Thursday, November 28, 2013

Crowd Sourced Funding for University Research and Development

Greetings from the University of Canberra, where Scott Chamberlain, Chamberlains Law Firm is talking on "Is crowd funding an option in a university setting?". Crowdfunding uses the web to collect small donations from the public for projects, which usually have a social benefit. Scott pointed out that under Australian law is it very difficult to offer people equity participation. The USA is going to change its law to allow for this, but not Australia. So a share of the business can't be offered with crowd source funding in Australia. Also whatever might be offered in return for a contribution is subject to consumer protection law. Also if something is offered in return for money, then this might be considered the sale of goods, with tax due.

Scott also pointed out that as it is necessary to provide details of the project with the crowd-source appeal, it will be difficult to protect the intellectual property. This then suits requests for straight donations, appealing to the public to help with projects in the public interest. This can therefore be applied to research projects. The project can still offer those donating small gifts, such as an invitation to a preview, or a copy of a report.

An example from University of Canberra is postdoctoral fellow Clare Holleley, raising funding for marsupial research. Clare pointed out that the campaign needed daily attention while it was running. But she also mentioned a bonus in terms of a higher professional profile through the process.

It might be interesting to see if the cost of creating the video and quizzes for a MOOC could be funded with Crowdfunding. At a previous presentation, Matthew Benetti at expressed interest in hearing from universities interested in Crowdfunding a MOOC.

Conceptually crowd-funding is not much different from a university asking the community for donations to fund research and education, and then invite the donors to thank-you drinks. The crowd-funding services take a commission (of around 5%). It would be interesting to compare this overhead with the cost of running the philanthropic activities (such as ANU Alumni Relations and Philanthropy). Obviously where donations of millions of dollars are made by individuals, the university can afford to have considerable staff support. Also where there is an existing relationship with the university, such as alumni, then an internal on-line system can be used. ANU has a "Donate online" facility, which allows money for general purpose, or a specific project. An advantage of using the university system is that the donations are tax deductible for the donor.

What might be interesting is if the universities were to create their own crowd-funding functionality, rather than use a commercial service. This could be run on the university computer system, or outsourced to an external provider. The external provider could be a not-for-profit provider, rather than a commercial one.

If universities are mainly interested in  donations from alumni, then it might be worth using a social networking type system, rather than a crowd-funding system. The university is likely to want to offer the alumni an ongoing experience, rather than one off donation requests.

One way to get participation by alumni might be crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding of post-graduate coruses. The idea being that graduates would be asked to suggest what further education they feel they need. Then the alumni would be asked to help fund the development of such courses. The donors would be invited to contribute case studies to be used as part of the course and to be be beta-testers of the on-line version of the course.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Open2Study MOOCs Research Report

Open Universities Australia have been running free open source courses under the "Open2Study" brand for several months. They have released a series of reports on how the students went.  The latest is "Research Report October 2013" (actually released in November 2013). This 128 report is well worth reading for any educator or university administrator considering running a "MOOC". But it is doing the Open2Study courses a disservice to call them MOOCs.

From March to October 2013, Open2Study had 100,000 students in 32 courses, with a 24% completion rate (much higher than MOOC's 5 to 10%).

While these are free open and on-line, they are much smaller and more personal than the average "MOOC". As touched on in my talk at the Inaugural Student Experience Conference, 4 December 2013 in Sydney, OUA seem to have a good formula for introducing students to higher education.These courses have more of the flavor of a vocational education program, than university, which is not a bad thing.

However, what is not clear is how many of the students who undertake the free Open2Study courses then enroll in the fee paying OUA on-line courses, or conventional on-campus courses of the member organizations. It is not viable for OUA to give away free courses in competition with its fee paying ones.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MOOCs and the Student Experience

My presentation notes for "MOOCs and the Student Experience" (and slides) for  the Inaugural Student Experience Conference (in Sydney, 4 December 2013 are available for comment. I would welcome suggestions for improvements, as well as comments.
  • The Student Experience
  • MOOCs
  • xMOOCs
  • cMOOCs
  • Open Content and Blended Learning
  • MOOCs Challenging the Student Experience

SA Teachers Require Masters Degree

Media reports indicate that new teachers in South Australian schools will require a Masters degree from 2020. This seems particularly good timing for Torrens University Australia which has just started offering a Master of Education. While it has a campus in Adelaide, most of the study appears to be on-line, which would suit working teachers. Another program which looks interesting is the new CSU Master of Education in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation. I looked at some of the other Education Programs available in Australia, but as I was interested in university teaching, I had to look outside Australia.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Examiner's meetings for Master Subthesis

Greetings from the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking part in an examiner's meeting for the Master of Computing (Honours) sub-thesis. This is my first masters meeting, although I have taken part in the coursework examiners meeting previously. The students do some coursework, a presentation and a report of about 25,000 words. Two examiners, who did not supervise the students, each assess the thesis document separately, then try to come to a consensus. 

This can be a difficult process as the examiners come from different part of the computing discipline (some are academics and other from industry). After the two examiners have separately reported their proposed mark with a few paragraphs of comments, the academic in charge looks to see if there is consensus and where there is not, encourages the two to discuss their differences. There is then a meeting of the examiners to provide their input. 

Unlike the course-work process there are fewer statistics to help guide the process. The examiners need to avoid the temptation to base their mark on what the students got for their course-work, and just base it on the written thesis. The surprising part of this process is that even where there were divergent views at the start, a consensus between the examiners is usually achieved. 

One part of the process which works remarkably well is that all examiners are treated based on their discipline knowledge, regardless of position in the university hierarchy. As an adjunct lecturer, I can happily disagree with the Dean, provided I can back up my position.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Improving the Student Experience at University

In accepting an invitation to speak on MOOCs at the Inaugural Student Experience Conference (Sydney, 4 December 2013), I first had to work out what the "Student Experience" is. The conference announcement defines the "Student Experience" as: "Involves technology, student services and methods of course delivery.". It is suggested a good student experience can be a competitive advantage for an institution to attract students.

Enroll To Understand the Student Experience

I suggest the best way for academics and administrators to truly understand the student experience is to be a student. It is likely many years, or decades, since those making decisions at university were students themselves. Much has changed in the interim and time will have softened the memory of the student experience. It is necessary to do more than just sit in on a class, the enrollment and assessment processes are important to the student experience.

The Australian Education International (AEI) report "Enhancing the International Student Experience" provides the results of seven demonstration projects, focusing on four areas:
  1. Social engagement - effective strategies for improving the level and quality of interaction between domestic and international students both on and off campus;
  2. Career readiness – models for ensuring that the employability skills of international students are developed and improved on an ongoing basis through continuous learning and integration into the total study experience;
  3. Student support services – exploring how international students access information that affects health and lifestyle, and the relationship between self-perceived identity and social networks; and
  4. Orientation programs – innovative ways to use new technologies (such as social media) to more effectively disseminate information on the nature and availability of support services for international students.
From: Enhancing the International Student Experience, Australian Education International, 2012
While aimed at international students, I suggest these areas are also of issue for domestic students, particularly those from a different background to the traditional university student. It is not acceptable to assume that the typical student is domestic, on-campus, full time, without a disability, without family or community obligations and is a Christian.

Two Years and Three Higher Education Institutions

In 2011 the ANU strategic plan set the goal, that all new teaching staff will have completed an introductory teaching course by 2015 (ANU by 2020, Ian Young, Vice-Chancellor, ANU, August 2011). While I was not new to the ANU (or teaching), as an Adjunct I thought it prudent to take up the offer of a free course in teaching.

After completing the ANU's introductory teaching course I decided to go on and complete a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. The courses were delivered in workshop mode, on campus, supplemented by use of the Moodle Learning Management System. However, as I was interested in e-learning I substituted two on-line courses at another Australian university, more than a thousand kilometers away. These courses were also delivered via Moodle. Then I was offered the opportunity to teach a vocational course run by a Registered Training Organization (RTO), which required a certificate IV in Training and Assessment. So I enrolled at a TAFE, which also used Moodle.

Being enrolled at three Australian higher education institutions in the same subject area, at the same time, using the same learning management system, allowed me to compare the student experience. At the same time I was teaching in a classroom and on-line for one university. Also I was part of a virtual faculty, offering professional education on-line directly and through a multi-university consortium.

Registering at On-line Is Easier Than On Campus

My first surprise as a multi-institution student was that it was easier to enroll at an institution set up for distance education than enroll locally on campus. A web based system which allowed me to enter questions about enrollment and receive answers by email was very useful. An integrated telephone help desk integrated with the web queries made this far superior to going into an office to ask a question over the counter. The telephone call center had my details on the screen, including past questions asked and so did not need to ask me to repeat my circumstances. Also the use of a web based form which could be saved when partly complete was very useful. This was far superior to filling in a PDF form, or a paper form.

On-line Student Support is Superior to On-campus

The Moodle systems of the institutions looked remarkably different. The systems had been customized and integrated into other university systems. In general I found the less customized the Moodle was, the better. Customizations tended to clutter the interface and slow it down, rather than helping.

As a student, most of the time my interaction with the institution was within a course and so within Moodle. What I typically wanted to know, was "What do I need to do next?", "When is the next assessment due?". Course materials which were not laid out in this task orientated way were frustrating to use.

Links to other university systems were integrated, to a greater or lesser extent. Some institutions did not use Moodle's assignment submission or grading system, which made submitting assignments and getting marks more difficult. Most did not use Moodle for individual student-to-teacher communication, instead relying on email, which resulted in important messages being lost amongst other mail.

Links to reading materials proved difficult. I found that many links to university library holdings of e-books and copies of articles, did not work. In many cases the links which did work had electronic documents which were unreadable, being poor scanned copies of paper originals or being burdened by copy protection schemes. I developed a routine of no using the offered electronic readings and instead searching for them on the web, or obtaining the documents on paper from local Canberra university libraries.

Asynchronous E-learning Very Effective With Well Prepared Materials

The routine of studying some prepared material on-line, reading some extra readings, doing an exercise and then discussing it in an on-line forum, worked well. However, this only worked when the material was carefully prepared and checked. Where the material was missing, or incorrect, the lack of intimidate access to the teacher caused confusion. I spent a considerable amount of time reading the wrong material and doing the wrong exercises as a result.

Face-to-face exercises were not without their problems, with unclear preparation instructions and a lack of follow-up. Well designed on-line activities tended to make me less tolerant of classroom problems. As a part-time student I found the requirement to attend face-to-face activities a problem, particularly where missing any one activity could result in my not passing the course.

Synchronous E-learning Did Not Work Most of the Time

While the asynchronous on-line forums worked well, I was mostly unable to get synchronous sessions to work. Where I was able to access synchronous forums, the participants spent so much time dealing with bandwidth and microphone problems that the conversation was very stilted. In this respect, face-to-face classroom sessions were superior. However, I suggest synchronous activities, on-line or in the classroom, should only be used as an optional supplement to asynchronous learning, or where they are essential to learning. Teachers and educational institutions need to understand the very large burden which compulsory attendance imposes on students.

Lack of Integration of Courses Caused Problems But Not Between Institutions

Both face-to-face and on-line courses suffered from the self-contained nature of course based programs. Even where courses were meant to be designed as part of a program, there was considerable overlap. Also the design of courses could be out of sync, with one course having been updated, but the companion course not, resulting in inconsistencies. One surprise was how well courses from different institutions and different systems of education (university and vocational) fitted together. I found no difficulty with moving from institution to institution in the same discipline, even between university and TAFE.

Too Many Surveys

Institutions are interested in the experience their students are having, but may be diminishing the quality of that experience through excessive surveys. Each institution I was enrolled in administered one survey per course and one per program. This seems reasonable, but then there were additional surveys for external independent bodies and ones for internal marketing purposes. This became annoying.

As a student it was difficult to distinguish what was an official survey and what was just a marketing exercise I could ignore. Also as a student I was reluctant to complete a survey about a course until it had ended. The result was that I would receive reminders to complete surveys and not know what they were for. In some cases reminders arrived weeks after I had completed surveys. This became so annoying that I decided to give the institution a progressively lower rating each time I was given another a survey to fill in. Institutions need to consider reducing the number of surveys.

Teachers Still Matter Most

While the administrative and on-line systems had an effect on my student experience, what was most important were the teachers. Regardless of if it was in a classroom, or on-line, what made for a good experience was a teacher who was competent in the subject, a competent teacher, were accessible and appeared to care about the students. All my teachers appeared competent in the subject matter, but what distinguished the good from bad was their teaching ability and particular their ability to communicate through technology.

What caused most frustration was teachers not making effective use of the available technology for communication. Forum postings and emails from teachers were often full of errors, cryptic abbreviation and incorrect links to non existent documents. At times I would receive unreadable handwritten materials, when the Learning Management System could have been used to deliver a readable typed document. Rather than use the communications built into the system, email was used, which would get lost.

Like most students, assessment is very important to me. It was therefore disappointing when not enough care seemed to have been put into assessment items, which contained out of date instructions. Also there was a tendency for marking to take weeks and be returned with excessive detailed feedback (which by then was useless). This was curious given that part of the content of the material being assessed was about the importance of rapid and concise feedback.

Structure and Flexibility Needed

Studying teaching at a leading research university, a teaching university and TAFE showed more common aspects than differences. As a student I found I appreciated the scaffolding which detailed course notes provided, especially when delivered via the learning management system. This was adaptable to the more narrow focus of a vocational institution or a research university. While an experienced computer professional and educator, I still needed step by step help with what it was I was learning.

Suggestions for Improving the Student Experience

The four areas identified in the AEI report "Enhancing the International Student Experience" are useful places to concentrate on for all students, domestic and international, on and off-campus:
  1. Social engagement: Programs to encourage interaction between students outside their courses should, like the courses themselves, be flipped and blended. As a part time mostly off-campus, student, I found it frustrating to receive invitations to events I could not attend. It was especially annoying to know that the compulsory multiple Student Services and Amenities Fees I was paying to the institutions were funding events I could not attend. While there were some attempts to provide on-line forums, these were not integrated into the mainstream events, as they should be.
  2. Career readiness: Higher education is for more than just a vocation, but employability is important. Course designers could do more to provide realistic assessment tasks. For me, two assessment tasks which stood out as being closely skills aligned were:
  3. Student support services: The support services should be "flipped", that is provided on-line and then face-to-face services offered to supplement this. There should be levels of support built into each course, program and university wide. Students do not necessarily know where to turn for help and the university should have one integrated system which can be used to pass their request to the correct area, without the student having to explain the problem each time. On-line system could also be used to monitor student's progress to see none are lost in the system, between course, program and institution responsibilities. It should not be acceptable to wait until the end of semester and discover a student has failed their courses before seeing if they need help. The on-line system should be able to detect a student who needs help, within a few hours, or days of a problem occurring.
  4. Orientation programs: Caution should be used in the use of external social media services for student support. While the ‘Teach by Twitter" strategy has been shown to be educationally effective (Enhancing Undergraduate Teaching and Feedback using Social Media – an Engineering Case Study, Ben Evans, 2013), it exposes the students and staff to risk. Information should first and primarily be provided via the university's systems, so the student can be assured of privacy and that they are really communicating with the institution. As a student I felt very vulnerable if I needed to use a non-university system for communication. Where the university used systems which were hosted in other countries, I had to keep in mind that anything I said in that forum was subject to the laws of that country and was potentially discoverable by the law enforcement agencies of that country.

ps: My journey in higher education has not ended, as I have now applied to undertake a Masters of Education in Distance Education, via distance education.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Opportunities of MOOCs for Canberra

The Australian National University in Canberra, will host "Teachers to the Node: Rethinking Science Education in the Digital Era", with Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt, 6pm, 10 December 2013. The invitation for the free event suggests that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS)  can "... help deliver a taste of on-campus offerings to future students ...".  There would be little point in doing this if the on-campus programs were traditional, boring, 50 minute "Lecture 1.0". But universities are increasingly using a blended mode of teaching, combining on-line delivery of "Lecture 2.0" and face-to-face Interactive Engagement in the flipped classroom.

Canberra's universities are rethinking the provision of their for-fee programs using on-line and blended education. Purely on-campus programs will not be viable within five years. University "lecturers" are being retrained as content designers, to work along side new course design staff, to set up attractive programs. This has to be done to compete in a global educational market.

The strategy of a few free on-line, non-award courses, to attract students to conventional lecture based programs would be counterproductive. Offering a few token  on-line courses would just highlight problems with poorly designed lecture based on-campus programs. Universities need to incorporate e-learning into the core of their programs, not have it as a marketing gimmick. Students who enroll in a university on the strength of a MOOC will be disappointed if they find little support for that on-line teaching style in the program. Those students may fee the university has falsely promoted their programs and register a complaint with the regulator. The student satisfaction feedback survey results of these institutions will also suffer.

The design of on-line and blended courses requires new skills of university academics and administrators. It also requires a significant investment by the university, as unlike face to face lecture based courses, the lecturer can't just make it up as the go along and correct problems of the fly. E-learning requires careful design and testing before delivery.

I will be discussing this in "MOOCs and The Student Experience" at the Inaugural Student Experience Conference,  in Sydney on the 4 December 2013.

University Studies Program Supported by e-Portfolio

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh have an interesting "University Studies Program" supported by an e-portfolio. There is a slideshow "University Studies: embedding High Impact Practices and ePortfolios at UW Oshkosh" by R. John RobertsonEducational Technologist at UW Oshkosh explaining approach. 

As I understand it (from reading the USP Instructors Guide), as well as learning outcomes for individual courses, there are ones for the program (in the liberal arts). In addition to matching assessment to the learning outcomes for a course, designers also provide a reflection exercise on a key assignment, which matches some learning outcomes for the program overall. Students can then add these assignments to their e-portfolio, to show evidence of having achieved the program learning outcomes. This allows students to choose from a range of courses, but still meet a common set of program requirements.

Outside the liberal arts, this approach could be useful in programs which are accredited with professional bodies. It can be difficult to meet some of the professional skills requirements,within the confines of a course based program. The e-portfolio approach allows students to indicate where they have met the requirements.

UW Oshkosh have taken a systematic top-down approach, where course designers nominate assessment items for the program objectives. But this might be done in a more ad-hoc way, where students themselves identify where the program objectives are covered in courses. This would require some education of the students about what objectives are and how to provide the evidence. But this would avoid having to change all of the hundreds of courses typically offered by a university. It could also be used by an external accreditation, with courses from multiple universities.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

MOOCs and The Student Experience

I will be speaking on "MOOCs and The Student Experience" at the Inaugural Student Experience Conference, in Sydney on the 4 December 2013:
The role of MOOCs within the concept of blended learning and their impact on the student experience
  • Outlining the challenges as well as the opportunities associated with MOOCs with regard to the student experience
  • Understanding the difference between the two kinds of MOOCS - xMOOCs and cMOOCs and why this is important

Stephen Downes proposed the cMOOC ("connectivity"  MOOC) as a term for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which focus on knowledge creation, and xMOOC for ones with just knowledge duplication. ("MOOCs are really a platform", Stephen Downes, July 25, 2012). The xMOOC tag is used pejoratively to refer to a course which just uses video to deliver information to passive students, whereas the cMOOC has them more actively participating. I don't find this distinction very useful. Arguments about passive students, creativity, class size are not new to education, nor are arguments about the relative benefits of face-to-face v on-line, synchronous v asynchronous.

What I find worrying is that those arguing about different forms of "MOOC" do not appear to draw on decades of experience in delivering on-line courses and one hundred years of distance and adult education which preceded it.

Last year I had the unusual experience of being a student at three higher education institutions simultaneously, enrolled in both on-line and face-to-face courses, as well as undertaking RPL. At the same time I was on the teaching staff of two institutions, teaching on-line and face-to-face. The most valuable lesson I learned in two years being a student of Higher Education was how hard it was being a student. This is something educators and administrators tend to forget. What was most frustrating was when poor administrative systems made being a student unnecessarily hard.

After experiencing well designed on-line student administration and learning management systems, I found my tolerance for poor systems very low. The effect well designed MOOCs are likely to have is to increase student's expectations of the level of support they receive.

Flip The Student Experience for  Blended Learning

Recently I was asked about designing courses which could be delivered both on-line and face-to-face. I suggested starting by designing pure on-line courses and then adding face-to-face components to make them blended. I have used this approach at and it works fine. I suggest the same be applied to student administration: provide an on-line system and add optional face-to-face components. The student's time is precious, so don't waste it by putting them through unnecessary processes at the campus: let them do most of it on-line first and then handle the hard bits in person.

PDF Forms are Not Really Online

Using PDF documents in place of paper is a useful transition between paper-based and on-line education. However, this is a stage which evaluational institutions need to get through. Providing PDF forms and course notes is better than providing them on paper, but provides a frustrating student experience.

Recently I applied to do some more education studies at a respected institution in the area of on-line education. However, I found the institutions processes relying on PDF forms. I had to fill in my name and address on each form and check the other details each time, as there was no IT support for the process. Excellent human support made this tolerable, but a well designed on-line system would have been useful.

MOOCs and The Student Experience

MOOCs will have a positive effect on the student experience, by putting pressure on those who deliver more traditional face-to-face and on-line courses to design them with more care. Where a course has hundreds of thousands of students, there has to be very careful design and testing, to avoid chaos.

Careful design has been a part of distance education course and administration design. However, the discipline which this imposes has not been there in more conventional face-to-face courses.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Australian University Students Allegedly Cheating with iPads

I was interviewed briefly by Caroline Winter at ABC Radio's The World Today, about university students allegedly using tablet computers to cheat in examinations: "University investigates allegations of cheating" (19 Nov 2013, 2:44pm AEDT). This was a follow-up to the item "Medical students allegedly cheated on Adelaide University exam about human reproductive health" (19 November 2013, 8:01am AEDT).

Students are alleged to have screen captured from an examination paper and left them for the next group of students. Apparently the iPads were supplied by the university and not reset between examination candidates. This seems a curious way to administer a computer based examination and such an examination seems an odd way to do assessment.

For the last year I have been assisting another university to convert a paper based clinical assessment process from paper to computer. In that case the doctors supervising students in hospital use the system to report on student progress. This uses HTML 5 based web forms so that it will function with any type of tablet computer (Google Android, Apple iPad, Microsoft Surface or any web browser).

There are also ways to administer examinations on a computer, but you obviously need to restrict the student's access to material not permitted in the examination and have a real, or virtual, invigilator. You can't simply give the student any old computer (or their own) and let them sit the examination unsupervised. The exception would be "take home" examinations which make up a small proportion of the assessment, or none at all and are formative to help with learning, rather than summative.

There are ways to make cheating harder with screen based tests, such as choosing questions at random from bank and altering quantities in numerical ones.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Social Issues and Professional Practice in Australian ICT Degrees

Previously I looked at the"Social Issues and Professional Practice (SP)" required by the Draft ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013. The equivalent of that USA requirement for Australia is the ICT Profession Body of Knowledge, of the Australian Computer Society (ACS). This is used for accreditation of Australian university degrees and also for the evaluation of qualifications of those applying for a visa to work in Australia.

The  ACS BoK is designed to be consistent with international certification from the International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3) of the International Federation of  Information Processing (IFIP), the Seoul Accord on ICT education and the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). The ACS BoK includes "Professional Knowledge" (PK) as the second of six components:
  1. ICT Problem Solving (PS) 
  2. Professional Knowledge (PK) 
  3. Technology Building (TB) 
  4. Technology Resources (TR) 
  5. Services Management (SM) 
  6. Outcomes Management (OM).
The Professional Knowledge area includes six topics:
  1. Ethics 
  2. Professionalism
  3. Teamwork concepts and issues
  4. Interpersonal communication
  5. Societal issues/Legal issues/Privacy
  6. History and status of discipline
The ACS BoK notes that SFIA mentions professional skills in "Business Skills" for the SFIA Levels. The ACS BoK states: "It might be expected that a graduate from a degree program would be ready to assume Level 4
responsibilities in their area of specialisation.
". The SFIA level 4 "Business Skills" are defined as:
Selects appropriately from applicable standards, methods, tools and applications. Demonstrates an analytical and systematic approach to problem solving. Communicates fluently orally and in writing, and can present complex technical information to both technical and non-technical audiences. Facilitates collaboration between stakeholders who share common objectives. Plans, schedules and monitors work to meet time and quality targets and in accordance with relevant legislation and procedures. Rapidly absorbs new technical information and applies it effectively. Has a good appreciation of the wider field of information systems, their use in relevant employment areas and how they relate to the business activities of the employer or client. Maintains an awareness of developing technologies and their application and takes some responsibility for personal development.
From: Level 4 SFIA Plus 5, Skills Framework for the Information Age, SFIA Foundation 2011
A brief description is given for each topic:


Topics covered should include: 
  • Fundamental ethical notions (virtues, duty, responsibility, harm, benefit, rights, respect and consequences);
  • Basic ethics theories;
  • Integrity systems (including, the ACS Code of Ethics, the ACS Code of Conduct, ethics committees and whistle blowing);
  • Methods of ethical analysis
    • Methods of ethical reflection’
    • Methods and procedures of ethical repair and recovery;
  • ICT specific ethical issues (professional – e.g. compromising quality and conflict of interest, and societal – e.g. phishing and privacy).


Topics covered should include: 
  • Basic concepts of professionalism (expertise, certification, competence, autonomy, excellence, reflection, responsibility and accountability);
  • ICT specific professionalism issues. 

Teamwork concepts and issues

Topics covered should include: collaboration, group dynamics, leadership styles, conflict
resolution, team development and groupware.


Topics covered should include: oral and written presentations, technical report writing, writing user documentation and the development of effective interpersonal skills.

Societal issues

 Topics covered should include: history of computing and the ICT discipline, privacy and civil liberties, computer crime, intellectual property and legal issues.

History and status of discipline

Professionals should have some knowledge of where and when their discipline began and how it has evolved, in addition to understanding of ongoing issues in the discipline.
The ACS BoK explicitly avoids specifying how much of a program should be devoted to "Professional Knowledge" (PK) in general, or to any of its six components.  This differs from the ACS/IEEE-CS curriculum, which has a number of lecture hours for each topic. While the ACS approach provides flexibility, it gives the course designer (and accreditation assessor) little guidance. There are six components to the ACS BoK and in the absence of any other guidance, this suggests each should receive one sixth of the resources, which would be four courses in a 24 course degree program. This is about four times as much as for the ACS/IEEE-CS curriculum.

At first glance this is also far more than apparent in a typical Australian computing degree, which might have a couple of lectures on ethics. However, teamwork s likely to be covered in detail in software engineering courses and communication in many. The issue then is how to ensure that all students actually cover these important issues somewhere in their program of study. The conventional approach is to include the topics in core courses. However, topics such as communication become very dull when removed from the primary topic the student is studying. This could be overcome by use of an e-portfolio, where the student has top collect evidence of having covered the professional topics, in order to graduate. In most cases they show evident through work undertaken for other courses, with a preface explaining how it meets the requirements.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Social Issues and Professional Practice in University Degree Programs

Previously I looked at the"Social Issues and Professional Practice (SP)" required by the Draft ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013. This works out to the equivalent of one course out of a 24 course degree program (but it could be covered in multiple courses). The ANU's two year Master of Engineering requires two courses in Professional communication (ENGN8150 and ENGN8160), with these normally being taken consecutively in the first two semesters. However, students may apply to be exempt from these courses. The ANU Research School of Management has Communication for Business (MGMT2100) as a compulsory course for the Bachelor of Business Administration. The Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice
 has the option of a Professional Practice Core (PPC) which is 15 units (2.5 conventional courses). This has the students working on-line in a simulated law first with three others.

Social Issues and Professional Practice in Computer Science Degrees

The ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013 includes "Social Issues and Professional Practice (SP)". The committee suggests this core and elective material can be in stand-alone courses, integrated into other courses, or covered in capstone and professional practice courses.

Where to cover professional practice remains a problem, not just for computer science, but for engineering and other professional programs. There is a tendency for program designers to place a priority on technical content and hope professional and social issues are covered somewhere, somehow. I suggest that providing this early in the formal program would save time and resources overall.

University educators spend a lot of time and effort worrying about student study habits and quality of assessment submitted. I suggest addressing these explicitly in a professional practice subject early on. This will give students the guidance they need to approach their studies, as well as later in the workforce. Rather than complain about students who don't do the work, submit poor and plagiarized assignments, these skills can be taught and tested in professional practice.

ACM/IEEE-CS specify 11 hours of tier 1 and 5 hours of tier 2 for SP. Assuming the minimum 80% of tier 2 is applied, that is 13 hours total. I am not sure how to translate these hours of lecture time into Australian terms, but the ACM/IEE-CS Curricula specifies a total of at least 279.4 Hours lectures for the tier1/2 mix. So SP represents about 5% of the total. This would be just over one course in a three year degree made up of 24 courses.

From: "Social Issues and Professional Practice (SP)", ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013:

SubjectCore-Tier1 hoursCore-Tier2 hoursIncludes Electives
SP/Social Context12N
SP/Analytical Tools2N
SP/Professional Ethics22N
SP/Intellectual Property2Y
SP/Privacy and Civil Liberties2Y
SP/Professional Communication1Y
SP/Economies of ComputingY
SP/Security Policies, Laws and Computer CrimesY

SP/Social Context

[1 Core-Tier1 hour, 2 Core-Tier2 hours]

Computers and the Internet, perhaps more than any other technology, have transformed society over the past 75 years, with dramatic increases in human productivity; an explosion of options for news, entertainment, and communication; and fundamental breakthroughs in almost every branch of science and engineering. Social Context provides the foundation for all other SP
knowledge units, especially Professional Ethics. Also see cross-referencing with HCI and NC Knowledge Areas.


  • Social implications of computing in a networked world (cross-reference HCI/Foundations/social models; IAS/Fundamental Concepts/social issues)
  • Impact of social media on individualism, collectivism and culture.
  • Growth and control of the Internet (cross-reference NC/Introduction/organization of the Internet)
  • Often referred to as the digital divide, differences in access to digital technology resources and its resulting ramifications for gender, class, ethnicity, geography, and/or underdeveloped countries.
  • Accessibility issues, including legal requirements
  • Context-aware computing (cross-reference HCI/Design for non-mouse interfaces/ ubiquitous and context-aware)

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Describe positive and negative ways in which computer technology (networks, mobile computing, cloud
    computing) alters modes of social interaction at the personal level [Familiarity]
  2. Identify developers’ assumptions and values embedded in hardware and software design, especially as they
    pertain to usability for diverse populations including under-represented populations and the disabled. [Familiarity]
  3. Interpret the social context of a given design and its implementation [Familiarity]
  4. Evaluate the efficacy of a given design and implementation using empirical data. [Assessment]
  5. Summarize the implications of social media on individualism versus collectivism and culture. [Usage]
  6. [Core-Tier2]
    Discuss how Internet access serves as a liberating force for people living under oppressive forms of
    government; explain how limits on Internet access are used as tools of political and social repression.
  7. Analyze the pros and cons of reliance on computing in the implementation of democracy (e.g. delivery of
    social services, electronic voting). [Assessment]
  8. Describe the impact of the under-representation of diverse populations in the computing profession (e.g.,
    industry culture, product diversity). [Familiarity]
  9. Explain the implications of context awareness in ubiquitous computing systems. [Familiarity]

SP/Analytical Tools

[2 Core-Tier1 hours]

Ethical theories and principles are the foundations of ethical analysis because they are the viewpoints from which guidance can be obtained along the pathway to a decision. Each theory emphasizes different points such as predicting the outcome and following one's duties to others in order to reach an ethically guided decision. However, in order for an ethical theory to be useful, the theory must be directed towards a common set of goals. Ethical principles are the common goals that each theory tries to achieve in order to be successful. These goals include
beneficence, least harm, respect for autonomy and justice.


  • Ethical argumentation
  • Ethical theories and decision-making
  • Moral assumptions and values

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Evaluate stakeholder positions in a given situation. [Assessment]
  2. Analyze basic logical fallacies in an argument. [Assessment]
  3. Analyze an argument to identify premises and conclusion. [Assessment]
  4. Illustrate the use of example and analogy in ethical argument. [Usage]
  5. Evaluate ethical/social tradeoffs in technical decisions. [Assessment]

SP/Professional Ethics

[2 Core-Tier1 hours, 2 Core-Tier2 hours]

Computer ethics is a branch of practical philosophy that deals with how computing professionals should make decisions regarding professional and social conduct. There are three primary influences: 1) The individual's own personal code, 2) Any informal code of ethical behavior
existing in the work place, and 3) Exposure to formal codes of ethics. See cross-referencing with the IAS Knowledge Area.


  • Community values and the laws by which we live
  • The nature of professionalism including care, attention and discipline, fiduciary responsibility, and mentoring
  • Keeping up-to-date as a computing professional in terms of familiarity, tools, skills, legal and professional framework as well as the ability to self-assess and progress in the computing field
  • Professional certification, codes of ethics, conduct, and practice, such as the ACM/IEEE-CS, SE, AITP, IFIP and international societies (cross-reference IAS/Fundamental Concepts/ethical issues)
  • Accountability, responsibility and liability (e.g. software correctness, reliability and safety, as well as ethical confidentiality of cybersecurity professionals)
  • The role of the computing professional in public policy
  • Maintaining awareness of consequences
  • Ethical dissent and whistle-blowing
  • The relationship between regional culture and ethial dilemmas
  • Dealing with harassment and discrimination
  • Forms of professional credentialing
  • Acceptable use policies for computing in the workplace
  • Ergonomics and healthy computing environments
  • Time to market and cost considerations versus quality professional standards

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify ethical issues that arise in software development and determine how to address them technically
    and ethically. [Familiarity]
  2. Explain the ethical responsibility of ensuring software correctness, reliability and safety. [Familiarity]
  3. Describe the mechanisms that typically exist for a professional to keep up-to-date. [Familiarity]
  4. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of relevant professional codes as expressions of professionalism and guides to decision-making. [Familiarity]
  5. Analyze a global computing issue, observing the role of professionals and government officials in managing this problem. [Assessment]
  6. Evaluate the professional codes of ethics from the ACM, the IEEE Computer Society, and other organizations. [Assessment]
  7. [Core-Tier2]
    Describe ways in which professionals may contribute to public policy. [Familiarity]
  8. Describe the consequences of inappropriate professional behavior. [Familiarity]
  9. Identify progressive stages in a whistle-blowing incident. [Familiarity]
  10. Identify examples of how regional culture interplays with ethical dilemmas. [Familiarity]
  11. Investigate forms of harassment and discrimination and avenues of assistance. [Usage]
  12. Examine various forms of professional credentialing. [Usage]
  13. Explain the relationship between ergonomics in computing environments and people’s health. [Familiarity]
  14. Develop a computer usage/acceptable use policy with enforcement measures. [Assessment]
  15. Describe issues associated with industries’ push to focus on time to market versus enforcing quality professional standards. [Familiarity]

SP/Intellectual Property

[2 Core-Tier1 hours]

Intellectual property refers to a range of intangible rights of ownership in an asset such as a software program. Each intellectual property "right" is itself an asset. The law provides different methods for protecting these rights of ownership based on their type. There are essentially four types of intellectual property rights relevant to software: patents, copyrights, trade secrets and trademarks. Each affords a different type of legal protection. See cross-referencing with the IM Knowledge Area.


  • Philosophical foundations of intellectual property
  • Intellectual property rights (cross-reference IM/Information Storage and Retrieval/intellectual property and protection)
  • Intangible digital intellectual property (IDIP)
  • Legal foundations for intellectual property protection
  • Digital rights management
  • Copyrights, patents, trade secrets, trademarks
  • Plagiarism
  • Foundations of the open source movement
  • Software piracy

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Discuss the philosophical bases of intellectual property. [Familiarity]
  2. Discuss the rationale for the legal protection of intellectual property. [Familiarity]
  3. Describe legislation aimed at digital copyright infringements. [Familiarity]
  4. Critique legislation aimed at digital copyright infringements. [Assessment]
  5. Identify contemporary examples of intangible digital intellectual property. [Familiarity]
  6. Justify uses of copyrighted materials. [Assessment]
  7. Evaluate the ethical issues inherent in various plagiarism detection mechanisms. [Assessment]
  8. Interpret the intent and implementation of software licensing. [Familiarity]
  9. Discuss the issues involved in securing software patents. [Familiarity]
  10. Characterize and contrast the concepts of copyright, patenting and trademarks. [Assessment]
  11. [Elective]
    Identify the goals of the open source movement. [Familiarity]
  12. Identify the global nature of software piracy. [Familiarity]

SP/Privacy and Civil Liberties

[2 Core-Tier1 hours]

Electronic information sharing highlights the need to balance privacy protections with information access. The ease of digital access to many types of data makes privacy rights and civil liberties more complex, differing among the variety of cultures worldwide. See cross-referencing with the HCI, IAS, IM and IS Knowledge Areas.


  • Philosophical foundations of privacy rights (cross-reference IS/Fundamental Issues/philosophical issues)
  • Legal foundations of privacy protection
  • Privacy implications of widespread data collection for transactional databases, data warehouses, surveillance systems, and cloud computing (cross reference IM/Database Systems/data independence;
  • IM/Data Mining/data cleaning)
  • Ramifications of differential privacy
  • Technology-based solutions for privacy protection (cross-reference IAS/Threats and Attacks/attacks on privacy and anonymity)
  • Privacy legislation in areas of practice
  • Civil liberties and cultural differences
  • Freedom of expression and its limitations

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Discuss the philosophical basis for the legal protection of personal privacy. [Familiarity]
  2. Evaluate solutions to privacy threats in transactional databases and data warehouses. [Assessment]
  3. Describe the role of data collection in the implementation of pervasive surveillance systems (e.g., RFID, face recognition, toll collection, mobile computing). [Familiarity]
  4. Describe the ramifications of differential privacy. [Familiarity]
  5. Investigate the impact of technological solutions to privacy problems. [Usage]
  6. [Elective]
    Critique the intent, potential value and implementation of various forms of privacy legislation. [Assessment]
  7. Identify strategies to enable appropriate freedom of expression. [Familiarity]

SP/Professional Communication

[1 Core-Tier1 hour]

Professional communication conveys technical information to various audiences who may have very different goals and needs for that information. Effective professional communication of technical information is rarely an inherited gift, but rather needs to be taught in context throughout the undergraduate curriculum. See cross-referencing with HCI and SE Knowledge


  • Reading, understanding and summarizing technical material, including source code and documentation
  • Writing effective technical documentation and materials
  • Dynamics of oral, written, and electronic team and group communication (cross-reference
  • HCI/Collaboration and Communication/group communication; SE/Project Management/team participation)
  • Communicating professionally with stakeholders
  • Utilizing collaboration tools (cross-reference HCI/Collaboration and Communication/online communities;
  • IS/Agents/collaborative agents)
  • Dealing with cross-cultural environments (cross-reference HCI/User-Centered Design and Testing/cross-cultural evaluation)
  • Tradeoffs of competing risks in software projects, such as technology,  structure/process, quality, people, market and financial (cross-reference SE/Software Project Management/Risk)

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Write clear, concise, and accurate technical documents following well-defined standards for format and for
    including appropriate tables, figures, and references. [Usage]
  2. Evaluate written technical documentation to detect problems of various kinds. [Assessment]
  3. Develop and deliver a good quality formal presentation. [Assessment]
  4. Plan interactions (e.g. virtual, face-to-face, shared documents) with others in which they are able to get their point across, and are also able to listen carefully and appreciate the points of others, even when they disagree, and are able to convey to others that they have heard. [Usage]
  5. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of various forms of communication (e.g. virtual, face-to-face, shared documents). [Familiarity]
  6. Examine appropriate measures used to communicate with stakeholders involved in a project. [Usage]
  7. Compare and contrast various collaboration tools. [Assessment]
  8. [Elective]
    Discuss ways to influence performance and results in cross-cultural teams. [Familiarity]
  9. Examine the tradeoffs and common sources of risk in software projects regarding technology, structure/process, quality, people, market and financial. [Usage]
  10. 10. Evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses to work remotely as part of a multinational team. [Assessment]


[1 Core-Tier1 hour, 1 Core-Tier2 hour]

Sustainability is characterized by the United Nations as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Sustainability was first introduced in the CS2008 curricular guidelines. Topics in this emerging area can be naturally integrated into other familiarity areas and units, such as human-computer
interaction and software evolution. See cross-referencing with the HCI and SE Knowledge


  • Being a sustainable practitioner by taking into consideration cultural and environmental impacts of implementation decisions (e.g. organizational policies, economic viability, and resource consumption).
  • Explore global social and environmental impacts of computer use and disposal (e-waste)
  • Environmental impacts of design choices in specific areas such as algorithms, operating systems, networks, databases, or human-computer interaction (cross-reference SE/Software Evaluation/software evolution; HCI/Design-Oriented HCI/sustainability)
  • Guidelines for sustainable design standards
  • Systemic effects of complex computer-mediated phenomena (e.g. telecommuting or web shopping)
  • Pervasive computing. Information processing that has been integrated into everyday objects and activities, such as smart energy systems, social networking and feedback systems to promote sustainable behavior, transportation, environmental monitoring, citizen science and activism.
  • Conduct research on applications of computing to environmental issues, such as energy, pollution, resource usage, recycling and reuse, food management, farming and others.
  • How the sustainability of software systems are interdependent with social systems, including the knowledge and skills of its users, organizational processes and policies, and its societal context (e.g. market forces, government policies).

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify ways to be a sustainable practitioner. [Familiarity]
  2. Illustrate global social and environmental impacts of computer use and disposal (e-waste). [Usage]
  3. [Core-Tier2]
    Describe the environmental impacts of design choices within the field of computing that relate to algorithm
    design, operating system design, networking design, database design, etc. [Familiarity]
  4. Investigate the social and environmental impacts of new system designs through projects. [Usage]
  5. [Elective]
    Identify guidelines for sustainable IT design or deployment. [Familiarity]
  6. List the sustainable effects of telecommuting or web shopping. [Familiarity]
  7. Investigate pervasive computing in areas such as smart energy systems, social networking, transportation,
    agriculture, supply-chain systems, environmental monitoring and citizen activism. [Usage]
  8. Develop applications of computing and assess through research areas pertaining to environmental issues
    (e.g. energy, pollution, resource usage, recycling and reuse, food management, farming). [Assessment]


This history of computing is taught to provide a sense of how the rapid change in computing impacts society on a global scale. It is often taught in context with foundational concepts, such as system fundamentals and software developmental fundamentals.


  • Prehistory—the world before 1946
  • History of computer hardware, software, networking (cross-reference AR/Digital logic and digital systems/
  • history of computer architecture)
  • Pioneers of computing
  • History of Internet

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify significant continuing trends in the history of the computing field. [Familiarity]
  2. Identify the contributions of several pioneers in the computing field. [Familiarity]
  3. Discuss the historical context for several programming language paradigms. [Familiarity]
  4. Compare daily life before and after the advent of personal computers and the Internet. [Assessment]

SP/Economies of Computing

Economics of computing encompasses the metrics and best practices for personnel and financial management surrounding computer information systems.


  • Monopolies and their economic implications
  • Effect of skilled labor supply and demand on the quality of computing products Pricing strategies in the computing domain The phenomenon of outsourcing and off-shoring software development; impacts on employment and on economics Consequences of globalization for the computer science profession.
  • Differences in access to computing resources and the possible effects thereof
  • Cost/benefit analysis of jobs with considerations to manufacturing, hardware, software, and engineering implications
  • Cost estimates versus actual costs in relation to total costs
  • Entrepreneurship: prospects and pitfalls
  • Network effect or demand-side economies of scale
  • Use of engineering economics in dealing with finances

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Summarize the rationale for antimonopoly efforts. [Familiarity]
  2. Identify several ways in which the information technology industry is affected by shortages in the
    labor supply. [Familiarity]
  3. Identify the evolution of pricing strategies for computing goods and services. [Familiarity]
  4. Discuss the benefits, the drawbacks and the implications of off-shoring and outsourcing. [Familiarity]
  5. Investigate and defend ways to address limitations on access to computing. [Usage]
  6. Describe the economic benefits of network effects. [Familiarity]

SP/Security Policies, Laws and Computer Crimes

While security policies, laws and computer crimes are important, it is essential they are viewed with the foundation of other Social and Professional knowledge units, such as Intellectual Property, Privacy and Civil Liberties, Social Context, and Professional Ethics. Computers and the Internet, perhaps more than any other technology, have transformed society over the past 75 years. At the same time, they have contributed to unprecedented threats to privacy; whole new categories of crime and anti-social behavior; major disruptions to organizations; and the large-scale concentration of risk into information systems. See cross-referencing with the HCI and IAS Knowledge Areas.


  • Examples of computer crimes and legal redress for computer criminals (cross-reference IAS/Digital Forensics/rules of evidence)
  • Social engineering, identity theft and recovery (cross-reference HCI/Human Factors and Security/trust, privacy and deception)
  • Issues surrounding the misuse of access and breaches in security
  • Motivations and ramifications of cyber terrorism and criminal hacking, “cracking”
  • Effects of malware, such as viruses, worms and Trojan horses
  • Crime prevention strategies
  • Security policies (cross-reference IAS/Security Policy and Governance/policies)

Learning Outcomes:

  1. List classic examples of computer crimes and social engineering incidents with societal impact. [Familiarity]
  2. Identify laws that apply to computer crimes. [Familiarity]
  3. Describe the motivation and ramifications of cyber terrorism and criminal hacking. [Familiarity]
  4. Examine the ethical and legal issues surrounding the misuse of access and various breaches in security.
  5. Discuss the professional's role in security and the trade-offs involved. [Familiarity]
  6. Investigate measures that can be taken by both individuals and organizations including governments to prevent or mitigate the undesirable effects of computer crimes and identity theft. [Usage]
  7. Write a company-wide security policy, which includes procedures for managing passwords and employee monitoring. [Usage]

ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013

The joint ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science
Curricula 2013 Steering Committee (CS2013), have released a Draft Final Report (October 2013). The previous versions of the ACM/IEEE-CS curricular have been used by universities around the world in designing their degree programs. There is also a core learning outcomes spreadsheet and some Course and Curriculum Exemplars.

The ACM/IEE-CS Curricula specifies the proportion of course on each topic in terms of lecture hours, for delivery in a traditional face-to-face class. This does not include self-study time, lab sessions or student work on assessments. So confusingly it is less than the usual measure used by universities of  "contact hours" (which includes tutorials and labs sessions). The Total Core Hours are: Tier1 165 Hours, Tier1 143 Hours. Programs are required to have all of Tier 1, plus at least 80% of Tier 2, making a total of at least 279.4 Hours.

The ANU Bachelor of Information Technology
requires the completion of 144 units, with 36 compulsory computer science units, another 30 units from later years CS courses, 24 units of additional CS courses, 6 core maths courses, leaving 28 units of general electives. A typical 6 unit ANU Computer Science course has thirty one, one hour lectures and six two hour tutorials. The full time degree program is usually made up of three years of two semesters, with four courses per semester for a total of  24 courses (3 x 2 x 4). This equates to 744 hours of lectures.

While the ACM/IEE-CS have been influential with their curriculum internationally, it should be noted that this is a very US-centric document. The only mention of Australia in the document, is Judy Sheard's Human Computer Interaction (FIT3063), Monash University. The UK is represented by Paul Cairns' Human Aspects of Computer Science, University of York, Alan Blackwell's Human Computer Interaction and Software and Interface Design, University of Cambridge. Most of the other courses are from the USA, with a few from Europe and Asia.

ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction . 10

Overview of the CS2013 Process . 11
Survey Input  12
High-level Themes  13
Knowledge Areas  14
Professional Practice . 15
Exemplars of Curricula and Courses  16
Community Involvement and Website . 16
Acknowledgments  16
References . 19

Chapter 2: Principles . 20

Chapter 3: Characteristics of Graduates . 23

Chapter 4: Introduction to the Body of Knowledge 27

Knowledge Areas are Not Necessarily Courses (and Important Examples Thereof). 28
Core Tier-1, Core Tier-2, Elective: What These Terms Mean, What is Required . 29
Further Considerations in Designing a Curriculum  32
Organization of the Body of Knowledge  32
Curricular Hours . 32
Courses 33
Guidance on Learning Outcomes . 33
Overview of New Knowledge Areas  34

Chapter 5: Introductory Courses . 39

Design Dimensions . 39
Mapping to the Body of Knowledge. 45

Chapter 6: Institutional Challenges . 46

Localizing CS2013 . 46
Actively Promoting Computer Science  46
Broadening Participation  47
Computer Science Across Campus . 48
Computer Science Minors  48
Mathematics Requirements in Computer Science  49
Computing Resources . 51
Maintaining a Flexible and Healthy Faculty. 51
Teaching Faculty. 52
Undergraduate Teaching Assistants 53
Online Education  53
References . 54

Appendix A: The Body of Knowledge . 55

Algorithms and Complexity (AL). 55
Architecture and Organization (AR). 62
Computational Science (CN)  68
Discrete Structures (DS) . 76
Graphics and Visualization (GV) . 82
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)  89
Information Assurance and Security (IAS)  97
-4-Information Management (IM) . 112
Intelligent Systems (IS)  121
Networking and Communication (NC). 131
Operating Systems (OS) . 136
Platform-Based Development (PBD) . 143
Parallel and Distributed Computing (PD) . 146
Programming Languages (PL)  156
Software Development Fundamentals (SDF) . 168
Software Engineering (SE) . 173
Systems Fundamentals (SF) 187
Social Issues and Professional Practice (SP)  193

Appendix B: Migrating to CS2013 . 205

Outcomes  205
Changes in Knowledge Area Structure . 206
Core Comparison  207
Conclusions . 211

Appendix C: Course Exemplars 228

Course Exemplar Template  232
CSCI 140: Algorithms, Pomona College  234
COS 226: Algorithms and Data Structures, Princeton University 237
CS 256 Algorithm Design and Analysis, Williams College . 240
CSE332: Data Abstractions, University of Washington . 243
CS/ECE 552: Introduction to Computer Architecture, University of Wisconsin . 246
CS150: Digital Components and Design, University of California, Berkeley . 249
-5-CC152: Computer Architecture and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley  251
eScience, University of North Carolina at Charlotte  253
COSC/MATH 201: Modeling and Simulation for the Sciences, Wofford College  258
MAT 267: Discrete Mathematics, Union County College . 262
CS103: Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science, Stanford University  265
CS109: Probability Theory for Computer Scientists, Stanford University  265
CS 250 - Discrete Structures I, Portland Community College . 268
CS 251 - Discrete Structures II, Portland Community College  271
CS 175 Computer Graphics, Harvard University . 274
CS371: Computer Graphics, Williams College  277
Human Aspects of Computer Science, University of York  280
FIT3063 Human Computer Interaction, Monash University 282
CO328: Human Computer Interaction, University of Kent  285
Human Computer Interaction, University of Cambridge . 287
Human-Computer Interaction, Stanford University . 289
Human Information Processing (HIP), Open University Netherlands . 291
Software and Interface Design, University of Cambridge  293
Computer Systems Security (CS-475), Lewis-Clark State College  295
CS430: Database Systems, Colorado State University. 298
Technology, Ethics, and Global Society (CSE 262), Miami University  301
CS 662; Artificial Intelligence Programming, University of San Francisco  304
Intelligenza Artificiale ( Artificial Intelligence), Politecnico di Milano  306
CMSC 471, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, U. of Maryland, Baltimore, County  308
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, Case Western Reserve University . 310
-6-CS188: Artificial Intelligence, University of California Berkeley . 313
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, University of Hartford . 315
Computer Networks I, Case Western Reserve University  318
CS144: Introduction to Computer Networking, Stanford University . 320
Computer Networks, Williams College  323
CSCI 432 Operating Systems, Williams College . 327
CS 420, Operating Systems, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University  330
CPSC 3380 Operating Systems, U. of Arkansas at Little Rock . 332
582219 Operating Systems, University of Helsinki . 334
RU STY1 Operating Systems, Reykjavik University. 336
Parallel Programming Principle and Practice, Huazhong U. of Science and Technology . 339
Introduction to Parallel Programming, Nizhni Novgorod State University . 342
CS in Parallel (course modules on parallel computing) . 344
CS453: Introduction to Compilers, Colorado State University  348
Csc 453: Translators and Systems Software, The University of Arizona  351
CSCI 434T: Compiler Design, Williams College  353
Compilers, Stanford University  356
Languages and Compilers, Utrecht University . 359
COMP 412: Topics in Compiler Construction, Rice University  361
CSC 131: Principles of Programming Languages, Pomona College 364
CSCI 1730: Introduction to Programming Languages, Brown University  367
CSC 2/454: Programming Language Design and Implementation, University of Rochester 369
CSE341: Programming Languages, University of Washington . 372
CSCI 334: Principles of Programming Languages, Williams College . 375
-7-Programming Languages and Techniques I, University of Pennsylvania  378
15-312 Principles of Programming Languages, Carnegie Mellon University 381
15-150: Functional Programming, Carnegie Mellon University  385
CIS 133J: Java Programming I, Portland Community College  389
Introduction to Computer Science, Harvey Mudd College  392
CpSc 215: Software Development Foundations, Clemson University . 395
CS1101: Introduction to Program Design, WPI . 398
Data Abstraction and Data Structures, Miami University  401
Software Engineering Practices, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University  403
CS169: Software Engineering, University of California, Berkeley 407
SE-2890 Software Engineering Practices, Milwaukee School of Engineering  410
Software Development, Quinnipiac University  412
CS2200: Introduction to Systems and Networking, Georgia Institute of Technology . 415
CS61C: Great Ideas in Computer Architecture, University of California, Berkeley 419
CSE333: Systems Programming, University of Washington . 421
Ethics in Technology (IFSM304), University of Maryland . 424
Technology Consulting in the Community, Carnegie Mellon University  427
Issues in Computing, Saint Xavier University 431
Ethics & the Information Age (CSI 194), Anne Arundel Community College . 433
Professional Development Seminar, Northwest Missouri State University . 436
The Digital Age, Grinnell College  439
COS 126: General Computer Science, Princeton University . 443
CSCI 0190: Accelerated Introduction to Computer Science, Brown University . 447
An Overview of the Two-Course Intro Sequence, Creighton University. 449
-8-CSC 221: Introduction to Programming, Creighton University . 450
CSC 222: Object-Oriented Programming, Creighton University . 452
An Overview of the Mulit-paradigm Three-course CS Introduction at Grinnell College  454
CSC 151: Functional problem solving, Grinnell College . 456
CSC 161: Imperative Problem Solving and Data Structures, Grinnell College . 458
CSC 207: Algorithms and Object-Oriented Design, Grinnell College . 460

Appendix D: Curricular Exemplars  463

Bluegrass Community and Technical College (A.S. Degree)  465
Bluegrass Community and Technical College (A.A.S. Degree)  472
Grinnell College  480
Stanford University . 492
Williams College  503 Brown University . 447
An Overview of the Two-Course Intro Sequence, Creighton University. 449
-8-CSC 221: Introduction to Programming, Creighton University . 450
CSC 222: Object-Oriented Programming, Creighton University . 452

Torrens University Australia Marketing Courses On-line

Torrens University Australia appears to be running an extensive on-line advertising campaign. Many of the web pages (including my own blog) have advertisements for the university's programs, placed through Google Ad Worlds. It would be interesting to see how this compares with the event, TV and print campaigns of traditional universities. Torrens is offering on-line programs, so the web is a natural place to advertise. However, Open Universities Australia and USQ use TV advertisements for their on-line courses. Interestingly Torrens are advertising postgraduate degrees and PHDs, rather than first degrees (or perhaps that is just the target market I am in). Another instution which has been advertising is the "London School of Business & Finance" (which I am not familiar with).

Here are some of the Torrens ads:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Australian Higher Education in 2020

In 1996 I gave a "future history" presentation to the Australian Computer Society on information technology in 2005, where I predicted the tablet computer (the Minister for Communications made reference to this is a speech in 2007). Here I attempt something similar for education:

Australian Higher Education in 2020

Imagine it is now the year 2020. What is higher education? There are fewer, larger  universities around Australia and some more private ones.

Some institutions which invested heavily in MOOCs found themselves swallowed up by the consortia they helped foster and are now little more than brands and local branches of global degree factories. Other institutions had their reputations irreparably damaged in the MOOC crash of 2015.

Distance Education is the New Normal 

The typical university student today is part time, studying on-line by what used to be called "distance education". It is rare for a student to be full time and on campus, due to the cost and the questionable educational value of that mode of learning. Students are expected to undertake education throughout their working lives and most advanced students also teach.

University courses are now designed by interdisciplinary teams of subject matter experts, educational designers and media specialists. There are still a few exceptionally talented individual academics who hand craft their own courses, but this is a very rare skill. Research supervision has changed less, but now is typically carried out with a team of supervisors and students, linked by an on-line network.

Because of the cost of designing developing and testing a course, they tend to be underwritten by consortia of universities around the world. As professional jobs now are largely based on global skills standards, as required under international free trade agreements, this global standardization of education is seen as normal and natural.

Learning Space Like Executive Lounges

While many university students never see their campus, there are still campuses with a lively academic and cultural community. About one quarter of the student and staff can be expected to be found on a campus. Most steeply raked lecture theaters have been demolished and replaced with flexible multi-use TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) rooms. University learning commons at the leading universities now look like the executive lounge of an airport, with bookshelves replaced by comfortable chairs. At the lower end of the market tertiary education occupies co-working spaces, with cheap trestle tables and second hand chairs. Tutorials look much the same as seven years ago, except for the wall screen allowing the participation of remote students.

Students and staff still complain about each other and about workload. However, the analytical packages monitoring on-line learning in real time can identify most potential problems with workload before they become too serious. While there are still human student and staff counselors, their jobs are made much easier by AI assistants which which will patiently help even the most difficult student.

The distinction between research and coursework advanced degrees has largely disappeared. It is assumed that any advanced student will be undertaking some form of investigation of new knowledge, but will still have to learn some new basic skills in class.

Most students undertake their first post secondary education at TAFE. The TAFEs are collocated at many upper secondary schools. Students are expected to learn basic vocational skills in their chosen profession, even if they hope to go on to advanced university studies. It is not unusual for students to be undertaking courses at multiple institutions simultaneously and at different levels. The student of the 2020s has difficulty understanding the idea of studying at just at one "place" at a time.

Under federal legislation, tertiary students have one ID for all institutions, with an e-portfolio of all their student details. Universities are free to teach whatever they want and set their own entry standards. However, where an institution claims to meet an external accreditation standard, it must also admit students, and give credit for their work at, similarly accredited institutions. The result is that a student  can pick and choose courses from across Australia and around the world.

The AI assistants which help students and staff have their origins in the dead-man switch used in transportation. A train driver must push a switch, or operate the controls, periodically to show they are not incapacitated, otherwise an alarm sounds and brakes applied. In the same way, the AI assistant looks for a lack of involvement by each student and by their teachers, and issues helpful advice. If the AI assistant still detects no response, they alert specialist staff to intervene. The AI assistants are welcomed by students, but objected to by university academics, who don't like to be reminded of their obligation to respond to students in a timely way.

Australian has several of the world's leading universities, out of proportion to its size. There are a dozen major institutions, most formed by consolidation of existing universities. This trend started with some members of the loose consortium of Open Universities Australia merging to form the Open University of Australia. This created a major global university with both a research reputation and education programs. The members of Australia's Group of Eight universities reacted by each acquiring the remaining smaller universities to bolster their education offerings.

Previously universities had concentrated on either research, with a small number of advanced students, or education, with a large number of undergraduates. During the second decade of the 21st century it was realized that universities did not need to choose between size and quality, research and education, on-campus and distance: all were possible together. While research and education never had much to do with each other at universities (and still don't), it was released that quality research and education complemented each other.

Australia is now the dominant provider of quality tertiary education in the world. The USA suffered a loss of reputation with clumsy government attempts at regulation and a student loan bubble which saw many institutions bankrupt. The UK failed to get out of its small OxBridge mentality and after years of neglect by government, in 2014 the UK Open University moved to Edinburgh to become the Open University of Europe, in the newly independent nation of Scotland.  While India and China have several mega-universities with millions of students, these have not been able to maintain the professional reputation of Australia's institutions.

Australia's higher education reputation was greatly enhanced with the passing of the Palmer Bill in 2015. The bill put in place a National Independent Commission Against Corruption, with the power to investigate academic fraud at any higher education institution registered in Australia. After the jailing of several senior academics for corruption, the sector put in place effective quality controls.

As in previous eras, the main resource the student of today requires is time to study and a willingness to learn. Obviously as almost all courses are on-line, they need a computer and Internet access. They don't need an expensive computer, with a under $100 tablet being sufficient. They do not need a particularly high speed connection, with the typical 1 Gbps wireless link being sufficient. In fact as asynchronous delivery is the predominant mode for education a 48kbps link of the 1990s would be sufficient. Much time was wasted in the early 2000's debating the value of asynchronous versus synchronous deliver, until they were found not to be different at all.

Education in 2020 still involves "books", but these are mostly eBooks. Also there are still assignments, examinations and other forms of assessment. Most of these are administered on-line and cheating is still an issue (while technology develops, human nature remains much the same). Research students still submit a "thesis" but most professional doctorates are awarded based on an e-portfolio of work.

The value of Australian universities to the wider community was recognized in 2019, with the awarding of Australia's highest civilian medals for bravery, to the staff of the Australian university computer security centers. The Asian war of 2018 saw universities in the front line, defending Australia's network border from cyber attack. Frustrated by their lack of ability to penetrate Australia's telecommunications network, the enemy targeted sixty submarine launched cruse missiles on network nodes. This was the first mainland attack on Australia since the bombing of Darwin in WW2. The attack failed due to the resilient nature of the Internet and the dedication of staff who remained at their posts throughout the bombardment.

Australia responded with an air-strike under cover of a cyber-attack, devised by computer scientists and special effects artists. Fake news reports, and messages appearing to be from the enemy's own forces, reported Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft of  RAAF No. 1 Squadron being launched by HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide off the enemy coast, in a  Doolittle style raid. The video of the aircraft leaving the ships' ski-jump flight decks were created using CGI digital special effects and false radar images of the aircraft were painted by RAAF EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft. Twenty F/A-18Fs, transiting from the Australian mainland with air-to-air refuelling, attacked unopposed from the opposite direction. The raid caused limited damage, but the resulting in a loss of face for the enemy regime brought the war to an end.

Education as an Alternate Reality Game

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra Helen Keegan, University of Salford, is speaking on learning through gaming, sims and innovative media. She described becoming increasingly frustrated with higher education as a product with fixed learning objectives and students as customers,. So she created a fictional character "Rufi Franzen". She talked yesterday at University of Canberra on "Open: Social: Mobile: Connected". You can read her blog.

The idea of a game the students is an interesting one. However some aspects of the exercise I found disturbing. As an example, students were sent anonymous cryptic notes. New university students find study stressful enough when an effort is made to make courses clear. Also international students in particular may be subject to forms harassment and physical threat. Some students are also members of various national security organizations. A cryptic anonymous note may be interpreted by a stunt as a threat. In addition international students can expect to have their on-line communications monitored by their own government, as well as others. Any cryptic communication could be misinterpreted as part of a conspiracy threating national security.

On a more positive note, much of what  Helen described, in terms of setting a task for the students, then stepping back and then providing small amounts of guidance, seems to be a reasonable description of education. Disciplines, including law and medicine, make use of role playing and simulations, but these are announced and within narrowly confined limits.