Monday, April 22, 2024

Australia 4.0 Communiqué

Pearcey panel at Aus 2.0 Launch
Greetings from the Australian Computer Society, in Sydney,where Ed Husic MP, Minister for Industry and Science is launching the Pearcey Foundation's Australia 4.0 Communiqué: Collaboration to Transform the National Electricity System. The Pearcey Foundation is named in honor of computer pioneer Dr Trevor Pearcey, and does good works in the industry. The foundation has convened forums to work out what to do about climate change. I provided some ideas, and previously wrote course on ICT Sustainability for the ACS.   which outlines five pilot projects to accelerate the progress towards the ultimate goal of a net-zero energy system for Australia. Through the wonders of technology, Ed isn't actually here, but on video.

A panel of industry people started by discussing expanding the engineering workforce, and opening it to more women. The point here is you can't refit the grid for renewable energy without trained people. One issue is recognizing the overseas qualifications of professionals (something I help with at ACS & ANU). Another issue is male biases built into technology courses.  Another issue is consumer education, and if AI could help. 

Curiously, some of the issues in terms of consumer behavior are not new. An example raised by the panel was controlled load hot water: the water heater turns off during time of high energy demand, and in return a lower tariff is charged. New technology allows this to be done with smart meters, but the problem from decades ago when it used a signal sent over the power lines, the consumer needs to be convinced it is worthwhile. 

The panel touched on international collaboration to apply lessons from elsewhere in Australia. However, I suggest the reverse also applies, as Australia has the highest use of domestic rooftop solar in the world. That is something Australians can teach about, and charge money for. 

Energy is a national security issue. One scenario discussed by the panel was cyber attacks on smart meters. This could be used to disconnect consumer's power, on a large scale. But I suggest it could also be used to attack the grid: of all the demand load is turned on during peak energy use. One of the panelists pointed out the national telecommunications control centers are at secret locations., whereas those for the electricity grid are not. 

Professor Lachlan Blackhall's "light switch" was mentioned several times. He isn't here, so I asked the panel what it was. Apparently it is in the 2.0 report, and is the idea that consumers want a switch to control devices in their home, not trusting remote control. I suggest that this consumer sovereignty will have limited application. If the grid can't cope, the consumer will not be permitted to turn on non-critical appliances. The form of control will be like fly by wire pioneered on the Apollo Lunar Module, and no common on airliners. The flight controls are input to a computer, which can override the pilot. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Job Interview Skills

John McCluskey, & James Bletcher, 
from Whizdom Recruitment
Greetings from the ANU Techlauncher job skills workshop. Staff from ANU Careers and Employability are going through interview skills. I was surprised to see that few of the students have ever been to a job interview. Some of the tips which careers advisers give, such as how to  read the job ad, might seem obvious, but they aren't. One surprise what research shows that body language and tone of voice have more impact in a job interview than what the interviewees actually say. This can be a problem for someone from a different culture. 

Something that hadn't occurred to me were tips for team exercises during job selection. With this a small group of about a half dozen applicants have to work together, while being observed. This is to see how potential staff will work with others. I flippantly suggested I would undermine the rest of the team to get the job, and the flippant reply was I would be good at the Defence Department (I actually worked there nine years). ;-)

Staff from Whizdom Recruitment talked about hot job areas. One obvious area is AI, but less obvious is nuclear submarines, which don't just need physicists, but computer people as well. One suggestion which surprised me was to attend industry conferences such as MilCIS.

Monday, April 8, 2024

What have you done to improve online student engagement?

I will be speaking on "Teaching Green Computing Online: 15 Years of Student Engagement via Nudging" at the free Online Engagement in Higher Education Special Interest Group Webinar, of HERDSA, 1pm, this Wednesday, 10 April 2024. HERDSA didn't want this to be just me talking, so as well as ten slides, I prepared four questions for the participants to answer, & discuss live:
"1. What have you done to improve online student engagement?
2. What level of granularity is best for feedback to students: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly?
3. Do students get tired of boilerplate replies?
4. Will they get annoyed by AI generated feedback?"

"In 2008 the Australian Computer Society commissioned Tom Worthington to design an online course in green computing. This course formed part of the Australian Computer Society’s professional development program. This was later run at the Australian National University as a masters course, and is still offered fifteen years later through Athabasca University (Canada).

The course uses a conventional text-based distance education format, with no video, and no webinars. Why? What was the rationale? This presentation shares key design principles of this unique format that has positively impacted student engagement. As a means of facilitating student engagement nudging techniques have been employed.

This HERDSA Special Interest Group, Online Engagement in Higher Education, will discuss the factors that have improved online student engagement and consider implications and applications of their own online courses, including a coordinated nudging process. This event will provide insights for those looking to adopt a nudging approach to better facilitate student engagement and learning.

Join this to see how this works, and can be applied at your institution."