Friday, November 30, 2018

Increasing Engagement and Impact of Research

Greetings from the Canberra Innovation Network, where the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) is holding an Engagement and Impact Assessment Panel Discussion. The panel is asked to reflect on how a recent Impact and Engagement assessment of research went and what could be done better. The panel was also asked making the public aware of, and engaged in, "the value of the tertiary sector and research in general".

The question I put to the panel was:
'Would engagement and impact be improved by increasing the number of "professional" doctorates? As the AQF points out, these involve research, but emphasize practical outcomes.'

Background, in my Higher Education Whisperer blog:"
The panelists generally seemed to think this was a good idea. However, one of the audience asked what a professional doctorate was, the concept not being as well known in Australia, as the USA. As the University of South Australia puts it:
"A professional doctorate is a rigorous program of advanced study and research, designed to meet the needs of industry and professional groups. ... Professional doctorates usually blend coursework and research ...".

In contrast research doctoral students undertake less coursework, and focus on research. However, as one of the panel pointed out, 80% or more of these research doctorates end up not working in academia on research. ANU has researched what industry jobs research graduates would be suitable for.

As the Australian Academy of Science pointed out (AAS, p. 152, 1974):
"The PhD degree was established in Australia in 1948 specifically to help staff Australian universities."
The number of PhD students has increased far faster than the demand for research staff at universities, government and industry. Even those working at university are spending only part of their time on research, with time spent on administration, teaching and staff supervision. PhD students receive no training in any of these fields as part of their degree program (unless this happens to be their research topic).

Some research doctorates do have a more practical orientation than others, for example it is easier to demonstrate engagement and impact of graduates in engineering. ANU's Dr Lachlan Blackhall, in an opinion piece in the media today, outlined what needs to be done to secure reliable, affordable, electricity supply for Australia. In addition to his energy research work, Dr Blackhall co-founded a company which has built a system to help make this future possible. By setting out clearly what the community needs to do, and building a company to help get there, Dr Blackhall has demonstrated more engagement and impact than by writing a thousand research papers.


Australian Academy of Science. Science, & Industry Forum. (1974). PhD education in Australia: the making of professional scientists. The Forum.

In a Reflective Portfolio what do Students Learn?

A flat floor large classroom at ANU, with large mobile LCD screens used to relay presentation to the back of the room.
ANU TechLauncher,
Team Formation Exercise
This is the second of a series of posts on how to provide students with help when preparing a reflective portfolio. This is specifically for students of  ANU Tech Launcher and the ANU Computer Science Internship.
For these courses over 12 weeks, the student is expected to undertake 120 hours of study. The reflective report makes up 20% of the assessment for Techlauncher and 15% of the Internship. So this is a significant 18 to 20 hours work. But what is the student learning in this time?

Learning Outcomes

Techlauncher is offered in five ANU project courses: COMP3500, COMP3550, COMP4500, COMP3820 and COMP8715. These have similar learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes for Software Engineering Project COMP3500
  • Work as an effective member of a team to implement a software based solution that delivers measurable value to an industry or university client.
  • Develop life-long learning through reflection, as demonstrated through continual reflection on the software development lifecycle and team work processes experienced throughout the year.
  • Exhibit an awareness of
    • team formation strategies and stages leading to the development of high performing, self-managing teams;
    • sound meeting practice; and
    • how personality traits can impact upon team performance and how to use individual traits to achieve the most from team work.
  • Make and defend sound engineering decisions.
  • Communicate effectively, orally and in writing, with peers, supervisors and commercial clients/stakeholders.
  • Creatively identify and implement a solution to a complex problem that exists within the domain of ICT.
  • Participate effectively in project and artefact reviews with peers, supervisors and clients/stakeholders.
  • Explain the role and importance of project management, configuration and risk management processes when undertaking a software development project. Demonstrate experience in undertaking the activities associated with these.
  • Explain and understand the importance of the different stages of, and activities associated with each, the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Demonstrate experience in all stages of the SDLC.
  • Explain the role and importance of standards in software development. Demonstrate experience in tailoring those standards approriately according to the project they are currently undertaking.
  • Participate in a group presentation, including a demonstration, to an audience of peers, clients and supervisors.
Learning outcomes for COMP8715:
  1. apply the student's knowledge and implementation skills in the computer science, and apply this to an advanced and specific project topic in that area.
  2. deepen their knowledge of computing principles and practice through undertaking the project.
  3. earn any specific technical skills required by their topic, and apply them to project work.
  4. apply and deepen skills in oral and written communication, and apply these in a project context.
  5.  learn relevant project-related skills, including project management, teamwork, ethics in research, knowledge of relevant research, evaluation and production of project artifacts.
The learning outcomes for the Computer Science Internship COMP8830 are also similar:
  1. Demonstrate a personal commitment to ethical behaviour, competent practice, meeting legal and regulatory requirements, taking responsibility for their own work and acknowledging the work of others.
  2. Demonstrate autonomy, adaptability, a commitment to safety and sustainability, appropriate engagement with relevant stakeholders, and an ability to identify, assess and manage risk.
  3. Communicate effectively and work productively in a multi-disciplinary team, using initiative and sound judgement, to achieve defined workplace objectives.
  4. Apply their knowledge and skills in computer science to explore and critically analyse a real-world problem; using creativity and innovation, identify and critically evaluate potential solutions to the problem; choose and implement a particular solution; and critically evaluate and analyse the outcomes and impact of this solution.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of lifelong learning processes, and clarification of their personal and professional goals, through critical reflection on their internship experience.
The common elements of these, relevant to the reflective exercise, I suggest, are:
  1. Learning: reflection, clarification of goals
  2. Communication: orally and in writing
  3. Management: Team work and Client focus
Addressing of the first of these, as MacKrell, Mhaisuria and McDonald (2013) pointed out, some of the skills interns learn, and report via their portfolio, are in the area of Skill management,. The authors specifically cite a skill definition from the Skills Framework for the Information Age:
"The provision of learning and development processes (including learning management systems) in order to develop the professional, business and/or technical skills required by the organisation."

From:  "learning and development", Skills Framework for the Information Age, Version 7, 2017
Normally the detail of the skill definition would come from a level matching the degree program (usually Level 3 for Bachelors and Level 5 for Masters). However, in this case the student is learning to manage learning, which is a higher level skill, even though it is their own learning they are managing:
"Determines the learning and development programme and delivery mechanisms needed to grow staff skills in line with business needs. Identifies appropriate accreditation and qualification paths, applicable to individuals within the organisation. Evaluates learning outcomes. Manages the development and provision of all learning, taking account of the strategic aims of the employing organisation."

From:  "learning and development", ETMG Level 6, Skills Framework for the Information Age, Version 7, 2017
This could be adapted for an individual learning objective:
"Determine the learning needed and possible sources, to grow individual skills for the project,  and career plans. Identify appropriate accreditation and qualification paths. Manage the learning and evaluate outcomes."


MacKrell, D., Mhaisuria, M., & McDonald, C. (2013). The skills framework for the information age as a means for investigating work-integrated learning. In 24th Australasian Conference on Information Systems Melbourne, Australia.

Why Students Drop Out of Online Professional Development Courses

The latest edition of IRRODL, has a paper by Luz, Rolando, Salvador and Sousa (2018) looking at why just over half of 3,026 Brazilian teachers did not complete their online Professional Development (PD) course. The authors conclude that this is due to teacher workload and technical difficulties accessing the courses. The design of the courses, gender and age of the students did not influence completion rates.

The authors suggest shorter courses would not reduce dropout rates, as these were similar for 12 week and 16-week courses. However, Figure 1 shows a steady dropout rate each week of a course (apart from a spike where there is a final paper). Making courses much shorter, should therefore improve completion. I have proposed dividing a typical 12 week university course into three "micro-credentials", and that these could be used for students in the Solomon Islands (formal paper in press).

Luz, Rolando, Salvador and  Sousa noted technical difficulties with computers, the internet, and course platform, as the most frequent reasons reported by students for pulling out. Lack of access due to computer problems, I suggest can be addressed by use of smart phones. Students can use the smart phone for readings, videos, and small interactive exercises, to keep them engaged.

Major assignments may need a more capable device than a smart phone. However, larger smart phones now have screens approaching the size of a small tablet computer, and can have an external keyboard connected. An external monitor can be connected to some smart phones, to convert it into a desktop computer.

Slow Internet access can be addressed by more efficient course content design, and packaging. Students could download large course components to their phone when they have high speed access to the Internet (for example free WiFi in cafes), and then read this material offline. Small frequent interactions, such as participating in a discussion forum, could be done over a slower, low speed connection.


Luz, M., Rolando, L., Salvador, D., & Sousa, A. (2018). Characterization of the Reasons Why Brazilian Science Teachers Drop Out of Online Professional Development Courses. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 19(5). doi:

Worthington, T. (in press). Blended Learning for the Indo-Pacific. In Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE), 2018 IEEE 7th International Conference on. IEEE. url

ps: I suggest IRRODL (and other AU publications) need to offer secure HTTPS web connections. IRRODL is giving away open access content, and so doesn't need a high security connection. However, insecure websites are now being routinely treated with suspicion by web browsers and other software. Recently I made the change with my own website. It was quick, easy, and free.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Public Policy as a Canberra Export

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Andrew Barr, ACT Chief Minister is addressing the ANU Energy Update 2018. He mentioned that the ACT Government (the local government for Canberra), had worked with Reposit Power, to produce a virtual power station (claimed to the the world's largest). The Chief Minister also commented that one of Canberra's exports was policy, including energy policy.

Professor Ken Baldwin, Director of the ANU Energy Change Institute, then gave the history as to how Australia ended up in the unusual situation of the government abandoning its has no effective energy policy, and the opposition adopting. He commented that while there had been a lack of government policy, industry had powered ahead.with renewable energy. He projected that renewable will take over from fossil fuel in Australia by 2024. At the current rate Australia will exceed its renewable energy target by 2020 and exceed emissions reduction targets. Even so, Professor Baldwin said that the certainty of policy was needed for this investment to continue, and for energy prices to be contained. Or as Jane Austen might have said: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a country in possession of a good energy demand, must be in want of a carbon price."

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Helping Computing Students Prepare a Reflective Portfolio: Part 1

A flat floor large classroom at ANU, with large mobile LCD screens used to relay presentation to the back of the room.
ANU TechLauncher,
Team Formation Exercise
This is the first of a series of posts on how to provide students with help when preparing a reflective portfolio. It is based on my experience of having completed several such tasks as a student of education, and tutoring computing students who are required to prepare a portfolio.

Towards then end of their degree, computing students at the Australian National University may undertake a practical project, either as part of a team, or an individual internship. The last assessment task for the practical project is to reflect on your learning. Reflection is a useful aid to learning, and a valuable skill for a professional. However, my experience is that computing students have difficulty with this, and need help.

The TechLauncher group project requires a Work Portfolio Package and the Computer Science Internship an "individual reflective report". This reflection makes up a significant part of the overall assessment (group project 20%, interns 15%).

Computing students, and others in STEM disciplines, undertake courses on how to carry out analysis of problems, and present evidence. However, they are rarely asked to examine themselves as a subject. In addition students undertaking group projects, or a workplace internship, are working with others on a collectively set goal. It is difficult at the end of this collective work to switch to a solitary activity.

Possible ways to help the students would be:

1. Progressive: Rather than something required at the end of a course, break the portfolio preparation up into a series of exercises. In this way students can be provided with time to reflect, and benefit from formative feedback on their work. However, for the student  work progressively, there has to be an incentive for doing the exercises on time, by making this a condition of course completion, or each part of the assessment scheme, or both.

An example of what will not work is to ask the student to complete a reflective journal, but not provide feedback or assessment until the end of the course. As a student of education, I was asked to keep a journal, but like most of my fellow students I did not pay much attention until three years later, at the end of the program.

2. Collective: Students will benefit from peer feedback on their reflections. The student benefits as much from providing feedback, as receiving it. However, students will need assistance in how to provide feedback if this is something they have not had to do before.

3. Scholarly: Students will benefit from learning a little of why and how the reflective exercise is useful to them. While not attempting to turn every student into a teacher, it would be useful for them to learn a little of the theory behind the reflective exercise. As MacKrell, Mhaisuria and McDonald (2013) point out, some of the skills interns learn, and report via their portfolio, are in the area of Skill management, specifically "learning and development" (as defined in the Skills Framework for the Information Age). It would be useful to have this listed in the learning objectives for the course, and then to point out to students this is a skill formally recognized internationally by the computing profession.

4. Limited: The value of a reflective portfolio should not be overstated. Claiming the portfolio will be valuable career tool is not likely to be believed by the student, and will not motivate them. Students will have undertaken years of disposable assessment tasks which they complete, and then discard, before moving on to the next. The portfolio exercises can be structured so each builds on the last, but even so it is too much of a leap of faith to believe any of this will be of use after the end of the course.

MacKrell, Mhaisuria and McDonald (2013) researched the gaps between what a university teaches and what is required by industry. Perhaps identifying these gaps could be an explicit goal of the portfolio exercise for each student. Learning what they have yet to learn might be the most useful outcome of the exercise.


MacKrell, D., Mhaisuria, M., & McDonald, C. (2013). The skills framework for the information age as a means for investigating work-integrated learning. In 24th Australasian Conference on Information Systems Melbourne, Australia. URL

UNE Bespoke Graduate Certificate

The University of New England, in regional NSW, is offering a new "Bespoke Graduate Certificate". Students can select from courses across the university to assemble their own qualification. However, UNE is not the first university to do this, and a more focused qualification may be a better option.

The UNE Bespoke Graduate Certificate looks similar to the ANU Graduate Certificate of Studies, and other universities general studies programs. These allow students to choose from courses across their institution (and between institutions).

With a general studies qualification there is a risk of ending up with a "Certificate of Nothing in Particular". The student may do the studies they want, but a prospective employer may not notice this detail. The student can instead consider undertaking a more focused qualification, and use the flexibility of including alternative courses to suit their interests. As an example, I undertook an ANU Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. After consultation with my supervisor, I substituted two courses from partner institution USQ, for two ANU courses.

My interest was in online education, and USQ was offering specialist courses in this. A bonus was that USQ offered courses outside ANU's semesters, allowing me to complete quicker. Having a qualification in education is far more useful than a general one made up of education courses.

UNE indicates their certificate can be completed in 1 year part-time. However this assumes the student undertakes two courses at a time. As a part-time student I found completing two courses at once to be very difficult. If the student is undertaking studies part-time, and particularly online, I suggest they should be encouraged to do only one course at a time. Where the institution offers three or four periods per year, the student can still complete in a reasonable time.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Micro-credentials by Mobile Phone for the Solomon Islands

Exploring the mobile internet,
Solomon Islands,
Photo: Irene Scott/DFAT.
The Australian Government is paying for a fibre optic cable to the Solomon Islands. With the Solomon Islands Technology for Development Challenge, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has asked for ideas how this could help young people with skills and education. The winning idea will receive up to $250,000 AUD for implementation.

I have entered the Challenge with "Micro-credentials by Mobile Phone", to develop courses delivered via smart phones, which provide a vocationally relevant credential, within months, rather than taking years. The winning idea will receive up to $250,000 AUD for implementation, as part of the Australia’s Cyber Cooperation Program. I outlined my proposal to the Australian Computer Society's Canberra conference a few months ago National IT Conference in Colombo in October and will be presenting a short paper on it at the 7th International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering, in Woolongong, 6 December 2018.

Micro-credentials by Mobile Phone

Explain your idea

Provide short courses to students via mobile phones. To provide maximum benefit, the courses would provide a micro-credential, as well as industry certification, and credit towards more advanced qualifications. The courses would be designed and delivered jointly, by institutions acrossExploring the mobile internet,
Solomon Islands,
Photo: Irene Scott/DFAT.Exploring the mobile internet,
Solomon Islands,
Photo: Irene Scott/DFAT. the Indo-Pacific, to mixed classes of students from the region.

Who will benefit from your idea?

Courses will be delivered to those with at least a primary school education. The course content will be designed to work on low cost phones now available and with limited network access. Initially courses would focus on teaching teachers in how to use the technology for teaching. Courses would connect students from across the Indo-Pacific, reducing isolation. Micro-Credentials would be achievable with a few weeks study, unlike conventional qualifications, which take months or years.

How will your idea have a development impact?

Providing training and qualifications will improve the prospects for employment of youth employment. The use of short mobile courses will provide education to those who could not be catered for in conventional courses.

How developed is your idea?

Research & Early Testing
A short formal paper on this has been accepted for thExploring the mobile internet,
Solomon Islands,
Photo: Irene Scott/DFAT.e 2018 IEEE 7th International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE), in Woolongong, 4-7 December 2018.
A project at the ANU has developed prototype software to deliver courses:

Tell us more about you

I am an independent educational technology consultant, and an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University. I am a Certified Professional member of the Australian Computer Society, as well as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and have a a Master of Education in Distance Education  and am the author of "Digital Teaching In Higher Education".
My plan is to make use of some of the 300 ANU Techlauncher students to build software, and education students to build content. I am also looking to work with academic, and business, partners.
Some of the other ideas proposed so far are: 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Inaugural World Access to Higher Education Day is 28 November

The inaugural World Access to Higher Education Day is 28 November. As part of this, University of Southern Queensland is webcasting a series of speakers. USQ have invited questions via the hashtag #WAHED2018. But that is still hours of mostly talking heads, which is not the university experience I want. I got far more than that, with far less video, as a USQ student.


Prudence Melom
9.30 am – 10.30 am Equity in Education for all creates great leaders of tomorrow. Keynote Address: Prudence Melom

11.00 am – 11.30 am Using USQ systems data insights to enhance the success and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Presenters: Angela Murphy, Ryan Cornwell, Benjamin Robert Dexter. University of Southern Queensland

11.30 am – 12.00 pm Strategies and Successes: ways of making education available to incarcerated students. Presenters: Stephen Seymour, University of Southern Queensland; Jayne Walker, Queensland Corrective Services; Marcus Harmes, University of Southern Queensland

12.00 pm – 12.30 pm Open Access College: widening access and enabling education at a regional
university. Presenters: Marcus Harmes, David Bull, Tatra Palfrey, University of Southern Queensland

1.30 pm – 3.00 pm Panel Session: Does everyone belong at university? Paul Buckley, Student, University of Southern Queensland (AEST); Jenelle Choyce, Queensland Department of Employment, Small Business and Training; Roger Green, Mentoring for Growth member, and recipient of the Etcom Small Business
of the Year Award; Kristen Lyons, University of Queensland; Natalie Osborne, Griffith University + Brisbane Free University.

ps: The following week I will be presenting a short paper on how to provide micro-credentials for students of the Indo-Pacifc using mobile phones at the 7th International Conference on  Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE) in Woolongong.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Online Graduate Certificate in Co-operatives Management and Organisation

The University of Newcastle (Australia), offer a "Graduate Certificate in Co-operatives Management and Organisation". Unlike business courses aimed at those in the for-profit sector, this looks at social enterprises. The not-for-profit sector is normally thought of as very small organizations run by well meaning, but poorly skilled part timers. However, the not-for profit sector makes up a significant part of the Australian economy, employing staff and providing important services. Cooperatives and mutual organizations are, technically speaking, profit making, but the profits go to members and customers.  The Certificate is offered online and while I could not quite work it out from their website, and the courses for this can be credited to an MBA.

ps: Given the revelations of misconduct from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, perhaps the for-profit sector needs some of this education on thinking about the customer, rather than just profit.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Projects and Tutors Needed for ANU IT Projects

A flat floor large classroom at ANU, with large mobile LCD screens used to relay presentation to the back of the room.
ANU Techlauncher

Dr Charles Gretton has issued a Call for Projects and Engagement with TechLauncher. Hundreds of ANU students undertake a six month or year long team project where they build some computer software for a real client. For this clients who need something built for not-for-profit and for-profit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions are required. Also tutors with real-world experience are needed to help the students, along with mentors to inspire the students. It helps for students to heard from successful young, and old, IT professionals.
Previously I have tutored students building an app for a physiologist to help patients with a fear of flying, a database for an archeologist to keep track of artifacts in the field, and a simulator for testing the anti-missile radars on Australia's new warships.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Placing the Student at the Centred of Open Education

Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, Professor of Psychology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, presented a USQ webinar on "Student-centred learning with open education" today. This was inspiring stuff, with open educational practices (OEP) providing better quality student centered learning, as well as lowering cost. But usually with such presentations I ask "How can I do this?" and there is no answer or it involves spending a lot of money. Not in this case, Dr. Jhangiani's book "The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science" is available free online. He also recommended Elizabeth Mays' "A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students".

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Light In The Public Realm

Greetings from the National Gallery of Australia, where James Carpenter is speaking on "Light In The Public Realm" as part of DESIGN Canberra. He has been visiting the ANU School of Art and Design. Carpenter began by acknowledging the US designers of Canberra. He works with light, through glass, and occasionally water mist. This included glass bridges, and large periscopes. This involves complex calculations, computer modelling, and testing of prototypes, to work out where the light will be at different times of day. His Reflector Sky-Net reminded me of the new London Kings Cross Concourse. The difference is the net is reflective, rather than transmissive. This is useful in a crowded city where there is limited light and a limited view of the sky. This talk was a wonderful mix of art and technology.

Cyber threats to the Digital Economy of Vietnam

Greetings from the Australian National in Canberra, which is holding "Vietnam Update 2018". The last session of the day is on Social media, digital technologies and cybersecurity. The first speaker was Mr. Nguyen Quang Dong, from the Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development. He pointed out Vietnam now has a high penetration of Internet users, mostly via smart phones. There were 134,000 cyber-attacks in Vietnam in 2016. One driver for improving security is to be able to join multi-national trade agreements. He pointed out the difficulties where national regulations require cloud computing facilities to be located on-shore.

ps: ANU is now offering a cyber security major in its computing degrees and a Master of Cyber Security, Strategy and Risk Management.

Implications for Victoria's Education Industry in Signing of China Silk Road Agreement

Premier Daniel Andrews with
Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye.
Photo by Chinese Embassy

The Victorian government has released the agreement signed with China on the Maritime Silk Road (aka Belt and Road) on 8 October. One part of China's plan, not mentioned in the agreement, is expansion of Chinese education services to the region.  Education is Victoria's major service export to the region. It is not clear if the Victorian Government envisages joint education initiatives under the Silk Road plan, or has worked through implications of competition from China's education providers.

I will discuss some of the educational implications of the Silk Road at the 7th International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering in Woolongong in early December.

The agreement was released as a facsimile, so I have converted it to searchable text and there may be errors:


The Government of the State of referred to “the Victoria, Australia (hereinafter and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of the People’s Republic of China.

Based on the aspiration of promoting the silkroad spirit centering on peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefits and aspiration to further enrich such spirit in keeping with the new era; welcoming and supporting China’s initiative to jointly promote the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative (hereinafter referred to as the Belt and Road Initiative); willing to enhance practical cooperation within the framework of jointly building the Belt and Road, the Parties decide to work together to explore and form synergy in cooperation, enhance policy coordination, and further promote friendly cooperation.

Recognizing that the NDRC is in charge of macroeconomic management and comprehensive economic management within the as Parties”) Government of China while the Government of the State of Victoria is dedicated to growth in knowledge intensive industries and services sectors, and the State of Victoria boasts strengths in infrastructure development, liveability, health, science and technology, and agriculture, thus providing opportunities for cooperation and partnership under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Parties have reached the following understanding:

Article I

Objectives and Guiding Principles of Cooperation

I. The Parties will work together within the Belt and Road Initiative, with the aim of promoting connectivity of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people, so as to seek new opportunities in cooperation and inject new momentum to achieve common development; strive to develop an open global economy, jointly combat global challenges and promote the building of a common future.

II. The Parties will promote cooperation based on the following principles:

(i) Guided by the principles of extensive consultation, joint benefits, the Parties will respect common and interests major concerns of each other, deepen mutual trust and contribution beneficial and shared cooperation for common development;

(ii) In accordance with the concept of cooperation, development and mutually beneficial progress under the Initiative of jointly building the Belt and Road, the Parties will enhance coordination and provide each other with support.

(iii) The Parties will endeavor to carry out cooperation within their respective areas of responsibility and strengths as mutually agreed through bilateral communication.

Article II

Areas of Cooperation

I. Based existing cooperation, the Parties will enhance policy cooperation, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial cooperation, people-to—people bond, and promote Digital Silkroad Cooperation, etc;

II. Innovate cooperation modes and platforms, encourage businesses, organizations and relevant agencies on both the Chinese side and the Victorian State side to play facilitating roles and foster long—term, stable, sustainable partnerships.

III. Create enabling, growth-friendly policy environment for investment cooperation between the businesses on both sides.

IV. Other cooperation that the Parties agree on.

Article III

Modes of Cooperation

Mode of cooperation may include but are not limited to:

I. Through exchange of visits and existing cooperation mechanisms, the Parties will seek convergence between respective policies and planning.

II. Focus the demands of bilateral cooperation, the Parties will carry out dialogues and exchanges, joint researches, pilot programs, knowledge sharing, capacity building, etc.

III. The Parties will discuss cooperation with a third Party on jointly building the Belt and Road, and provide convenience to such cooperation.

IV. The Parties may conclude agreements or other cooperation documents for cooperation in a specific field.

V. Both on common Parties will review periodically the progress of cooperation under the Memorandum of Understanding through diverse forms of communication as necessity arises at various working levels, such as the exchanges of visits, video conferences, correspondence, etc.

Article IV

Settlement of Differences

The Parties will settle differences in the or implementation of this MOU interpretation, application through friendly consultations.

Article V

Entry into Force, Amendment and Termination

I. This MOU will enter into force from the date of signature.

II. This MOU will remain in effect for five years and will be automatically extended for subsequent five year periods and so forth unless terminated either party by giving the other party a written at least three months in advance.

III. This MOU may be amended by written consent of the two Participants and the amendment will be an integral part of this MOU.


IV. To terminate this MOU one party should give the other party a written notice through diplomatic channels at least three months in advance. This notice will be terminated after joint agreement. The termination of this MOU will not influence executing programs which will continue according to the agreement timetable until completion of programs.

V. This MOU does not create legal relations or constitute a legally binding contractual agreement between the parties.

Signed in duplicate on 8th, October, 2018, in the Chinese and English languages, both texts having equal validity.

Premier, the State Government of Victoria, the Commonwealth of Australia

Chairman, the National Development and Reform Commission of the People's Republic of China.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Katharine Murphy on Climate Change

Greetings from the ANU Climate Change Institute in Canberra, where journalist Katharine Murphy is speaking on politics and climate change. She started by using a metaphor of car manufacturing from her book "On Disruption". She claimed that the "disruption" to journalism by the Internet was unexpected and sudden, like car workers turning up and funding their jobs replaced by robots. However, I don't find the claim the Internet's changes to journalism were unexpected to be credible.

A better metaphor would be if some car workers were seconded to a robot development program, and rather than keep this secret, gave their fellow assembly line workers regular reports over a decade warning the robots were going to take their jobs. The assembly line workers dismissed the reports, and rather than look for another job, re-skill for the change, or raise opposition, just kept working on the assembly line until one day they were replaced. This is essentially what happened with the media.

Katharine Murphy suggested that climate policy should not let "perfect be the enemy of good". She criticized the Greens for opposing Keven Rudd's carbon policy. She suggested we needed to "harness the moment" for climate policy. One of the audience asked about what was the role of scientists to support the young on climate change. In reply Katharine Murphy pointed out how many of the young registered to vote for marriage equality. She went on to express concern that the public become numb to news reports of climate catastrophe.

Getting back to the issue of the Internet's disruption of journalism, something similar is now taking place in universities. Students are not attending most lectures, to the point were universities are demolishing lecture theaters. Students now study mostly on-line, but most university "lecturers" do not accept this reality. At some point in the next few years the change will become very public, with closures of campuses, consolidation of institutions, students studying online at overseas institutions and unemployed academics. At that point the lecturers who ignored calls for change for years will express shock at this "sudden" and "unexpected" change. Those of us who re-skilled for the change and proposed how to adapt, will have to just say "that is unfortunate".

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cryptomining Consumes More Energy Than Gold Mining

Krause and Tolaymat (2018), estimate that "mining" of the four commonly used cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero), from 1 January 2016 to 30 June 2018, produced between 3 and 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. They also estimate this is more energy intensive, in terms of value produced, than conventional mining of copper, gold, platinum or rare earth oxides.  Only production of aluminum was more energy demanding than cryptocurrency. One worrying trend is that as the cryptocurrencies drop in value the energy needed to mine them increases. The good news is there are alternatives, such as Ripple, which does not use mining.

ps: Last semester I asked my ICT Sustainability graduate students at the Australian National University: "Are Bitcoin and Blockchain Bad for the Environment?". 


Krause, M. J., & Tolaymat, T. (2018). Quantification of energy and carbon costs for mining cryptocurrencies. Nature Sustainability, 1. url

Australian Tech Entrepreneurs Needed for Reality TV Show

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) is supporting a new reality TV show "Game Changers". 24 contestants are required for 10 weekly elimination rounds. Applications close on November 23. The winner will receive support for their start-up.

ps: Those who have participated in Innovation ACT, ANU TechLauncher, and similar programs, will have a head-start.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Future of Teaching and Learning at ANU

Greetings from the TELFest conference at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra where Professor Grady Venville, PVC Education, is chairing a panel on teaching and learning at ANU:
  1. Paul Francis - College of Science
  2. Gemma King - College of Arts & Social Science
  3. Anna von Reibnitz - College of Business and Economics
  4. Bernardo Cielo - PARSA
  5. Tess Masters - ANUSA
Professor Venville said that ANU's new flexible learning building will have the fist classes from 24 February 2019. I discussed how to use new tech-infused teaching spaces, at a conference in Singapore recently.

Professor Venville also mentioned that ANU has programs to broaden the student body, with more from lower socioeconomic groups. Last week Professor Cathy Stone talked about the challenges of supporting these students, at EdTechPosium 2018.

Professor Venville mentioned ANU was looking to "moving into micro-credentialing in a big way" for professional short courses for post-graduate credit. I gave a presentation on one way this might be done and will be presenting a formal paper on Micro-credentials with M-learining for the Indo-Pacific at the 7th International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE), in December.

Reimagining Project-Based Learning in Engineering at ANU

Greetings from the TELFest conference at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra where
Chris Browne, has been speaking on "Reimagining Project-Based Learning in Engineering". The idea is to change from semester ling courses which each have a group project, to a smaller number of longer and larger projects supported by learning modules. Each student will also prepare a reflective portfolio throughout their studies. While the package as a whole looks like a radical change, many of the components have been tried and proven in engineering and computer science at ANU.

Technology-Enhanced Learning at ANU

Greetings from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra where TELFest just started. This is a one day event on Technology-Enhanced Learning at ANU. First on the program is Alexandra Webb, from the ANU Medical School, who described her early work using laser-disks for teaching doctors in the 1990s.

Professor Webb then pointed out that education research showed that practice tests are the most effective learning technique. She used the term "science of learning" which I am a little uncomfortable with. In formal terms education comes within Social Science and formal research techniques are used. However, this is not like a hard science, such as physics, and we have a lot to learn.

Professor Webb pointed out that students prefer blended learning to just replacing face-to-face with an online tool. This is a well known effect. She than asked the audience if feedback from students had changed their teaching. I was one of the few who said "no": I have been formally trained in education so I don't have to make it up as I go along.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Blended Learning for the Indo-Pacific

Tom Worthington Speaking at NICT 2018 in Colombo
Tom addressing the
Computer Society of Sri Lanka
A few weeks ago I outlined a proposal for a Colombo Plan 2.0, in the city of Colombo, at an international conference opened by the nation's president. This proposed delivering micro-credentials via mobile devices, to students of Indo-Pacific.  It would bootstrap mobile education by using m-learning to teach computer professionals how to design and deliver such courses. To provide maximum benefit from the courses, each would provide a micro-credential, as well as industry certification, and credit towards a degree. The courses could be designed and delivered jointly, by institutions across the Indo-Pacific, to mixed classes of students from the region. It would provide a response to China's Belt and Road Education Plan, but in a non-confrontational way.

A short paper to present on this has been accepted for TALE 2018, in Woolongong, 4-7 December 2018:
  • Worthington, Tom. Blended Learning for the Indo-Pacific. In Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE), 2018 IEEE 7th International Conference on. IEEE. url

Preparing Australian Universities for the Coming Wave of Indian Students

Anip Sharma
Maryanna AbdoSharma and Abdo (2018) warn of Australian university's over reliance on students from China, and suggest looking to India as a secondary market. They note that international Indian students tend to be postgraduate and less "premium" than Chinese students, attending Australian regional and non-Go8 institutions.

The authors suggest Indian students are looking for more accessible programs (not requiring a high GPA),  pre-masters programs, lower cost programs, and shorter programs. To facilitate this Sharma and Abdo suggest Australian visas be changed to accommodate students studying for a one-year master’s degree.

The authors end by suggesting three invitations for program delivery: Offshore, Combined and Online/blended. The last of these I suggest has considerable potential. The authors envisage digital delivery of Australia-branded certifications, with use of optional offshore study centers and/or short periods in Australia. The key point here I suggest is the Australian-branding, to overcome the poor reputation which online qualifications have in India (and China). Also I suggest there is considerable scope for sub-degree qualifications and industry certifications. This would fit well with online study, which suits shorter and more vocationally orientated subjects.

A few weeks ago I outlined a proposal for a Colombo Plan 2.0 delivering micro-credentials via mobile devices, to students of Indo-Pacific.  A short paper on this "Blended Learning for the Indo-Pacific" (Worthington 2018), has been accepted for the IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning for Engineering (TALE), to be presented 6 December, in Wollongong. This proposes to bootstrapping mobile education by using mobile courses to teach computer professionals how to design and deliver such courses.


The Elephant at the Door: Preparing Australian Universities for the Coming Wave of Indian Students, by Anip Sharma and Mary Abdo,  L.E.K. Consulting, 31 October 2018

Blended Learning for the Indo-Pacific, Tom Worthington, accepted for the IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning for Engineering (TALE), 4-7 December 2018, Wollongong, Australia.