General observations about Monash

In October 2018 I visited Monash University in Melbourne, as part of a Warwick/Monash project investigating immersive technologies in engineering education (with Graeme Knowles of WMG and Irwyn Shepherd of Monash). Here’s some general observations made during the week of meetings and exploration.

There seems to be more of an emphasis on shared spaces and facilities. Department buildings were less obvious. We had a tour of the design school facilities, which are big and well developed, but from the outset they emphasised their openness and the fact that they collaborate across the university.

The university is clean, orderly and calm. Smoking is not allowed on campus. In the evenings there were no signs of anti social behaviour. The student culture is much less oriented towards alcohol. There are fewer bars, and drinking in public seems not to be at all present.

They build spaces around people, designed to fit with practices and services.

People identify with what they do more than what there position is within the organisation. That made it hard to understand the organisation. But it looks like they collaborate better. They are much more goal oriented, and seem to have a clearer sense of why they are innovating and what they collectively want to achieve.

Kris Ryan (Academic Director of Monash Education Innovation, but also a professor in Engineering) seems to be introducing a more systematic and data driven approach to educational innovation. Service oriented. Student oriented.

There is more of a focus on live face to face events (including videoconferencing), rather than online systems.

Design Thinking, and designerly communications and activities, seem to be embedded into the Monash way. At the start of the second session of the conference, the presenter announced that we would use a “design thinking approach”, and this just seemed entirely normal to the participants.