Monday, May 21, 2018

Robots and AI - some NZ perspectives

There has been a flurry of activity via various media and government agencies, on the effects of robotics, artificial intelligence, industry 4.0 etc,. These discussion, all feed into the range of consultations, now underway, on the future of education in NZ - see this link for example of consultation with Business NZ and the Council of Trade Unions.


Overseas, there has been extensive reporting on the rise of AI - see todayonline for example. There has been interest in the effects of the Amazon Go stores - which obviate the need for cashers, checkouts and shopping carts. Also many articles about how AI will replace jobs - for instance lawyers.

Beyond the hype are articles which provide a bit more balance, for instance, the shift in how some jobs will be constituted, rather than replacements of jobs, and the significance of AI but its limitations in replacing many human attributes. Plus the workers viewpoints, as in making a repetitive job more interesting when robots are added into the mix.

Several interesting articles add to the mix of the need to balance the more extreme views on robots and AI. This TEDtalk, argues for the need to not use human understanding to construct algorithms for AI, as AI can work quite differently from how humans thinks (with their inherent bias etc.)

Some NZ focused articles include:
the boost to the NZ economy by 2053 if policies are developed now to ensure the foundations for AI are sound - e.g. ethics, privacy, IP etc.
a caution against UBI
A good overview from BERL NZ on the internet of things, big data, smart cities and the skills required for the transportation industry into the future
Robots in NZ may be useful in occupations how finding it difficult to attract workers - including forestry and horticulture.
plus another one on there being no need to fear the coming of robots.

All good reading to keep up with the play as the convergence of technologies, hasten AI, robotics etc. into our social structures and lives.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

ASL presentations #4 - Ara Institute of Canterbury


Due to another meeting, I had to miss the Tuesday one which was #3 in the series. Today, the last session with two tutors presenting:

Steve Neale from engineering presents on ‘power to the people’. Overviewed his passion for power generation and providing people with better understanding of how the power system works in NZ and how to get the most out of their power supplier. Used his ASL to upskill and update his knowledge into specialised aspects e.g. unsymmetrical faults in phase currents, sub-station information exchange processes. Time taken through study, and time with various companies plus renewal of his registration as an electrical engineer. Explained challenges and how to apply the understanding to practice to help students learn the concept.

Lorna Davis presents on ‘midwifery: a sustainable healthcare practice?’ Completed PhD through ASL and presented a summary of this at this presentation. Objective was to find out how midwives view the concept of sustainability, how it related to their professional lives and if engagement in a change project would change their perceptions. Shared her Mobius model of sustainable midwifery which brings together the themes of philosophies, education and practice.


Friday, May 11, 2018

Disruptive technologies and how they impact on us - presentation at Ara Institute of Canterbury -


Note from a presentation at Ara, yesterday evening.



Vaughn Robertson, Group manager for technology strategy and ‘designated futurist’ for Beca presented on his favourite topic. See here for a 2016 article on similar lines.



Dr. Michael Edmonds, Head of Department of Architectural studies and Engineering introduced the talk. Following the presentation, scholarships are awarded to Ara students.

Trending technology and how it impacts us
Vaughan shared his interest in monitoring technology and impact on us humans. Began with discussion on Why should we care about disruptive technology. Disruptive technology often leads to some dividends, it depends on which perspective you take. Points to note – time frames are critical and difficult to judge and often we will not see them coming, terminology shifts, watch the intersections between different technologies. An example is industry 4.0 which required several technologies to mature before it can become effective. Another is the IDC third platform, first over 30 years ago with ICT, second, the movement into intelligent agents now and the third, with autonomy near 2020.

However, need to be careful and ensure information is corroborated.

Presented on several technology disruption areas.

Internet of things – potential about to finally appear. E.g. fitbit trackers on elephants by researchers; bringy – track your dog’s exercise.

3D printing – again, has been slow but now shifting due to being able to move beyond physical dimensions of printer and use non specialist materials – e.g. buildings can be extruded.

Drones /UAV – EHANG 184 – personal helicopter/drone. Drone which lifts skiers – Scandinavia. Kitty hawk Cora.

Augmented / VR – Beca uses for 3D VR model for design verification.

Robotics – has come a long way with increase in autonomous and AI, lighter materials, higher bandwidth, cloud etc.

Cognitive augmentation – new generation beyond Siri / Cortana – cloud based AI allows customisation to individual habits. Look up Amazon echo/dot with Alexa - bluetooth speaker with voice control.

AI / machine learning – currently used across many fields – photo classification, real-time facial recognition, transportation optimisation, optimal character recognition, email spam filters, topic spotting for newspaper clipping, language translators. Need to distinguish between automation vs augmentation. Narrow AI is useful for single purpose and up the continuum to the singularity where AI is ‘like us’. Broad AI is for transferability between specialised focus eg recognise cats and then learn how to recognise dogs. General AI enabled to pick up skills across range of knowledge. Both broad and general still germinal. check this one for similar classifications.

Ethics / legislation – a reminder as legislation takes time to catch up. Currently interest due to recent media on fake news, privacy, data ownership etc.
Encouragement for us to be responsive to change.








Thursday, May 10, 2018

ASL presentations at Ara #2

Second session of the presentations on academic study leave (ASL) from Ara Institute of Canterbury staff.

Lois Cowan on ‘mindfulness in nursing’. Defined mindfulness as being aware of internal sensations, thoughts and feelings and the external environment surrounding the individual. With compassion, ability to respond by conscious choice rather than reaction and pay attention in the present moment without judgement. Provided examples of how to apply to nursing practice. Deeper explanation from video on how mindfulness works in the brain. Shared rational and advantages / benefits. Has implications for curriculum – to include education for self-care, development of therapeutic nursing interventions and provide support at practice.

Karen Cadigan presents here work on ‘supporting the struggling nursing student in clinical practice’. Presented on Masters study which ASL assisted to complete. Provided background and rational to study. Clinical environment increasingly challenging, dynamic, with complex patient needs, evolving technology and difficulty in recruiting new staff to replace aging workforce. Summarised research approach, method and findings. Students who struggle may lack communication skills and confidence, find it difficult to work with feedback and critically reflect, and continuity of support in the workplace. To best support students, tutors themselves need to look after and support themselves.

Ian Patterson from computing / engineering summarises his ASL on ‘corporate wireless and network security’. Used time to be accreditated to be able to teach teachers who will each CCNA security through CISCO. Further updated knowledge in technicalities of networking and cyber-security. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Presentations from staff academic study leave #1 - Ara Institute of Canterbury

I am summarising presentations from staff who went on Academic Study Leave scheduled for this week and next week.

There are four sessions and here are the two presentations from today's session:

Silvia Santos, learning advisor and maths tutor presented on technology in mathematics teaching and learning. Detailed work undertaken to improve 3 courses through integration of technology. During ASL, visited other institutions and presented at conferences to increase capabilities and keep up with how technology could help improve learning of maths. Recommended resources and overviewed latest research on neuroscience, growth vs fixed mindsets etc. Included resources for teachers on how to ameliorate maths anxiety. Also completed a statistics course at Ara to enhance own discipline knowledge. Shared the list of apps she was able to trial and apply to current work. Overviewed ideas obtained from conference and summarised changes already made to practice.

Trish Jamieson from Social work on ‘working with children, young people and adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)’. Trish had 10 weeks last year to complete her Masters in Health Sciences. The dissertation was an extended literature review. Summarised the history, understandings and details of FASD. Explained how minimal amounts of alcohol, very early in pregnancy can have dire neurological and physiological effects on the fetus, which manifests at birth in brain damage and other physical disabilities. There is an awareness raising programme in September.



Tuesday, May 01, 2018

SEED presentations May 2018 -Ara Institute of Canterbury


The first presentations at Ara Institute of Canterbury for SEED this year revolves around the theme of assessments for learning.
Andre De Roo from Trades sharing his work using OneNote  Class Notebook with apprentices in the engineering trades.  Andre presented his approach which is to focus on learning instead of assessment. Needed to help learners represent their learning using more than just text based. Goal to help mold confident life long deep learning and students are to show and tell how and what they have learnt.
Showed example of students’ OneNote and how the competencies are linked to the evidence collected and collated by the student. Evidence is verified by employer for authenticity of the evidence. Each portfolio – what are the key things I need to learn; Skills are recorded; and a reflection at the end – what have I learnt, what have I learnt that I did not think I would learn, what are the gaps in my learning and how is the next step / stretch to my learning.
Students may respond in OneNote using text, audio or video recordings. Shared examples which are adequate, needed support with supplementary audio evidence and exemplary.

Karen Neill from Broadcasting on the ways used in the programme to ‘assess professionalism for the media industry’. These assessments were developed in the mid-80s and honed over the many years. This programme is highly respected by industry and students enter the industry with key professional skills required to contribute. Craft skills are easier to teach but professionalism always more difficult to pin down, teach and assess. Broadcasting has changed considerably in the last decade and the move into social digital media requires a even greater emphasis on professionalism. Shared how professionalism is scaffolded across 3 years of the degree, culminating with the third year industry practice module which takes up the bulk of last year. Updated through consultation with industry, tutor reviews and student evaluations. Detailed process and returns.

Raewyn Tudor presents on how the Social Work degree integrates assessments. Social work was reviewed several years ago. How do assessments connect with how social workers carry out their work. Defined integrated assessment as process that combines and blends learning outcomes from multiple courses into a series of streamlined, realistic, authentic work-focused assessment activities. Provided details on how integrated assessments work – theory and research (two courses) brought together as a case study learning activity. The students have to research the client case, connect to relevant theoretical / policy and present in a written report and presentation of application to practice. Rationalised the approach as a means to tailor assessments to subject / discipline requirements; connects with the realities of practice and creates student learning for job readiness. Detailed  the how to and an example of how to develop integrated assessments.


Monday, April 30, 2018

AVETRA Practitioner Research Conference DAY 2

Day dawns cool and cloudy and begins with official opening of this year’s conference. Linda Simon, conference coordinator welcomes participants. Robin Shreeve, new AVETRA president extended welcome and also provided context to the conference with an overview of current challenges. Although govt. seeks to increase education in areas of skills shortage and encourage school leavers to investigate non university tertiary education, funding for VET has never been lower.

The sessions begins with a keynote from Jose Luis Fernandez Maure, head of the institute of innovation and applied research for vocational education and training in the Basque Country (population of just over 2 million). Jose speaks on the challenge and potential for VET practitioner research. Began with a summary of the institute - Tknika. Explained challenges in mid 2000s leading to formation of Tknika, in particular the need to equalise quality of VEt trainina across all VEt institutes, some of which were excellent but some still requiring extension. At Tknika, 250 teachers work half their time there and half their time in their colleges to support innovation. The main objective is to reduce the skill gap quickly, so innovations ( pedagogy, technology, discipline specific) and future skill needs are met. Detailed the distributed model used to extend professional development across the sector. Main fields are in biosciences, energy and advanced manufacturing. Provided case study and examples of projects.  Detailed a project to encourage micro enterprises with support to students, teacher training to support the entrepreneurial process, support to create companies and a company network to leverage collaboration and networking. Teachers have masters qualification in teaching. 
Vet organisational changes include self managed teams of teachers, modular curriculum, flexibility of skills across occupations and skills assessments based on development of students to be able to continually learn. Challenges based collaborative learning frames pedagogy. This requires flexible timetables and learning spaces to allow for reconfiguration as the challenge base learning requires. Student learning is centred around being able to complete the challenge. 
Requires a whole system change to put in place and results may take a decade to realise. A key is to ensure all the institutes network to share practice and innovations to accelerate the impact. Collaborative work across institutions important, for example, culinary colleges working with agricultural colleges, for produce and waste to compost.

After morning tea, I chair three 45 minute presentations on the theme of VET teaching.

First up, Dr. Lesley Petersen from Tauranga who runs Petersen Consulting on Developing communities of practice as a pedagogy support mechanism for VET tutors. Began with a context of her work, especially with private training (PTEs) and industry training organisations (ITOs) and the objectives of the project with tutors teaching foundation skills at a PTE. She investigated how a Community of Practice (COP) provide space for tutors to develop pedagogical practice. Based on previous work on signature pedagogies involving 3 PTEs using a blended and action research methodology. Summarised details of the approaches and logistics of engaging with the tutors across the six months of the project. 4 meetings across 4 months with tutors trialling and implementing strategies to support student achievement between meetings. After workshops, evaluative process included minutes of each meeting, mid point online survey, summative interviews at conclusion. 
Influences on the success of the COP in this particular context included: training workshop at beginning important to build trust and purpose; place and space provided to share and collaborate; prompted critical reflection on teaching practice; peer mentoring; designated facilitator. Summarised challenges and implications. Recommendations also shared as PTE continued the COP. 

Second up are Anne Deshepper and Denise Stevens from Deschepper Consulting on Good practice in teaching and learning - the practitioners’ perspective. The evidence base comes from a project for the Victorian Departure of Education (2016) which led to production of a good practice guide (2018). Denise began with background and context. Guide is about to be published and free. Report involved literature review of VEt quality reports from Australia. UK, NZ and Ontario, interviews with practitioners and draft framework. Guide constructed after consultation across sector and variety of providers and validation of framework.
Four factors anchor the framework and described minimum, good and excellent teaching and learning. The factors include currency of specialist discipline knowledge / professional educator indicators, programme development, programme delivery and review of programme. Detailed an example and explained the various practice perspectives of a subset of one indicator. Discussed some ways to implement the guide. 

Then, Dr. Sonal Nakar on Impact of ethical dilemmas on VET teacher well-being. Started with background and rationale for work. Defined dilemmas as used in the project which also included actions following having to face moral based decisions. Defined four types of dilemmas - responding flexibly to increased student diversity, limiting educational engagement, constrains on teacher responsiveness and manipulation of learning assessments. Reasons teachers provided for making their decisions included changing policies, funding mechanisms, immigration rules changing culture and philosophies of education and inadequacies of teacher preparation. Most teachers never provided with codes of conduct and need to find their own way or rely on colleagues for advise. Interview fragments shared to support themes. Summarised implications for teachers of the ethical challenges including ill preparation, lack of support and ethical desensitisation. Recommendation for supporting teachers in this arena.

After lunch, a series of short 10 minute research project snapshot sessions in two streams. I attend the stream with presentations focused around teaching and learning.

Ann Murray on summarises her PhD in progress on A comparison of learning styles and success in the classroom , workshop and online. Rationalised and backgrounded study. Goal to help students match their way of approaching learning with delivery mode. Summarised learning styles diversity. Introduced Curry (1983) onion models with learning strategies wrapped around learning styles and learning preferences. Case study used with 3 students (Cert 3 to Diploma level ) in each delivery mode, monthly interviews across a year. Learning styles test (VARK) initially given, interviews with student, teachers/supervisors, examined student work and student diaries. Data analysis just commenced.

Caroline Lancaster presents on An exploration of current VET pedagogical trends through conversations with educational leaders. Interviewed seven leading VEt specialists. Used open questions centred around pedagogical issues and implications on professional identity. Shared responses and discussed implications. 

Ryan Euinton and Julie Ryan from Holmsglen teaching in the clothing design programme on Learning practical skills within a digitally integrated classroom. Rationalised the need for documentation, record and archive of skills to enhance learning. Focused on skills required to learn spatial orientation with regards to learning from digital resources. Presented example of resource and detailed process of developing the resource. 

Kay Schlesinger, Tania Teese, Chris Ho and Annemaree Gibson from Boxhill TAFE on Interactive teaching and learning strategies. Project documents interactive strategies, empower and support teachers, record and monitors adaptability and integration of the strategies and develop a COp to share and review these strategies. Impact on student satisfaction, teacher observations to be collected to gauge outcomes. 

John O’Donnel from William Angliss, tourism programmes, on Mobility as the teacher: experience based learning. Provided outline for the Diploma of Tourism. Shared philosophy on experiential learning. Used two cohorts of students, embarked on 12 day tour on sustainable tourism to the South Island of NZ to find out efficacy of study tours. More structure at pre, during and post phases of the study tour to help students gain the most from their study tour. 

Last workshop of day with Berwyn Clayton on Doing research in and on your own organisation: how hard can it be? Presented on the moral, physical and ethical dilemmas presented by doing insider research. Many advantages but tempered with challenges as well. Suggested strategies to circumvent disadvantages and to ensure research integrity. Advantages include better access to authentic data and participants, have organisation cultural knowledge, practical problem focused, can be cheaper and quicker, can make bigger impact and connect to local context when reporting. Disadvantages include roles duality, bias through familiarity, assuming participant views are known to researcher, unable to see bigger picture and too close to situation to produce good, culturally neutral accounts. challenges include negotiating access, promising anonymity and confidentiality, interviewing your own colleagues, challenging the value system of your organisation and managing power implications. Issues of anonymity, confidentiality and power discussed along with insider bias influencing and comprising validity, internal ethical engagement issues not always accounted for. Provided recommendations to tackle various challenges including access, gatekeepers, institutional / organisational politics, ensuring credibility and the ethics of care (ie. do no harm).


Overall. A good balance of academic and practitioner research presentations. Workshops were useful to allow for deeper exploration of topics or concepts. Good to meet up with familiar colleagues and catch up with their projects. 

AVETRA practioner research conference Day 1

In Melbourne for the annual AVETRA. Conference. This year, there is a focus on practitioner research. 

The first day is a series of one to one and a half hour workshops in two streams. A welcome from the AVETRA conference organising committee opens up the workshop afternoon. Various supporters for the conference are thanked. 

First workshop is with Dr. Henry Pook Director of applied research from Holmesglen TAFE on Developing collaborative proposal for applied research - the TAFE - industry nexus. Worked through why work with industry, who are our partners, how do we develop partners and how is an applied research project developed? A discussion based workshop for participants to unpack how applied research is organised within their contexts. Shared definition of applied research as systematic application of existing or new knowledge to the production or improving of new materials, products, services, devices, policies and systems. Check report - clever collaborations: the strong business case for partnering with universities - for university model. Discussed what TAFE could contribute.Identified potential industry and business partners relevant to own practice. Provided suggestions for development of partnerships. Proposed steps for developing proposals for applied research. Suggested starting small and a planned incremental approach. 

Second with Sharon Aris from Australian College of Applied Psychology with What do you or who you really? Researching and understanding industry knowledge. Sharon has background in youth work and PhD is framed using a theory developed to understand people. legitimation code theory LCT is a conceptual tool. (Check website)
A matrix of industry knowledge and practice, knowledge turned into curriculum and classroom and assessment practice with phases in skill or knowledge development with sites for learning, assessment processes and meeting of evaluative requirements.
Shared case studies. For her study, established there was knowing, doing and being in becoming a youth worker. Being was the most importance- you have to like young people. Therefore, knowledge is important but being the knower is more so. 


After afternoon tea, I pilot a workshop on Developing e-assessments for learning - an output for the Ako Aotearoa and NZ Qualifications Authority national project. Provided a background and details of eassessment project. We workshop a definition for assessment for learning relevant to each participant. Discuss ways and means for encouraging student learning through effective assessment for learning. The importance of feedback and digital tools able to support e-feedback to enable learning.