az 2 nz & au what & why where references
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what? why?

what & why

just in case anyone is curious how I got this boondoggle... (more)
the proposal
Project ideas written in November 1999... (more)
.az = Arizona
It's my home state, but I'll relocate to a different part for July-August... (more)
.nz = New Zealand
Off to the home of "kiwis" for September - October ... (more)

.au = Australia
"G'day, mate!" will be my vocabulary after spending November-December down under...
the goods
So what actually came out of this? ... (more)
a little bit about australia
The visit to Australia is based somewhat on my personal desire to visit "down under", heavily influenced by movies and National Geographic. The aura of Australia is humourously described by Douglas Adams (thanks to Jan Whitaker for sharing this with me!).
Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the bottom half of the planet. It is recognisable from orbit because of many unusual features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge deep into the girting sea. Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology and plate tectonics, but they still call it the "Great Australian Bight" proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory, but they can't spell either.

The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the place. Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as either continent, island, or country, Australia is considered all three. Typically, it is unique in this.

The second confusing thing about Australia are the animals. They can be divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep.
Douglas Adams, The Confusing Country

For even more, read Adams' tale of Riding the Rays

In a similar, almost parallel vein, humorist Bill Bryson describes Australia in his book, In a Sunburned Country

Australia is the world's sixth largest country and its largest island. It is the only country that is also a continent, and the only continent that is also a country, It was the first continent conquered from the sea, and the last. It is the only nation that began as a prison.

... It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world's ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures-- the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish-- are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you... If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback. It is a tough place.

... At some undetermined point in the great immensity of its past-- perhaps 45,000 years ago, perhaps 60,000, but certainly before there were modern humans in the Americas or Europe-- it was quietly invaded by a deeply inscrutable people, the Aborigines, who have no clearly evident racial or linguistic kinship to their neighbors in the region, and whose presence in Australia can only be explained by positing that they invented and mastered ocean-going craft at least 30,000 years in advance of anyone else, in order to undertake an exodus, then forgot or abandoned nearly all that they had learned and scarcely bothered with the open sea again.

It is an accomplishment so singular and extraordinary, so uncomfortable with scrutiny, that most historians breeze over it in a paragraph or two, then move ion to the second, more explicable invasion-- the one that began with the arrival of Captain James Cook and his doughty little ship HMS Endeavour in Botany Bay in 1770, Never mind that Captain Cook didn't discover Australia and that he wasn;t even a captain yet at the time of his visit. For most people, including most Australians, this is where the story begins...

In short, there is no place like it.
Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country

picture of USA and AustraliaMaps of the US and Australia
superimposed to compare relative sizes. While Australia has a similar area to the continetal USA, the population of the states (240+ million) is more than 10 times greater than that of Australia (~20 million). For more facts, see the Hutchinson Family Encyclopedia

One of the compelling reasons is that Australia has a system of insitututions (Training and Further Education or TAFE) that are similar to our community colleges. Furthermore, because of the size and remoteness of the country, they have for a long time being delivering learning via distance, and are now charged with missions for creating "flexible" learning.

The purpose of these visits is to visit institutions and learn what strategies are being used for integration of instructional technology and where their major issues/challenges lie. It might also be an opportunity to create potential collaboration partners for projects at Maricopa.

One of the primary connections is with the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), through a connection when John Smith, head of Teacher Education and Learning Solutions, visited me at Maricopa in 1998. Since then we have conducted video and teleconferences between Maricopa and Canberra to discuss support for instructional technology.

Another solid connection is between Maricopa Community Colleges and the New South Wales TAFE Riverina. The Maricopa International Education program has established a series of faculty exchange programs, and in 1999 I was fortunate to meet several representatives during their visit to Arizona. Other contacts set up a visit for me to the TAFE system of South Australia, in the Adelaide area.

Leaders of the Learning Network Queensland visited Maricopa in the Spring 2000 and invited me to participate in their Open Learning conference in Brisbane during December. A chance email exchange via a listserv fetched me a visit with a web developer at Griffiths University.

Many other connections have been established based upon my contacts in Canberra, Melbourne, and Brisbane with the community of software developers who use Macromedia Director software. Very often these people have a sense of the practices of Australian content develoment outfits or are tied to the programs taught at local colleges.

While I am here I am trying to learn how to talk like an Ozzie ;-)

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