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[ ASCILITE ] [ 2004 Proceedings Contents ]


We are thrilled with the response to our call for papers for the 21st ASCILITE Conference in Perth this year. Perth is the second most isolated city in the world, and we are full of admiration for all of you with the valour to cross deserts and oceans to be with us. And we are very happy that so many of our contributors responded to our theme of Beyond the comfort zone. It seemed to hit an appropriate note, appearing often in the Proceedings, and contributing very productively towards our intention that presentations should go beyond the 'comfort zone' of established techniques and familiar contexts.

A high number of submissions was received and we relied on the support of an expanded panel of reviewers. Both the Program Committee and many authors were impressed by the detailed formative feedback provided by many reviewers. This enabled many good papers to be substantially improved. Reviewing can be difficult and time consuming work, with the load exacerbated by uncertainties about review criteria and standards. We will explore this problem, using a survey of ASCILITE 2004 reviewer experiences to be presented later on the Conference web site.

Every paper was reviewed on a double blind basis by two referees. Reviewers' comments were then considered by the Program Committee, and where the reviews agreed or almost agreed, their recommendations were accepted. Where there were discrepancies between the reviewers' comments, the paper was re-read in detail by one or more members of the Program Committee and discussed in meetings until a decision was reached.

The 2004 Program consists of 135 presentations, comprising four plenary sessions, 68 Refereed traditional presentations, 51 Refereed short presentations and 12 Poster presentations. Owing to the overall high standard of submissions, we faced a problem with intense competition for allocations of presentation periods. Many authors had to be offered a presentation format lesser than the one that they sought. With the help of our reviewers, we have done the best we can to ration presentation opportunities in accordance with the perceived merit of the papers. Also, we have timetabled some of the traditional presentations and all of the short presentations as 'five in parallel', to enable a modest expansion in the numbers of presentations compared with previous ASCILITE Conferences. Whilst a more detailed comparative analysis will be published later on the Conference website, Table 1 summarises the 2004 outcomes.

Table 1: ASCILITE 2004 outcomes summary

Number of
Traditional papersShort papersPostersReject

Table 2 represents an attempt to offer Conference 2004 participants and ASCILITE members generally some insight into potential directions for future Conferences. It is not intended to be a 'rank ordering', because each Conference has its own subtle uniqueness, as many will be quick to observe.

Table 2: Numbers of presentations at ASCILITE Conferences 2001-2004

Melb 01Auck 02Adel 03Perth 04
Total papers receivedna185118153
Total accepted104124109131
Full papers ('traditional' pres.)61766068
Concise papers ('short' pres.)24313851
Poster presentations19171112
Number of pages in Proceedings751937759993

Notes: Melbourne 2001 numbers are from the Conference website. Auckland 2002 and Adelaide 2003 numbers are from the printed Proceedings. There are some minor discrepancies between Programs and Proceedings, presumably due to cancellations, not detailed in Table 2. About one half of Melbourne 2001's 'concise' papers were allocated 'traditional' length sessions.

The two Tables and anecdotal evidence suggest that accommodation of growth via increased use of 'short presentations' will be more popular with authors than increased use of poster presentations. Conference 2004's attempt to make greater use of poster presentations, through later deadlines, offering to publish an expanded, web only version, and linking to a 'preprint server' role, had little impact.

Within the very tight schedule for the publication of the Proceedings, it was not possible for the editorial group to undertake detailed editing and proof reading. We kept fairly closely to the Australian Government Publishing Service's Style Guide and the Macquarie Dictionary throughout, for example replacing 'z' for 's' in words like categorisation, recognise, realise, summarise, etc, taking due care not to change words like 'size', and of course the ubiquitous 'zone'. Because of a proliferation of hyphens creeping into academic work in recent times, we did 'dehyphenation' passes, ungrouping phrases like outcomes-based, classroom-based, resource-based, technology-based, as well as face-to-face, one-to-one, day-to-day, one-day, two-phase, three-dimensional, four-point-scale, etc. If the hypenenated word began with an accepted prefix such as multi-, or inter- or pre-, we left the hyphen. We left it also in on-campus and off-campus and university-wide, because they are widely used in the university context, although strictly speaking they should not be hyphenated. New words in a state of development were more challenging; we left 'e-learning' as hyphenated, but not 'e-mail', and having accepted 'e-learning', we had to accept 'm-learning' and 'u-learning', and so on.

We also paid particular attention to reference lists, especially the correction of citation errors and the insertion of URLs wherever possible. As an aside, to be followed up in other research projects, we noted that in many instances, authors did not cite AJET and ASCILITE Conference URLs, though to our way of thinking, these should have been high priority, especially when citing one's own research work.

A small number of contributors used Microsoft Word features which showed deficiencies in portability across platforms and between versions of Word. Although the editorial group worked jointly with Word and Office for Mac 2001 and for Windows XP, and managed to solve most of the problems, some remained, for example with figures and diagrams that appeared fine on screen, but would not print, and had to be redrawn in a simpler format. There were also examples of inappropriate use of colour, font types and font sizes within diagrams and tables, that tended to degrade rather than enhance figures printed in grey scale. It is salutary for people working in this important area of computers in teaching to remember the importance of designing clear and easy to transport materials which can be used widely by large numbers of students and lecturers. The KISS principle is still as important as it ever was.

Roger Atkinson, Clare McBeath, Diana Jonas-Dwyer and Rob Phillips
ASCILITE 2004 Program Committee

Please cite as: Atkinson, R., McBeath, C., Jonas-Dwyer, D. & Phillips, R. (2004). Editorial. In R. Atkinson, C. McBeath, D. Jonas-Dwyer & R. Phillips (Eds), Beyond the comfort zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference (pp. viii-ix). Perth, 5-8 December.

© Roger Atkinson, Clare McBeath, Diana Jonas-Dwyer and Rob Phillips
The authors assign to ASCILITE and educational non-profit institutions a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The authors also grant a non-exclusive licence to ASCILITE to publish this document on the ASCILITE web site (including any mirror or archival sites that may be developed) and in printed form within the ASCILITE 2004 Conference Proceedings. Any other usage is prohibited without the express permission of the authors.

[ ASCILITE ] [ 2004 Proceedings Contents ]
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