Meet the OEB2019 Speakers: Shirley Alexander

Keynote Speaker Shirley Alexander is Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) where she is Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Vice President (Education and Students). She has been a member of three successive national government committees advising on improvements to higher education teaching and learning. Most recently she has led the learning.futures strategy at UTS. In an approximate $1.5 billion campus redevelopment and building program, Shirley has led the initiatives to ensure the new learning spaces are designed for the future of education. 

1. Who, or what, was your most important teacher? 

I sometimes think I really understand something but then experience a challenge to that understanding. I find that working through that challenge always leads me to a deeper understanding – and hence challenge is my best teacher. I encountered an article about this recently – especially the section “enhancing learning by hindering performance”

2. What were your best/worst subjects in school?

Despite declaring myself to be a conscientious objector to homework in high school, I did well in most exams. That was only because it was possible in those days to memorise text books the night before exams and reproduce their contents the next day. Of course it was gone the following day. I was not remotely interested in school (sadly).

3. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?

I absolutely love my current job but maybe achieving my teenage dream of being a racing car driver could be fun 🙂

4. Which technology, in your view, had the biggest influence on the way we learn now

I have had a long interest in the history of the telephone – in particular the way in which its inventors saw it as an automation of previous technologies and tried to dictate its use (Claude S Fischer, 1992) and of course that technology evolved to make mobile networks possible today which have an enormous influence on how and what we learn.

5. What is the coolest gadget / technology / tool you have seen lately?

I just love my apple watch – has replaced my wallet and phone

6. What current learning trend do you think will have a lasting impact

Definitely learning analytics – I’ll be talking about that in my keynote.

7. What would be the title of your autobiography? 

My life: a stochastic process

8. Who would you recommend in the Learning World to follow on social media right now? 

I love reading Audrey Watters @audreywatters – always controversial and George Siemens @GSiemens who has a broad interests

9. What was your first thought about OEB 2019’s overall theme: Discovering Learning 

These two words spoke straight my career-long passion and that is learning.  I see too much focus (first and foremost) on what the teacher is doing rather than on developing a deep understanding of how students come to learn (what they need to do) and only then, look at what a teacher needs do/ provide to enable that to happen. So I’m hoping this conference will help attendees to discover that fascinating topic of learning.

10. What do you hope to take away from OEB?

My hopes are to meet dedicated, inspiring people, sharing experiences, finding new ways on how to learn on the fly addressing different learning styles linked to business impact.

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