Monday, November 4, 2013

Torrens University Australia for the Mobile Generation

Torrens University Australia is a new for-profit institution which is offering courses from its Adelaide campus from 2014. It is part of the Laureate International Universities network. The university appears to have designed its website for mobile devices and then adapted it for desktop devices. Similarly the course delivery seems to be primarily on-line using their international resources, with some on-campus services added. This global on-line plus local approach is one which older Australia universities may need to follow, to remain competitive.

Torrens Website

The university website as a very simple design, with only one column of text on the home page. There are no animations, or photo transitions and few hypertext links in the text. The program pages have two columns, one with the main text and the other contact information. The two columns re-flow to be one on a small screen. Clearly this has been designed for mobile devices (using HTML5), but also works well on a desktop computer.

The web design is not perfect with seven errors detected by the W3C Markup Validation Service, had two critical failures on the W3C mobileOK Checker, and 6 known accessibility problems (WCAG 2.0 Level AA) with AChecker. However, these are less than the problems I have found with other Australian university websites.

As with the web design, the information provided appears to have been simplified compared to other Australian universities. As an example, there is no mention of international students, but international style English language proficiency requirements are specified. Universities normally have a special section where these requirements are specified with an explanation this is only for international students.

Torrens Initial Course Offerings

The university is starting with a limited range of courses in business, education and health. I checked to see what education courses the university would be offering.

Torrens is offering a Graduate Certificate and Master in Early Childhood Education, or Reading and Literacy, as well as masters and PHD by research. The coursework programs are only available on-line and are aimed at trained teachers, professional educators, administrators and policy makers.

The entry requirement for the Graduate Certificate of Education is a bachelor degree in any discipline, plus two years of teaching and an IELTS 6.5. The Master of Education requires four years of teacher training, or a bachelor degree and Graduate Certificate in Education. These programs appear intended for school teachers, not vocational or university educators.

The Torrens Graduate Certificate of Education requires completion of four courses. But unlike other such certificates in Australia there is no course choice, with only four courses offered, all core:
  1. Pedagogy and Learning
  2. Assessment and Evaluation
  3. Diverse Learnings Needs
  4. Education Policy and Law
It would be interesting to see how much adaption for Australia has been made to the standard Laureate International on-line courses. The course "Education Policy and Law" would presumably need the most changes for Australia. The other courses may need little if any changes.

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