We asked you to tell us what you wanted from ACEN, and you did! Over 200 of you responded to our National Survey, offering you thoughts and feedback on ACEN events, activities and publications. You told us what works well, what needs to be improved and the issues you would like to focus on. You also provided your preferences on the format and frequency of activities, both and National and State level. We listened to your comments, and incorporated your feedback into ACEN’s Strategic Plan for 2014 and beyond.
ACEN membership is spread proportionately across the States, with a relatively even split between Academic and Professional staff. In terms of the disciplines you represent, a large percentage have a multi-disciplinary approach to WIL, whilst Allied Health, Nursing and Midwifery, Business and Education represent the biggest discipline-specific fields. There was of course an expectation that disciplines with a tradition of linking theory and practice would represent a significant percentage of our membership, but what was a surprise was the huge variety of disciplines represented within ACEN. From Fine Art to Philosophy, from Aviation to Communication, WIL is identified as a specific topic of interest, in addition to the more ‘traditional’ disciplines and central services. This exciting finding not only illustrates the need for ACEN to cater to a diverse membership, but also demonstrates the huge collaborative potential of the network in exchanging ideas, information and innovate approaches to WIL.
How do you engage with ACEN?
Many of you attend our biennial conferences and find them really useful. You gave some great feedback on how they could be improved in future years, with an emphasis on industry, community and student input being a key recommendation. Other comments relating to timing, format and content have been taken on board and will be reflected in this year’s event wherever possible. It was great to hear that so many of you are new to the network and planning to attend this year’s conference. We really look forward to meeting you!
You offered some excellent suggestions about activities for non-conference years. Research symposiums, webinars and additional State-based activities were suggested, with an emphasis on industry and community engagement. It was requested that greater provision was made for rural and remote engagement in events generally, whether in the form of face-to-face activities or via webinars. Once again, these comments have been taken on board at National and State level, and will be factored into our forward planning for this year and beyond.
In terms of ACEN’s advocacy role, you were strongly in favour of greater government and industry engagement, at both national and state levels. It was suggested that ACEN could better engage with its members on advocacy matters, with the newsletter suggested as an ideal vehicle for providing updates and opportunity to comment. In terms of the newsletter generally, you told us that you found it particularly useful as a ‘one-stop-shop’ summary of relevant information, and provided some great ideas on how it could be further improved. Look out for changes!
Workshops, presentations, webinars, discussion forums and research groups were all recognised as being valuable to members at state level. There was a clear preference for events to be held on a bi-annual basis, but with recognition that this depended on the focus of the events and the time constraints of members. Once again, you outlined the need to engage our rural and remote members, with webinars in particular identified as a means of facilitating this. If you are unable to attend a state-based event in person, you expressed strong preferences for them to be live-streamed or recorded. All of these comments have been taken on board, and through a combination of face-to-face events and webinars we aim to ensure all members have an opportunity engage in activities in some form, or to access recordings or presentations at a later date.
A number of you expressed an interest in hosting an event at your institution, and we thank you for this. We will be in touch as appropriate.
In summary, you identified the following as key areas of interest:
- Actively engaging industry with ACEN
- Strategic relationship-building at federal and state level
- On-line provision of events, information and factsheets
- Continuation of regular, focussed, state-based activities
- Engaging with members on advocacy issues
- Maximising the strengths of the newsletter
- Enabling the engagement of rural and remote members
- Promoting research opportunities
These recommendations are being factored into ACEN’s Strategic Plan for 2014 and beyond, and we will keep you updated on developments as they occur. If you have any further comments or suggestions about ACEN activities or events, please do not hesitate to contact us. Your input is vital in ensuring the continued success of ACEN.
Thanks to those who contributed to the survey.
Ceri Macleod, Flinders University, ACEN Board member