Staff development at RMIT: bottom-up work serviced by top-down investment and policy
What is the business of a university in the 1990s and 2000s? Quantity and quality are both important considerations in modern universities as they seek to maintain important intellectual and physical spaces for their staff to pursue creative research and development, while at the same time needing to provide teaching for escalating numbers of students in all courses in order to shore up funding. These student cohorts have become increasingly diverse (Mclnnis, James and McNaught, 1995) with more part-time students and students from a greater variety of backgrounds. Flexible modes of delivery have been widely viewed as the prime way of meeting the challenges posed by this diversity. There has been a fair amount of naive equating of flexible delivery with production of online materials ('Plug them into the Web') and insufficient attention to the relationship between flexible modes of operation for students, the use of communication and information technologies, and the design of educationally sound learning environments (Kennedy and McNaught, 1997; Reeves and Reeves, 1997). However, there is no doubt that communication and information technologies will be a major part of future university planning, as several recent reports make clear (e.g. Yetton et al., 1997).