Saturday, June 28, 2014

Supporting International IT Students

A panel on "Curricular and Delivery of Engineering and IT Degrees in the changing Internationalization Landscape of Higher Education" is planned for the 9th International Conference on Computer Science & Education (ICCSE 2014), at UBC, in Vancouver, August 23 2014, 4:35 to 6:05 p.m.
Internationalization is widely accepted as the process of integrating international, intercultural or global employability dimensions into research, curricular and delivery of higher education. Internationalization is measured in several ways, including 1) What percentage of students have undertaken International study abroad/Internship opportunity? 2) What are the international networks the University interacts with? 3) Do staff publish and apply for collaborative grants with overseas researchers? 4) What are percentages of staff and students born overseas or gained overseas qualification? 5) Are some subjects/courses delivered in collaboration with overseas institutions? The panel members will draw on their experience from China, UK, Canada, Australia, India and Sri Lanka on both postgraduate and undergraduate education and comment on the following two questions: 1) What are innovations and unique features in curricula development and delivery that support Internationalization? 2) How can we negotiate between national/local requirements and needs and the desire for internationalization? There will to opportunities for the participants to make brief comments and ask questions.
My paper for the conference is "Chinese and Australian students learning to work together online" and I have been asked for 3 slides for a five minute presentation:

Supporting International IT Students Online

Australian Programs for International Students:

  • Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific (1951): Students to Australia
  • New Colombo Plan (from 2015): Students from Australia
  • ANU Engaging India (2014): Bilingual (English and Hindi) online course for international students.
Tom.Worthington, ANU,  Supporting International IT Students Online,  1

Local, National and International Requirements

IT programs already use national and international standards:
  1. ICT Professional Body of Knowledge (ACS BoK)
  2. International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3)
  3. Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA)
Used in Australian/Canadian course ICT Sustainability 
Tom.Worthington, ANU,  Supporting International IT Students Online,  2

Propose Extending New Colombo Plan Online

  • Mixed Online Groups to learn Ethics, Teamwork, Professional Communication
  • e-Portfolios for Learning and Assessment 
  • Run by Australian and other institutions
    Paper for ICCSE 2014: Worthington, T. (2014). Chinese and Australian students learning to work together online: Proposal to Expand the New Colombo Plan to the Online Environment.

    Tom.Worthington, ANU,  Supporting International IT Students Online,  3

    Identifying the Education Needs of the Business Analyst

    Deborah Richards and Mauricio Marrone surveyed members of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) about what skills were important for business analysts. They report in "Identifying the Education Needs of the Business Analyst" (2014) that soft and  business skills are important alongside technical skills. They suggest that and "green" skills should be added to this. It would be interesting to see a follow-up study of how well Australian higher education provides courses for these areas. Recently I was teaching Sustainable IT at the ANU, at the same time as Business Analysis for the ACS Virtual College. Both online courses, they emphasise soft and business skills, in that students have to be able to explain their analysis and recommendations in terms their employer can understand.


    Richards, D., & Marrone, M. (2013). Identifying the Education Needs of the Business Analyst: An Australian Study. Australasian Journal Of Information Systems, 18(2). doi:10.3127/ajis.v18i2.803

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

    Teaching with Technology in Canberra

    Brenda Aynsley OAM FACS CP, President of the Australian Computer Society, will speak on "Teaching with Technology" at the Australian National University in Canberra, 5:30pm, 16th July 2014. This inaugural meeting of the ACS e-Learning Special Interest Group (eLearningSig) is free and open to all those interested in technology for teaching and teaching about technology. Please register to attend.

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

    Computing in All Education Programs

    Alan Noble, " (13 June 2014). He has a point that the term "Computer Science" is intimidating and could put off students. But the computing discipline has tried a few terms, such as ADP, Information Technology, Information and Communications Technology, Information Science and my favourite the French "Informatique", but none have stuck.

    More useful is Alan's suggestion to team CS with another discipline the student is interested in, emphasising that computers are are just a tool to achieve something. This requires those designing higher education courses to allow some flexibility ion their programs, and not just by double degrees and allowing a few electives. Students should be able to have a large computing  component in their course and do something else. This need not just be the traditional areas, such as engineering, but can be any field of humanities or science, where computing is applied.

    Monday, June 16, 2014

    Use ICT to Attract and Train ICT Teachers

    The Australian Council of Deans of Information and Communications Technology (ACDICT), have expressed concern at the lack of ICT trained teachers in Australian schools ("ICT teaching deficit is severe", 12 June 2014). ACDICT point out that only  52% of those teaching IT in years 11-12 have an IT qualification. They suggest mentoring of teachers and events where ICT graduates talk to school students. This wrong-headed approach has been tried in the past with limited success. A few enthusiastic people spend a lot of their time visiting a few schools and motivate a handful of students.

    The better way to communicate with students about ICT is by using the Internet and the way to teach ICT teachers is online. In this way hundreds of thousands of students can be reached. This can be done by providing online computing courses, such as Monash University's "Creative Coding".

    Teachers can be provided with online training ans support for blended team teaching. That is rather than each teacher working out what to do on their own, the teachers can work together online, to support their students. The students can use online resources and then discuss what they have learned face-to-face in the classroom.

    Massive Open Online Course Experiments

    I signed up to try out the free online computing course "Creative Coding" provided by Monash University through
    from Future Learn (the consortium set up by UK Open University). I was presented with Updated Terms and Conditions. These are to make it clear that research can be carried out using anonymous student data, as per the Future Learn Research Ethics Framework.
    The massive open online courses provide an excellent supply of data for research and experimentation. The courses are entirely online, have large numbers of students and, at least in the case of FutureLearn, the participants have already agreed to provide their data. It would be interesting to see if any of the universities are carrying out experiments where they divide the students into groups, present each group with a different version of the course and see which works best. Also it would be interesting to see if this is covered by FutureLearn's research ethics framework.

    Of course there is a danger that such experiments will only answer a limited range of questions. For example, students who are unable or unwilling to take part in such a course will not have their views considered.

    Friday, June 13, 2014

    University Degree Comparison Calculator

    Jarod Alper and others at the Australian National University have created a "University Degree Comparison Calculator", to allow the cost of a university degree under current legislation to be compared with that proposed. The assumptions used in the calculations can be changed. What will be most informative for users is the graph showing the large proportion which interest makes of a student loan repayment. Perhaps this should by included in the Government's MyUniversity website.

    One thing the authors of the calculator might like to do is extend the calculation to shorter qualifications: Certificate (six months) and Diploma (one year). Students might be better off starting with a much shorter (and cheaper) qualification, just enough to get the into a industry and then study for a degree part-time. Many young students have little idea of what they want to do and so it would be better to invest six months or a year of their time and money in studying in a filed, rather than three or four years, before finding out if it is what they want to do. Also I find student who have work experience are much more motivated, ready to learn and easier to teach. It may even be possible to offer such students lower course fees, as it will take less resources to teach them (and they can even help teach the beginners).

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

    Australian Bids to Run NZ ICT Graduate Schools

    The New Zealand Government has announced $28.6M to set up three Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Graduate Schools. NZ Tertiary Education Commission and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will run a tender process for education provider/industry partnerships to provide the grad schools. Under the ANZ Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (CER), Australian and NZ organisations have access to each others markets. So it may be possible for Australian universities and companies to bid to run the NZ grad schools.