Sunday, June 28, 2015

Open Scholarship

Open Scholarship seems an odd term to me: when was scholarship "closed"?

Willinsky (2009) offers a division of publishers into Independent Journals, Scholarly Societies and Commercial Publishers. They then trace open access back to the 1990s. But what might have been more useful would be to look at when academic publishing started to be closed. I would assume this might be around the time of the industrialization of scientific research in WW2.

Weller (2011) looks at scholarship from a more points of view than Willinsky (2009), looking at application and teaching as two scholarly activities which benefit from open access. Curiously neither author seems to worry much about scholarly discourse, which I thought was the whole point of the academic exercise. That is, you are not so much trying to set something in stone by publishing an academic paper, but continuing a discussion.

I am a member of the US based IEEE, who are a major publisher of engineering standards and papers. While IEEE is a scholarly society, their publishing arm is so big it is more like a commercial publisher, although they have a tradition of also supporting quirky little journals, which are more like independents.

The IEEE Open Access Publishing Options gives an interesting insight into how a publisher sees open access. Essentially, in IEEE's world "open access" is synonymous with "author pays". That is, the question from the publisher's point of view with open access is "who pays us?". If the reader is not paying for publication, then the next best option for the publisher is to get the author to pay.

The IEEE divides its open access publishing into:
  1. Topical: Only three of IEEE's thousands of journals are fully open access, the first of which, IEEE Photonics Journal, was only started in 2012.
  2. Hybrid: Authors have the option of paying to make content in otherwise closed journals open. The advantage for the author is that they avoid their paper being ghettoized in an "open" publication. IEEE point out that papers in high impact factor subscription based journals can be made open.
  3. Mega: IEEE has created new "rapid-decision, open access mega journal" called IEEE Access. In some ways this is an attempt to reverse the trend which has seen increasingly specialized journals. The most interesting point with IEEE Access is the emphasis on rapid publication (4 weeks for review). However as a paper costs the author US$1,750.00 to publish, this is not open, in the sense of being available to the majority of authors (who could not afford the fee).
What seems curious is that, as far as I can tell, the review process for IEEE's papers is still unpaid, even where the author pays for rapid publication. Why should I, as a reviewer, give one of these papers priority, when I am not getting paid more (or anything at all) for this work?

Normally academia operates on an informal system of favors: do this for me and I will do something for you later. But if a commercial publisher, or quasi-commercial publisher (like IEEE), is charging a premium up-front fee for a rush service, what is the incentive for me to cooperate?


Willinsky, J. (2009). The stratified economics of open access. Economic Analysis and Policy, 39(1), 53-70. Retrieved from
Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. A&C Black. Retrieved from

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sustainable ICT Curriculum

Özkan and Mishra (2015) propose a sustainable ICT curriculum consisting of seven topics with five learning outcomes:


  1. Key Concepts in Sustainability
  2. Sustainability Value dimensions: societal, technical, economic and ecological values
  3. Systems Thinking
  4. Systems Dynamics Modeling
  5. Green IT
  6. ICT for Sustainability
  7. Ethics and Sustainability

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Develop an understanding of broad and complex nature of sustainability
  2. Develop an ability to evaluate and assess the impact of ICT in multiple dimensions in a systemic way
  3. Gain insight into frequently addressed ICT topics in the sustainability literacy
  4. Increase the ability in modeling and analyzing systems for sustainability in complex settings
  5. Recognize the importance of sustainability in profession and generate commitment at a personal level 
My Green ICT course gets a mention (Worthington, 2012).


Özkan, B., & Mishra, A. (2015). A Curriculum on Sustainable Information Communication Technology Program zrównoważonej teleinformatyki (ICT). PROBLEMY EKOROZWOJU, 10(2), 95-101. Retrienfed from
Worthington, T. (2012, July). A Green computing professional education course online: Designing and delivering a course in ICT sustainability using Internet and eBooks'. In Computer Science & Education (ICCSE), 2012 7th International Conference on (pp. 263-266). IEEE. DOI: 10.1109/ICCSE.2012.6295070

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Quickly developing online versions of learning materials for graduate students at Cambridge University

Cambridge University Library, West Road, CB3 9DR Cambridge, United Kingdom
I will be discussing "Quickly developing online versions of learning materials for graduate students" at Cambridge University, 2pm, 22 July 2015. The talk was arranged by Dr Danny Kingsley, Head of the University of Cambridge Office of Scholarly Communication, is free and open to all, but you need to reserve a seat.
The University of Cambridge has been using the same Australian developed "Moodle" Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as ANU since 2014. Tom will provide some lessons learned from teaching graduate students using Moodle at the ANU since 2009. He suggests shortcuts for moving learning materials on-line using e-books. Tom will also outline new work at ANU to integrate the "synchronous" features of products such as Adobe Connect, with the "asynchronous" features of Moodle.

ps: Happy to give a version of the talk in Australia (or Hong Kong, if there is interest. I will be at  Fitzwilliam College Cambridge (UK) 21 to 25 July for the 10th International Conference on Computer Science & Education (ICCSE 2015). On the way I am stopping off in Hong Kong 16 to 18 July for the Second International Conference on Open and Flexible Education (ICOFE 2015) at Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK).

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Time-shifted Learning: Merging Synchronous and Asynchronous Techniques for E-Learning

Draft slides and notes for my talk at the 10th International Conference on Computer Science and  Education (ICCSE 2015), July 22-24, 2015, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, UK. Comments and corrections would be welcome. This is based on the paper with Hao Wu:
Abstract: E-learning techniques are usually classified into two broad categories: synchronous and asynchronous. The core question of this research is how to combine synchronous and asynchronous techniques in e-learning software, so it can have a stronger connection with constructivist education. The benefits and drawbacks of existing e-learning software is looked at broadly. Three popular e-learning packages used at the Australian National University are investigated: Adobe Connect (synchronous), Moodle and edX (asynchronous). The results of a brief survey of edX students is reported. Using the results of this work a team of students at the ANU Research School of Computer Science is now implementing enhanced asynchronous software to be plugged into Moodle and other asynchronous e-learning packages.
Keywords: Asynchronous Learning; Synchronous Learning; Electronic Learning; Web Conference; Videoconferencing; Pedagogy
Please cite as:
Worthington, T. & Wu, H. (2015, July). Time-shifted Learning: Merging Synchronous and Asynchronous Techniques for E-Learning. In Computer Science & Education (ICCSE), 2015 10th International Conference on. IEEE.
Preprint available at:

Monday, June 15, 2015

E-learning an ICT Solution for the 21st Century

The report "#SMARTer2030: ICT Solutions for 21 st Century Challenges" (GeSI 2015) suggests that computers and telecommunications can provide a "triple win" delivering "significant environmental, social and economic benefits":
  1. Environment – Decreasing emissions and resource consumption whilst allowing for growth
  2. Economic – ICT is good for business, creating new revenue opportunities and reducing cost
  3. Social – Boosting incomes, cutting costs and improving lives

The areas the report suggests will benifit most are: Health, Learning, Building, Food, Mobility, Energy, Work/business and  Manufacturing. The authors suggest three groups who need to act are: Policy makers, Business and Consumers. Curiously ICT professionals, educators and researchers are not included.

The #SMARTer2030 report is incorrect in suggesting that in the future e-learning will be used for collaborative, location-independent education. This revolution has already happened, it is just that most people (including most university professors) have not noticed. In 2008 the ACS commissioned the design of an on-line course on how to reduce carbon emissions by and with ICT. The ACS approach treats it students as working professionals who collaborate on-line and produce real proposals for their employers. The versions of the "ICT Sustainability" course are now also run by ANU in Australia and in North America. This form of education is also in routine use for other courses for millions of students world wide.

Friday, June 12, 2015

What to see in Hong Kong and Cambridge in July

I will be in Hong Kong 16 to 18 July for the Second International Conference on Open and Flexible Education (ICOFE 2015) at Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK), then via Guangzhou (China) to Fitzwilliam College Cambridge (UK) 21 to 28 July for the 10th International Conference on Computer Science & Education (ICCSE 2015). Anyone I should visit along the way?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Developing a Strategy for Exporting Australian Educational Technology to China

Greetings from the 47th Floor of the MLC Tower in Sydney, where I am attending a meeting on "Developing a strategy to support the NSW edutech sector access international opportunities". This is hosted by the StudyNSW section of the export arm of the NSW Government and called by the Sydney Edutech Group. There are about 25 people from the education sector and government present. The education export part of NSW Government was recently moved to the Premier's Department, in recognition of the importance of this sector.

We are getting an overview of the Chinese education system, The point was made that Chinese venture investment is now A$350M per quarter and equal to the USA. Most of this investment is in the K-12 tutoring, ESL and post secondary skills. There are fewer opportunities in the government sector (I suspect there is more opportunity than expected).

Telstra Muru-D Start-up Accelerator in Sydney, working with China was mentioned. The point was made that there are reforms by the Chinese government (I suggest this is an opportunity for education exports). Australia's Chinese population was seen as a resource for dealing with China.

Some groups are publishers: Phoenix Press and Pegasus Media, EduTech: New Orient,  Accelerators: Learnlab, Innovation Works, Companies: National football coaching reform, Angels and VCs: Zhen Fund, Fresco Ventures, Startups: Bering EduTech Group, Government: National and Beijing, Universities: Beijing Normal.

I found it interesting that working with Chinese universities was included almost as an afterthought. Australian academics have access to their Chinese univalents and might be a useful channels. I  attend the ICCSE Computer Science and Education Conference with Chinese university academics. Also there are Australian education conferences which Chinese academics may attend: ANU is running the Australasian Computer Science Week of Conferences, 2 – 5 Feb 2016, in Canberra.

One interesting point made at the meeting is that Austria is a very respected education brand in China. This directly benefits Australian educational institutions with Chinese students, but can also benefit education technology providers looking for Chinese investment and sales.

After discussing the investment environment in China, the meeting moved on to discuss a possible trade delegation. This might be a visit over five days in a few cities in mid August 2015 (with possible NSW Government representation).

Muru-D's events were suggested as a model for a deligation. This had ten companies showing products in three cities Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen. The idea is to make the presentations look big, by having several confidante presentations. The problem of making something as esoteric as education pedagogy look impressive was discussed, as was the benefits of simultaneous translation (English pretension with slides in Chinese was considered adequate). Those interested in an EdTech delegation to China can contact Terry Hilsberg.

"StudyNSW and Sydney Edutech Group invite founders and members of edutech startups to a consultative round table to assist in the development of a coordinated strategy for NSW edutech companies in accessing global markets, in particular China.

The round table will also discuss opportunities for possible government-led edutech missions overseas, including to China, and how these missions could best be structured to assist NSW startups. Please come along to have your say in how the NSW government can best support you access international markets.

StudyNSW was established by the NSW government in 2014 to support international education in NSW. One of its functions is to identify and generate international market development opportunities and new technology-enabled models of delivery.

The round table consultation led by Terry Hilsberg, Sydney Edutech Group. Overseas mission visit discussion

Edutech Group and StudyNSW We are a 400+ strong Sydney meet-up group, interested in connecting educators, tech geeks, start-ups and investors who are passionate about the education space and interested in applying technology to solve current problems in the education sector. If you are a developer / hacker / entrepreneur / investor — who is passionate about education — please join us.

StudyNSW is a dedicated unit established by the NSW Government to increase the number of international students studying in NSW or with our education providers overseas, improve the quality of their experience while in the State and recognise their contributions to our communities.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Teaching Innovation to Graduate Students

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking part in a "SPARK innovation workshop" on how researchers can do innovation, commercialisation, and entrepreneurial initiatives. The most interesting part of this is that it is for research students as well as staff. Rather the student complete their PHD and then wonder what to do next, the idea is that they consider commercialise it while doing the research. Also co-creation is being emphasized, where the researcher engages with people outside academia. My aim in attending the workshop is to help with my

Technology Transfer Office  and ANU Enterprise.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Start-ups for Students

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking part in the STEM Teaching and Learning Colloquium. The third session is on "Working with industry to extend student research and professional skills using student run start-ups".  This is about the ANU TechLauncher Project. The idea is that students get experience working in a team on a real world project. I have a team of students in the program building a Better Webinar Tool For Teaching. Ideally they will enter the Innovation ACT competition and then launch their own company through the Griffin Accelerator at CBRIN.

One example of a project down the path is "Oz Guild", a system for cataloging trading cards. Another of the projects is "Accolade" to produce a digital badge system for education (this might be applied to ANU tutors).

One issue with start-ups is that about 90% fail. Rather than a negative, this should be a positive experience for students, who can learn from the experience in the safe environment of being a student. Computing graduates will be working in an environment where about 75% of the projects they work on fail.

Another issue with such innovation programs is dealing with when the student's enthusiasm causes the university embarrassment. As an example, a team I was previously mentoring created a survey and released it publicly, without going though university approval processes. The first I knew of it was when a query came down through a PVC, Dean, Head of Department, Professor and finally to me to ask "What are these students doing". The survey was rectified and back up the chain I sent the reply "We can't fault the students for having initiative in an innovation course".

Supporting tutors and demonstrators

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking part in the STEM Teaching and Learning Colloquium. The fifth session is on "support tutors and demonstrators". This outlined the QUT Sessional Academic Success Project (SAS) project and how it might be applied at ANU. QUT have what in ANU terminology would be called "senior tutor/demonstrators". One interesting aspect was that many part time university teachers may not be eligible for the development programs run by universities (not just ANU or QUT), because they are not "tutors" and are not tenured (I got around this problem at ANU by getting a three year contract).

What was not clear to me if QUT tutors are also required to have formal qualifications in teaching. While it would be useful to provide tutors with a sense of community, I suggest that they should also have formal education training. As an example, a Vocational Education and Training teacher is required to have at least a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (which is about six weeks full time training). It would seem reasonable to have the tutor's learning certified, so by the end of their first year they are accredited.

Making Expert Thinking Visible

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking part in the STEM Teaching and Learning Colloquium. The fourth session is on "Making Expert Thinking Visible". The idea is to treat students as apprentices and taken them through the process an expert would use to undertake a class. The book "Reaching Students: What Research Says About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering" (Nancy Kober, 2015) is available free online.  While I see this as a good approach, there is a risk that university academics will see this as dumbing down degree programs and suggest this is just for "vocational education".

Distributed constructionism and the Jigsaw classroom

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking part in the STEM Teaching and Learning Colloquium. The third session is on "Distributed constructionism and the Jigsaw classroom". The idea is that students cooperatively prepare and conduct tutorials for other students. Some practical aspects of this was that students liked some of the assessment for their course being earlier on (so they get it out of the way) and the Learning Management System helps with the complex administration needed.

Teaching Cognitive Flexibility for Better Professionals

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking aprt in the STEM Teaching and Learning Colloquium. The second session is on teaching cognitive flexibility through social science. The example is given for teaching doctors to better relate to the patients. Perhaps this could be applied to other professionals as well, such as computer professionals. While STEM students have to learn scientific and technical content, they will ultimately have to relate to people in order to do a good job. There are material on "Social Foundations of Medicine and Health".

An interesting aspect of this is that the ANU Medical School appears to make extensive use of Wordpress for providing information to students. Apart from increased flexibility, this has the advantage that this information is also open to others to read.

Indigenous Health Teaching at ANU

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking aprt in the STEM Teaching and Learning Colloquium. The first session is on the ANU Indigenous Health Stream (IHS), which uses "experiential learning, mentoring and leadership training in Indigenous Health". Students work with the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service in the ACT and the clinic at  Yuendumu in the NT.