Education teamwork awarded for web dreamwork

The Fenner Education Hub – comprising of Educational Technologist Joelle Le, Administration Manager Harriet Torrens, and Education Manager Fredrick Chew – have been chosen as joint recipients of the College of Science Award for Service in the Team Service Contribution category. 

What did the team do? And how does their work impact the Fenner and ANU community? 

“The Fenner Education Hub provides teaching support for the school. Our area covers administration, governance, compliance, technical and innovations of teaching. We ensure all the backend work (administrative and technical) of the teaching processes are well taken care so that both teachers and students can have a stress-free teaching and learning experience.” explains Education Manager Fred Chew. 

Among the key wins for the team includes a series of web applications that have made education administrative tasks for teachers, students, and administrators much more user-friendly, and easier to do. 

One app is designed for applying for assessment extension requests. Prior to having this web application, requests were made by students through emails, but some were done through verbal discussion with their conveners or tutors. The team identified that the problem with this approach was that it had no consistency or efficiency: it was hard to keep proper records about whose assignments would be received when.  The Fenner Education Hub web application has meant courses have a common portal for assessment extension requests. All requests are centrally managed on one database making record management and reporting easy. The application can also monitor requests made across different courses, which was not possible in the past. The app has gained a lot of interest across the ANU – including uptake from the College of Sciences, College of Arts and Social Sciences, College of Business and Economics and College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics. 

Another app developed by the Hub is the Request for Permission to Enrol web application. This came out of a need for the College to keep more robust records of transactions as they transformed from a request to a final decision on students seeking permission to enrol in specific courses. The web application fully automated the process: from the student initiating their request, to the administrator reviewing their request, to a convener making a final decision and adding this amendment to ANU official Student Records. The key piece of feedback from this app, according to Mr Chew, was that administrators found that the program significantly reduced strain on their workloads as the app took very manual processes and streamlined them. 

“These applications are helping Schools and the College of Science to comply with ANU education policy, and also provide equity by making these systems more accessible to all.” adds Mr Chew. 

Upon receiving their Award for Service from the College of Science, the Dean noted that Mrs Le, Ms Torrens and Mr Chew made outstanding contributions to the ANU community in 2022. The awards committee agreed that the team’s ‘above and beyond’ effort was deserving of the award in this category. For Joelle Le, excellence in developing web applications for education is about the people she works with and how they operate together. 

“I am lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with Harriet and Fred. Harriet and Fred have special leadership styles! I say special because they are different, and they complement each other. That's what makes this Team so terrific; Harriet will have those visionary moments of "What if?" and "Can we do that?" and Fred is the person that will say "Why not!" - often he will come up with innovative and more efficient ways. Fred makes things happen like magic - Harriet likes to joke about it, saying that Fred has magical powers!” 

Perhaps the real magic is the quiet hum that must happen for these ideas to be realised: Joelle’s role in the team is the busy business of back-end troubleshooting, buying Fred time so that he can concentrate on the more major and pressing projects. 

“Depending on what needs to be done when Fred is occupied with developing apps for the Schools or Colleges, my role varies from ad hoc technical support in classrooms, Wattle advisory support, curating/updating apps functionalities, maintaining/updating databases, helping with designing the inventory app – it varies.” Mrs Le adds. It is a real case of teamwork making the dreamwork. 

The Fenner Education Hub are always on the lookout for new needs and ideas to lend their can-do magic to. If you can see the opportunity to develop a system or application that might serve your School, College or course, reach out, says Fred. 

“We’re always interested hearing from people, to work with new problems and ideas.” 

Updated:  16 January 2023/Responsible Officer:  Director, Fenner School/Page Contact:  Webmaster, Fenner School