Dr Deb Hill, who works out of the Whanganui Learning Centre, received funding from Ako Aotearoa to pursue a project and the subsequent publication of 'An Introduction to Plagiarism' and 'An Introduction to Deep Thinking' ... so far.
Unlike your typical academic publication, these are short on text and big on cartoon-style pictures, drawn by Deb herself.
She says education and the concept of study has changed dramatically with universities having chief executives rather than vice chancellors, and with the introduction of the internet and availability of online resources, good or bad, and new habits being formed around student research, particularly the trend towards study in isolation.
University libraries and legitimate resources came under threat as universities looked at the bottom line and students drifted off into their devices.
"Resources were being restrained and reduced: in terms of library resources — lack of librarians, less money into front-of-house support ... it was only when the Government decided that they actually needed to look at whether students were sticking through the course, (course attrition rates were really high).
"You had to put some sort of incentive to keep them coming to lectures, because they were wanting to do their own thing in their own space, which is antithetical to the whole concept of the community of scholars, and that is what universities are supposed to be based on."
Deb says under legislation, New Zealand universities have a mandate to be the 'critic and conscience' of society.
"It's the only thing that discriminates us from other models elsewhere where you can get governments in power who want to turn universities into functional, vocational, pragmatic institutions."
That did not stop the reforms following which education went through changes to interest investors and the labour market, when NCEA was introduced to show outside interests that New Zealand students could succeed, at least on paper.
It also led to universities' and teachers' performance being 'measured', and Government funding withdrawn as international students' and private partnership topped up the coffers of educational institutions.
"Why I published 'An Introduction to Plagiarism' was because plagiarism was rife, but I needed people to understand that this was a valid way of creating a resource that was important for students to understand.
"All of the resources you see online for tertiary teaching students are pages and pages of text. Our students now don't read. So this was an attempt to do a short, sharp sound bite about something that would give me runs on the board with Ako to fund me to do a few more of these."
Deb says, once she came to grips with the software required, she found she was able to teach much more easily through the picture book medium.
The books are available as free downloads.
"The plagiarism book has gone around the world: it's been used by so many people."
She says the main thing is to get everybody talking and engaged, which being online doesn't do.
In 'An Introduction to Deep Thinking', she gets people to look at what they normally will be doing and thinking and questioning where their ideas and ways of thinking come from.
"It's about the automatic nature of our thinking, and it's also about bullying and prejudices and how people see themselves as they're growing up. A lot of students that I meet have acquired understandings or ideas about themselves, about their physical shape, what they're good at, what they're not good at, and they believe it, and it stops them."
Deb says the funding she has received allows her to do this work through the Whanganui Learning Centre Creative Hub.
"That allows us to think about social enterprise and that sort of engagement."
She has lots of ideas about future publications in the same format.
"It's a way to tap into a need and we have to think of ways to engage our students."
The books are available to download from the New Zealand Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence (Ako Aotearoa) website.
* Dr Deb J Hill is Assistant Manager of Whanganui Learning Centre, Te Whare o Akoranga Rangimarie.