Restructuring of Australian higher education: Information technology in geography teaching and learning

David C. Rich, Andrew J. Pitman, Maree Gosper, Carol Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Australian higher education has experienced substantial change since the early 1980s, with a transition to mass higher education, closer alignment to national political objectives, increasing Federal Government control, a growing emphasis on 'quality' and 'value for money', and organisational restructuring with manifestations ranging from the creation of the Unified National System to the merger or closure of individual departments. At the same time, evolving conceptions of learning and new patterns of demand, with growing emphasis on lifelong learning and flexible access to education, pose new challenges for educators. Now, the policies of the new Federal Coalition Government are likely to engender further change, with growing differentiation of universities a probable outcome. Information technology has so far played a relatively peripheral role in teaching and learning in higher education, but important changes there, including rapid shifts in the relationship between cost and computing power, and the explosive emergence of the World Wide Web, are now providing the basis on which information technology can become increasingly central to teaching and learning. Higher education is close to the limits of incremental adjustment to pressures for change and it seems likely that it will experience major restructuring, with its eventual reconstruction around the capabilities of information technology. Geography has already been much affected by restructuring pressures, including above-average growth in teaching loads and threats to its disciplinary identity because of internal reorganisation of many universities. Despite a tradition of innovative, high-quality teaching, geography has not generally been a leader in the development and application of information technology. Nevertheless, a case study of an experimental use of the World Wide Web provides an example of directions that teaching and learning in the discipline might take.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-157
Number of pages23
JournalAustralian Geographer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1997


  • Geographical education
  • Higher education
  • Information technology
  • Internet
  • Teaching and learning
  • World Wide Web

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