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New Executive Dean of Education returning to his roots

Professor Barney Dalgarno’s career has come full circle.

After more than 20 years away, Barney has returned to the nation’s capital to take up the role of Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Canberra.

Barney’s career has been a unique combination of his two interests – technology and education. He spent his school and university days working as a tutor but decided to undertake a degree in computer science at UC, and then went on to work in the IT industry.

“I then had one of those periods that you have in your mid-twenties, when you travel and do a bit of thinking,” said Barney.

“I decided that actually, I wanted to do something a bit more meaningful with my life.”

So, he returned to UC and studied education, which led to him teaching in a rural secondary school for a few years, before he returned to Canberra.

“When I came back to UC to do my Masters, I started exploring virtual reality environments and their applications to learning as a research topic,” said Barney.

Barney then made the move to Wagga where he worked at Charles Sturt University for just shy of 22 years across various roles.

“I started off lecturing in IT, but after completing my PhD in Education, I moved across to the Faculty of Education and spent a few years there in various academic and leadership roles before a period in university wide learning and teaching leadership roles” said Barney.

Late last year, the timing was right for Barney to make the move back to Canberra and back into the Faculty of Education at UC, where he could get closer to research and school education which has always been one of his passions.

Barney says he is impressed with how UC has evolved and developed since his own time on campus.

The main change I have noticed is that the campus seems a lot more vibrant. There are a lot more restaurants and coffee shops and more things happening. I think UC is really going places.

Barney has many goals as the new leader of the faculty, including maintaining and building on the strong partnership with the ACT Education Directorate for the Affiliated Schools Program, which combines Work Integrated Learning, collaborative research, professional development for teachers, and scholarships for teachers to undertake their Masters at UC.

Barney also plans to combine his expertise in technology with his new role. Over the years, he has done a lot of work around the social implications of technology, particularly in an educational context. He has written about digital disruption and what it means, and what impact digital disruption might have on universities.

But while at UC, Barney is mostly looking forward to getting out to local schools.

“Our partnership with the ACT Education Directorate will make that possible,” he said.

“We’ve got some great links. The people that we are working with on the Affiliated Schools Program are the same people leading the technology in schools initiative. They are keen to work with us on different ways of evaluating and researching what is being done.”

Barney strongly believes that universities these days need to be much more engaged with the professions, something he thinks UC excels at.

“I think universities need to be doing much more applied research that aligns with the needs of the professions, and feeds into their professionally orientated education programs,” said Barney.

The University of Canberra has always, in the various incarnations of its mission and identity, been front and centre with the notion of being a University for the professions. That really suits my beliefs.

Barney says the faculty is in a great position in terms of its strong research and partnerships and sees it as an enabler for many ideas that he has.

“I have many ideas that I have wanted to progress in terms of teacher education and education-focused research, but have often come up against barriers in trying to do it.

“I am excited to see what my time here at UC holds.”

Professor Barney Dalgarno will be among a group of UC experts speaking at the upcoming UnCover Event – Enlighten Your Mind: Exploring the ‘new normal’ at the Enlighten Festival on March 9 from 6.30pm – 8.30pm. Entry is free, register here.

Words by Katarina Slavich, photo by Madeleine Wood.

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