Sunday, July 31, 2016

Indian and Australian Education Conferences

The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL) provides a useful list of education conferences. I was looking for a conference in India to attend around the end of the year and came up with these:
  1. November 15-18, 2016 Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. GOA, India.
  2. November 28-December 2, 2016 International Conference on Computers in Education (ICCE), 24th. Organized by the Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education (APSCE). Bombay, India.
  3. November 24-26, 2015 National Convention on Knowledge, Library and Information Networking (NACLIN), 18th. Gulbarga University, Gulbarga, India.
  4. Conference on Technology for Education, 8th. Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, India. or
  5. December 9-10, 2016 Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on MOOCs, Innovation and Technology in Education, 4th. Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai, India.
Here are some of the Australian Conferences:

  1. August 7-9, 2016 Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Conference: Improving STEM Learning – What Will It Take? (STEM = science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia.
  2. August 15, 2016 iPad: The Intersection of Pedagogy and Technology. Organized by Critical Agendas. Sydney, Australia. 
  3. August 23-25, 2016 InfoComm Integrate (professional audiovisual, entertainment, ICT marketplace). Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia. 
  4. August 25-27, 2016 Leading a Digital School Conference. Crown Conference Centre, Melbourne, Australia. 
  5. August 27-29, 2016 MoodleMoot Australia. Perth, Western Australia. Australia. or 
  6. August 28-31, 2016 Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference. Sydney, Australia.
  7. August 29-September 2, 2016 Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) National Conference. Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
  8. September 2-4, 2016 The Education Show. Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia.
  9. September 9-11, 2016 International Computing Education Research (ICER) Conference, 12th, annual. Melbourne, Australia.
  10. September 15-16, 2016 National Vocational Education and Training (VET) Conference. Gold Coast, Australia.
  11. September 26-27, 2016 Australian College of Educators (ACE) National Conference. Sydney, Australia.
  12. September 26-27, 2016 Joint Conference on Serious Games (JCSG): Serious Games Development and Applications (SGDA), 7th and GamesDays, 6th. Brisbane, Australia.
  13. September 27-29, 2016 MoodleMoot Australia 2016. Perth, Australia.
  14. September 28-29, 2016 iPadpalooza. St. Hilda’s School, Gold Coast, Australia.
  15. September 28-30, 2016 Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) National Conference: Leadership with Insight and Innovation. Melbourne, Australia.
  16. September 29-30, 2016 Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) National Conference. Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
  17. September 29-October 2, 2016 Australian Council for Computers in Education Conference (ACEC), biennial. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. or
  18. September 21-23, 2015 Higher Education Research Group of Adelaide (HERGA) Conference, 10th. Adelaide, Australia.
  19. September 30-October 2, 2015 Australian Society for Music Education (ASME) Conference: Music – Educating for Life. Adelaide, Australia.
  20. October 10-11, 2016 Association of Independent Schools Digital Technologies Conference: The Bigger Picture. St. Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. or
  21. October 13-14, 2016 National Adult Training and Assessment Conference: Improving Quality, Reducing Risks. Organized by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). William Angliss Institute of Technical and Further Education (TAFE), Melbourne, Australia.
  22. October 14-15, 2016 Australian Curriculum Studies Association (ACSA) Conference: STEM, STEAM or HASS – Interrogating Models of Curriculum Integration. SMC Conference and Function Centre, Sydney, Australia.
  23. October 16, 2016 iDesignX: Australian Instructional Design Conference. Sydney, Australia.
  24. October 18, 2016 LearnX, 10th. Melbourne Convention Center, Melbourne, Australia.
  25. October 18-21, 2016 Australian International Education Conference (AIEC): Connectivity – The Heart of International Education. Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia.
  26. October 19-20, 2016 Information Technology Services (ITS) in Tertiary Education 3rd annual. Melbourne, Australia.
  27. October 23-26, 2016 mLearn: World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning – Mobile learning futures, Sustaining quality research and practice in mobile learning , 15th. Organized by the International Association for Mobile Learning (IAmLearn). Hosted by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sydney, Australia.
  28. October 24-25, 2016 Learning@Work: Technology and Strategy for Workplace Learning. Australian Technology Park, Sydney, Australia.
  29. October 25-26, 2016 Association of Independent Schools Education Research Symposium: Where Research Meets Practice. Waterview in Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia. or
  30. October 31-November 3, 2016 Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA) Education Summit: Open, Flexible, Distance Education and eLearning, biennial. Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
  31. November 7-9, 2016 Learning for Change and Innovation World Congress. Organized by the Global Centre for Work-Applied Learning (GCWAL) and the Action Learning Action Research Association (ALARA). Hilton Hotel Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.
  32. November 7-9, 2016 Creative Innovation: The Exponential Shift – Making Transformation Happen. Melbourne, Australia.
  33. November 16-18, 2016 National Learning and Teaching Conference. Organized by Pearson Academy. Melbourne, Australia.
  34. November 20-23, 2016 International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) Presidents’ Summit: New Era of Leadership and Quality. Macquarie, Sydney, Australia.
  35. November 21, 2016 Learning and Teaching Collaboratively in Open Learning Spaces. Organized by Critical Agendas. Jasper Hotel, Melbourne, Australia.
  36. November 27-December 1, 2016 Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE): Transforming Education Research. Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
  37. November 28-30, 2016 Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE) Conference: Show Me the Learning, 32nd. Hosted by the University of South Australia. Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, Australia.
  38. November 30-December 3, 2016 Technology Education Research Conference, 9th, biennial. University of South Australia, Magill, Australia.
  39. December 4-7, 2016 Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE) Annual Conference: The Changing Role of the Engineering Educator for Developing the Future Engineer, 27th. Hosted by Southern Cross University. Coffs Harbour, Australia.
  40. January 16-20, 2017 Linux.Conf.Au. Wrest Point Convention Centre, Hobart, Australia. or
  41. January 20-23, 2017 International Conference on Intelligent Computing and Applications (ICICA), 6th. University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia.
  42. January 31-February 3, 2017 Australasian Web Conference, Geelong, Victoria, Australia. or
  43. February 13-17, 2017 Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Online Conference, biennial. Hilton Hotel, Sydney, Australia.
  44. February 14-17, 2017 Microsoft TechEd Australia. Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia.
  45. March 1-3, 2017 Universities Australia Higher Education Conference. National Convention Centre, Canberra, Australia. or
  46. March 23-24, 2017 Future Schools Expo. Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Australia.
  47. April 3-7, 2017 World Wide Web Conference, 20th. Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
  48. May 8-10, 2017 The Higher Education Technology Agenda (THETA): Connecting Minds – Creating the Future, biennial. Sponsored by the Council of Australian University Directors of Information Technology (CAUDIT), Council of Australian University Librarians, and the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and e-Learning (ACODE). Auckland, New Zealand.
  49. June 23-25, 2017 ALIA New Librarian’s Symposium (NLS), 8th, biennial. Organized by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Canberra, Australia.
  50.  July 20-23, 2017 World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC) World Conference: Global Perspective in Gifted Education, 22nd, biennial. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

ANU New Residential Halls

artist impression of ANU new Tuckwell residential halls
The Australian National University has released an artist's impression of the new residential halls, linked to the Tuckwell Scholarship Program. The university community, including alumni, are being invited to comment.

Medium Height Buildings

From the artist's impression of the buildings, they appear to be four to seven stories high, which is in keeping with the scale of the campus. Some of the mature tree on campus are this height, so that the residential buildings will not dominate. In 2014 at University of British Columbia,  Vancouver Campus, for a conference I stayed on the 17th floor of the Walter Gage Student Residence. This provided a magnificent view of Vancouver Harbor, but these towers are out of scale with their surroundings.

Make the Hall Multi-purpose

artist impression of ANU new dining hallWith the dining hall, the architect appears to be recreating an Oxbridge college in white concrete, with rows of columns and artworks above, like medieval banners. The dining hall is a large space at a college, which is unused for much of the day, so I suggest foregoing tradition and making it multi-purpose. 

The columns of the dining hall could be omitted to make a simple, functional, rectangular box. The walls can then be equipped with display screens. The tables can be in semi-circular segments, with flip-tops and wheels (as used at the University of Canberra Inspire Center). This would allow the room to be used for conferences and for teaching. In particular it could be used as a TEAL Teaching Room, for modern blended, flipped education techniques. Jubilee College at Hong Kong Open University has an excellent Multi-purpose Hall. This was used for plenary sessions of the Second International Conference on Open and Flexible Education (ICOFE 2015) and then in the evening transformed into the conference dinner venue.

The apparent mass of ANU's building could be reduced by locating the dining room partly underground, as done for the Auditorium of Fitzwilliam College Cambridge (UK), venue for plenaries of the the 10th International Conference on Computer Science and  Education (ICCSE 2015). Providing a view for a dining hall or meeting room is unnecessary, as those in attendance are focused on the food, or the speaker (and windows need to be covered to use projection equipment). The Fitzwilliam auditorium has removable stepped seating, but this mechanical complexity can be replaced by the use of projection screens at ANU. The dining room could be made more lively, by locating the common and teaching rooms on a mezzanine at ground level above, in a similar to the University of Canberra's Teaching and Learning Commons which is above the refectory.

The hall could be used for multiple small classes simultaneously. The conventional way to do this is with movable walls, dividing the space up. An alternative is to divide the room aurally, as is done in the X-lab at the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney. Directional loudspeakers are used to deliver audio to selected parts of the lab, while video is directed to the student's workstations, allowing multiple classes simultaneously in one room. A lower cost alternative which could be to have students use their mobile device to receive the video and listen through a headphones, using the same webinar software as for remote access. Designated areas of the hall could be reserved for particular classes, while others in the room remain undisturbed.

Rooms for Short Stay Blended Learning

The artist's impression of the bedrooms in the new buildings are suitably modest in size. There is a revolution in the way higher education is provided now taking place. By the time the new buildings are completed a typical university student will be on campus for only about 20% of their studies, with 80% on-line away from the campus. As a result accommodation will be mostly needed for short stays, of weeks at a time, not months. The rooms can therefore be smaller, with less facilities, and more like a hotel room.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

GovHack 2016

Boomworks, Camperdown, Sydney: venue for the Games for Learning node of GovHack 2016.

The Pinnacle team at GovHack 2016Greetings from Stone and Chalk, a not-for-profit Fintech hub in Sydney, which is hosting GovHack Sydney, part of the weekend GovHack event across Australia. There are several hundred people here prototyping computer applications using open government data for community benefit. They have until Sunday 5pm to produce a prototype and a video to describe it. On the way I visited the "Games for Learning" node at Boomworks, in the Inner West Sydney suburb of Camperdown and the "FinTech" node at the Tyro Fintech Hub in the heart of Sydney. The nodes are much smaller than the main Sydney GovHack, they each have a dozen or so people. The gamers are quietly at their keyboards aiming to out Pokemon, Pokemon Go. The FinTeckers are diagramming their way to systems using block-chain to get around roadblocks in Australian electronic transactions (Smart eInvoicing) and mine education department data to give international students better program choices (The Pinnacle). Here at the main venue there is a buzz of conversation and the click of keyboards.

All the venues are laid out in the "start-up", post-industrial open plan office style. Boomworks and Tyro are real re-purposed old buildings, whereas Stone and Chalk is in a modern high-rise office-building retrofitted to look old (by ripping out the ceiling panels to expose the air-conditioning ducts).

John Moss, a mentor at GovHack 2016
Local, state and federal government agencies have provided datasets for the teams to use, as well as prizes (along with companies). Teams of people, many of whom have not met before, have come together to spend two days working on something. Many are from the IT industry, as well as education and finance, or just anywhere. It is not really about winning, but to answer that nagging question: "What if someone was to ...". This is hacking, not in the sense of breaking into a system, but building something quickly. Under the GovHack schedule, teams have until 5pm Saturday to produce a Team Project Page and 4pm Sunday to have produced a video, with local prizes being announced at 6:30pm.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sub-bachelor pathways to higher education

The 88 page report "Pathways to higher education: the efficacy of enabling and sub-bachelor pathways for disadvantaged students" by Pitman, Trinidad, Devlin,  Harvey,  Brett and McKay (2016), was produced for the Australian Government's Department of Education and Training. The report looked at results of students from disadvantaged groups undertaking programs designed to help them enter university. It found a "diverse range of enabling programs", but with "... a lack of transparency, transferability and information about enabling programs that is likely to hinder student take-up, mobility and progression" (p. 6). Students from the enabling programs  have "... better first-year retention rates than those articulating via most other sub-bachelor pathways", but the results are less clear in terms of the ratio of units passed to units studied.

Students were more satisfied with the enabling programs than entering university via  VET. However, most of the VET students had aimed for a VET qualification, not as university pathway.

The government  floated the idea of funding sub-bachelor programs, more generally, in May 2016. This would seem a simple and cost effective way to increase retention rates, but only if the sub-bachelor programs provide a useful stand-alone qualification.


Pitman, T., Trinidad, S., Devlin, M., Harvey, A., Brett, M. & McKay, J. (2016). “Pathways to Higher Education: The Efficacy of Enabling and Sub-Bachelor Pathways for Disadvantaged Students”. National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), Perth: Curtin University.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Social Enterprise Bootcamp

Greetings from the Australian National University, where I am taking part in a "Social Enterprise Bootcamp" run by The Difference Incubator, for the ANU Technology Transfer Office. We are working through the Business Model Canvas. One issue is that while social enterprises have other than financial intentions, they still need to consider  revenue stream to at least cover costs. My interest is in providing education, particularly on-line education, which improves people's lives.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Models for Canberra Innovation

Greetings from the University of Canberra (UoC), where Dr. Josep M. Piqué, Managing Director of 22@Barcelona, is speaking on "Innovation districts". 22@Barcelona, also known as Districte de la innovació (the innovation district) is an urban renewal project for the Poblenou area of Barcelona.

UoC has invited  Dr. Piqué, as part of promoting their innovation precinct. However it is not clear what a small regional university can learn for its "Innovation Park" from the experience of the "Catalan Manchester". UoC might be better off looking to a smaller city for inspiration. The city I first suggested Canberra should model itself on twenty years ago is Cambridge (UK).

The Canberra suburb of Bruce, where UoC is located, has a history of attempted government funded technology startups going back 40 years. In the 1970s the company Information Electronics Limited manufactured computer terminals for government agencies in a factory opposite the university campus, on Haydon Drive. The nearby Fern Hill Technology Park was opened in October 1984, with limited success.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sydney University Transforming Learning

The University of Sydney 2016–20 Strategic Plan (March 2016, p. 29), has as Strategy 5 "Transform the learning experience", with three initiatives:
  1. "Develop interactive and collaborative learning designs that foster excellence and innovation ... greater use of pre-readings, pre‐recorded videos, and brief, ideally automated, diagnostic assessment of understanding of core concepts and themes. ...
  2. Create contemporary environments that enable
    flexible and interactive learning
    ... Taking advantage of our experience with the award-winning X-lab in the Charles Perkins Centre research and education hub, we will maximize the effectiveness of higher cost, well-equipped teaching spaces such as laboratories and studios by finding
    ways to share space, equip it flexibly and to a high
    standard, and increase usability.
  3. Build a new professional learning and
    support environment
    ...Educational Innovation Team within the Education Portfolio will create a refreshed framework for professional learning. ..."
This appears to indicate that, like other universities, Sydney is moving away from lectures and tutorials/labs, to e-leaning and  flipped classroom teaching. What is not clear is what training the academic staff will be provided in to enable this, or what qualifications they will be required to have. As an example, vocational education sector staff require a minimum of a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. University teaching staff have been typically expected to have a postgraduate certificate in education.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Books on University Teaching

Recently I was searching for some references on evaluating graduate teacher training programs. Some books I could read via the university libraries I have subscriptions to, some though Google Books, but for others I had to use's "look inside" feature to read excerpts. Amazon the emailed me an unsolicited list of books. Normally I am annoyed by such an intrusion, but this looks a useful list:

Teaching for Quality Learning at University (Society for Research Into Higher Education)
Teaching for Quality Learning at University

Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty
Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty

What the Best College Teachers Do
What the Best College Teachers Do

Learning to Teach in Higher Education
Learning to Teach in Higher Education

How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching
How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching

Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn
Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn

Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher
Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher

Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice
Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice

Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition
Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition

University Teaching in Focus: A learning-centred approach
University Teaching in Focus: A learning-centred approach

Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback, and Promote Student Learning
Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time...

Forms of Ethical and Intellectual Development in the College Years: A Scheme
Forms of Ethical and Intellectual Development in the College Years...

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Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors
Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College...

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