Monday, August 30, 2021

ANU Computing Leadership Seminar Series, starts 11 am 21 September

Something I have been helping organize: The ANU Computing Leadership Seminar Series is a new initiative for 2021, where we aim to bring alumni and friends together, to share their career perspectives with current students, staff, and the campus community. The seminars are open to anyone, but each is followed by a workshop for ANU Techlauncher students. In the workshop students learn more about how to plan for their own career.

  1. Elena KelarevaElena KelarevaCEO / Founder at GippsTech, Tuesday, 21 September 2021, 11 am Canberra time. ANU PhD in Artificial Intelligence 2013. GippsTech is a Social Traders certified Social Enteprise, headquartered in Gippsland, founded with the goal of growing regional startup and tech ecosystems. The business grew from 0 to 11 employees in 2.5 years, winning the Gippsland Business Awards New Business category in 2018. Dr Charles GrettonJoin Elena in a fireside chat  with ANU's own Dr Charles Gretton, convener of the TechLauncher programRegister to attend via zoom for the first seminar. 

  2. Suvash SedhainSuvash SedhainMachine Learning Engineer, Recommendation Team, and Xi YangXi Yang, Staff Software Engineer at Twitter.  Tuesday,  28 Sept ember 2021, 11 am Canberra time. Suvash completed his PhD in Machine Learning at ANU in 2016 and been working for .Twitter in  San Francisco, since 2018. Xi has an ANU PhD in Computer Systems (2019) and has been working at Twitter in Sydney since December 2020. Professor Steve BlackburnThe format is a fireside chat in conversation with ANU's own Professor Steve Blackburn, leader of the ANU Computing Foundations Cluster. Register to attend via zoom for the second seminar.

The speakers, who are all successful ANU graduates, have been asked to talk about:

  1. What do you (or company) work on, what has been your career path?
  2. What do you need to know in order to succeed, that you don't learn in your classes or during an internship?
  3. How do you position yourself to work on interesting projects? How to find and define interesting projects?
  4. In a large company what strategies can an ambitious individual use to garner support for their objectives and initiatives?
  5. What is life like in a startup? If your goal is to start and grow your own company, where do you begin?
  6. How does one’s career change overtime?
  7. What are the pros and cons of less common career options, such as teaching high school computer science?
  8. Why might you choose graduate school vs. tech industry employment after graduation?

Lexing XieThe ANU Computing Leadership Seminar Series was created by  Professor Lexing Xie, leader of the ANU Computational Media Lab

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Australian Universities Should Pivot to Quality Online Learning with a Campus Option

Tim Dodd
Tim Dodd reports that Australian universities have not had any joint programs with Chinese institutions approved since 2019 (Beijing puts Australian universities in the deep freeze, The Australian, August 25, 2021.). With these programs, students start their studies in then own country, then come to Australia to finish their degree. In 2016 I suggested Australian universities should be ready with online learning, in case a crisis kept international students away. COVID-19 has proven the usefulness of e-learning, but it can also be used in the medium term to provide options and in the long term to provide an internationally competitive alternative. As an example, international students can be offered to option to begin their studies online in their own country, then when ready, come to Australia.

Julie Hare
Julie Hare reports that international students are choosing to study in the UK and Canada, as Australian borders remain closed to them (Australia will lose the battle for international students, IDP warns, AFR, Aug 25, 2021). In 2016 I graduated from  a Canadian university, which I had never been on the campus of. This is one of the reasons I suggested Australia could offer an online experience for students, with the option of then studying on campus. My online experience was as educationally rewarding as an on-campus one (and slightly cheaper). Australian universities could offer a quality online experience. Students could then study on campus later, should they feel the need to. 

Deborah Terry, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland
Deborah Terry, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland, has written in support of the hybrid model (Australia needs a new model of international education for the post-Covid era, Times Higher Education, August 26, 2021). However, as I suggested in a series of papers and talks at international conferences (from 2014), for this to work, we need to have Australian & international students together in quality online courses (Worthington, 2014 & 2018). 

Tom Worthington Speaking at NICT 2018 in Colombo
Presenting proposal in Colombo, 2018
One reason I suggested a blended approach, was to respond to China's Education Action Plan for the Belt and Road Initiative. While attention over the last few years focused on the possibility of the loss of Chinese students from Australian universities, there was little attention on the possibility of Chinese universities, and Chinese sponsored universities in third countries, attracting students away from Australian institutions. Rather try to directly compete with conventional courses, I proposed an online alternative, as part of a Colombo Plan style initiative. As it happens I presented this to a conference in Colombo (Worthington, 2018).

In 2019 I described how the final module of learning for a project course at ANU, had domestic and international students worked in teams (Worthington, 2019). While the students were in classrooms in Canberra, I had designed the final task for students, so this could be switched to pure online delivery, in an emergency. This option was activated for semester 1, 2020, due to COVID-19 and  worked well (Cochrane,  Birt, Cowie, Deneen, Goldacre, Narayan & Worthington, 2020). However, that was only possible because the design work had been done the year before the pandemic struck. It takes time to design education.

Rather than continue with the current ad-hoc approach, I suggest there would be value in Australian higher educational institutions working together, with government, on the blended approach. This could be done cooperatively using a brand Australia, rather than each Australian university competing with each other for international students. One successful model for this is Open Universities Australia (OUA) which offers a brand, and administrative structure, for online learning by a diverse mix of 22 institutions. With OUA's approach, students can select courses from across institutions, to a limited extent, but then graduate from one of the institutions. This allows universities to retain their autonomy, but benefit from pooling marketing resources.

In addition, Australian universities can't assume they have a captive market for domestic students, so need to improve the quality and branding of online learning. When I looked for a graduate program in education to undertake, I started by looking in the city where I lived. As soon as I looked outside that, I realized I would be studying online, and so need not confine myself to Australian institutions. The costs were comparable, but a barrier I found was how to assess the quality of little known institutions in other countries. As an example, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to work out if a Canadian university had accreditation from their government, only to discover universities are not accredited by the Canadian government, but instead through a mix of local and US non-government procedures.

Australian universities have been able to deal with the effects of COVID-19 under otherwise favorable conditions. This could change suddenly. When I suggested Canberra's universities be ready with e-learning in 2016, I had in mind not a pandemic, but a military confrontation to our north. With tensions growing, there is scope for an incident which would see most international students leaving Australia.


Worthington, T. (2014, August). Chinese and Australian students learning to work together online proposal to expand the New Colombo Plan to the online environment. In 2014 9th International Conference on Computer Science & Education (pp. 164-168). IEEE.

Worthington, T. (2018, October). Computer Professionals Providing Mobile Learning for the Digital Economy. For National IT Conference 2018, 9 am, 3 October, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Worthington, T. (2018, December). Blended Learning for the Indo-Pacific. In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE) (pp. 861-865). IEEE.

Worthington, T. (2019, December). Blend and Flip for Teaching Communication Skills to Final Year International Computer Science Students. In 2019 IEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Education (TALE) (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

Cochrane, T., Birt, J., Cowie, N., Deneen, C., Goldacre, P., Narayan, V., ... & Worthington, T. (2020, November). A collaborative design model to support hybrid learning environments during COVID19. ASCILITE.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Smart Phone for Video Conference in India

Greetings from the King & Wood Mallesons' International Arbitration Webinar on India. Amanda Lees is chairing the session. I am not a lawyer, but I thought it might be useful to learn a little about the Indian legal system, as I might be asked to design courses for institutions there. 

Smartphone on Tripod for Video Conference
KWM are using WebEx for the webinar. This is not my favorite video conference system, but it works well on a smartphone. So I have my 4 Inch Android smartphone held in a clamp which came with one tripod, screwed to the desktop tripod from a light. I am listening, so I have no microphone plugged in. 

Hand holding the phone makes for wobbly video and a phone on a desk is too low to give a good angle. A tripod with clamp holds the phone securely at a good height. It is still possible to pick up the whole unit, if necessary, and move it to another location.

When WebEx started, it offered to call me for the sound, so I accepted this option. One bonus of this is that if you receive a phone call, the conference audio is put on hold, so there is no risk of the conference participants listening in on my phone call.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Keep Calm and Carry Online Webinar, 1pm Wednesday 20 October

My first Keep Calm and Carry Online Webinar, presented "Some tips and tricks for e-learning" (7 September, see the slideshow video and slides). The second in the series "Creating an X-factor Experience for Students" is 1pm Wednesday 20 October,  Canberra Time, Via Zoom (draft slides). This will look to the future to see how individual university academics and unviersites can better deliver learning for students through the use of technology on campus and online. This will be key to learning into the future, and will decide if Australian universities have a future.
Poster generated using Keep Calms.

"Keep Calm and Carry Online" a sign on the wall behind me, during webinars from my lounge room for the last eighteen months. So that as the working title for this series of talks. Contributions, corrections and offers of where to present would be welcome.

Keep Calm and Carry Online: Creating an X-factor Experience for Students

Tom Worthington, Honorary Senior Lecturer, ANU School of Computing

Abstract: Award winning online educator, Tom Worthington, has been learning about, and teaching, online at ANU for ten years. He will provide some tips and tricks to survive teaching in these uncertain times, in a classroom, online, or both at the same time. Bring along your problems for a masterclass solution.

About the speaker: Tom Worthington is an  Honorary Senior Lecturer, at the ANU School of Computing, an independent computer consultant and educational technology designer. He previously wrote IT policy for the Australian Department of Defence. Tom is a Fellow, Past President and Honorary Life Member of the Australian Computer Society. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Tom has a Masters of Education in Open, Digital and Distance Education from Athabasca University and blogs as the

Creating an X-factor Experience for Students

  1. X-factor for Student Satisfaction
  2. Sage on the Stage & Many Guides On the Side
  3. Tool Up
  4. Global Design
  5. Team Teaching in ANU TechLauncher
  6. Design Courses Like Luxury Cars

The X-factor for Student Satisfaction

Gary Martin, CEO, AIMWA
"With university leaders scrambling to regroup amid the operational and financial chaos caused by COVID-19, it has become clear that providing a transformative student experience is critical to attracting an increased shared of the domestic student market, and that for international students once borders re-open.

What remains unclear, however, is exactly how to crack the student experience X factor that delivers the kind of transformative experience students are looking for."

  From Creating an X-factor Experience, Gary Martin, Business News, 22 August 2021

Gary Martin, chief executive officer of the Australian Institute of Management WA, recently asked what gave a quality experience for Australian university students ("Creating an X-factor Experience", Business News, 22 August 2021). After scrambling to quickly deliver online courses, universities around the world are asking: what next? Do they return to pre-COVID campus based teaching, provide online courses alongside campus ones, blended learning which has some online and some face to face elements, or hybrid with classroom linked online.

While academics and university executives may think online delivery is still an open question, students now expect courses to be available online as a matter of routine. However, they also want the option of face to face classes, where they can work with others, under the guidance of experts. What will distinguish a course is the quality of interaction provided, with students and staff.

As an online student for seven years I found I could manage to study by following the materials provided, doing the readings and exercises. However, it was a very lonely, frustrating experience. What stood out were the occasions when I met and worked virtually with my fellow students. Events live with instructors were a highlight. The very rare occasions when I met my instructors were a bonus, as they were on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, 17,000 km away.

The Sage on the Stage

Prof. Steve Blackburn teaching Structured Programming
with interactive live-streamed lectures
from ANU Manning Clark Hall.

Professor Steve Blackburn and the team at ANU Engineering and Computer Science have shown the X-factor, in the video "Teaching computer science in a pandemic". I suggest, as the video demonstrates, student satisfaction can be improved though personal attention, enhanced with technology. Steve is a distinguished academic, who is also a good communicator, making him a Sage on the Stage. Steve can present, and discuss material in a way which engages the audience. However, he makes it look deceptively easy. Presenting a good lecture to a room full of students is difficult. Projecting your personality to students online is harder. Doing this to both a room and line is even harder. Not everyone will be able to reach Steve's level, but these are skills which can be learned, and practiced.

Guide on the side

Prof. Steve Blackburn & tutor Leopold Zhou

In the video, Steve mentions the role of tutors. Called Teaching Assistants (TAs) in North America, they are critical. While the professor takes center stage, the tutors work with smaller groups of students, assisting in lectures, in tutorials, workshops and laboratories, to investigate topics and practice skills. Here again, tutoring is a skill which takes training and practice, with a extra layer of complexity when carried out online.

Support Crew

Dr Kim Blackmore, Director,
ANU Centre for Learning and Teaching

Backing up the professor and tutors are many other staff. Producing courses, especially online courses, requires educational designers, video makers, and other specialists. Ed designers work with the subject matter experts to structure the learning and assessment, video makers and others polish the materials.

The Australian National University has a Centre for Learning and Teaching, headed by Dr Kim Blackmore, as well as staff in the colleges. These staff have been busy during the pandemic, with a crash program to move courses online. But they are always busy, so if you need help, give them plenty of notice.

Both classroom based and online learning also require technical support personnel to keep the audio visual systems, software and networks working. The last decade has seen new software to delivery learning developed. When working properly, and used as intended, these systems lighten the burden for students and teachers.

Tool Up

Home office webinar setup, Tom Worthington, CC BY, 2 September 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we need to be ready to deliver learning from and to, anywhere at any time. As a technology teacher I routinely carried everything I needed to teach in my briefcase. Here is a photo of my home office, upgraded with second hand equipment for lock-down teaching. I made a point of using low cost equipment to show that it is technique which makes good teaching not the hardware. I can make do with just a laptop, or even a smartphone, but the other equipment makes the job easier, and if all else fails, I can just use my voice and a plain old telephone service (known as "POTS" in telecommunications jargon).

Global Design

Holly Hapke
University of Kentucky.
3-in-1 Hybrid Learning:

1. Online asynchronous course, 
2. Add synchronous events, 
3. Add classroom events.

From Hapke, Lee-Post, and Dean (2020).

One way to avoid the idea that online learning is a poor quality cut-price experience is to bundle it with a campus offer, as hybrid learning. A good example is Hapke, Lee-Post, and Dean (2020), with their 3-in-1 Hybrid Learning. Rather than divide students administratively into distance and campus based, they receive the same online course, supplemented with synchronous events, either in the classroom or online, at the student's discretion.

The hybrid approach is more difficult for the instructor, than just online or face to face. However, it does provide them the opportunity to still be the "sage on the stage". The student has the sense of getting a full university experience, even if they enter a classroom. The institution can continue to market courses using images of ivy covered stone buildings, even if most students never set foot on campus (much like a gym membership which is never used). 

Over the last eighteen months, we have seen heroic efforts to rapidly convert campus based classroom courses for online delivery. Now there is discussion of a return, via hybrid, to the classroom. But it does not need to be this hard. Keep in mind that students value the personal interaction with each other, and with you, the teacher. Don't let a lot of content get in the way.

A typical course has more content, assessment, and activities, than needed. You can start by paring it down to what it is reasonable for a student to do in the time available to them. As an example, most courses have far more readings than a student could possibly read. I use a  estimate how long it will take a student to read reading speed of 80 words a minute for a student at IELTS 6.5 (McEwan, 2012, p. 80).

Design your courses as if they were to be delivered as old fashioned distance education, with no real time interaction (that is asynchronous mode). Provide the materials and activities for each week. Offer students ways to interact with you and each other, online. Make the deadlines generous, and don;t assume they can all do this at the same time. Then add synchronous activities which can be done online. Then add to that the option of those same activities in a classroom. Don't make the assessment synchronous, unless there is a compelling reason to do so. 

With this approach there is no need to make special provision for an emergency: one, more, or all students can study online at their own pace, if they can't come to class.

Students like this approach, but academics, and university administrators have difficulty with it. A "lecturer" who has built their sense of self around lecturing has to learn new skills and build a new identity. A university which has marketed the campus experience has to avoid the idea that are now just offering cheap, online video courses. 


Hapke, H., Lee-Post, A., & Dean, T. (2020). 3-IN-1 HYBRID LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. Marketing Education Review, 1-8.

McEwan, M. (2012). Evaluating and enhancing the feedback process: an international college case study. Practice and Evidence of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education7(1), 79-95. Retrieved from

Dogfood: Be an online student of teaching

Tom Worthington receiving an MEd
in Open, Digital and Distance Education
from Athabasca University, Canada
- You don't know how frustratingly hard it is, until you try it.

- Enroll in an online course in how to teach. It has to have deadlines, and assessment, to make the experience real.

- If you find study frustrating, conflicting with family and work commitments, then you know what it is like for your students.

- Start with something easy, like the ANU Coffee Courses, work up to an international online graduate course. Take the good meal challenge.

As an online student of e-learning, at Australian and North American vocational colleges and universities, I learned much about how to design and deliver courses. However, one of the greatest insights was how hard being a student was, how frustrating being an online student was, and how lonely being an international online student was. Being a part time student with work and family commitments, just makes it harder still.

Academic staff, I suggest, need to be reminded what being a student is like, and many, like me, had never been an online student before they started teaching online. So I suggest some dogfooding:

'Back in the 1980s when actor Lorne Greene served as the pitchman for Alpo dog food, the TV commercials were careful to point out that he indeed fed Alpo to his dogs. Consequently, the idea that someone would use the products they were making became known as "eating your own dog food.'

From Harrison, W. (2006). Eating your own dog food. IEEE Software, 23(3), 5-7.

ANU TEL ED HE Certificate awarded to Tom Worthington
I suggest starting with something simple, such as an ANU Coffee Course. These are intended to only take as much time as you spend on a coffee break, each day for a week. But even that commitment of time can be challenging. See if you can do ten and then reflect on the experience (although I don't know if ANU are still handing out certificates).

To have skin in the game, take the good meal challenge: hand a friend enough money for a good meal for two. Tell them that when you complete your study on time, you will share a meal with the funds. If you don't produce the certificate on time, ask them to give the money to charity.

ANU EFSInformation Sessions
14 September
For something harder, there are programs such as the ANU Educational Fellowship Scheme (EFS). But it is not all hard work, you also get to meet, if only virtually, people going through the same thing you are. This is also one of the key lessons I got from study: the importance of getting to know your fellow students.


Responding to the Coronavirus Emergency with e-Learning, Tom Worthington, Beyond 50 Series, Athabasca University, April 17, 2020

Build the course around the assessment

- Set the learning objectives
- Select assessment to cover the learning objectives
- Provide support to obtain the knowledge and skills needed for the assessment
- Have many small regular assessment items and a few big ones

Students worry about assessment, so tell them what it is, and how each learning activity supports it. Delete activities, readings and materials which don't relate to assessment. Have small assessment tasks every week, to keep the students engaged (1% or 2% a week will do). Have a best of assessment scheme, so students can have multiple attempts. Provide results with feedback each week.

By clearly linking content and activities to the assessment, you can remove the frustration of students asking what will be assessed, as everything will be assessed

Make time for contact with students

- Drop most lectures (face to face & live online): students don't learn much from them anyway
- Get students to communicate more: with you and to each other
- Answer individual student questions to the group
- Use tools and techniques to free up your time & that of students
- Don't use email to communicate with students

Unfortunately, many university academics are fixated with lectures, seeing standing up talking to a room full of students as the ultimate form of education: it isn't. Quality beats quantity, and a few active interactive sessions will be appreciated by students.

I spent my first ten years a lecturer, trying to deliver good lectures face to face and online. Thirteen years ago, on August 12, 2008, I had an epiphany: I told my class I had given my last lecture. Instead I learned flipped techniques, with the emphasis on student activities. Those activities can be online, in a classroom, or both, as long as they involve the students doing more than just listening to me.

Drop activities where you are doing all the talking, so there is more time for students to do and talk. You then have more time to respond to students promptly. Answer individual student questions to the group, so they bet maximum value from your advice.

There has been decades of research and development put into online learning tools and techniques. Use these to save you time. Use the learning management system to lighten the administrative burden, by using it to distribute materials, send out announcements and administer assessment. Use automated quizzes, rubrics, peer assessment and other techniques to lighten the burden for you and increase student learning.

Don't use email with students: use the tools in the learning management system. If a student sends you an email, reply via the system, with a copy of their message, so they understand this is official, on the record, communication.

Use video sparingly

- Reuse old videos
- Generate slideshows
- Provide video to supplement the text
- Implement accessibility guidelines

High production quality video is not needed for education (in fact video is not needed, text works just as well). If you already have video, use it. If you have slide decks, turn them into videos. Link the videos from your text notes. Instead of an hour long video lecture, create a ten minute summary.  Focus your efforts on getting students to do things, not just watch videos.

Follow accessibility guidelines, not just to make your materials readable by someone with a disability, but so they will work on a smart phone, and a slow Internet connection. 

Get help

- Ask for advice from the educational technology & learning design staff: they are trained experts.
- Have a colleague, or assistant, to help you with the course.
- Team teach live: one person presents, the other works the tech and helps the students

Universities have teams of learning and educational technology professions to help you do your job. Also, teaching online can be a 24 hour job, so it helps to do it as a team. Live to air teaching is technically and pedagogically challenging, as well as being tiring, so have at least a two person tag team. One person presents, while the other checks for questions and problems. 

Team Teaching in ANU TechLauncher

Careers Consultant
Four workshops per semester for ANU Computer Project students, preparing a capstone reflective portfolio. 

Designed for hybrid mode.

The team:
  1. Course convener: Dr Charles Gretton, sets the context
  2. Subject matter expert: Tempe Archer, delivers the workshop.
  3. Instructor: Tom Worthington, manages the students
  4. 200 Students: Peer review.
  5. 13 Tutors: Assess their student’s portfolios.
An example of team teaching are the hybrid workshops, for the Australian National University Tech-Launcher program. Workshops are provided each semester for Computer Project students, to help them prepare a capstone reflective portfolio.

This module was designed with an online asynchronous core, to accompany the face to face workshops (Worthington, 2019). Provision for delivery fully online was included, in case an emergency kept students away from the campus. This contingency was activated in 2020, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, by replacing the classroom with Zoom videoconferencing. For 2021, a hybrid option was added, allowing for students, both in the classroom, and online.

At each workshop, the Course Convener, Dr Charles Gretton, sets the context. Tempe Archer, from ANU Careers, is the "Sage on the stage", presenting the material she is expert on. I am the "guide on the side", putting the students into Zoom rooms for group work, relaying questions, and administering the accompanying assessment. There is also a team of tutors help the hundreds of students with their individual challenge of building a portfolios by the end of semester, and assess them on it.


Worthington, T. (2019, December). Blend and Flip for Teaching Communication Skills to Final Year International Computer Science Students. In 2019 IEEE International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Education (TALE) (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

The Lexus and The Learner: Engineering Quality Education

2007 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES, built on the same car platform (Wikipedia, 2021)

Universities across the world are now struggling to come up with a post-COVID education strategy. On the one hand online learning has shown education can be provided efficiently anywhere, on the other there is a desire to provide a personal experience. Thomas L. Friedman explored a similar dilemma in "The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization" (1999). Lexus motor vehicles represented the desire for the products of globalization, and the olive tree local tradition. Friedman argued that globalization would win out, but I suggest it is possible to have both.

Engineering a car for global standards takes hundreds of engineers years and billions of dollars. So makers such as Toyota design a common "platform" for a range of models, from low cost to luxury ones. Luxury models are hand finished with some premium components, to give a luxury product.

The approach of an engineered platform, with personal touches added, can be applied to learning. A course can be created by a team of educational designers and subject matter experts, for delivery world wide, to meet formal government and professional standards. The basics of the course can be provided online, with personal touches added by teaching staff, live online and face to face. This way the student gets the benefit of quality design, plus the human element.
  1. Higher Education After COVID-19, six webinars from August 2020, by Tom Worthington, for the Microlearning Series curated by Manisha Khetarpal at Maskwacis Cultural College, Canada
  2. Engaging students in the online environment, five webinars from February 2021, by Tom Worthington, for the Microlearning Series curated by Manisha Khetarpal at Maskwacis Cultural College, Canada
  3. Learning to Reflect Module Version 5.0: Hybrid Edition by Tom Worthington, for the  module for the ANU TechLauncher program, 2018 to 2021.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Post-Covid 19 K-12 Online and Blended Teaching and Learning

Athabasca University (where I completed my MED in 2016), is offering a special graduate course for next term: "Post-Covid K-12 Online and Blended Teaching and Learning" (MDDE 690). There is not a lot of information provided about the course. For more, contact the ever helpful Leanne Jewell, Graduate Programs Administrator, Athabasca University.

Dr. Susan Bainbridge, Athabasca University
Dr. Susan Bainbridge
"This is a special offering of MDDE 690 that will be of particular interest to K-12 teachers, administrators, and instructional designers. Participants will co-create their individual learning objectives, activities, and assignments with the instructor, Dr. Susan Bainbridge. They will also have the opportunity for valuable collaborative sessions that will assist them in critical reflection that will support assignment completion. There will be two assignments.

Suggested assignments are a short paper due Week 4 worth 20% and a final assignment due Week 13 worth 60%, which may take various forms after discussion with the instructor. Participation will be valued at 20%. This course will be a collaborative effort of participants and the instructor to delve into the past year in K-12 education and assess the challenges, the successes, and the failures, to see if we can learn from these and prepare for K-12 education as we move forward. The format of the course will include synchronous sessions every two weeks and ongoing asynchronous discussions."

Learning to Reflect Module Version 5.0: Hybrid Edition


"Learning to Reflect" is a module for the ANU TechLauncher program, where students reflect on what they have learned, by writing an application for a real job, as their last assessed task before graduating. This was developed in late 2018 and first run in semester 1, February 2019. It was designed for blended delivery, with the option of easy conversion to full online delivery. That option was needed for Semesters 1 & 2 in 2020, and Semester 1 2021 due to COVID-19. This version 5 is designed for hybrid delivery, with students in a physical classroom linked to those online, using the MidFlex Minimal Hybrid FormatUnfortunately COVID-19 again required a return to pure online delivery, but without any changes required to the material.

Two additional workshops were added from Version 4, at student request, bringing the total to four. The first three have exercises for a 2% mark each (not for the last when a major assignment is due). The optional student logbook has been dropped due to lack of use. The middle two workshops are half the length of the others with the first hour used for the new ANU Computing Showcase, featuring prominent ANU alumni, speaking about their careers.

Please note that the course notes only supply the structure for the module and the assessment. The detailed content for the workshops is provided by Tempe Archer, Careers Consultant at ANU Careers, and the students undertake exercises using the ANU Careers Toolkit.

A paper on the design and blended delivery of the module is available:

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

ANU Has Computing Students Available as Interns

Dr Penny Kyburz, ANU Computing Internship Convenor, asked me to let organisations know that they can now apply to host interns for  2022.  As the internship is part of the student’s academic course, no payment is required.

Round 1

  • Host applications open – 13 August 2021
  • Host project proposals due - 10 September 2021
  • Host organisations assess/interview and advise preferred candidate - 4-22 October 2021
  • Placements and agreements finalised

Round 2

  • Host applications open – 13 September 2021
  • Host project proposals due - 15 October 2021
  • Host organisations assess/interview and advise preferred candidate - 8 - 26 November 2021
  • Placements and agreements finalised

Placements begin – week beginning 21 February 2022

Monday, August 16, 2021

Best of EduTech 2021 Australia

Tom Worthington and Martin Dougiamas at EduTech Asia 2018
Martin Dougiamas, and Tom Worthington
at EduTech Asia 2018, Singapore 

EduTech 2021 Australia starts 17 August. Below are my pics for what looks interesting (I picked these and the system prepared me a schedule). The must see session is 12:30 pm August 18, with Martin Dougiamas, founder of Moodle.

My schedule

August 17, 2021

9:05 AM

9:25 AM

What happens when you keep books o the booklist?

Brisbane South State Secondary College is Queensland's

newest vertical state high school. In collaboration with one of...



Tamara Sullivan · Inner City South State Secondary



9:25 AM

9:45 AM

Thriving in the digital economy. Are you digitising or


The digital economy has been a signi cant positive trend in

the world and a big headache for many of us who do not...



Prof Marek Kowalkiewicz · Queensland University of


August 17, 2021

10:35 AM

10:55 AM

Destination Australia - How to rebuild con dence in

the overseas student market post COVID

Higher Ed & Tertiary Education Channel


Hon. Phil Honeywood · International Education Association

Of Australia

Belle W.X. Lim · Council Of International Student Australia9:00 AM

9:20 AM

Data Protection for Higher Education

An overview of the data protection issues facing the education

industrySome tips on where to start with protecting your...

Higher Ed & Tertiary Education Channel


Kate Carruthers · University of New South Wales

9:00 AM

9:20 AM

National VET Datastreamling Initiative

Historical approaches to data collection, data validation and

reporting are changing across the VET landscape with the...

Higher Ed & Tertiary Education Channel


Andrew Liberale · NSW Department of Education

9:25 AM

9:45 AM

Higher Education Trends 2021 - What’s top of mind

for students and sta ?

As the world continues to battle COVID-19, higher education

institutions continue to face massive disruption as they sprint ...

Higher Ed & Tertiary Education Channel


David Yip ·

Samantha Curtis · Salesforce Australia

9:50 AM

10:10 AM

What are the real employability skills employers are

saying they need?

This presentation is about taking education and student’s

employability to the next level - how do we prepare them for...

Higher Ed & Tertiary Education Channel


Serryn O'Regan · Evolve College9:50 AM

10:10 AM

Mapping our future together: How industries are

helping researchers de ne future innovative space

design and use. (Introducing LEaRN’s ILE+SE Project.)

The large ILETC research project concluded in 2020, a major

nding being the future of innovative learning environment...

EduBUILD Channel


Dr Wesley Imms · University of Melbourne - Melbourne

Graduate School of Education

August 18, 2021

11:45 AM

12:30 PM

Hear from the founder of Moodle, an Australian

EdTech success story.

Moodle is the most popular open source LMS in the world and

has got more than 110+ million users globally. Hear from Marti...

Edtech Summit & Innovation Precinct


Jack Goodman · Studiosity

Martin Dougiamas · Moodle

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Asynchronous vs Synchronous Delivery

One of the rewards for the effort of having peer reviewed papers published, is the delight in finding you have been being cited. Usually the papers I have written on teaching computing are cited in IT or education journals.  But the latest citation is in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. I did not even know there was such as thing as lifestyle medicine. ;-)

As it is not my field I can be entirely sure what Munroe, Moore, Bonnet, Rastorguieva, Mascaro, Craighead, Haack, Quave, and Bergquist (2021) are writing about. But it appears they have designed a course to promoting healthier eating, by teaching how to cook. One section of their paper is "Asynchronous vs Synchronous Delivery", where I get a brief mention (Worthington,  2013). A little worryingly the location of the conference I presented at has been incorrectly given as "Columbia", when it was Colombo (Sri Lanka). 

As the authors note, asynchronous delivery depends more on the student. As many students and teachers have found during the pandemic induced lock-downs over the last 18 months, this can be stressful with students feeling lost and alone. My experience of being a student and teaching this way, suggests that students need frequent feedback on how they are doing. It helps to be rewarded with a few marks for completing each small task in the course.

As the authors note, the alternative synchronous mode of teaching, where the students and teacher interact in real time is something many students expect. But one mode is not better than the other and they can be combined in the “flipped classroom”. This has the student studying alone in preparation for a teacher lead class. However, I suggest a small inducement, such as a mark, is still useful for keeping students working.

An emergency move to online teaching has seen many instructors providing long hours of synchronous teaching. This direct translation of the traditional classroom experience, I suggest, is not the best approach. A flipped approach, with shorter synchronous sessions, is a better use of student and staff time, but requires careful design and new skills of everyone. Teachers need to learn to provide quick feedback to students & anticipate their questions, or be overwhelmed with student queries. Students need to learn to plan their study.

Until last week, I was helping teach 200 students in a flipped hybrid mode. Students were provided with text and videos online to study in advance of class. Those who could get to the campus could take part there and others via video. But Canberra was locked down at 5pm last Thursday, due to a COVID-19 outbreak, so this week all students will be attending via video. However, other than the lack of a physical classroom, nothing about the teaching changes: the exercises and interaction are the same, just via a digital medium.


Munroe, D., Moore, M. A., Bonnet, J. P., Rastorguieva, K., Mascaro, J. S., Craighead, L. W., Haack, C. I., Quave, C. L., & Bergquist, S. H. (2021). Development of Culinary and Self-Care Programs in Diverse Settings: Theoretical Considerations and Available Evidence. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Worthington, T . Synchronizing asynchronous learning. Combining synchronous and asynchronous techniques2013 8th International Conference on Computer Science Education26-28 April 2013Columbia, Srilanka618-621, doi:10.1109/ICCSE.2013.6553983.
Google Scholar

American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Foundations of Computing Monthly Seminar Online from Canberra

The ANU Computing School is now providing its monthly Foundations of Computing Seminars online, as well as free on campus in Canberra. All are welcome to attend free.

Next is:
Dr Thomas Haines
Title: The state of “verifiable" online voting: and the ethical problems therein

Speaker: Thomas Haines

Abstract: At present the best theoretical solutions for online voting do not meet the requirements. Moreover, the solutions being used in practice are far weaker than the theoretical best solutions. This talk will examine these three areas and discuss the ethical issues they raise for academics working in the area.

When: Wednesday, 18 August, 2021, at 1pm.

Where: ANU Hanna Neumann (Building 145) Room 1.33. Or, via Zoom.
ps: See my own posts on e-voting.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Old ANU Chemistry Building Turned Into a State of the Art Teaching Facility

ANU Birch kitchen/meeting
area by Vibe FM
On Friday I attended two events at the Australian National University's Birch Building. I did not think much of this, as it was the old Chemistry building, which I had given occasional lectures in. But when I walked in, the building had been completely refurbished. This is not just new carpet and a coat of paint, significant structural work has been done by Taylor Thomson Whitting, along with fit-out by Vibe FM to make a state of the art teaching facility for the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science. 

Structure of ANU Birch
building by TTW 

The two spaces I found most impressive are the kitchen built into the ground floor, and the flat floor space over what was the Chemistry lecture theater. The kitchen has seating and a large flat screen, perfect for informal events. The upstairs space has windows on three sides, large sliding doors and movable flip up tables on wheels.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Open Universities Australia Delivering Online Education Through Australia's Universities Before and During the Pandemic

Much has been written on the need for universities to suddenly move to online education in the last year and a half. What has been largely forgotten, or deliberately ignored, is that many traditional bricks and mortar Australian universities, were already involved in online education for decades through Open Universities Australia (OUA).  This consortium of universities has been delivering online degrees since 1993, with a staff of less than 200. OUA are so comfortable with their low key online approach that they seemed to have stopped producing new TV ads for their courses, and are just running the same one with the voice overdubbed.

The course design and delivery for OUA is done through traditional universities, including:

  1. Australian Catholic University
  2. Australian National University
  3. Bond University
  4. Charles Sturt University
  5. Curtin University
  6. DeakinCo
  7. Edith Cowan University
  8. Flinders University
  9. Griffith University
  10. James Cook University
  11. La Trobe University
  12. Macquarie University
  13. Murdoch University
  14. RMIT University
  15. Southern Cross University
  16. Swinburne University of Technology
  17. The University of Adelaide
  18. The University of Newcastle
  19. University of New England
  20. University of New South Wales
  21. University of South Australia
  22. University of Tasmania
OUA's pick and mix approach, where you can combine courses from different universities (within limits), then choose one to graduate from, I suggest is the future of higher education. This has potential for expanding Australia's export education industry, as well as providing a better, more cost effective education for Australians.

Melbourne EdTech Summit, 17 to 20 August

 The Melbourne EdTech Summit is 17 to 20 August. COVID-19 has forced the event online, which not all bad news: it is free and you don;t have to be in Melbourne (Australia) to attend. Here is what caught my attention in the program (if you do nothing else, you must, at least, hear the keynote from Martin Dougiamas, founder of Moodle, 11:45am Wednesday):

Tuesday K-12


Keynote | Future of Student Assessment

Speaker | Geoff Masters, CEO for Australian Council for Educational Research
Moderator | David Linke, Managing Director of EduGrowth

What if the primary outcome of assessment was not a grade, but an estimate of the point an individual has reached in their learning? Assessment is a diagnostic tool, but too often it is treated as the end-point. This session will discuss how we need to rethink and redesign assessment to measure progression and inform teaching.


Using data to support whole-school wellbeing

Speakers | Richard Clark, Head of Secondary School of the Springfield Anglican College; and Nicole Archard, Principal of Loreto College
Moderator | Joe Thurbon, Co-Founder & CTO of Educator Impact

Supporting the wellbeing of a whole-child takes a whole school approach. The wellbeing of staff and students is interconnected. Hear from two innovative school leaders about how data helps them drive whole-school wellbeing improvements for their staff and students, both strategically and every day in the classroom.


New Tools – New Possibilities: Classrooms enhanced with technology

Speakers | Zoe Milne, Co-Founder and Director of LoopLearn; and Lauren Sayer, Executive Director Research and Innovation at Melbourne Girls Grammar
Moderators | Joe Thurbon, Co-Founder & CTO of Educator Impact

High tech, leading edge, bleeding edge! Can these things coexist in a K12 classroom whilst navigating student privacy, data sovereignty and data protection? Let’s explore cutting edge technology to support the modern classroom achieve all that’s possible.

Wednesday Entrepreneurship:

9:15 Listening to the Student Voice

Speakers | Michelle Demirel, Deputy Principal-Instructional Leader & Accredited Lead Teacher at Leichhardt Public School; and Kerry Weston, Principal of Guildford West Public School
Moderator | Nikki Bonus, Founder & CEO of Life Skills Go

Learner agency is important to ensuring engagement. The first step to empowering students is to listen. How do we ensure the voice of the student is central to learning and what role does technology and design have in supporting this pedagogy.

11:45 am Keynote | Hear from the founder of Moodle, an Australian EdTech success story

Speaker | Martin Dougiamas, CEO of Moodle
Moderator | Jack Goodman, Founder & Executive Chair of Studiosity

Moodle is the most popular open source LMS in the world and has got more than 110+ million users globally. Hear from Martin Dougiamas the founder who built Moodle into the renowned EdTech solution it is today. We’ll find out about the future of Moodle in this new phase of EdTech opportunity.

Thursday Higher Education:


Innovation in the institution
Speaker | Chris Campbell, Senior Lecturer Learning Innovation at Griffith University & President of ASCILITE
Moderator | TBC

As leading research institutions many of the greatest innovations in Australia come out of our higher education sector. But our TAFEs and Universities are also an incubator for technology to support teaching and learning informed by their deep understanding of the needs of students. This session will examine new ways that innovation can be leveraged beyond the walls of the institution.

Friday Skills and Workforce:

9:45am Keynote | The War for Talent: EdTech enabling industry growth
Speaker | Belinda Tynan, Provost of Australian Catholic University
Moderator | Claire Field, Principal at Claire Field & Associates

Job ready graduates is the goal. But what jobs are we preparing these graduates for? The jobs that exist today, the jobs we think might be there tomorrow, the jobs that we hope will be there. What is the intersection between education and industry in a rapidly evolving labour market.