The BEST Network began as a government funded $4.5M project in 2012 to establish a network of leading biomedical schools and peak industry bodies set to revolutionise biomedical education by addressing a critical need in biomedical education world-wide: the need for easy sharing of knowledge, expertise, courseware and technologies.
In 2014, the BEST Network's Founding Members - UNSW Australia, University of Queensland, James Cook University, and University of Melbourne - established the network as a not-for-profit venture.
The legal principles that constitute this collaboration are set out in the BEST Network Collaboration Agreement, with UNSW Australia as the Administering Organisation. As a not-for-profit, BEST Network institutional membership fees cover running costs of the network with the remainder used for further improvement of the Network's shared resources.
The BEST Network is governed by the BEST Network Management Committee (BMC) which consists of representatives from each of the Founding Members. Through the BMC, they work together to determine and implement the strategic goals of the Network, for the benefit of all members.
Nick is the Head of the BEST Network, and Professor of Innovative Technology in Medical Education at the University of Queensland. Over the past few years he has worked with colleagues to envisage and realise the goals of the BEST network as a not-for-profit academic collaboration that supports high quality online education in biomedicine.
Nick is a medical graduate and specialist in Anatomical Pathology, and from 2008-2015 was Head of the School of Medical Sciences at UNSW Australia. He has a PhD in Pathology and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education, and 25 years’ experience in the teaching of pathology to medicine and science undergraduates in Australia.
A/Prof Gary Velan is the UNSW lead for the BEST Network, and is Head of the Department of Pathology within the School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine at UNSW Australia. For more than a decade, he has designed, evaluated and published regarding the appropriate design and use of digital learning resources, including the introduction of virtual microscopy to UNSW in 2004, as well as virtual microscopy adaptive tutorials (VMATs) and online formative and summative assessments.
His scholarly approach to learning and teaching and its impact on students' learning has been recognised within UNSW by two Vice Chancellor's Awards for Teaching Excellence (2003 and 2009), at a state level by a NSW Minister of Education's Quality Teaching Award (2003), and at a national level by a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2007) and a Teaching Excellence Award (2010) from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.
Kristine is an educational technology researcher with over twenty years experience in the design, development, evaluation and research of educational technologies to support biomedical science and health professional education. She is currently academic lead for educational technology in the Department of Medical Education.
Kristine is the University of Melbourne representative on the BEST Network Management Committee and has been actively involved in the BEST Network since 2012. She was lead author of Communication & Health Information Technologies in Clinical Practice created as part of the BEST Network and has been instrumental to the successful development of other University of Melbourne initiatives for the BEST Network, including Interactive Case Studies in Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Pharmacology of Envenomation: Snake bite.
Kristine’s other research interests focus on the use of technology by the public, patients and health professionals to communicate and access health information, and the implications this has for health professional education and professional practice.
Vaughan is presently Senior Lecturer and Chief Anatomist in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland where he has been an anatomy academic for over 30 years. He was awarded his PhD in Anatomy in 1990, a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education in 1997 and the University Commendation for Excellence in Teaching in 2005.
He was seconded to the School of Medicine for 3 ½ years to serve as Head of Years 1 & 2 in the Graduate-Entry MBBS Program. Vaughan is a Fellow of the International Association of Medical Science Educators and has served on their Board of Directors. He is Secretary of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists and a member of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Health Professional Educators.
Associate Professor Peter Johnson is currently the Associate Dean (Learning & Teaching) in the College of Medicine & Dentistry at James Cook University, QLD. He is also the Director of Foundation Studies and is responsible for co-ordination of the basic science curriculum of the Medicine and Physician’s Assistant programs at JCU. He has a background in neurophysiology and pharmacology with a PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1999, and continues to be active in both biomedical and education research. He has over 20 years of experience as an educator and curriculum developer in over 30 biomedical and allied health degree programs across 5 universities. He is an avid user of student-centred blended learning technologies including adaptive learning platforms, teaching animations and electronic learning portfolios.
A/Prof Johnson demonstrates the success of his initiatives through active research, and has received multiple teaching and learning research grants. The success of his initiatives have been recognised at national level with a Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in 2008, and an Australian Teaching Excellence Award in 2011 from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.
Dr. Dror Ben-Naim is the founder and CEO of Smart Sparrow, an ed-tech start-up pioneering adaptive and personalized learning technology.
Prior to founding Smart Sparrow, Dr. Ben-Naim led a research group in the field of Intelligent Tutoring Systems and Educational Data Mining at UNSW, Australia. The technology that the team developed was adopted by top universities in Australia and the US and led to significant improvements in students learning. In 2011, Ben-Naim and his fellow researchers founded Smart Sparrow to take Adaptive Learning to the next level and secured backing from venture capital investors. Smart Sparrow’s mission is to empower teachers to make the world a smarter place.
Dr. Ben-Naim maintains research and academic activity through his Professor of Practice position at Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College where he is the co-director of the Center for Education Through Exploration. He also an Adjunct Lecturer in UNSW Australia's School of Computer Science and Engineering where he co-supervises research students in Intelligent Tutoring Systems and Learning Design.
Dr. Ben-Naim holds a B.Sc. in Physics and Computer Science and a PhD in A.I. and Education from UNSW Australia.
Ariel Shoham,LLB,MBA is a co-founder of Smart Sparrow - the BEST Network technology provider. Ariel serves as the BEST Network program manager, responsible for the ongoing operations and for the execution and delivery of the BEST Network strategy and vision as (set by the BMC).
Before joining Smart Sparrow and the BEST Network, Ariel led the foundation of an International Cyber Crime investigation Unit in the Israeli Ministry of justice, winning both the National Israeli Civil service appreciation award and the Ministry of Justice “Best team“ excellency award for his team's work. Ariel is a tech innovator with over 20 years of overall software experience is Banking, finance, BI and Information architecture. Member of the Israeli BAR, Co-founder of Zoomix Data Mastering acquired by Microsoft.
Stephanie is the manager of the Slice image bank for the BEST Network. As well as managing contributions to the image bank, she plays a role in defining and testing Slice requirements and functionality, working closely with Smart Sparrow software engineers and project managers to relay the needs and requirements of academics.
Stephanie also manages BEST Network projects, working with academics at universities around the world to define how they might use digital images in tertiary education and assists in the preparation of grants for the network. Stephanie’s background is in immunology and molecular biology with a PhD from the University of Technology, Sydney in 2013, through which she also gained hands on project management experience.
For the BEST Network Management Committee, Stephanie is responsible for organising meetings, preparing progress reports and the dissemination of results through social media and newsletters.
BEST Network Management Committee Member, USA
Founder | CEO, Smart Sparrow
Professor of Practice, the Center for Education Through eXploration, Arizona State University
Project Manager, School of Medical Sciences, BEST Network