As you may have seen in the media last week, the date for the Macquarie University Train Station closure has not yet been confirmed (update as of 9 April, the closure date was announced as 30 September 2018). Nevertheless, we do know that it will affect everyone who comes to campus regardless of the mode of transport they use. There are things that we can do now to manage the impact and facilitate solutions for ourselves and our students.
The MQ Station Upgrade Project team is working with managers across the University on initiatives to allow staff, students and stakeholders to “Retime, Reduce, Reroute and Remode ” their travel to and from campus.
The 2017 Macquarie Park Connect Travel survey showed that
79% of people arrive to the Macquarie Park area between 7:00am – 9:00am and
73% leave between 4:30pm – 6:30 pm.
Retiming our trips will help spread this peak travel period and make things easier for everyone.
Our challenge is to make changes to work patterns and hours across the University so that not everyone needs to arrive during those (current) peak times. Some activities such as exam timetabling are being addressed at a University level, but the solutions are not “one size fits all”: targeted strategies for specific cohorts or specific campus activities will be more successful in dealing with this challenge.
In the learning and teaching space, the station closure, while inconvenient, presents us with an opportunity to think deeply about how we deliver our programs.
We need to consider flexible approaches to enable students to adapt their travel behaviour and if possible Reduce the number of trips to the campus.
At program and unit level, the questions that need to be asked are:
- Can we design curriculum and delivery in such a way that supports students studying remotely?
- Can we facilitate remote access and engagement in learning activities that we have always run in the classroom?
- Can we use a range of channels for our student advising and consultation processes?
There are a range of technology tools and platforms that can be brought in to support these changes:
- Echo360 Active Learning Platform (ALP) – Students both in the classroom and attending remotely can engage in lectures through online learning activities. All scheduled classes conducted in a room with an Echo360 device will record the session for offline review later and some may be switched on for live streaming. With the Personal Capture Tool you can also pre-record lectures.
- Zoom and Skype can be used to facilitate online appointments and feedback sessions with students or peers.
- VoiceThread facilities video and audio feedback to students on their work.
Now is the time to familiarise yourself with these tools – talk to your Faculty Learning and Teaching team about training and assistance with implementation. This Session is a chance to trial and practise using these tools in your teaching. The Learning Innovation Hub and the Faculties can also offer support on a range of other teaching technologies and communication tools that enable flexible, blended approaches to teaching and consultation.
Above all, it’s important to reassure our students that the University is working hard to minimise disruption and will adapt to, and support them with, the challenges of studying during the temporary closure of the station. We also need to remind students that they too need to prepare – suggestions might include exploring different routes to uni, joining a car pool or organising a “bike bus”.
In addition to finding solutions for and with our students, we need to consider in advance how we will personally be affected by the changes and how we might mitigate any issues. It’s important to remember that even the small things we do will make a significant difference when applied across the University population. For example, this is a good time to:
- Share ideas with our managers about how our work areas could “flex” during this period. Examples might include: changing regular meeting times to avoid peak times; early or late starting and finishing times; and/or more use of tools like Zoom and Skype for meetings.
- Consider personal options such as flexible work hours, working at home and taking leave during the period of closure, where practicable.
- Plan travel times, routes and transport modes in advance of the station closure (see temporary transport plan links below).
Although the closure of the station will be inconvenient and will mean changes to travel arrangements for many of us, it is important to keep in mind that once re-opened as a stop on the new Sydney Metro Northwest, students, staff and visitors will be able to get on a train every four minutes. The benefits for the University will be immense. For instance, travel times for students and staff coming from suburbs such as Bella Vista and Kellyville will be less than half an hour.
In the leadup to the closure the Project Team will be in regular contact about travel options through the various campus communications channels including Teche. Transport for NSW will also be on campus to help people plan their journeys to/from campus. If you would like to start thinking of alternative travel arrangement here are the key links to check out:
- Transport for NSW Trip planner – https://transportnsw.info/
- KeoRide– New On Demand Travel solution for those traveling to and from campus from within a 7.5KM radius https://www.keoride.com.au/macquarie-park
- Car Pool – https://www.mq.edu.au/about/contacts-and-maps/getting-to-macquarie/car/car-pooling
- Temporary Transport Plan Details – http://www.mysydney.nsw.gov.au/node/3725
By Carly Roy, Program Manager, Macquarie University Train Station Upgrade and
Cathy Rytmeister, member of the MQ Station Upgrade Project team and Quality Assurance and Professional Development Lead, Learning Innovation Hub