Global Speakers


Elizabeth Coulter

Director (Chairperson)

Liz Coulter Consulting

Liz Coulter has 30 years’ experience working in the IT industry in Australia, UK and New Zealand with the last 17 years working in senior roles in the higher education sector where she was involved in teaching and learning strategy, leading change and adoption of learning and teaching technologies, and the implementation of mobile applications and infrastructure technologies enhancing the student experience.

Over her career in the education sector she has actively participated in the Australian and New Zealand IT communities and been involved in a number of related boards and committees including Chair of University New Zealand ICT Committee, Executive Committee Member of the Council of Australian Universities of Directors (CAUDIT), Executive Committee Member of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ascilite), President of Tuakiri , New Zealand’s Identity and Access Federation for Higher Education, and Chair of the REANNZ Advisory Board.

Recently Liz was the Programme Chair for THETA2017, The Higher Education Technology Agenda which is a high-level forward looking conference held every two years with the aim of advancing higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.


Julia Hennessy


Auckland Institute of Studies

Julia Hennessy is President of Auckland Institute of Studies holding responsibilities for academic and management leadership.  She also holds the portfolio for research and international linkages.

Julia has worked in a number of senior roles in New Zealand in both education and health.  She has provided consultancy to national and international agencies.

Julia’s PhD explored the unregulated mental health workforce and she has a number of publications in this field.

Her interest in digital learning has come about through viewing learning as 24/7 –  and how to achieve this.


David Parsons

National Postgraduate Director

The Mind Lab by Unitec Institute of Technology

David Parsons is a leading international researcher in learning with mobile technologies. He is the founding editor in chief of the International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning and has edited five books in this area of research. He is a member of the International Association for Mobile Learning and a committee member of of Australia New Zealand Mobile Learning (a special interest group of ASCILITE). In his current role he is responsible for an extensive national postgraduate programme to upskill teachers in the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning.


Denise Kirkpatrick

Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President (Academic)

Western Sydney University

Professor Denise Kirkpatrick is Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Academic) at Western Sydney University and is responsible for providing senior level leadership of the University’s academic portfolio, International, oversight of the Western Sydney University College and newly established Western Sydney University International College.

Denise has worked as a senior executive in universities in Australia and the United Kingdom. She has led distance education and strategy at leading distance education universities and has extensive experience leading innovation in learning and teaching, eLearning and quality assurance in distance and face to face contexts.

Denise has a PhD in learning and teaching and has worked as a consultant in Australia, Europe, South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle East. She has been an international auditor for a number of Quality Assurance bodies. She researches and publishes in the fields of open, distance and e-learning, and quality in Higher Education.


Jacques van der Meer

Associate Dean - Academic & Research

University of Otago

Jacques van der Meer (PhD) is the Associate Dean (Academic & Research) at the University of Otago College of Education (New Zealand). He has also worked in Student Learning Development (part of the Higher Education Development Centre).

Jacques’ research areas are related to student transition and induction into higher education, student engagement, peer-learning and student leadership. He also has an interest in student retention and achievement, especially of under-represented minorities.


Caroline Seelig

Chief Executive

Open Polytechnic

Dr Caroline Seelig has over 25 years’ experience as a senior manager in New Zealand’s tertiary education sector.  Since taking up her role as Chief Executive in 2009, Open Polytechnic has gone from strength to strength.  Under Dr Seelig’s leadership, Open Polytechnic’s course and qualification results now match those of face-to-face polytechnic providers in New Zealand.  Passionate about the benefits that distance learning can deliver to lifelong learners, Caroline has been instrumental in Open Polytechnic’s digital transformation.


Rick Ede

Chief Executive

Unitec Institute of Technology

Dr Rick Ede has been the Chief Executive of Unitec Institute of Technology in New Zealand since April 2008.  He holds a Masters degree and a Doctorate in chemistry from the University of Waikato, and is an alumnus of London Business School.

Dr Ede is passionate about the transformative power of education. He has been instrumental in helping turn Unitec into an institution that delivers world-class professional and applied education and training built on a foundation of work-integrated learning. He is committed to fostering better outcomes for public and private enterprise by building innovative partnerships and joint ventures, and on extending Unitec’s already strong international reach.

He has a worked in academia, industrially-focussed R&D, has provided consultancy services to industry and educational organisations in Asia and North America, and has a strong track record in business development, innovation, and commercialisation. He is a Director of Mindlab by Unitec, a Director of Tech Futures Lab,  and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Susan Geertshuis

Director of Learning

The Business School, The University of Auckland

Susan Geertshuis is Professor of Lifelong Learning and Director of Teaching and Learning at the University of Auckland Business School. She is a Principal Fellow if the Higher Education Academy. With a background in cognitive psychology, she has a career devoted to empowering others through higher education. Her previous positions include: Director of continuing education. Academic Director of Electronic Engagement, Professor of Organisational Studies.  Director of the Centre for Learning and Innovation in Organisations and Director of the Centre for Learning Research.


Mira Peter

Senior Research Fellow

Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research (WMIER), University of Waikato

Dr Mira Peter is a senior research fellow at the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research (WMIER) at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Mira has over 30 years experience as a researcher focusing on learning, literacy and reading process, scientific experimental design, and statistical data analysis. For a number of years Mira has been exploring the learning and teaching of threshold concepts (TCs) across academic disciplines and the affordances of flipped class at tertiary level. She regularly oversees research projects as a researcher and statistical adviser and provides regular data literacy workshops in the Faculty of Education.


Elaine Khoo

Senior Research Fellow

Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research (WMIER), Faculty of Education, University of Waikato

Dr Elaine Khoo is a senior research fellow at the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research (WMIER) at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Elaine’s research interests include information and communication technology (ICT) and digital pedagogies, online learning communities, participatory learning cultures and collaborative research contexts. She has published works on the flipped classroom, online learning, mobile learning, and ICT use across early childhood, compulsory schooling sector and tertiary levels. Elaine together with Curt Bonk co-authored the free online book Adding Some TEC-VARIETY to enhance online learner engagement and motivation which has been downloaded over 90,000 times in English and Chinese worldwide. Another book Software Literacy will be released by Springer in December 2017.


Shanan Holm

Chief Technology Officer

Open Polytechnic

Shanan Holm joined Open Polytechnic in 2010 and led the product development and direction of iQualify, a digital learning platform created by and at Open Polytechnic that serves the learning needs of a range of businesses, professional organisations, secondary schools and tertiary education providers. Shanan has worked to promote iQualify’s approach to providing digital education experiences at forums as diverse as UNESCO’s 2015 ICT in Education Conference in Qingdao, China, Brisbane’s EduTech, CORE’s uLearn as well as direct discussions with hundreds of stakeholders on the future of digital and learner-centred experiences and assessment.


Catherine Snelling

Associate Professor

University of Adelaide

Associate Professor Catherine Snelling is an internationally recognised leader in blended learning, as evidenced by her numerous papers and presentations at Australian and international education conferences. Since 2007, she has been using a blended learning approach in her university teaching and with colleague, Associate Professor Sophie Karanicolas, has mentored colleagues from around the world to build their capabilities to adopt similar approaches. Catherine has received a number of teaching awards, most significantly, a 2013 Australian Award for University Teaching. In 2017, the Flipped Learning Global Initiative listed her in the top 40 worldwide educators using flipped learning approaches.


Steve Leichtweis

Head of eLearning Group, Centre for Learning & Research

University of Auckland

Steve Leichtweis is a lapsed physiologist and biomedical researcher with a strong interest and background in IT. His research interests include the use of digital technology to enhance teaching and learning, learning analytics & learning environments.


Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor

Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Management

University of Auckland

Bridgette has been based in the UK for the last 18 years. She completed her under-graduate degree at Otago University in business studies, studied her masters here at the University of Auckland and her PhD at Warwick Business School in the UK. Whilst in the UK Bridgette has also been a director of executive, masters and MBA programs at Warwick, Aston, Coventry, Cambridge and Oxford Universities as well as in the Middle East at the Emirates University and Emirates Aviation College. She has also received several teaching awards. She is the member of Australia New Zealand Academy of International Business (ANZIBA). Bridgette is also an Associate Fellow at the University of Warwick Institute for Advanced Studies and for Aston and Warwick Business School.


Damian Lodge

Director Learning and Teaching

Lincoln University New Zealand

Damian is the Director of Learning and Teaching and University Librarian at Lincoln University in New Zealand. He is the Chair of Learning and Teaching Sub Committee of Academic Board and is responsible for Teaching Quality, Academic and Career Skills, Library and Information Services, Digital Access and Research Services. Damian is an experienced academic and speaker on blended learning, teaching quality and the student experience.

Damian has spent over 23 years in academic institutions (University of Tasmania, RMIT University, Charles Sturt University and Lincoln University) in both professional and academic roles.


Ruth Crawford

Principal Lecturer

Whitireia New Zealand

Ruth has been developing and facilitating blended online and fully online courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels since 2007. Ruth has also mentored and guided peers and staff with their online development.


Cathy Gunn

Associate Professor, CLeaR

University of Auckland

Cathy Gunn is an Associate Professor of Learning Technology at CLeaR (Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education) at the University of Auckland. CLeaR provides leadership and promotes innovation in teaching and learning across eight faculties in New Zealand’s largest research university. Cathy’s leadership roles at the Centre include Head of eLearning, Deputy Director, Acting Director and Principal Researcher. She is an active researcher and has produced more than 130 scholarly publications over 25 years in the higher education sector. Cathy is an active contributor to international professional societies and networks, a former President and life member of Ascilite, Australasia’s learning technology professional network.