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Innovation in education at Mawson Lakes

by Charlotte Knottenbelt

The education building at Mawson Lakes
UniSA's School of Education will cement its reputation as an innovator in the field this month with the opening of a new state of the art facility at Mawson Lakes campus and the introduction of several new degree programs.

The Garth Boomer Building, named after the late South Australian educationalist, will be headquarters for about 800 on-campus students this year, with that number set to grow to 1200 in coming years. (Early childhood and primary teaching programs will continue to be offered at Magill campus.)

The new building was designed with energy efficient principles and IT infrastructure as priorities. Shades over opening windows are there to minimise air conditioner use, while staff offices surround comfortable, naturally lit 'meeting pods' and laptop plug-in areas. A light-filled student lounge adds to the ambience, while new workshop facilities are part of a plan to address a nation-wide shortage of design and technology teachers.

Dean and Head of the School of Education, Professor Marie Brennan, says the move to Mawson Lakes signals the University's long term commitment to Adelaide's northern and western suburbs.

"We may have moved north but we have in no way abandoned the western suburbs," says Prof Brennan. "This campus is the perfect place from which to build on our partnerships that exist all over Adelaide.

"So far the reaction from staff and students has been amazing here we have a brand new purpose built facility that is set to become the destination of choice for education students and professionals from all over the state and country."

With Mawson Lakes only 25 minutes from the city centre, and 20 minutes from both the east and west, it's easier to get to than some would think. And the already extensive public transport facilities will be more convenient when a new transport hub due to be completed later this year will make Mawson Lakes an 11 minute train journey from the city.

Prof Brennan says the introduction of two new degree programs this year the Bachelor of Education (Primary and Middle) and Bachelor of Education (Design and Technology) was a response to specific community and industry needs.

"The primary and middle degree has been developed to build a better understanding of young adolescents, which is the period when a lot of kids start switching off from school," she says.

"And the design and technology program was introduced to address a state and national shortage of teachers in those areas."

In other news, new scholarships have been created to coincide with the move to Mawson Lakes. As part of a broader push to address the comparatively low levels of tertiary education participation for people from Adelaide's northern suburbs, up to 20 scholarships will be offered to students from public schools in the north who are commencing their studies at Mawson Lakes this year. Meanwhile the Construction Industry Training Board is sponsoring a scholarship to be awarded to students in the new design and technology program.

Teaching a new generation