Monday, November 18, 2019

Analytics for Lifelong Learning

Simon Buckingham Shum,
UTS Connected Intelligence Centre
Greetings from the Marie Reay Teaching Centre, at the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Simon Buckingham Shum from the UTS Connected Intelligence Centre, is presenting a seminar on "Analytics for Lifelong Learning Competencies: Aligning Pedagogy, Human-Centred Design & University Strategy". He presented a hierarchy starting with the student focus, then learning design, ending with the organizational view. I suggest a few more layers are needed, for the industry/discipline view, national view, and international. University educators need to think about what is good not just for the student and the institution, but more widely outside.

Professor Buckingham Shum showed examples of tools to assist nurses in a clinical setting, students learning reflective writing and more traditional academic writing. However, I was a little skeptical as the examples all seemed to be for very narrowly focused STEM discipline learning. If you are teaching stunts how to do a specific task in a well-defined job, in a standardized regulated discipline, such as medicine, engineering or computing, then using analytics is relatively easy.  However, there was then an example of helping law students with writing an argument, undertaken with Dr Philippa Ryan, who is now at ANU.  But Dr Ryan is not your average non-STEM academic (she was on the ACS Blockchain Committee with me). Can university academics who are experts in research aspects of their discipline, and are not experts in computing, analytics, or education, cope with this?

As Professor Buckingham Shum pointed out it would not be very useful to bolt a sophisticated analytics system onto old fashioned education.   system. Also, none of those involved in university education will have all the skills in the discipline, analytics, and education. An exception is some in the computing discipline (such as myself), where analytics is part of their discipline, and they have training in education. His suggested solution is something like the UTS Connected Intelligence Centre.

One practical outcome could be that the UTS AcaWriter software tool for academic and reflective writing could be further developed by ANU's TechLauncher computing project students, for teaching reflection.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Processing Telemetry from the Hawkie Armoured Vehicle

The Canberra Python User Group is hosting a talk on  Telemetry Data in an Armoured Personnel Carrier Using Python, at the Australian National University,
The Hawkie is a Armoured Personnel Carrier designed and built by Thales for the Australian Army. Neil was fortunate enough to be asked by the Australian Army to process and analyse both the CAM service and Telemetry Data produced by the vehicle."
ps: The Hawkei is named after a deadly snake, which was named after  ex-PM, Bob Hawke.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Selecting Survey Instruments For Engineering Education Evaluation

Dr Johannes Strobel
UWA Institute of Advanced Studies
Greetings from the cricket pavilion at the University of Western Australia, where I am taking part in a masterclass in Selecting Survey Instruments, by Dr Johannes Strobel, from the University of Missouri. Well I always thought it was the cricket pavilion, but turns out to be the UWA Institute of Advanced Studies. I am in Perth to speak at an international meeting of lawyers on cyber security, but I dropped in to discuss classroom design at Murdoch University yesterday, and am learning about the design of research specifically for STEM education at UWA today.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Do You Have a Digital Twin?

Professor Deborah Bunker,
Group Leader
Greetings from the Spatial Futures Forum  on Intelligent Cities and Transport hosted by Communications and Technology for Society Research Group* at University of Sydney. If nothing else this has been useful to find out what a "Digital Twin" is. I kept reading this term in LinkedIn discussions. It turns out this is a new term for digital models of real world objects. In this case it is referring to models of cities, including mapping data, roads, and buildings. The models can be used for planning, and operations.

* They used to be the Interoperability for Extreme Events Research Group (IEERG)., but pivoted.  

9:30am Welcome (and Housekeeping) – Professor Deborah Bunker (University of Sydney) Intelligent Cities and Transport: What Are the Issues?
9:45am Mr Bruce Thompson - Executive Director, NSW Spatial Services Division
KEYNOTE: Spatial Digital Twin: The New Digital Workbench for Intelligent Cities and Transport
10:30am Morning Tea
11:00am Professor Sisi Zlatanova - Built Environment (UNSW)
Digital Twin: Challenges and Opportunities.
11:40am Professor Christopher Pettit - City Futures Research Centre (City Analytics Lab UNSW) Value Australia - Sharpening Our Land and Property Decisions with Artificial Intelligence
12:20pm Professor Linlin Ge & Mr Peter Mumford - Geoscience and Earth Observing Systems Group (UNSW) New Directions in Smart Parking
1:00pm Lunch
2:00pm Professor Michiel Bliemer - Chair in Transport and Logistics Network Modelling ITLS (University of Sydney) Future Transport: Technology-led or Technology-fed?
2:40pm Mr Yale Wong – Research Associate in Integrated Mobility Services and Contractual Structures, ITLS (University of Sydney) Mobility as a Service (MaaS): Rationale, Governance, Trials
3:20pm Afternoon Tea
3:40pm Mr Shane Conserdyne & Mr Nathaniel Bavinton – City of Newcastle
Recent developments in Newcastle’s Digital Twin and Smart City Initiatives
4:20pm Panel & Wrap Up Chair - Adjunct Associate Professor Tony Sleigh (University of Sydney)
5pm Networking

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Putting on my Tweed Coat to Save the World

Sam Jaffe as Professor Jacob Barnhardt
The Day the Earth Stood Still

As a child I watched black and white disaster movies. In these a scientist, in a tweed jacket, would discover an impending catastrophe (asteroids, sunspots, or giant radioactive creatures). He (it was always a male) would face a skeptical response, but eventually convince world leaders to act, just in time. With disaster averted, the last scene would be a homily about the hubris of mankind.

That scenario is now playing out, for real. Ripple, Wolf, Newsome, Barnard, and Moomaw (2019) have issued a warning to humanity of a "catastrophic threat" from global warming, on behalf of eleven thousand scientists. So I put on my tweed coat, before going to my university office, to help save the world, by teaching Green Computing (Worthington, 2012, July).


Ripple, W. J., Wolf, C., & Newsome, T. M. (2019). World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency. BioScience,

Worthington, T. (2012, July). A Green computing professional education course online: Designing and delivering a course in ICT sustainability using Internet and eBooks. In 2012 7th International Conference on Computer Science & Education (ICCSE) (pp. 263-266). IEEE.

Monday, November 4, 2019

UK Government ICT Sustainability Needs Improvement Says Report

UK ICT Sustainability
Report Summary Infographic
UK ICT Sustainability
Report Summary Infographic
The UK Sustainable Technology Annual Report 2018-19, notes improvements in government energy efficiency due to the use of cloud computing, and decommissioning old equipment. Also there is less old equipment going to landfill. However, the report questions the value of focusing on servers at the Mini stray of Defence as this is only 12% of their ICT energy use, versus 40% from end user devices and 48% from
network equipment.

Perhaps the UK MOD needs to sign up for my ICT Sustainability course. ;-)

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Open Access, Funding and International Student Numbers at Australian Universities

Dr Danny Kingsley,
Scholarly Communication Consultant
Kingsley and Vandegrift (2019) suggest that open access scholarly publishing has has been held back in Australia, in part because of universities reliance on revenue from international students.

Micah Vandegrift,
Open Knowledge Librarian
at NC State University Libraries.
Kingsley and Vandegrift  point out that, unlike their UK equivalents, Australian universities are reliant on government funding for research. The two main government funding bodies, the National Health and Medical Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC), have been less than enthusiastic on open access. These bodies have polices which encourage open access, but does not require it. Even that relatively weak policy took a lot of prodding.

But what does any of this have to do with international students?
Kingsley and Vandegrift  point out that Australia has a much higher proportion of international students than other countries. The revenue from these enrollments is much greater than that from government for  research. The authors then make the link between international enrollments and university rankings: students enroll at universities which rank well. The quality of research, as measured by publications, makes up a significant part of the international rankings of universities. Australian academics are therefore under pressure to publish often, and in high ranking journals, which tend to not be open access ones.

Kingsley and Vandegrift conclude by asking "Is it possible to uncouple decisions about research practice from financial or political/ideological considerations?". I suggest it is not, but it is possible to adjust the financial incentives to give more socially desirable outcomes.

International university rankings are heavily weighted towards the quality of research, as measured by publishing in commercial for-profit journals. Students are attracted to universities with high research rankings, even though this has nothing to do with the quality of the teaching. One way to fix this problem is to create ranking systems which value education, and open access, more highly. One example is the Webometrics Ranking of Wold Universities, which includes "openness". This produces a slightly different ranking of Australian universities. Also Webometrics includes many small vocational institutions, excluded from other ranking schemes. Many of these vocational institutions provide quality education.

From a national policy point of view, how many international students should Australia have? International students make up about 23% of the total for Australian universities (Ferguson & Sherrell, 2019). There have been concerns in Australia that the number of international students lowers the quality of education. Perhaps Australia should aim for a similar figure to Canada, at 14% (Usher, p. 21, 2019). Canada may have hit the sweet-spot for international students. Usher suggests the international students in Canada "burnish" (increase) institutions perceived quality, rather than diminish it (Usher, p. 21, 2019).


Ferguson, H., and Sherrell, H., (2019). Overseas students in Australian higher education: a quick guide, Parlimentary Library, Parliment of Australia, URL

Kingsley, D. & Vandegrift, M. (2019). Chasing cash cows in a swamp? Perspectives on Plan S from Australia and the USA, in Unlocking Research, Office of Scholarly Communication, University of Cambridge. URL

Usher, A., (2019). The State of Postsecondary Education in Canada,
2019. Toronto: Higher Education Strategy Associates. URL