It is important to take the time and work with network partners to ensure that there is a clear and shared vision for the network. This was a particular challenge to the NATA as it brought together diverse stakeholders and independent groups for the first time. The role of a critical friend is highly important as networks involve various parties, interests and tensions. A credible evaluator or critical friend is able to bring an objective perspective to network discussions. Establishing regular and appropriate communication with key stakeholders is essential. For NATA it took considerable time to establish the correct balance between engaging partners and overwhelming them with content and time demands. Relevant communication and activity are vital for member engagement. To foster network engagement you need to be proactive and persistent if you wish to engage people with your vision. An effective and current web presence is essential. Developing a readily accessible and active web presence that provides a means for people to better understand and engage with your network is fundamental to establishing a robust identity. Effective dissemination underpins the success of networks. Finding an ideal balance of dissemination remains problematic. Supranets (networks of networks) such as NATA have access to large audiences and effectively communicating what is needed remains a critical challenge and opportunity. Effective networks are based on collaboration. It is important to reflect upon the ongoing value of collaboration at key points as the context in which networks are established continually changes. Understanding how such changes impact upon the network and key stakeholders is important for network sustainability. It is important not to underestimate the importance of face-to-face meetings for developing relationships. The NATA had three opportunities for face-to-face meetings between network partners which were invaluable in streamlining processes, building collegial rapport and advancing network discussion. Understand and account for partner differences and similarities. Despite operating in the same context and having similar foci, on occasions network partners appeared more dissimilar than similar. This often required strong but considered facilitation. Succession planning is integral to maintaining continuity for network engagement. To reduce discontinuity and knowledge slippage, appropriate succession planning and induction practices need to be in place to minimise the inevitable changes of those involved in the network.
NATA Seminar - Culminating Event for the NATA Project
Connecting and Collaborating:
Leading Educational Networks in
Australasian Tertiary Education
Mike Keppell, Gordon Suddaby & Natasha Hard
Connectivism (Siemens, 2006)
suggests that ‘knowledge is
in the network’
“Learning in a richly
networked society involves
configurations of tasks, tools
and people, with new
distributions of activity across
time, space and media
(Caralho & Goodyear, 2014,
Carvalho, L. &
Goodyear, P. (Eds.).
2014. The architecture
of productive learning
Taylor and Francis
Group, New York.
Networks in Higher
Groups of academics and
educators with a common
focus and formal structure.
For example, ACODE, ascilite,
CADAD, HERDSA, ODLAA.
organisations focused on a
particular profession and may
include accreditation. For
example, CPA Australia.
Networks in Higher
National Networks: For example,
the OLT has supported four
networks that have a national focus
to their specific functions. See the
OLT website for further details.
Discipline Networks: Including
sixteen discipline-based networks
supported by the OLT. See the OLT
website for further details.
State Based Networks: For
example, five OLT supported state-
based networks focused on
Promoting Excellence (grants,
awards). See OLT website for
Benefits of Being
Part of a Network
Building connections and professional networks
beyond your institution and immediate
Gaining access to regular and structured
opportunities for professional development such
as conferences, webinars or structured
Benefits of Being Part
of a Network
Keeping up to date with
current news, policy
trends, publications and
specific to your discipline
Being able to contribute to
the wider educational
environment and discourse
The Network of Australasian
Mission: To improve engagement
and practice through network
Closure of the ALTC
ACODE and ascilite
Strategic Alignment &
What networks are you or have you
been a member of?
Why did you join?
What were the membership benefits?
Challenges regarding engagement?
The diverse range of networks
involved in the NATA ensured that
the experiences and lessons are
relevant to a broad range of networks
Improve the effectiveness of communication and
engagement with NATA members at large
Enable and support network leaders to encourage
collaboration and increase membership engagement
Review the utilisation of technologies to support
best practice in network engagement
Foster, encourage and support further network-based
An investigation into network leadership within
established Australasian tertiary education
Interviews with leaders of networks
Focus groups with executive members
Focused on practical application
10 Principles for Good Practice in Network
To establish higher level connections and gain
access to knowledge and experience that can
then benefit your local context.
Be more informed about sectoral changes,
challenges and opportunities.
To more effectively pursue and support
professional values or key causes.
Use your skills and experience to contribute
back to the sector – ‘taking your turn’.
Why Take on a
Leadership Role in
NATA Outputs: Leading Networks
Research informed principles and
Practical resources on networking and
10 Principles for
1. Network leaders need to have strong
personal networks to help
inform/contextualise network practices and
assist network dissemination.
2. Leaders need to have a focus on and clear
understanding of the priorities and
challenges for their association now and into
10 Principles for
3. The leaders of networks need to be cognisant
of the needs and interests of their members so
that activities and communication are relevant
and offer value.
4. Network leaders need to understand the
capacity of executive members and have
realistic expectations regarding workloads
and timeframes given the volunteer nature of
5. Executive members need to have clearly
defined roles and responsibilities in order to
foster ownership and provide a specific focus to
their association-based activities.
6. The development of rapport between
executive members is critical for effective
functioning: face-to-face interaction can assist
the establishment of working relationships, which
can be strengthened through the use of
10 Principles for
7. Systems need to be in place to ensure that
association knowledge and experience
are maintained, whilst new and innovative
ideas are supported.
8. Networks require a culture of vibrancy
and transparency if they are to be
sustainable and maintain a healthy and
10 Principles for
9. Communication needs to be fit for purpose
both in mode and message: consistency and
the appropriate use of technology can support
a sense of connection and the development of
a community of trust.
10. Establishing financial security enables
strategic allocation of funds for activities
aligned with association priorities.
10 Principles for
Leading Academic Associations
It is important to take the time and work
with network partners to ensure that there
is a clear and shared vision for the
The role of a critical friend is highly
important as networks involve various
parties, interests and tensions.
Establishing regular and appropriate
communication with key stakeholders is
essential. Relevant communication and
activity are vital for member engagement.
An effective and current web presence is
essential. Effective dissemination underpins
the success of networks.
Effective networks are based on collaboration
and mutual value.
It is important not to underestimate the
importance of face-to-face meetings for
Understand and account for partner
differences and similarities.
Succession planning is integral to
maintaining continuity for network
Sharing Best Practice among
Learning from the experiences of other
ACODE ascilite CADAD HERDSA ODLAA
study of a
Guide to support
networks in the
Social Media as a
CADAD Social Media
Aim: To develop an online professional
development toolkit that will support
network members capability in the use
and affordances of social media.
Completed Outcomes: An online
professional development tool kit for
network members on how to engage with
and incorporate a range of social media
tools to enhance professional
GPR on Technology-
Enhanced Learning and
Teaching (7093 views,
Networks and dissemination
Networks for influence
Technology-enhanced learning and teaching
Professor Mike Keppell, Mr Gordon Suddaby & Ms Natasha
Discussions on issues regarding
Maintaining membership and engagement
HERDSA Guide, “Leading Academic Networks” by
Tips for leading academic networks. Key
considerations across the life cycle of network
CADAD Social Media Toolkit
NATA Short Report
Strategies for making networks work
Networks & connections are increasingly important
Understanding different networks in HE
Widely applicable lessons
Sharing best practice among networks
Understanding how to lead networks
Taking on a leadership role in your network
Practical resources on networking & network
Maximising influence within the sector.