration.

Finally, get yourself some quick (and fun) wins.

We couldn’t finish without talking about all those neat little storage tricks out there. Storage is one of the key ways that space can be created, from something as simple as adding cushions to your stable cabinets to use as chairs, through to rebuilding your entire cabinet range to fit smartly within the confines of your walls.

Check out this list of ’35 Money-Saving  DIY tricks for teachers on a budget’:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/money-saving-diys-for-the-classroom

Classroom architect is a great resource that allows you to virtually redesign your exact room:

http://classroom.4teachers.org/

Finally, for some inspiration, these two Pintrest boards have some great examples of before and after classroom transformations:

http://www.pinterest.com/mrsbartteaches/before-after-classroom-makeovers/

http://www.pinterest.com/kmp444/classroom-transformations/

Find out more by visiting www.designforlearning.com.au