Friday, May 24, 2019

EdTech Tools in Sydney

Greetings from the PitchEd NSW Event at the Sydney Startup Hub. Teams are pitching their educational technology products and answering questions from the audience. So far I have not seen any very exciting, and the claims made are a little hard to believe, but the enthusiasm is infectious.

Last night I attended "The Tools We Use" of the 
Instructional Design & eLearning Meetup. Working edtech professionals talked about the tools they use, not sell. One of these which looked promising was Content Samurai, for producing videos quickly. At the moment I make short educational videos using digital video editing software. This requires inserting each slide, and manually synchronizing it with the narration. A tool which automates more of this would be useful.

Just as valuable as the presentations, were the informal discussions. I had just arrived from Canberra, and though I would have traveled the furthest. But there were people from Melbourne, and Europe. Perhaps the award for the most unusual method of travel was the person from South America, with a paddle in a bag, for getting back to their  yacht anchored in the harbor. ;-)

There will be a meetup at the Australian Workplace Learning Conference, June 6, 6:00pm. This is in conjunction with EduTECH, and I am giving a free talk on "Mobile Learning with Micro-Credentials for International Students", at the EduTECH Expo Main Stage, at 4pm the same day. All welcome.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Getting academics to do professional development

In the last few days I have been approached by several people asking for help to use ed-tech for academic professional envelopment. One of the paradoxes of higher education is that while academics insist that training and testing is needed by their students, they are reluctant to do any training themselves in how to teach.

Botham (2018) looks at the issue of engagement in a professional development scheme to develop teaching skills. They concluded that institutional policies encouraging, or requiring, PD got staff into such programs, but it was not enough to get them to completion. I suggest this may require a change in doctoral education, and university hiring practices. If universities want good educators, they will need to include teacher training in graduate  programs, and select staff based on their teaching qualifications. Selecting the best researchers and then trying to turn them into educators does not work.

At a practical level it should be possible to train academics, using the same sort of blended techniques which are used to get students through a course they do not have an aptitude for, or interest in. That may not turn the average academic into an enthusiastic expert educator, but can at least make them reluctantly competent.


Botham, K. A. (2018). An analysis of the factors that affect engagement of Higher Education teachers with an institutional professional development scheme. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 55(2), 176-189. URL blob:

Standards for Innovation management

While I have been looking at how to do, and teach innovation for several years, it was only this month I discovered there were formal standards. After giving a pitch at CBRIN's First Wednesday Connect, I was chatting to Rizwan Khan, who pointed out that ISO TC 279 is developing innovation management standards. The idea of a standard for innovation sounds a contradiction in terms, but DE CASANOVE, and MOREL (2018), provide a useful overview of the work of the committee.



Saturday, May 11, 2019

Design thinking for student-centric university courses

Jeffrey M. Penta's doctoral thesis (2019), questions the current university centric design of courses and suggests student centric. The author argues for education for employment, and a holistic approach. Interestingly design thinking was used for the research. He argues  educators approach is influenced by their own experience.

It was refreshing to read a study of education which was not a survey of the opinions of hundreds, or thousands of people, then run through a statistical analysis to make it look sciencey. Instead a few participants were interviewed, in depth.

Penta recommends a "... combination of qualitative
story-telling data and sense-making to change perspectives". However, I suggest directly exposing educators, particularly early career academics,  to new ways of learning, as students. It is very difficult to change an educator's behavior just by telling them to do something differently, or even with a story about how it can be different. It is much more effective if they experience the new approach, as a student. I did not really understand how top-down vocationally aligned course design, e-learning, e-portfolios, blended and online learning, or peer assessment worked, until I had to use them myself as a student.

One problem Penta did not address is a narrow vocational focus in university education. I teach computing and engineering students, for whom there are clear career paths, and high demand. It is very easy to align courses with professional requirements, and the graduates get jobs quickly. What do disciplines do, where there is no specific career, or demand, for their graduates?

The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilization is encouraging Australian universities to expand liberal arts degrees, to defend Western Civilization. But it is not clear how reading old books will get you a job in the digital economy. In contrast, the students I teach are being trained to defend directly the West, by countering cyber attacks, and building anti-missile systems (both skills in high demand). But the world will be the poorer if universities only produce engineers and computer programmers. How do we support the arts?


Penta, J. M. (2019). Designing Student-Centric Solutions through Collaboration: Exploring the Experiences of Higher Education Administrators Leading Cross-Functional Projects and Initiatives (Doctoral dissertation, Northeastern University). URL

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Time to Pivot Australian International Higher Education

The Australian newspaper and ABC TV rarely agree on anything, but this week both warned of problems with Australian university support of international students. This comes with the end of increasing enrollments from China and moves to recruit more from India.

Tim Dodd  wrote:
"The highly lucrative six-year boom in Chinese students is over.

Australian universities now are focusing on the less-developed Indian market to meet budget expectations, exposing them to the risk of enrolling low-quality students with poor English. ..."

From: "End of China boom roils universities", The Australian, 8 May 2019
 "... The number of Chinese students enrolled in Australian higher education ... is flattening off, sending universities on a feverish quest to find new students from India ... But rapid growth poses risks if it is accompanied by a fall in student standards ..." 

From "There’s risk in rush to new overseas markets", The Australian, 8 May 2019
ABC TV reported: 
"Teaching staff say that universities are risking their reputations by taking on students who are not capable of advanced levels of learning." 
From: Cash Cows, ABC TV, 6 May 2019
In response to the ABC, an industry body, the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), pointed out stricter government controls had been introduced. This included improvements in English language standards. However, these were only introduced eighteen months ago, so the changes would not yet be reflected in the current student body.

Where there are violations of Australian law and academic standards, I suggest these should be dealt with by suspensions, and, where necessary, criminal prosecution. However, Australian universities and academics can offer new forms of learning, and supporting international students in new ways. This can be done with online and blended learning, incorporating integrated progressive assessment, to ensure students do the required work, on time and to the required standard.

IEAA pointed out that universities have introduced programs alongside their main courses of study, to improve language proficiency. However, I suggest we can also take advantage of technology, to test students early in each course, to see they have the required language, and other skills. Special assistance can be offered, or if necessary, the student removed from a course early. Assessment can move away from a few large tests, where students are tempted to cheat. Students can be issued with digitally certified qualifications, as they progress through their studies, so they are rewarded for good work.

I will be discussing some ways to do this in a presentation "Mobile Learning with Micro-Credentials for International Students", at EduTECH in Sydney, 4 pm 6 June, and the next day in round-table discussions.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

My Picks for EduTECH Sydney

EduTECH is on in Sydney, 6 to 7 June. Here are my selections from the program. I will be speaking 4pm the first day, and chairing a round-table the next day, so I have to go to those. ;-)

ps: Use the code: TomWorthington20 for 20% off registration fee.

Building a Smarter Learning Ecosystem

Workplace Learning/AITD Conference Jd Dillon L&D doesn’t own workplace learning. WHAT?!?! Every organization is a complex ecosystem with a multitude of elements. Unfortunately, many L&D teams fail to take a holistic approach. Instead, they focus on their sphere of influence, which often revolves around formal training. ... Jd Dillon, Founder, LearnGeek Jun 6 09:25

New Era, Same Spirit

Workplace Learning/AITD Conference Roslyn ColagrossiHow did Qantas prepare their cabin crew for an aircraft yet to be built? Three simulations and a great project team later, the dream of the 787 Dreamliner came to life. ... Roslyn Colagrossi, Manager Service Development, Qantas Jun 6 11:30

3x30 minute Learning Lab – Google for Education

Breakouts - Seminars Jun 6 11:30

Planning for the future – trends and key issues

    Gary White
  • Global drives influencing the future of our urban areas and cities
  • A strategic planning approach to managing change and growth across NSW
  • The implications for the provision of educational facilities and services in the context of significant change.
Gary White, Chief Planner, Department of Planning
Jun 6 13:00

Masterplanning - more than just architecture

Build/Design Matthew GreenePaynter Dixon will share their considerable experience in the process of masterplanning schools to explain thatit's more than just architecture. Using real examples this presentation will explore the importance of getting your staff on board, linking your master plan to your pedagogical approach ... Matthew Greene, Head Of Education, Paynter Dixon Constructions Pty Limited Jun 6 13:20
Natasha Abraham

The changing face of postgraduate education

Higher Education
  • Postgraduate study is becoming increasingly common, with over 400,000 postgraduate students now at Australian universities.
  • 30 years ago, postgrad coursework students were usually older, established in their careers, and more financially secure. Now, many are doing postgrad study straight after finishing their first degree.
  • With this many students, how is the value and experience of postgraduate study changing over time?
Natasha Abraham, National President, Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations
Jun 6 13:30

Overcoming the training transfer problem with the 70:20:10 framework

Workplace Learning/AITD Conference
    Charles Jennings
  • Training has only a limited role in creating high performance in organisations
  • The training transfer problem has been created because we haven’t been using optimal approaches for solving performance problems
  • Frameworks such as the 70:20:10 model can help rectify this issue by bringing learning and working closer together.
Charles Jennings, Leading Thinker On Workplace Learning And Author, 70 20 10 Institute Jun 6 14:00

A Chatbot Case Study - Creating Impact with Learning Transfer

Workplace Learning/AITD Conference Marie DanielsCreating behavioural change is key to any learning initiative. It's proven that following up learning with a coaching-based methodology will deliver far superior results than training alone. Could chatbot technology be utilised to solve the age-old problem of transfer?

The presenters will share all from a case study that used an AI chatbot to drive behavioural change. ... Marie Daniels, ANZ Pharmaceuticals Commercial Learning Lead, Bayer Jun 6 14:20
Sascha Ogilvy

Team teaching

Expo Mainstage (Free)
  • What is team teaching and why it’s so important in schools
  • The purpose of team teaching
  • Case study of the team teaching program at Fairfield High School
Sascha Ogilvy, Head Teacher Eal/D, Fairfield High School Jun 6 14:40

The Art and Science of Teaching at Scale

    Manisha Gazula
  • The Marsden Way - focusing on explicit and direct instruction
  • The art and the science of teaching
Manisha Gazula, Principal, Marsden Road Public School Jun 6 15:20


Using mobile technology to achieve Professional and Vocational Currency within the VET sector

Vanessa MarshHigher Education
  • How Chisholm developed a process for educators to maintain educator currency while assisting the Institute to achieve its teaching and learning goals...
Vanessa Marsh, Team Leader, Operations, Chisholm Institute of Tafe Jun 6 15:20

Train to Fight and Win at Sea

Workplace Learning/AITD Conference Justin JonesNavy training and education is a key enabler in the achievement of navy’s mission ‘to fight and win at sea’. Navy training is expansive. It is conducted at multiple disparate locations across Australia and overseas, with an annual trainee throughput of approximately 80,000. ... Justin Jones, Commodore Training, Royal Australian Navy - Training Force Jun 6 16:00

Mobile Learning with Micro-Credentials for International Students

Expo Mainstage (Free)
    Tom Worthington
  • Design courses to be mobile ready, while campus compatible
  • Micro-credentials delivered off-shore
  • Blockchain for degree credit onshore
Tom Worthington, Honorary Senior Lecturer, The Australian National University Jun 6 16:20
Jun 709:00 Conference pass

Cool Schools: smart, sustainable strategies to beat the heat

    Sebastian Pfautsch
  • The importance of thermal comfort for student health, wellbeing and learning
  • Strategies for managing heat in existing and new schools
  • Research gaps in relation to thermal comfort for children in schools
Sebastian Pfautsch, Senior Research Fellow, University of Western Sydney Jun 7 09:40

Roundtable 12) Is it time for Micro-Credentials and Mobile Learning for International Students?

Breakouts - Roundtables Tom WorthingtonJoin Tom worthington at this roundtable to discuss the importance of connecting with international students through effective and classroom compatable courses. Host: Tom Worthington, Honorary Senior Lecturer, The Australian National University Jun 7 11:00

90 minute Workshop – Lego Education

Breakouts - Seminars Prof. Chris RogersPlaces at this workshop are limited and will sell out fast. Join now to get familiar with LEGO bricks, software, teaching guide and lesson plans

Accelerate STEAM learning with LEGO Education hands-on solutions Learn how to engage your students with playful learning tools around STEAM!LEGO® Education offers hands-on experiences that stimulate communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills — so that students can succeed in their STEAM classes today and realize their full potential as digital citizens and leaders tomorrow.

Who should attend? School teachers and principals – Years 5-8 Prof. Chris Rogers, Professor And Chair, Department Of Mechanical Engineering, tufts university Jun 7 11:30

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Mobile Learning with Micro-Credentials for International Students

I will be speaking on "Mobile Learning with Micro-Credentials for International Students", at EduTECH in Sydney, 4pm 6 June 2019. The next day I am chairing a round-table on the same topic. My talk is on the Expo Main Stage and is free, whereas the roundtable discussions are for delegates only  (use the code: TomWorthington20 for 20% off the registration fee.)
Just finalizing my presentation: suggestions welcome. Last year I attended EduTech Sydney, and Singapore, which were good. 
"Mobile Learning with Micro-Credentials for International Students
4pm, 6 June 2019
  • Design courses to be mobile ready, while campus compatible
  • Micro-credentials delivered off-shore
  • Blockchain for degree credit onshore

Roundtable: Is it time for Micro-Credentials and Mobile Learning for International Students?

3 discussions, from 11 am, 7 June 2019 Join Tom Worthington at this roundtable to discuss the importance of connecting with international students through effective and classroom compatible courses." 
From: "Speakers", EduTECH 2019.

Some notes for the presentation:

1. Mobile ready, campus compatible

ANU Marie Reay Teaching Centre

First design your course for online delivery. Use course software, with a responsive web interface, such as Moodle. This will then work on a mobile device, a conventional computer, oreven on paper.

Add campus based activities for students, where appropriate. Keep the campus activities flexible.
This is flipped, blended learning. It helps to have a purpose designed building, like the  ANU Marie Reay Teaching Centre opened March 2019, by Architects BVN. The Centre has only flat floor classrooms, for 30, 60, or 120 students. The flexibility here is provided by retractable walls, furniture on wheels, and electronic screens on multiple walls.

Learning to Reflect

Flipped module for teaching international masters students to write a job application:

Wall mounted LCD screens and desks on wheels at ANU Marie Reay Teaching Centre
Wall mounted LCD screens
& desks on wheels at
ANU Marie Reay Teaching Centre

  1. Online notes
  2. Videos
  3. Quizzes
  4. Peer assessed online forums
  5. Peer assessed assignments
  6. Classroom discussion in flat floor room

The module is designed to help students to develop capabilities expected of working professionals to identify their development needs, how they will acquire these and to reflect on what they have learned.

An overview of the development of the module, and an open access version of the notes are available.

2. Micro-credentials delivered off-shore

NZQA micro-credentials: 1 to 8 weeks study
AQF Review: considering micro-credentials
Attractive for international and STEM students.
3 x 1 week study modules = 1 semester course?

M-learning can be over shorter periods and targeted at specific skills. The New Zealand government is recognizing micro-credentials from tertiary education organizations as of 22 August 2018. The NZ credentials can be the equivalent of 1 to 8 weeks study. The shortest qualification typically issued by Australian universities is a 12 week graduate certificate.

An AQF Review: considering micro-credentials. This could allow much shorter, and more flexible, credentials. These would particularly appeal to international students, and those in STEM areas.

Even in advance of any official recognition of micro-credentials, institutions can create smaller units of instruction, for example, dividing a semester course which is notionally three weeks full time study into three one week units. Students could undertake the three units separately, or as part of a qualification.

3. Blockchain for degree credit onshore

Lifelong learning and micro-credentials will result in worker having several hundred qualifications. This would be unmanageable with paper certificates and even with web based e-certificates, such as those issued by "My eQuals" in Australia (the image shows my Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, issued by ANU). Employers will want to be able to automatically check qualifications against job requirements, to ensure they are genuine (the other image shows one of the many web advertisements for fake qualifications). One technology which may be used is block-chain. There is an ACS Blockchain technical committee looking at this, as one use for the technology.

Why worry about this?

China's Belt & Road Education Plan

  1. Two-Way Student Exchange
  2. Co-Operation in Running Educational Institutions
  3. Teacher Training
  4. Joint Education and Training
China Ministry of Education. Education Action Plan for the Belt and Road Initiative, 2016. URL

China's Belt and Road Education Plan envisages students from the Indo-Pacific region studying at campuses in China, and also on regional joint venture campuses. Australian institutions will have difficulty competing for international students with these campuses. However, the plan appears to cover only on-campus face-to-face education. This provides the opportunity for Australian institutions to offer online learning using mobile devices, supplemented with on-campus education. This could complement, rather than seek to directly compete with, China's Initiative.

See also: Australian Department of Education. China's Belt and Road Initiative – Education, 2017.

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