Three Sydney educational innovations on the world stage

Arduinos, ethnobotany, and learning analytics: three educational innovations from the University of Sydney have been shortlisted in the annual QS Quacquarelli Symonds Wharton Business School Reimagine Education awards.


MadMaker is the brainchild of the LATTE group from the Faculty of Engineering and IT, and is represented by Associate Professor Abelardo Pardo. It aims to change the perception of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers of high school students by exposing them to engaging and interdisciplinary learning experiences. Students use Arduinos board with sensors and digital outputs to tackle challenges like detecting movement to steer a rocket’s landing, and combining light to produce multiple colours. To date, about 3000 students across Australia have participated in the initiative, undertaking tasks in their own schools and supported by experts online as well as their own teachers.

Check out the video below, and the project website.


CampusFlora map
Screenshot from the CampusFlora app. Supplied by Dr Rosanne Quinnell.

CampusFlora started as an undergraduate student project and has since blossomed. Project leader Dr Rosanne Quinnell said, “the CampusFlora team, both students and staff, are grateful for local, national and international recognition of our work. As botany educators [#iamabotanist] we address ‘plant blindness’, which is the failure to notice the plants around us. The CampusFlora apps [web, iOS, Android] have connected the campus community to our natural surroundings by offering both scientific and ethnobotanical narratives so everyone can learn to love and appreciate plants as much as we do. We pay homage to the Jacaranda (ArborNo 0001) that stood graciously in the Main Quad for so many decades and was a unifying symbol of our academy – providing an ethnobotanical connection between an individual plant and the University community. We have been enormously heartened that CampusFlora has ignited imaginations and that it is being adopted, adapted and reimagined by others across our campuses and across the continent.”

Check out the project website.

The Student Relationship Engagement System (SRES)

The SRES is currently being used in six faculties at the University and potentially reaches over 20,000 students. It was originally developed in the Faculty of Science by Dr Danny Liu and Professor Adam Bridgeman to help personalise communication and feedback to cohorts of over 1000 students. The SRES aims to give teachers control of meaningful data about their students so that their natural academic and pastoral support capabilities can be amplified. By helping teachers personalise feedback and engage with their students in a timely and relevant way, the SRES has been credited with increasing student engagement and performance (and even attendance), helping students feel valued even in large cohorts, and reducing attrition.

Check out the video below, find out how you can use the SRES today to personalise learning support for your students, read a basic introduction, and access the SRES.

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