The opening ceremony of the ongoing forum, first and second webinar series taking place successfully in June and September 2021, was co-organized by Dr. Vinh To, Prof. Victoria Carrington, Prof. Monica Cuskelly and Prof. Sharon Fraser from the University of Tasmania’s School of Education.

Three research team members: Dr. Vinh To (C), Prof. Sharon Fraser (R), and Prof. Monica Cuskelly

The online opening ceremony was well attended by a total of 159 participants on Zoom, including invited speakers and guests and academics from across disciplines at the University of Tasmania, the Australia-ASEAN Council, the Tasmanian Government’s Department of State Growth and 10 Southeast Asian countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).

Prof. Mitch Parsell, Academic Executive Director of the University of Tasmania was invited to do an acknowledgement of the country and started his welcome speech by thanking the Australian Government through the Australia-ASEAN Council of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their support for this forum and to the forum convenors for organizing such an inspirational range of presentations in June. He also thanked the board members and all invited guests and participants across Australia and Southeast Asia. He said, “The forum has many benefits and given my role, I'm particularly delighted to see it highlighting the University of Tasmania's reputation as a high quality and innovative online education provider.”

Prof. Victoria Carrington, Head and Dean of the School of Education, warmly welcomed esteemed colleagues and partners from the University of Tasmania and across Tasmania, from other areas and more than 300 delegates from across Southeast Asia who are participating in this series of forum’s presentation and webinars at this event in June and in the next one in September. She also thanked Dr. Vinh To for developing the initial concept and for leading the project. She said, “I'd also like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to Dr. Vinh To for developing the initial concept for this important and timely forum and for leading its development with such grace and good will.” She invited colleagues across the two regions to share their experience, their innovations, and challenges in online education in the two important rounds of the forum.

Ms. Tamerlaine Beasley, the Australia-ASEAN Council Board Member and Founder and Managing Director of Beasley Intercultural shared her enthusiasm for the project. She said, “We're really delighted to be involved in such an important project. The Australia-ASEAN Council are really about supporting people-to-people relationships and engagement across the countries of Southeast Asia and Australia and I can't think of a better example of how to do this and one of the things we're really keen to do with the work of the Council is to support mutual collaboration and learning and I think one of the things that we know is that innovation and creativity and change are more possible when we engage with diverse perspectives and I can't think of a better way to do that than to engage with colleagues from across the region.”

Ms Tamerlaine Beasley, Australia-ASEAN Council Board, Founder and Managing Director, Beasley Intercultural

She encouraged academics to be listening and learning and highlighted that this is definitely a collaborative learning experience. Ms. Beasley also shared her own experience in managing online and blended learning activities for her 24-year-old business, and congratulated the University of Tasmania, Dr. Vinh To and the team for their work.

Prof. Nicholas Farrelly, the Australia-ASEAN Council Board Member and Head of the School of Social Sciences, also shared his great enthusiasm for the project. He started by sharing the visit of the Heads of ASEAN Mission and the Australia-ASEAN Council Board to Tasmania in March 2021, highlighting the value of close people-to-people links between Australia and friends across the ASEAN region. He congratulated the team involved in organizing this event. “They (the team) have done a splendid job. From the perspective of the Australia-ASEAN Council Board, this is exactly the kind of activity that makes it all worthwhile,” he said.

Two ASEAN partners including Assoc. Prof. Irish Fernandez (Philippines) and Prof. Luh Putu Artini (Indonesia) also shared their excitement to be part of the forum, highlighting the important role of the project in their contexts and expressing the desire to learn more about online teaching pedagogies and to foster ongoing collaboration out of the forum.

Dr. Vinh To, the leader of the project, expressed her deep appreciation to the Australia-ASEAN Council for their sponsorship, to the University of Tasmania’s various teams for supporting the project, to her research team and partners, invited speakers and participants across the University of Tasmania and Southeast Asia for their contribution. She said the success of the project so far was the success of teamwork and expressed her heartfelt gratitude to all involved. 

Reported by Thuy Anh