The Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice is calling for proposals for 2020 special issues, especially on contemporary themes associated with effective and innovative teaching and learning practice in the higher education environment.

The expectation is that the special issue would be of interest to an international audience. To propose a special issue please complete the Special Issue Proposal and return to Dr Alisa Percy by email alisa@uow.edu.au

Call for Expressions of Interest - Special Issue on Technology-enhanced Academic Language Support (TALS)

We would like to invite expressions of interest (500 words max) to contribute to this special issue. In particular, we are seeking papers that address the areas below (but all proposals will be considered):

  • survey and critique of current TALS practices
  • exploration of associated theory
  • explication of relevant instructional and learning design practices
  • program quality assurance (e.g. measuring efficacy and/or digital engagement)
  • Case studies will also be considered, but authors should frame their work so that it has broader applicability to a variety of institutional contexts. For more information and to submit your proposal, please e-mail John Smith, john.smith@griffith.edu.au, or email if you have questions.


  • Expressions of interest due: 20 January 2019
  • Acceptance notifications: 30 January 2019
  • Full papers due: 30 May 2019
  • Final revised papers due: 31 July 2019
  • Technology-enhanced academic language support (TALS) Technology-enhanced academic language support (TALS) refers to any adjunctive learning and teaching program that utilises digitally based technologies to support and develop academic English language and skills. The academic language abilities of tertiary students, both native-English speaking and those with English as an additional language (EAL), has been an area of intense focus for Australian universities and the Australian federal government for over 10 years. Increasingly, universities are turning to digital technologies to enhance or supplement their face-to-face support options, with at least 35 of Australia’s 43 universities currently providing some form of TALS. Demand for more flexible learning options (Leslie-McCarthy & Tutty, 2011), the popularity of off-campus study (James et al., 2010), tighter financial constraints (Mort & Drury, 2012), and rising enrolments of international students (International Education Advisory Council, 2013) are all just some of the reasons that there has been massive growth in tertiary digital learning. This move away from ‘more supported’ approaches to ‘self-help’ resources brings with it a host of teaching and learning complexities. The IEAA Outcomes Report (2013) acknowledges this digital disruption, stating

  • The advent of new forms of information and communication technologies which decouple learning from time and place constraints, impact the way academic programs and courses are delivered to an increasingly large, geographically dispersed and diverse student body, and pose particular challenges to Australia’s tertiary education institutions (p. 8).
  • Digitally based technologies, such as computers and smartphones, have not simply replaced or even become surrogates for more traditional classroom methods; the relationship between the technologies and the learning process is much more complex. As Tuman (1992) accurately predicted more than 20 years ago, “computers will reshape not just how we read and write and, by extension, how we teach these skills, but our understanding of basic terms such as reading, writing and text” (pg. 8).

    Despite this prevalence and impact, TALS has been mostly ignored in the literature. This lack of research and exploration is particularly concerning, not only because such a widespread tertiary teaching and learning practice has been so neglected, but also because there is a real need for good guidance. In one of the few surveys of TALS, Leslie-McCarthy and Tutty (2011) found a strong desire on the part of TALS developers to produce pedagogically sound materials that provided students with “interactive activities,” but the final product often fell short of goals. They concluded that TALS programs in Australia:

  • were often ad-hoc and sometimes haphazard in development
  • produced unexpected results in terms of how the students actually engaged with and utilised the materials, and
  • suffered from a lack of input from experts in web-development and educational technology.
  • This special issue would therefore seek to define and explore this rapidly expanding, but poorly demarcated area of learning and teaching so as to provide developers and practitioners in the field with better guidance of TALS program building and/or evaluation.