Cherry Stewart is with Learning Design and Development at the Teaching & Learning Centre of University of New England, Armidale NSW Australia. Her most recent role has been leading the design and development team during a university wide transition to a new learning management system—Moodle. She provides guidance and support in curriculum design for distance education as well as on-campus courses using information technology (IT) tools. She teaches curriculum design in the Graduate Certificate Tertiary Education, an intercollegiate program involving five Australian universities.
Cherry's academic background and life experience reflect her interest in the sociology of learning. Her first degree —Sociology —incorporated Cultural Anthropology. She has been a life-long learner achieving Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Wisconsin (Madison), Masters Online Education from University of Southern Queensland (Au), and PHD studies at Macquarie University (Sydney, Au) in conceptual change for interactive online learning. Her interest in distance education began while teaching in outback NSW (Walgett) with Indigenous children. When she moved into the vocational education sector and discovered computers and the Internet, a whole new world opened up. She realised the unlimited possibilities for bringing learning opportunities to rural and isolated people of all ages. After years of collecting books, slide shows, pictures, magazine pages, film, vinyl records, audio-tapes and whole collections of real-world items, it was a great relief (to the back and arms) to find that all she needed was a USB stick or an Internet connection to link students to useful learning resources, and to connect asynchronously and in real-time to discuss concepts with almost anyone.
Cherry led a trial of the Sakai Learning Management system at the University of New England from 2007-8. The staff development resource developed as part of this project was awarded a Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award. Following the completion of that project she joined the DEHub team researching professional development practices, contributing to the International Summit—Distance Education 2011-2021. Brain-based learning research conducted during her PHD studies has led to the development of a learner-centred model and a hands-on design strategy to focus curriculum designers on strategies for supporting self-transforming learning practices.
Experiencing a diverse range of educational contexts—from kindergarten to university level, as a teacher, a manager, an educational designer and human resources professional, Cherry has worked in both public and private educational institutions, as well as with business and industry. Cherry and her husband spent a year as exchange teachers in Northern Ireland, after which Cherry entered the New South Wales Vocational Education (TAFE) system.
Cherry lives in the regional New South Wales with her husband Brett (a primary school teacher). They have four sons, who are involved in the film and television industry. While Brett and Cherry are at University of Windsor, the Stewart Brothers will be making a film The Hoarders, in the Stewart family shed. For relaxing, the Stewarts enjoy creating and maintaining gardens on their 3-acre homestead. They have three horses, and Cherry occasionally finds time to go carriage driving in the New England Gorge country.