Associate Professor Carol Hayes

ANU Distinguished Educator
Associate Dean Student Experience
ANU Educational Fellowship Scheme Co-Chair
School of Culture, History and Language
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Associate Professor Carol Hayes is an innovation leader and early adopter in developing and supporting flexible and online learning within Asian Studies at the ANU, pushing boundaries in technical innovation to make language learning more exciting and student oriented.

With a BA Hons (1986) and PhD (1996) in Japanese Literature from the University of Sydney, A/Prof Hayes has lived, studied and worked in and with Japan for three decades, with experiences ranging from high school exchange, postgraduate comparative literature research at the University of Tokyo, work as a translator and interpreter in Tokyo, and even a short stint as a singing telegram during the height of Japan's bubble economy.

Her research focuses on modern and contemporary Japanese literary and cultural studies. She teaches both Japanese language and studies courses ranging from literature, to popular culture and film. A recipient of an OLT Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013, Carol also has a strong research interest in eLearning and Japanese language teaching pedagogy, focusing on the relationship between flexible, online learning to student motivation and second language acquisition. The collaborative projects she has initiated include Digital Storytelling, live eChats with Japan, Voice Board Forums and interactive Advanced Japanese Language eTexts (


Q: What does it mean to you to be an ANU Distinguished Educator?

It is a great honour to be selected as an ANU Distinguished Educator and to be given this opportunity to become an advocate for teaching and learning development across the university community as a whole. We need to give our best teachers a greater voice. We need to listen to what our students what from us. We need to share the exciting things that are happening at the grass roots level in our teaching and learning. My aim is to encourage all ANU scholars to share their experiences and to always continue to explore how best to teach what they research, to unpick what fascinates them and to use that passion to encourage their students on their own research-inspired learning journey.

Q: What motivates and inspires you in your teaching?

A love of my subject area and working with my students provides the greatest motivation. To teach language and culture is such a pleasure as it opens one's eyes to different ways of thinking about and seeing the world. Stepping from the 'here' to the 'there' can be both exciting and challenging, it requires the empathy to see the world through the eyes and words of others and so I work hard to encourage the removal of the blindfold of monolingualism. I am particularly inspired by the way new technologies are bringing the world closer together and allowing teachers to help build more challenging learning environments allowing students to interact with peers around the world.

Q: How do you plan to use your appointment as a Distinguished Educator? 

At the ANU we aim to stimulate curiosity and engagement in our students, to help them face challenges that have yet to be even imagined. To do that we need to do the same for our teachers. My vision for the ANU Distinguished Educators is to provide a platform to encourage fellow academics to talk more publicly and more often about their teaching philosophy and practice - to talk about the whole journey that is teaching, including the smaller dolly steps and the failures as well as the successes.

Q: Tell us about an approach you have taken in the classroom of which you've been proud.

The rapid growth in technology in recent decades, has enabled me to include a number of digital elements in my teaching, including digital storytelling, interactive audio and video quizzing, target language Voice Board forums, online placement testing, advanced eTexts development and online components within final examinations. These initiatives are now well embedded not only in the Japanese language program but more broadly across the language teaching in CAP and into the ACT senior secondary sector.

To provide one specific example, the Digital Story Project requires intermediate Japanese learners to tell a story 'from the heart' in their own Japanese through a short three-minute multimedia production that combines first-person narrative, with image and background music. These stories provide a powerful way of developing two-way communicative skills, as students are encouraged not only to express their own personal emotions, beliefs and ideas, but also to consider the impact of their story on their viewers. The task encourages students to build an individual, personally relevant learning experience and to consider the cultural implications of their language use. In one example, "Ten Cups of Green Tea and Me", a student describes the shock of that first taste of the nasty bitter bright green liquid she was served up on her very first night in Japan. To the great amusement of her host family, she felt pressured to say it was delicious even though she could barely swallow, and was greatly relieved when they told her, "Even though we're Japanese, we don't like it much". This student skilfully harnessed humour, visual cues and voice narrative to tell the story of her developing love of green tea, thereby creating a metaphor for her deepening relationship with Japan.

By providing students with the opportunity to talk in their target language about things that interest them and connects with their own individual stories, the Digital Story Project allows students to focus on the bigger picture and to bring all their 'life' knowledge into the space in which they work in Japanese. Every year we get new stories that continue to breathe life into this learning task.

Q: If the VC asked you how you would change teaching and learning at ANU, what would you say?

I would ask him to help us get more teaching and learning stories out there, to help us better share the innovative practice going on here and there all over campus. I will argue that the Educational Fellowship Scheme (EFS) provides a vital mentoring framework which we need to make more of. With the VC's help we can encourage more of the university community to actively engage with the EFS as the backbone of teaching and learning development at the ANU, as we encourage all ANU scholars to develop teaching self-reflection skills as they build their own teaching philosophy and practice portfolio.


Associate Professor Carol Hayes