Nexus: program overview

Interview with Nexus Director, Associate Professor Anne Galea 

Published 29 February 2024

Last year saw the initiation of Nexus - a new program that will be shaping education at UNSW.

In this interview, Nexus Director, Associate Professor Anne Galea answers some introductory questions about the program. She lists its overall aims, touches on how it might affect our broad education community, and what the most challenging and exciting aspects are for 2024 and beyond.   

Anne Galea, Director Nexus Program, talking to the Nexus team at a workshop
If you were to describe the Nexus program in simplest terms – what is it about? 

The Nexus Program is an innovative approach to resourcing and enhancing education across UNSW.

It enables local education heroes to drive and support changes to learning and teaching in a more collaborative, streamlined, and agile fashion. 

Nexus aims to improve the student experience by enabling a whole-of-institution approach to educational excellence while maintaining discipline-based contexts and strategies. The Nexus Program builds and sustains a larger team of talented academic and professional educational innovators who are empowered to solve both central and local challenges and engage with education innovations. 

What are some of the program’s biggest goals, practically speaking? And what are the key initial goals for the core Nexus leadership team? 

The Nexus Program ultimately seeks to:  

  • Define and share good practice in educational innovation across UNSW 

  • Facilitate collaborative development and easier implementation of central initiatives 

  • Increase awareness of specialised education support services 

  • Better support academics to adapt to changes in technology and the education landscape 

Initial goals for the core Nexus leadership team focus on defining Program deliverables for 2024 and setting up the Nexus team for successful achievement of Program objectives. The core Nexus Program leadership team are presently working with the broader Nexus community and their Faculty and School leadership teams to refine plans for Nexus-based work that will be carried out throughout 2024. We are also further developing ways of working within the Nexus team and between Schools/Faculties and Divisions across the institution. We are building processes for knowledge management and reporting and conducting ongoing dependency mapping to explore impacts and opportunities linked to University-wide strategic projects, strategies, and road maps. And we are continually developing the capability of the Nexus team through skills training and professional development workshops. 

How will the program activity likely affect non-Nexus colleagues working in teaching and learning at UNSW? 

Embedded within each Faculty and School are dedicated Nexus team members whose role is to assist with the translation of University-wide initiatives to meet local contexts and needs, as well as solve local challenges that arise across the education landscape. So, both local and central teams will be able to share and feed helpful information through the Nexus team. Nexus members will also be providing peer coaching and support for colleagues through training workshops and consultation programs, so all staff across UNSW can benefit from local and cross-disciplinary Nexus expertise in a format that best suits their needs. 

What have been the biggest achievements so far, in the set-up phase? 

The Nexus team now proudly boasts 43 Nexus Fellows (academic staff) and 24 Nexus Education Developers (professional staff) embedded across our Schools, Campuses, and Divisions.

Nexus colleagues attending event

In addition to recruitment, onboarding, and orientation of team members, the set-up phase of the Nexus Program has integrated regular team building engagements and yielded a suite of achievements by our team members. Nexus staff have been developing local and University-wide education resources, providing professional development to academics through consultations at the Teaching Commons, University-wide and Faculty-specific workshops, and Faculty/School-based coaching and mentoring. Nexus Fellows have also been contributing to the scholarship of teaching and learning through conference abstracts, presentations, and workshops in their respective disciplines. 

What do you see as some of the key challenges for the program in 2024? 

I think one of the biggest challenges for the Nexus team will be one of our core deliverables for 2024: the development and implementation of a sustainable cross-Faculty co-design process for educational improvement and innovation, including formal and informal feedback mechanisms for the University. For UNSW, this approach to enhancing education and the student experience is innovative and large scale, involving all Nexus team members and a host of subject matter experts and stakeholders across all Faculties and Divisions. We know this is a challenge for universities across the globe, and we are looking forward to UNSW leading the way to establishing a solution. 

What most excites you about the program and your vision for it?  

I am thoroughly excited about the potential for the Nexus Program to ease education pain points that have escalated rapidly in recent years by setting in place a fresh new approach to the way we frame, manage, and support changes to education – an approach that is both flexible and sustainable. It could very well be a game-changer in the tertiary education space! Opportunities for enhancing cross-disciplinary collaborations are also vast within the working framework and goals of the Nexus Program, and we are already benefitting from the expertise and shared output of our very enthusiastic and highly engaged Nexus Team. It has been an absolute joy to watch them in action so far, and I am very much looking forward to the next stages of our Nexus journey together. 


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Interview conducted by Dorota Wierzbica


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