University of Tasmania (UTAS) Professor Greg Ashman visited Butler Nov. 14-18, to see firsthand what students from his school can experience during an exchange semester with the B.U. College of Education (COE).

Greg AshmanUTAS School of Education and COE established an exchange program in 2008, focused on placing elementary education majors as student teachers in each other’s countries. Dr. Ashman directs UTAS’ professional educational experience program and overseas exchange programs with Butler, as well as with schools in Sweden and Denmark.

Eleven Butler students have completed semesters at UTAS, thus far. Two students are making plans to attend there in fall 2012, and many more bombarded Dr. Ashman with questions about life at UTAS. (He is shown in the Butler bookstore talking with students Holly Whitman, center, and Megan Donish.)

No Tasmanian students have come to Butler yet, partly because of costs, Dr. Ashman said.

He spent time in several COE classes, both on campus and at field experience sites. “We want to make sure that our students will be comfortable and that what they’re taught will be applicable to teaching in Tasmania,” he said.

UTAS and Butler offer similar education curricula, according to Dr. Ashman. He liked Butler’s effort s to link teaching theory with practice at the IPS/Butler Lab School and field experience sites. After observing a methods class taught by Professor Arthur Hochman at Nora Elementary, he said, “I’d love for my students to take that class.”

What he observed about the city of Indianapolis also convinced him that UTAS students could excel here. “Tasmania is the small island state of Australia,” he said “We’re very conscious of ensuring our students are placed into an environment in which they can thrive. Our students would manage [getting around in] Indianapolis and enjoy both campus and city life.”

UTAS is the only university on Tasmania. It has three campuses, serving 12,000 students. Its School of Education enrolls an average 2,000 annually with only a small percentage of international students.

So far, Butler students have adapted quickly to the education system practiced in Tasmania, Dr. Ashman said. “Their supervising teachers have all been very positive,” he said. Visiting Bulldogs have been “confident and involved” at UTAS, he added, and have developed lasting friendships with Tasmanians.

“I know how seriously Greg works for our students at UTAS,” said Sue Stahl, who coordinates student teaching placements for COE. “He’s done a good job of matching Butler students with schools.”

Stahl has visited UTAS previously. She and Dr. Ashman both said that their face-to-face time and personal relationship have made the professional relationship between the schools better. “I can contact Sue and ask questions that need to be asked for my students,” Dr. Ashman said.

While at Butler, Dr. Ashman also explored ways of broadening the two universities’ collaboration. “We’re discussing what we can do to enhance mutual research and exchanges of professional and academic staff,” he said.