Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bridging the Digital Divide in Indonesia

Onno Purbo, (Photo by APNIC, Aug 2015)
Onno Purbo, from STKIP Surya (Indonesia) will speak on "Bridging the 'digital divide' in Indonesia", at the Australian National University in Canberra, 12:30 pm, 29 June 2016:
"Indonesia's internet penetration is only around 20%, far below other countries in Southeast Asia including Malaysia (68%), Vietnam (52%) and the Philippines (44%). This presentation will review the predicament Indonesia faces, which is poor Internet access to rural areas and villages. For many years, the Indonesian government has tried to rectify this problem. In this presentation I will examine 'top-down' government approaches, as well as 'bottom up' community-based self-financing approaches. ...

I will argue that the simplest option to increase internet penetration in Indonesia is to improve the empowerment processes of citizens, and conduct larger surveys before infrastructure deployment is implemented by the government. This is essential to ensure that future 'top-down' policies do not follow the path of their predecessors." From "Bridging the 'digital divide' in Indonesia", Onno Purbo.
For more on Onno Purbo, see "We need to cultivate human capacity, Onno" by Robbie Mitchell, APNIC, 28 Aug 2015

Monday, June 27, 2016

Australian Cyber Security Courses

The Australian Government has committed $3.5M over four years for an Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence program. Already there are a number of cyber security programs offered by Australian universities. But before looking at courses, how do these fit with professional requirements?

Cyber Security Skills

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is used by the Australian Computer Society to identify the skills IT professionals should have and to accredit suitable university courses. SFIA Version 6 has security related skills definitions:
  • Information security SCTY
  • Information assurance INAS
  • Security administration SCAD
  • Penetration testing PENT
  • Incident management USUP 
There is also the ISACA Model Curriculum for Information Security and EC Council Security Certification .

Australian Cyber Security Programs

Edith Cowan University offer a ECU Master of Cyber Security. This includes units general computer units, plus security related ones, including: Computer Security, Network Security Fundamentals, Wireless Security, Introductory Computer Forensics, Information Security, and most interestingly, Ethical Hacking and Defence. There is also a ECU Graduate Diploma of Cyber Security, and ECU Graduate Certificate of Cyber Security, Bachelor of Science (Cyber Security).

Swinburne University offer a cybersecurity major in Computer Science and Engineering bachelor degrees, with courses in eForensic Fundamentals, Information Systems Risk and Security, IT Security and Network Security & Resilience. There is also a cybersecurity Master of Information and Communication Technologies (Research). Some of the programs include work placements.

UNSW Canberra, at the Defence Force Academy, is offering a new Master's Degree in Cyber Security, Strategy and Diplomacy, as well as a Master of Cyber Security and Master of Cyber Security Operations. UNSW Canberra also offers an extensive range of security courses including: Critical Infrastructure Cyber Security, Cyber Adversary Tradecraft, Intrusion Analysis and Response, Cyber Security Boot Camp, Introduction to Pen Testing, Executive Security Awareness, Computer Network Operation / Network Security Operations, Wireless Security, Reverse Engineering of Malware

Murdoch University offers a Cyber Forensics and Information SecurityBachelor of Science.

Macquarie University offers a Bachelor of Security Studies, and a Master of Information Technology with a specialisation in Internetworking and Cyber Security.
The University of Canberra offers a Graduate Certificate in Cyber Law and Policy, with courses in Cybercrime Investigations, Cyber Security Law, Digital Evidence and Intelligence Management.

The Australian National University offers courses in Cyber-security and Cybercrime, Cyber Warfare Law and Statecraft and national security in cyberspace.

University of South Australia offers a Master of Science (Cyber Security and Forensic Computing).

University of Woolongong offer a BSc with a Major in Cyber Security, with course in System Security, Corporate Network Security, Cryptography and Secure Applications and Ethical Hacking.

Deakin University offer a Bachelor of Cyber Security.

Sub-degree Programs

Box Hill Institute offer a Certificate IV in Information Technology (Specialising in Cyber Security).

Victoria Polytechnic offer an Advanced Diploma of Network Security (ICT60215).

One point to note is that vocational programs are standardized across Australia, so the same cyber security qualifications offered by Box Hill and Victoria Polytechnic could be offered by other TAFEs and by private Registered Training Organizations. These qualifications could also be offered by training units within government agencies and companies, for their own staff. In contrast, the content of university degrees are not standardized in Australia, so degrees at the same level with similar "cyber security" titles, could have very different content.

Open, Online and "Free" Courses

In addition to programs and courses offered directly, Australian universities offer education on cyber security though Open Universities Australia. These include Macquarie University Bachelor of Security Studies, and the Australian Computer Society formation Security Course.
Charles Stury University (CSU) offer a free Network Security Administrator Certification short course to help prepare for certification as an EC-Council Network Security Administrator (ENSA)

At the introductory level the Open University run a MOOC on "Introduction to Cyber Security". Also there is a more traditional on-line course "An introduction to information security".

ps: Having a background in defence, my teaching occasionally touches on cyber security. Last semester I was teaching IT ethics using a hypothetical about Cyberwarfare Over the South China Sea.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Coordinated STEM and Innovation Education Strategy Needed

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) have released an 82 page report "Australia’s economic future: an agenda for growth". The report recommends "... all students have familiarity and competency with ICT as a very significant portion of the Australian population lack these basic skills.", also "To improve Australia’s innovative capacity, the government should give greater weight to translation activities in funding universities ...". To do that, I suggest Australia needs to first train its teachers in digital technology, so they can teach the students (this can be done online*). It would also be worthwhile making entrepreneurship as part of the curricula generally for universities. To that end I have proposed an on-line innovation course.

* See also "Proposal for Distance Education in Technology and Entrepreneurship to Train Teachers ...'".

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Evaluating the Usability of e-Learning Systems

Two papers in The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning discuss the usability of e-Learning Systems. Junus,  Santoso, Isal and Utomo (2015) look at the use of Moodle for teaching computer science students at Universitas Indonesia (Fasilkom UI). Orfanou, Tselios and Katsanos (2015) look at Moodle and the less well known "Open eClass" (based on the open source software Claroline) in Greece.

The former examined the Student Centered e-Learning Environment (SCeLE), a repository of learning materials implemented in Moodle by Universitas Indonesia. Students were surveyed on their experience. The results were positive. The first recommendation for improvement is deceptively simple: upgrade to the latest version of Moodle. Many institutions keep old versions of software even after newer, improved versions are available. New features in Moodle, such as better mobile compatibility and finer grain feedback for students, are well worth the cost of an upgrade.

The latter found the System Usability Scale (SUS), a questionnaire based survey, effective for evaluating usability of learning management software. The use of a standardized, simplified survey, was found to be effective, even when using a small number of students.


Junus, I., Santoso, H., Isal, R., & Utomo, A. (2015). Usability Evaluation of the Student Centered e-Learning Environment. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 16(4). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/2175/3455
Orfanou, K., Tselios, N., & Katsanos, C. (2015). Perceived usability evaluation of learning management systems: Empirical evaluation of the System Usability Scale. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 16(2). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1955/3262

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Coursework for Australian PHD Students

Australian universities have traditionally adopted the master-apprentice model for training researchers, derived from the UK. The doctoral student spends years being supervised by an experienced researcher, conducts research and then writes a thesis to show they have mastered the research process. However, many PHDs now go into industry, rather than academia and are not researching. Even those in academia spend part of their time teaching, supervising and administrating.

In contrast to Australia, the North American approach is very structured, with PHD students understating set courses and being required to gain experience teaching. As an example, Stanford University, requires PHD students to teach (for which they get paid) and do a program of courses. 

Cambridge University (UK) might provide a better model for Australia, with a small amount of coursework required. The students undertake a "Certificate of Postgraduate Study" CPGS in their first year. This includes a Research Skills Programme on research writing (also part of their M.Phil).

Cambridge just requires a "very good degree" for PHD entry, but their "MPhil in Advanced Computer Science" is also an option.

Introducing more coursework will divert sorceresses, and more of the student's time, from research. However, I suggest that the equivalent of six months full time spent on coursework, spread over a three year PHD program, would more than pay for itself. The coursework would result in more skilled and confidence students who would compete more quickly (and more would complete. As a byproduct, the university would have a way to track student progress, without the need for a separate HDR monitoring system.

At the same time I suggest Australian universities should  "flip" the design (and thinking) about higher degrees. The current approach assumes that students will be full time, on campus and destined for a career in research. Instead programs could be designed for students who are mostly off-campus, part time and destined for industry. Apart from providing more relevant programs, this would improve access and equity.

Monday, June 13, 2016

An international Master's program in green ICT as a contribution to sustainable development

The paper "An international Master's program in green ICT as a contribution to sustainable development" describes the development of the international program “Pervasive computing and communications for sustainable development”. My Green ICT course at ANU gets a mention.


Klimova, A., Rondeau, E., Andersson, K., Porras, J., Rybin, A., & Zaslavsky, A. (2016). An international Master's program in green ICT as a contribution to sustainable development. Journal of Cleaner Production. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.06.032

Adaptive Courseware Doesn't Work But Blended Instruction Does

Yarnall, Means, and Wetzel (2016) analyzed the results of trials of adaptive courseware, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Adaptive courseware uses data on student progress and provides feedback to the students and instructors to improve learning. However, this report found that the majority of trials of adaptive courseware had no discernible impact on grades and did not improve student completions. Curiously the report suggests pressing on with adaptive courseware, even though it does not seem to have much positive effect.

The most interesting point for me was that switching from lectures to adaptive blended instruction improved student learning. But the authors did not draw the obvious conclusion: it was likely the switch from lectures which made the difference, not the adaptive courseware. There is no mention of "flipped classroom" in the report. The evaluators were out to see if adaptive courseware worked (impact evaluation) but perhaps forgot the overall goal, which is to improve student learning.


Yarnall, L., Means, B., Wetzel, T. (2016) Lessons Learned From Early Implementations of Adaptive Courseware. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International. Retrieved from https://www.sri.com/sites/default/files/brochures/almap_final_report.pdf

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Department

"The Department" (1975) is a play by David Williamson about the staff politics in an Australian university engineering department. The staff at the university struggle with inter and intra-departmental rivalries, increasing external scrutiny, student expectations, employer expectations and how to include the requirements for general professional skills (such as literacy) versus technical competences in a crowded curriculum. I was reminded of this play recently when attending a real engineering department meeting. In 40 years since the play was written not much has changed. There is perhaps less student activism on campus, but there are the revolutionary pressures brought about by the Internet. Thanks to the ACT Library for a copy of the play.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Review of the ANU Press

The Australian National University (ANU) is inviting submissions for a review of ANU Press.  The press started in 2003 (for a while it was called the "ANU ePress", but the "e" was dropped). ANU Press produces books in free open access electronic versions and print-on-demand.

I have found ANU Press of use for teaching. The web compatible format, stable web addresses and the lack of access control allow me to include the material as a reading for a course without having to worry if the student will be able to get it.

One suggestion is that ANU should consider creating free open access journals alongside its e-books. My favorite example of an on-line journal is the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. IRRODL uses the free open access OJS software and provides articles in HTML and as audio files, as well as the more usual PDF. This makes them very useful for students.