Friday, July 28, 2017

Extend Teaching Skills for IT Profession

The SFIA Foundation has invited suggestions for enhancements to the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). I suggest defining learning and teaching skills at levels 3 and perhaps also at level 2.

As part of my Master of Education studies I did a quick analysis of education skills for IT professionals. SFIA was very useful for this, providing a concise set of IT teaching skills:

SFIA Category Skills and ACS Membership Level
Subcategory Skill Code Levels
* SFIA Version 6 definitions from ACS (2015)
Skill management Learning and development management ETMG --34567

Learning assessment and evaluation LEDA --3456-

Learning design and development TMCR ---456-

Learning delivery ETDL --3456-

Teaching and subject formation TEAC ----56-
People management Professional development PDSV ---456-
However, some skills are only defined at higher levels.  ETMG, LEDA and ETDL start at level 3, but TMCR and PDSV start at 4 and TEAC at 5.

The entry level vocational qualification for the IT profession in Australia is "Diploma" in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF Level 5). The Australian Computer Society has identified this as being SFIA Level 3. It would therefore be useful to have the SFIA learning/teaching skills defined at SFIA Level 3.

The entry level qualification for those conducting training in Australia is a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment at AQF Level 4. So it may be useful to also have the training skills defined at SFIA Level 2.

It should be noted that the qualifications required for those teaching in Australia are inversely related to the level at which they teach: the higher the level of the teaching, the lower the qualification required. School teachers are required to have a degree (soon to be masters), vocational teachers only a certificate and university lecturing requires no teaching qualification at all.

ps: The SFIA Foundation are one of the more responsive standards setting bodies. In 2008 I was commissioned by the ACS to design a course in Green IT. There were no SFIA skills defined for this at the time, so I sent my draft course to the SFIA Foundation. Skills in sustainability were subsequently added to SFIA and matched my course syllabus reasonably well. I later changed the course descriptions to reference SFIA. The course is currently offered by Athabasca University (Canada).

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Stability in the Indo-Pacific

Admiral Scott H Swift
at ANU in Canberra
Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Admiral Scott H Swift, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT) is speaking on Stability in the Indo-Pacific: the roles of the US and Australian navies. He had just come from taking part in  Exercise Talisman Sabre 2017 in Queensland. 

The Admiral criticized China over its actions in the South China Sea, without mentioning the country by name: "US forces will continue to fly, sail, and operate, wherever international law allows". In response to a question, Admiral Swift mentioned how being part of Operation Praying Mantis had broadened his thinking as to the role of military operations. Answering another question he spoke positively of China's One Belt One Road Initiative.

Tom Worthington aboard USS Blue Ridge
Tom Worthington
on USS Blue Ridge
I suggest that Australia needs to place an emphasis on soft power, including through the provision of aid, including education, to countries of the region. In 1997 I observed a joint Australian-US exercise on board the USS Blue Ridge, flagship of the 7th Fleet in the Coral Sea. A US Carrier Strike Group is an impressive force, however it is an expensive resource and can't everywhere all the time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

VR as an Educator

The stereograph as an educator
Came across an old sterograph captioned: “The stereograph as an educator ":
"Underwood patent extension cabinet in a home library … Photograph shows a woman viewing stereographs in her home; she is sitting in front of a fireplace with a cabinet for stereographs on her right.”
So I printed a copy of this sterograph and taped it over a hold cut in my Google Cardboard. This turns the virtual reality device into an old fashioned stereograph, showing VR from the Victorian era. ;-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review into Australian regional, rural and remote education calls for submissions

Submissions to the Independent review into regional, rural and remote education, close 29 August 2017. The 59 page discussion paper by the review chair, Emeritus Professor John Halsey, of Flinders University, has nine themes:
  1. Curriculum and assessment 
  2. Teachers and teaching 
  3. Leaders and leadership 
  4. School and community 
  5. Information and communication technology
  6. Entrepreneurship and schools
  7. Improving access – enrolments, clusters, distance education and boarding
  8. Diversity
  9. Transitioning beyond school 
From page 9 

Questions asked:
6.1.1 Is the Australian Curriculum meeting the learning needs and interest of regional, rural and remote students?
6.1.2 Do current assessment processes help to improve the achievements of regional, rural and remote students?
6.1.3 How can schools be supported to deliver the Australian Curriculum in a flexible way to meet local needs?
6.1.4 Are there other examples of innovative ways in which curriculum is being delivered in regional, rural and remote schools?
From Page 23.
6.2.1 What key initiatives are helping to attract ‘top teachers’ to regional, rural and remote schools?
6.2.2 How can we improve retention of ‘top teachers’ in regional, rural and remote schools?
6.2.3 What professional development should be available for teachers, schools and communities?
6.2.4 What innovative approaches could be taken to support a high quality teaching workforce for regional, rural and remote school communities?
From page 26.
6.3.1 What needs to occur so regional, rural remote principals can devote most of their time and attention to student achievements in and beyond school?
6.3.2 What changes could be made to attract and retain experienced educational leaders for country schools?
6.3.3 What innovative approaches could be taken to support high quality leadership for regional, rural and remote school communities?
From page 28.
6.4.1 What new and innovative approaches are you aware of that improve the connection between schools and the broader community?
6.4.2 What motivates regional, rural and remote students to succeed and how can they be supported to realise their aspirations?
6.4.3 Are there untapped priorities in rural and remote settings which, if utilised, could help students realise their potential?
6.4.4 What role does/could the philanthropic sector play in improving outcomes for regional, rural and remote students in relation to school achievement and post-school transition?
From page 33.
6.5.1 What has to be done to ensure ICT supports education in regional, rural and remote schools and communities like it does in the ‘best of the best' city schools?
6.5.2 How could ICT be used to improve educational outcomes for regional, rural, remote students?
6.5.3 What are the main barriers to regional, rural and remote schools realising the full potential benefits of ICT?

From page 34.
6.6.1 What kinds of support would be needed for a school or group of schools to specialise in entrepreneurial education?
6.6.2 What other entrepreneurial education opportunities exist for regional, rural and remote schools?
6.6.3 Are there other examples where entrepreneurial education has improved outcomes for regional, rural and remote students?
6.6.4 What gaps need to be addressed to help students transition successfully to further study, training or work?

From page 37.
6.7.1 Are there changes that could be made to the ways schools are organised and function that would improve opportunities for regional, rural and remote students?
6.7.2  What could be done to expand the opportunities available to regional, rural and remote students to access high quality education?
From page 39.
6.8.1 Noting the findings of the Red dirt education project, what do you consider to be the purpose/role of education in remote communities?
6.8.2 What does educational success look like in remote communities?
6.8.3 How can schools/teachers in regional, rural and remote areas be supported to meet the individual learning needs of all students?
6.8.4 How can we create and sustain vibrant, high quality learning environments in regional, rural and remote schools?
6.8.5 What can be done to address the directional flow of regional, rural and remote students towards cities?
From page 45.
6.9.1 Are there changes that should be made to education, training and employment policies and practices which would improve post school opportunities for regional, rural and remote young people?
6.9.2 Are there innovative models of accommodation delivery that could benefit regional, rural and remote tertiary students studying away from home?
6.9.3 What can be done to address the directional flow of regional, rural and remote students moving to cities for further education and/or training?

From page 50.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Training Tech Professionals to Teach: Part 7,

In Part 6 I looked at ACM and IEEE CS curriculum guidelines. That was back in December last year. I have been a bit distracted by completing my MEd and teaching. Returning to the issue of how to design a qualification for those teaching IT, perhaps the vocational Graduate Certificate in Digital Education (TAE8031) is the place to start.

There are many universities across Australia offering graduate certificates in education. However, the curriculum for these programs is not standardizer and they are proprietary. That is, the content of the hundreds of similarly named Grad Certs is different and each institution claims ownership of their design (except in some cases where a few institutions share a common design).  

In contrast, the curriculum for the vocational Graduate Certificate in Digital Education (TAE8031) is standardized ac cross all institutions, is publicly available and is freely available for use.

Qualification Description

This qualification reflects the roles of individuals who apply substantial specialised skills and knowledge in the field of education and capability development, using ICT.
In these roles they make high-level, independent judgements in major planning, design, operational and educational outcomes within highly varied and specialised contexts.
The qualification is designed to enhance, but not replace, a teaching or training qualification.
The volume of learning of a Graduate Certificate in Digital Education is typically six months to one year. ...

Packaging Rules

Total number of units = 5
3 core units plus
2 elective units of which:
  • at least 1 unit must be from Group A or Group B below
  • 1 unit from the same group as the first elective chosen, or from any accredited course or endorsed Training Package at Graduate Certificate level or above.
The elective units chosen must be relevant to the work outcome and meet local industry needs.
Core Units
TAEDEL801 Evaluate, implement and use ICT-based educational platforms
TAEDEL802 Use e-learning with social media
TAELED801 Design pedagogy for e-learning
Elective Units
Group A
TAEASS801 Analyse, implement and evaluate e-assessment
TAELED803 Implement improved learning practice
TAELED802 Investigate the application of ICT content knowledge
Group B
BSBRES801 Initiate and lead applied research
ICTICT805 Direct ICT procurement
TAELED804 Review enterprise e-learning systems and solutions implementation ...
From: Graduate Certificate in Digital Education (TAE8031)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Graduation Day Pomp and Circumstance

Tom Worthington MEd DE (Athabasca),
GCertHE (ANU), CertIVT&A (CIT),
University graduations are slightly silly, but worthwhile events. However, international distance education students tend to miss out on all the pomp and circumstance. Perhaps embassies could put on a ceremony for graduates of that country's institutions.

Here I am in full academic regalia for my Master of Education in Distance Education, awarded by Athabasca University (Canada), 18 January 2017. I was not able to attend the ceremony in Canada, but wore my new master's hood on stage as a member of faculty at the Australian National University graduation last Wednesday in Canberra (last time on this stage was to receive an ANU qualification).

You can see me in the procession onto the stage, 2 min 50 seconds into the video of the ANU ceremony. Athabasca doesn't have headgear  for Masters, so I was the only one on stage without a hat. The photographer asked if I had the hood on the right way up, but I didn't know (nor did anyone else), as they had never see one from Athabasca in Canberra before.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Master of Computing International Qualification

Master of Computing qualifications have been added to the Seoul Accord, which sets the standard for international qualifications in the computing field. Previously only bachelors degrees were recognized. The new recognition allows someone who already has a degree in another discipline to become professionally recognized via a two year Masters, rather than having to undertake another three year degree.

The Australian Computer Society, which is a signatory to the Accord, has already accredited Masters programs at several Australian universities.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mobile Learning with Totara and Moodle, ACS Canberra, 19 July

Matthew Burley, CEO of Sydney startup Mobile Learning, will speak on "m-Learning with Totara and Moodle", at the Australian Computer Society's ICT Educators forum, in Canberra, in the evening of 19 July 2017. Matthew is also available in Canberra that day for discussions with educators.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Redefining the Research Doctorate

Professor Imelda Whelehan, Dean of Higher Degree Research, Australian National University
Professor Imelda Whelehan, Dean of Higher Degree Research at The Australian National University (ANU) has invited staff and students to help in Redefining the ANU PhD:
  1. "What should a 21st century PhD look like?
  2. How can we ensure that the ANU secures our position as a world leader in graduate research education?
  3. What is best practice for PhD delivery worldwide?
  4. What changes can we make?"
Some of thoughts on the questions (my own, not necessarily the ANU view):

1. What should a 21st century PhD look like

The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) recognizes two forms of Doctoral Degree, both at Level 10 (the highest level of qualification): a Doctoral Degree (Research) and Doctoral Degree (Professional). A PhD, while clearly a research doctorate, I suggest should include elements of a professional degree. The community expects a PhD graduate to not only be able to conduct research on a very focused topic, but also to be an expert in their field, able to teach, lead and advise. Teaching, leading and advising are not skills which can be obtained just by conducting research: these require formal training and testing by staff qualified to teach and test.

Research graduates are expected to be teachers and supervisors in academia, as well as leaders industry. So I suggest that doctoral students should be required to undertake teaching and supervision of students and learn education, leaderships and communication theory, sufficient of awarding of a Graduate Certificate in Education (University Teaching and Supervision).

This education can be tailored to the needs of specific disciplines, to meet professional certification requirements. For example, the computing profession has skills definitions for computer educators.

2. How can we ensure that the ANU secures our position as a world leader in graduate research education?


ANU should reestablish formal programs in education, including a Graduate Certificate in Education (University Teaching and Supervision), Masters and a Doctoral Degree in Education. These can build on the reflective portfolio approach of the existing education fellowships, along with e-learning, supplemented with classroom based learning. This can be designed as an exemplar of a new flexible approach to non-lecture based education. The new education programs can be based at the ANU's new union court teaching building.

3. What is best practice for PhD delivery worldwide?


Dilly Fung's new book "A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education" (UCL Press, 2017), proposes a framework building on the Humboldtian teaching /research approach (full text is free on-line).

The Cambridge University Doctoral Training Centre for Social Sciences provides support for PHDs and might be a useful model for Australian universities. In 2015 I talked to Cambridge University staff on how they could use e-learning for their graduate students, the notes from the meeting are available from their Office of Scholarly Communication.

Athabasca University (Canada) offers doctorates in education, with the students required to be at the campus for only five days. This reflects a new reality of higher education, which Australian universities need to embrace, where students will be out in the field, or workplace, not on campus.

4. What changes can we make?


ANU could require research supervisors to obtain formal education in teaching at the level of at least a graduate certificate in education, in addition to any fellowships obtained.

Universities could offer doctoral students the opportunity to obtain real-world relevant qualifications and certifications, alongside their doctorate. Using the same e-portfolio evidence based techniques for the Grad Cert in Education, students could obtain certifications required for other fields by collecting evidence in a structured way.

This year I have been helping ANU TechLauncher students in computer science and engineering complete their Personal Development Review (PDR). This is a portfolio describing what skills and knowledge the students have acquired in their project work, in a format suitable for a future employer. Some of this is covered in my book "Digital Teaching In Higher Education".