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Matthew Allen is the incoming Head of School, Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University (Feburary 2013) having previously been Professor of Internet Studies, Curtin University. Matthew worked at Curtin University since 1994, establishing and sustaining a program of Internet research and education from 1999 onwards. Matthew had several leadership roles at Curtin, including being the Associate Head of School, Teaching and Learning in the newly formed School of Media and Information (2000-2001) and Associate Dean Faculty of Humanities, responsible for Teaching and Learning (2003-2005). He was an elected member of Curtin’s Academic Board. Matthew is an innovative educator, a Teaching Fellow of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (having completed the project Learning in Networks of Knowledge) and received an Australian Award for University Teaching (2000). He is the author of various articles and papers on things Internet, as well as online learning, television, popular culture and Australian history, and will be publishing his third book, Web Presence: Staying Noticed in a Networked World (co-authored with Dr Tama Leaver) in 2013. In 2012 he published Gaining a Past, Losing a Future: Web 2.0 and Internet Historicity (Media International Australia), Wikis as Individual Student Learning Tools: The Limitations of Technology (J ICT Education), and An Education In Facebook (Digital Culture and Education). Born in England,Matthew grew up in Sydney (BA Hons, USyd), then spent time in Canberra (PhD, ANU) and was in Perth from 1991-2012 (acquiring also an MA (Lit. Comm, Murdoch). Most recently, he has been analysing the development of Web 2.0, particularly as an historical marker of change in the way we think about the Internet. He is a critic and researcher of the social uses and cultural meanings of the Internet. He served as President of the Association of Internet Researchers from 2005-2007.
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Born in England, but having lived most of my life in Australia, I studied history at the University of Sydney in the 1980s (BA (Hons)) and then completed a PhD in military history and organisational change at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University. This thesis was later published as Military Helicopter Doctrines of the Major Powers, 1945–1992 (Greenwood, 1993). During this time I was an active student politician, serving as President of the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association and, from time to time, demonstrating my commitment to a more just and equitable society, particularly in relation to education. Upon finishing my PhD, I took up a tutorship (as they were then called) in the History Department at the University of Western Australia to teach Australian history. In the course of doing my thesis I became intrigued by the way stories are told within organisations to justify or explain their existence and, searching for answers, came to see post-structuralism as the only answer.
Since then I have regularly reshaped and refashioned my academic career, sidestepping the yawning chasms of academic unemployment that have accompanied more than twenty years of ‘rationalisation’ in higher education in Australia. After some short-term appointments at UWA, and also Murdoch and Edith Cowan universities, I moved in 1994 to the School of Social Sciences at Curtin University, teaching critical thinking. During this time, my research shifted from history towards contemporary media, especially television and gender and, along the way, I acquired an MA from Murdoch University in Literature and Communication, focusing on television and masculinity. In the mid-1990s I started to explore the use of the Internet for more effective distance education and soon realised that it would have profound effects on both teaching and learning for all students and on society as a whole. During this time, I also wrote the successful Smart Thinking textbook which was based on my teaching at that time. A second edition of the book appeared in 2004 and it continues to be a popular text for university students, being reprinted and refreshed in 2012.
My quest for a stable career and to understand the profound effects of new media technologies led me to establish what is now the Department of Internet Studies and craft with colleagues a new kind of undergraduate degree – the BA (Internet Studies) (renamed the BA (Internet Communications) in 2010) – which aimed to create professionally capable, creative thinkers, communicators and users of the Internet. This degree has been also an ongoing exploration in how best to use the Internet for education, since most students study fully online. The department also offers postgraduate education and is home to several doctoral students, including some studying fully online. Since I established the Internet Studies program at Curtin University, it has grown from 60 equivalent full–time students and 1 academic to many hundreds of students, 15 doctoral research students and 7 academics. It is with some sadness that, in 2013, I move on from this wonderful collegial environment to a new challenge, as Head of the School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University. However I believe it is time for new voices, new perspectives to lead and guide Internet Studies at Curtin and look forward to an exciting new opportunity at Deakin.
Because of my ongoing interest in and success with introducing new academic programs, based on innovative pedagogy, I played a role within Curtin in the overall management and development of teaching and learning, being Associate Dean Teaching and Learning in Humanities from 2003 to 2005. I have run many workshops on teaching and learning and related issues with the aim of creating new kinds of teaching practices in higher education. I have been awarded an Australian Award for University Teaching (2000), a Curtin Excellence in Teaching award (2003), and most recently was appointed as an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Teaching Fellow (2008). I have given many workshops and lectures on innovation in online learning and it continues to be a key part of my research interests.
I have represented Western Australia in touch football (admittedly as a ‘veteran’). I am an avid reader of science fiction, fanatical supporter of Western Australian and Australian softball teams, probably spend far too much time watching television (the old habits of tele-ology research live on), and am accompanied on life’s journey by the wonderful Professor Jane Long.