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
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.  This proposes to bootstrapg 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.

A short paper on this has been accepted for TALE 2018, in Woolongong, 4-7 December 2018:
  • Worthington, Tom. (in press). 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.