Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Top 200 tools for learning - Jane Hart's collation for 2017

The annual top 200 tools for learning now available. As usual, a good resource for educators of the types of digital tools available to assist with learning. There is a brief analysis  with details of the participants who provided the data and this year's shifts.

On my part, I use this yearly post to update myself on the various tools available. Especially to check out the ones I have not encountered and to evaluate them for relevance to the learning needs of the various programmes at Ara.

Familiar and 'tried and true' tools make up the first 50 on the list. The first 'new' entry arrives at 55 with Typeform, a forms and survey tool. I will try this out the next time I need to do a short survey and compare it to my usual go to survey tool - Survey Monkey.

Most of the new entries appear after 100. The ones I will check out are Wisemapping for mindmapping, tableau for interactive data visualisation (free trial but payment beyond),  Quizizz a free quizz generator, smartup for microlearning and ENTiTi (paid app) for generating AR and VR content.

Some familiar names have now come up into the rankings - including Pebblepad for eportfolios, office lens and google keep.


Thursday, October 05, 2017

INAP conference 2017 DAY 2

iNAP day 2

Begins with keynote by Professor Dr. Michael Gessler from the Institute of Training in Germany,  on collaboration between companies and schools in the German dual Apprenticeship system. Began with overview as to the importance of nomenclature. VET should use its own structure so it is now always seen as a lesser alternative to university. Higher VET should have its own way of accreditation. Summarised the various ways to define Apprenticeship: informal, time served, competence based, standards based, dual sequential, dual alternance, dual integration, trial alternance. Provided history of European apprenticeship to unpack the reasons for the many ways apprenticeship is structured and the evolution of the dual system which began in Germany in 1964. Dual system relies on cooperation between industry and the vocational school. However, cooperation has never been prevalent and relationship between school and industry has been industry holding more power. Research has focussed on outcomes I.e. Assessments but important to improve the process of training instead. Shared current work on codifying the concept of collaboration. Continuum between coordination, cooperation and co construction. Details in International journal for research in VET vol 4, issue 2 for article. 

Workshop streams begin and I attend the stream on Apprenticeship and universities.

Dr. Michael Barrett, James Eustace and team from IT Sligo and SOLAs, on lessons learned from the implementation of Ireland's first degree level Apprenticeships using the BA (Hons) (level 8) in Insurance Practice. Overview of Irish context, rationale for the new apprenticeship and the details of implementation. Plans to increase number of 'new' apprenticeships, which are not craft based, to increase range of industries and range of occupations and range of learners beyond traditional profiles. So, industry led, at levels 5 to 10, 2 to 4 years and flexible on line delivery to support mostly workplace based learning. For the insurance practice, students have one day at work to be participating in the online classes. Programme runs across 3 semesters a year, with one semester over the traditional summer 'break'. Detailed how the collaboration across insurance institute, employers, education provider and apprentices. National governance and the social partners' involvement are key to the programme's development and continuance. Also relationships with industry, employers, government agencies looking after apprenticeships and providers. 

Yuen Sui Ping on her current PhD study at the University of Siegen, on Measuring experience-knowledge as a factor for 'industry 4.0' (industrial internet of things). Detailed expert systems, need for explicit and tacit knowledge and overview of current research. Rationale for the need of new types of skills which are interdisciplinary, high level cognitive and relational. Current project seeks to find out what constitutes human knowledge and what human cognitive processes cannot be replaced. reiterated Burch four stage model of competence from novice to expert and mastery. Explicit knowledge is describable and tacit is difficult to capture, usually intuition, common sense etc. method is to have 20 candidates who are novices to expert to perform a set tasks, 3 times on 3 different days. Task completion is observed, timed, and the candidate is asked to verbalise the task.  

After lunch, a plenary panel discussion led by Diana Jones on developments in Latin America (Maria Victoria Fazio), England (Thomas Bewick), Germany (Michael Gessler) and Continental Europe (Antje Barabasch). 
Mario Victoria Fazio is from the Inter American Development Bank with Apprenticeships in the 21st century. Set up the context whereby there is high unemployment, difficult school to work transitions, there is a technical and socio emotional skills gap and there is low productivity in firms. Solutions tend to be short term. Apprenticeship seen to be better due to longer term commitment. Defined apprenticeship as requiring contract, structured training, on and off job training and ends with certification. Not all of these present in LA countries and systems are very small. Ended up with a toolkit of 10 core elements to support implementation of apprenticeship. Align with country strategy, engage employers, set structure, fund and incentivise, develop curricula, deliver, assess, certify, promote and ensure quality. Shared case study on setting up new programme in Bahamas. 

Tom Bewick, President of the Transalantic Apprenticeship exchange forum, shared experiences on the development of apprenticeship from scratch in England. Provided overview of last decade in England including large increase in apprenticeship numbers. Case study of creative industries sector. At beginning,  no tradition of apprenticeship. Began with development of creative arts pathways to help understand industry skill needs, test different approaches and make apprenticeship something special. 

Antje Barabasch shared the European experience. Detailed one of the first projects completed by the European Alliance for Apprenticeship. Looked in the governance policies of several countries Spain, Portugal, Latvia etc. Spain expressed interest in setting up experience. Italy investigating options. Portugal and Latvia has few apprentices mainly school based. Sweden working on improving of current system but has developed an apprenticeship for adults. 

Michael Gessler representing the European consortium of VET researchers, presented a quick review of the various ways Apprenticeship is constituted. Summarised 2015 Riga agreement for VET. 

Discussion followed around:
Need to define what is apprenticeship? YES. and panel members provided rationale and requirements.
What kinds of assessment matrix should be adopted? Check Onefile, a fully online system for employers and apprentices, which connects competency standards to evidence, used in England. European approach is to ensure teachers provided with good understanding of role of assessments and quality standards. Assessment is a key only if you don't trust the system. A good system should support assessments for feedback, not just for certifications. 

Last round of workshops focused on trends and patterns across countries.
I attend the following:

Bai Bin on a qualitative research of Apprenticeship competency training in school based Master studio. Cooperation between school and workplace does not work well, therefore difficult to find good workplaces for apprentices. Introduced concept of master studios, as the employment of expert practitioners in school based workshops to teach. A way to provide model practice to novices. Masters are still working in industry and come into studio at selected times to demonstrate and teach. Study on what tasks should be selected, the learning scenario and curriculum. Interviewed masters and students to find out their perceptions. Also collected evidence from studio observations and blogs. Important are work task selection, ill defined working tasks, complex scenarios and the organisation of the work. Also Apprentices learn work process, the teaching style and characteristics of master is important and need to integrate learning at school to master studio sessions.

Liu Yuting with a qualitative research on cultivation of Apprenticeship in traditional arts and crafts. Presented background and rationale. Important to retain traditional crafts. Exampled by carved lacquer craft which has a 1,400 years history but only small number of master practitioners. Long engagement with the work and learning through deliberate practice required to learn the complex skill. Interviewed practitioner and analysed others via video, journals on craft practice. Explained various skill components used in carving. Established master took 1 1/2 years to learn skills and then 2 hours a day across 20 years to refine. Skills learnt through imitation of master, routine training and socio cultural learning. Draws up characteristics of deliberate practice as time, personalised learning, reflection, high goals, feedback opportunities.  

All in a good opportunity to catch up on developments in various other countries. 

International Network on Innovative Apprenticeship-conference 2017 - DAY 1


In Washington DC for the biannual International Network of Innovative Apprenticeship (INAP) conference. The theme is Modern Apprenticeship: widening their scopes, sustaining their quality. The conference is held at the US Bureau of Statistics and organised by the American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship, Siemens Foundation, Urban Institute and the Swiss Embassy. An opening reception is held on the evening of 1/10. As always, good to meet familiar faces and meet new researchers. 

The opening session is chaired by Robert I. Lerman. Greetings and opening remarks come from Professor Philipp Gonon.

First keynote is with Dr. Omar Arias from the World Bank, who speaks on the topic - Skills policies in a fast-changing world of work. Provided a high level overview, of relevance to Apprenticeships.Covered 3 mega trends - globalisation, shifting trade patterns and demographic shifts. Implications for skills demand and follow on to skills policies and programs. Mega trends exponential change increased by technological (ICT) breakthroughs. Brings costs of processes down, income from manufacturing employment has peaked and a concern for developing countries as they now are unable to raise national productivity and wages. Increasing urbanisation increases need for Services, shifting skills from technical to social / relational. So, increase in high skilled occupations with intensive non routine cognitive and interpersonal skills and decrease in low skilled occupations with non routine manual skills. Middle skills with intensive routine cognitive and manual skills especially challenged. Therefore, multiplicity of skills required including basic cognitive, social emotional and technical skills. Recommends training systems are market / employer driven, tailor needs to clientele / learner population, adopt task based approach to training, have mainstream active learning practices e.g. Apprenticeship, internships etc. and be results and evidence based to make decision. 

Workshops then begin. The first has 3 streams. I attend the stream on Apprenticeship and universities: substitutes or complements.

First up, Thomas Deissinger from the University of Konstanz in Germany, on VET and universities in the German context - substitutes or complements? A problem analysis. Provided an overview of the German VET context, then the structural relationships between Vocational and academic and discussion. Explained how the dual system (Apprenticeship) works. In essence, allows for students to move from Vocational to work or Vocational to entry into the academic. Slight shift in numbers over last decade with an increase in higher ed. 2.8 million in 2015 and 2.3 million in dual and full time VET. Summarised the challenges to try to balance employers demands for high quality entrants and young people's expectations for occupations with high wages and opportunities. Introduced the concept of vocational academies or dual universities which are an option post upper secondary education which also includes universities, polytechnics or applied universities and university of education. 4 meanings of tertairisation of VET - Vocational full time schools, hybrid qualifications, new Batchelor courses in HE and HE Institutes copying the VET dual model. Dual universities often envisaged as a 'premium Apprenticeship '.  

Followed by, Warren Guest from Holmesglen TAFE completing his studies in conjunction with Mike Brown at La Trobe University in Melbourne on  - Pastoral care within a college setting: customising individual Apprenticeship support towards lifting participation and completion rates. Detailed study carried out to increase apprenticeship completion. Started with an overview of the Australian system for the international audience. Rationalised project objectives. Piloted a centre to support apprenticeship (ASC) offering liaison between the various agencies and support networks, players. 183 case studies examined  and interviewed 6 ASC staff to find out what it was about ASC works best. Support from ASC included elements of pastoral care usually solved by referrals to other agencies,  mentoring was to assist with advice as to what to do after Apprenticeship, assistance with academic skills and financial assistance. Vocational background of ASC deemed to be major advantage in helping to resolve issues and assist with eventual completion. 

After lunch, the second round of workshop run. I stay in the workshop stream I present in. The theme is occupational standards and assessing competence.

First up, Douglas Haynes and team from the Institute of Technology in Dublin on Innovative Assessment and its implication for Apprenticeship. Changed assessment type in one module. Provided background of the development of core practical skills using project based learning. Objective to shift summative assessment to being more transparent and collaborative. Students self assessed their own work then peer assessed to negotiate final mark. Context in electronic engineering. Wanted to improve student and teacher relationship, improve feedback, improve clarity of assessment, improve self evaluation and assessment skills, and increase student confidence. Found better student and teacher relationship, assessments were clearer, self evaluation and confidence similar. feedback valued more in traditional assessments which may be because of students were in first year and more dependent on teacher judgement. 

I present examples and interim findings from our eassessment for learning project. Revolving around the affordances of efeedback, range of feedback and learning possibilities and need to ensure students and tutors confidence not only in digital literacy but also in learning through using digital tools and platforms. 

Then Professor Ursel Hauschildt from University of Bremen, working with Helen Brown, with competence measurement and development in South Africa: exploring the determinants heterogeneity. Reports on major conclusions of data analysis on COMET. Provided statistics on number of test takers, their trades, genders and completion rates. Explained how competency graphs are constituted. Reported on learners' perceptions on being tested. Despite many learners unable to complete tasks, most supported the tests, they were interested and motivated and enjoyed the challenging test. Discussed the wide range of results coming from the 12 sites and the challenges presented by the SA contexts. Teacher tests reveal wide gap between top and bottom teachers and will need to be addressed to assist forward movement,

Followed by Professor Ralph Dreher from the University of Zeeland, on work process oriented content of VET - a concept facing the development of industry 4. Worked on understanding industry's perspective on what is the future of industry in the context of the internet of things? Provided examples of totally automatic systems, replacing skilled workers. High qualifications work now has changed to becoming the optimisers - requiring knowledge of production process and programming knowledge. Therefore, need to combine the vocational with the academic. Framed using curriculum focused on higher skills (Spottl / Dreher, 2009) - moving from craftsmanship to industrialisation and automation with increase from imitation to science, action and design orientation. From being able to do to understanding and reflection. From unconscious incompetence to unconcious competence. Need to shift teachers as well. And there is the challenge of trying to understand how to understand unconscious competence. How to develop tacit knowledge, giving the possibility to verbalise and codify tacit knowledge. 
http://www.tvd-edu.com/downloads.html

Last stream of workshops and I attend the stream on Innovative teaching and learning.

Dr. John Gaal presents on tweaking success: developing a pre-Apprenticeship program for at risk high school students. Provided US background and present opportunities to encourage apprenticeship in Missouri. Case studies on Bayless Floor Layers mAp focused on bringing apprenticeship into the secondary school system, Ferg-Flor advanced manufacturing based in 6 states, BUD lite to bring women and minorities into construction trades.  Detailed evolution, development and logistical plans with the original Bayless programme since 2004 and scaling to other states. Summarised learnings as identify best practice, focus on something workable first, do your research, turn back if it does not work, and establish trusting relationships. 

Then, Aine Doherty from the Institute of Technology at Sligo, Ireland, on using reflective online diary entry to enhance teaching and learning in online Apprenticeship: pedagogical perspectives. The three year programme BA in insurance practice through Apprenticeship. One day a week online learning using Adobe Connect and Moodle. standard BA curriculum followed and third semester over the summer is on the insurance specific learning. Summarised the challenges and recommendations on experiences as online teachers. Connected reflective practice to students own learning, analysed students postings to improve teaching approaches and enable more holistic assessments (diaries worth 20% for summative assessment). 

Bettina Siecke from the University of Applied Science in Düsseldorf presents on heterogeneity as a challenge in assistant nurse training: which strategies do teachers use? Introduced the topic and context on the German health sector. Skill shortage due to aging population requires a broadening of skill and easing entry in assistant nursing - into dual Apprenticeship and through full time Vocational schools and schools of health and social sector. Regular nurse training system summarised. Comparatively, assistant nurse training is for 1 -2 years and content and learner profile is more diverse. Small study with 4 interviews across 5 teachers. Reported on results.  

The conference then travels across to the Swiss Embassy for more presentations and conference dinner. 

We begin the evening with a welcome from Dr. Simon Marti head of science, technology and higher education from the Swiss Embassy. Provides an overview of Swiss and US cooperation on Apprenticeship along with context, system and funding on apprenticeship. 

Professor. Philipp Gonon from the University of Zurich provides an overview on recent trends in Switzerland: skills policies in a fast changing world of work. Presented on expansion, quality and hybridisation through a longitudinal, historical report on the longevity of the Swiss VET system. 

Dr. Robert Lerman follows with the trends in the U.S. Apprenticeship. discussed the different US system where apprenticeship numbers are low, when compared to other similar countries like U.K., Australia and Canada. Presented on some of the multiple reasons for this. Need to recognise more than just academic skills to include occupational and employability skills. Recent and present governments support expansion of apprenticeship. Need 9 elements to sustain apprenticeship, effective branding, incentivise to set up apprenticeship, develop credible occupational standards, make Apprenticeship easy to create, funding for off job classes and quality education, counselling, screening and support of apprentices, certification body to issue credentials and research, credible assessments and train the trainers. Proposed how some of these elements can be achieved. 

Brent Parton deputy director of centre for education and skills - New America, presents on US Youth Apprenticeship and Colorado startup. Provided quick overview of New America and its vision and mission. Presented study on why youth apprenticeship has not become mainstream in US. Included case study on initiative in Colorado. Found public open to Apprenticeship but systems are fragmented and not well known. However, need to keep at it has many advantages for apprenticeship. Presented examples although most relatively small and much still needs to be done regarding support systems and policies. 

Each provides their perspective. Dinner is pizza from A wood fired oven on the Embassy grounds.

A busy, productive but long day. Good networking with a range of researchers working on similar challenges. 




Monday, September 25, 2017

Ako Aotearoa 2016 annual report - resource for tertiary education research in NZ

Annual reports are perhaps not the most enervating of reads. However, Ako Aotearoa's 2016 annual report is more than just a bland overview of Ako Aotearoa activities and financial reporting for last year.

Caveat: I have received funding from Ako Aotearoa for several projects and have small mention in report as part of Ako Aotearoa Excellence in Tertiary Teaching selection panel.

It is a 'one stop shop' summarising some of the recent Ako Aotearoa funded projects - both the Nationally (usually $100,000 plus) and hub funded projects (around $10,000). The report begins with a Highlights section consisting summaries of 12 recently completed projects – both National and Hub funded.

Then, the report moves through to the reporting of the strategic themes which guide their work. The 'flavour' of the unique NZ tertiary system, with it's emphasis on biculturalism is captured well.
Of most use are the summaries of strategic direction and projects which align to each theme.
There is good information on Maori / Pasifika projects and the fostering and acting on the learner voice. These projects presently focus on building capability with student 'union' and associations to allow them to be able to better represent the needs of tertiary students. 

There are also summaries of submissions – especially to the recently completed Productivity commission report on new models of tertiary education. Ako Aotearoa supporting the need to ensure tertiary teachers are supported in their professional development as teachers.

The various national and regional projects were then summarised along with international linkages.

So, overall, not just an annual report but a good resource for anyone keen to find out more about the NZ tertiary educations system beyond statistics and policy statements. The report celebrates the uniqueness of NZ tertiary education as being more than just the learning of occupational skills but a contribution to the nation's social fabric and the building of a bi-cultural national ethos. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Transition to technology / AI driven world

I have been following with some interest, the reports over the last couple of weeks coming out of Asia on collisions between US Navy ships and other vessels.


As a consequence of the latest collision a couple of weeks ago, the fourth accident this year, the UN Navy relieved its commander of the 7th Fleet.

Today online had an interesting article on how the collisions may be an outcome of an over-reliance on technology. The article surmises this over-reliance on technology, may be have led to a decline in basic seamanship and other competencies.

One of the seminal readings on workplace on workplace learning is an article by Edwin Hutchins on ‘learning to navigate'.

Hutchins, E. (1996). Learning to navigate. In S. Chaiklin & Lave, J. (Eds). Understanding practice: perspectives on activity and context (pp.35-63). Cambridge, Mass: Cambridge University Press. also see his book - Cognition in the Wild.
An overview and more up-to date (2002) analysis and discussion on distributed cognition is provided by Karasavvidis.

In short, the article presents how the knowledge and expertise required to run complex machinery, organisations, processes etc. are shared amongst workers. The context for Pea’s study was a naval ship. The 'technology' 20 plus years ago, still required sailors to manually trace the ship's trajectory on nautical maps. Each seaman added a task / piece of knowledge and the collection of all of these activities ensured the ship reached its destination safely.

Of note, in Hutchin's work, and also the work of Pea, is the notion of 'distributed intelligence'. See the seminal readings for these:

Hutchins, E., & Klausen, T. (1998). Distributed cognition in an airline cockpit. In Y. Engestrom & D. Middleton, Cognition and communication at work (pp. 15-34).. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Pea, R.D. (1993). Practices of distributed intelligence and designs for education. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations (pp. 47-87). New York: Cambridge University Press.

When we add Artificial intelligence into the mix, the need for greater levels of understanding amongst the 'users' of the information being generated, takes on a whole different connotation. In short, the human 'overseers' will require some way to 'see the BIG picture'. Otherwise, decisions made by humans and AI, within already complex systems, become even more complicated. Especially given two recent examples for caution: AI robots are sexist / racist given their programmers tend to come from perspectives of privilege (often WASP) and 'killer robot' warfare is closer than we think.

Therefore, education for all humans, requires a BIG picture focus. The ability to be skilled in occupational tasks will also require an understanding of WHY the task is required, WHERE the task fits into the larger scheme of things and understanding of the implications if any parts of the whole, become compromised plus HOW to correct, re-develop, re-configure etc. if something does go wrong, in a timely manner. Simulations will need to ensure these big picture focuses are embedded to provide for authentic learning by novices and others requiring upgrading or updating. There is therefore also a need for learners to understand HOW AI may work and the algorithms underlying decision making. The human brain, may make decisions which are going to differ, due to the individualised nature of human learning. Hence, we not not only need to be empathetic to the needs of others when we work in teams etc. but also be aware of what AI brings into our work processes.




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Disobedient Teaching - reflections on book

While away, catching up with my aged parents, I read the book ‘Disobedient teaching’ by Welby Ings. I read the book while awaiting my connecting flight from Melbourne to Singapore. The long flight across, provided me with some reflecting time. Over the last few days, I dipped in and out of the book, to better savour the many messages, woven through the narrative.

I have had the privilege of listening to several presentations provided by Welby over the years. Most have been whilst at AkoAotearoa Academy symposiums, a gathering of tertiary educators who have been recognised through an excellence in tertiary teaching award. Welby was the first winner of the Prime Ministers Supreme award in 2002. Welby’s presentations are always looked forward to, as he is a storyteller par excellence. He never fails to connect to my emotions as he talks about a topic, usually around the need to be a teacher, who is true to one’s self.

In 2007, when I attended at the first symposium, I was rather overwhelmed to be in such illustrious company. In hindsight, I was afflicted strongly by ‘the imposter’ syndrome. I was wondering where I fitted in as almost all the other academy members were university professors. Welby encouraged me with his gentle welcome, to be myself. In particular, he was a good listener and empathised with new members to the academy.

I have been looking forward to reading Welby’s book and needed to do the book justice by setting outside some dedicated time to read it. The book is written in a very accessible style, filled with stories to illustrate the recommendations made through the book. There are also techniques sprinkled through the book, of how to teach creatively, bravely and disobediently.The book is a clarion call to educators - to not be bowed by pressures from administrators, politicians and ministries. Instead to hold to the principles of good teaching and to uphold the prime objectives of being teachers. In short, to ensure learners' needs are advanced and the learners' voices are not subsumed.

I think all teachers who are any good, who care for their students and want to help them learn, should read this book. Teaching is, and always will be, about relationships. Not about how to ensure students only ‘pass a test’ but to help students learn more about themselves. How to help learners go about learning and becoming who they want to become.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Reading - recommendations via Good Reads

I have always been a voracious reader. At school, I averaged a book a day, albeit short fiction titles e.g. Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew etc. Weekly, I visited each of the three libraries within 3 km of my home and I still remember the day, when I turned 15 and I could borrow ‘adult’ literature on my ‘youth’ library card. Meanwhile, I worked my way through my neighbour’s book case. They were both school teachers and their library featured best sellers of the time – Michener, Uris, LeCarre along with a good collection of Agatha Christies. Like many readers, I began with no real planning, just whatever came to hand. As with Oliver Sacks, reading through childhood, gave me a perspective on the world outside of my sheltered upbringing. Also, as with Barrack Obama, books allow us to attain empathy for others who are unlike ourselves. 


For the past 16 years, my reading has centred around books, papers and journals pertinent to my studies and research. Hence, fiction reading has all but vanished apart from the odd science fiction / space opera over term breaks. In an effort to maintain a better work-life balance I now try to borrow one or two non-fiction titles each month from the local library which are not related to work / research. These books are aligned to my other interests – botany, geology, astronomy, travel (especially cycle touring a la Dervla Murphy and backpacking / mountaineering) etc.

Last year, I finally succumbed and signed up for goodreads, which is owned by Amazon - meaning the recommendations need to be taken with some awareness of marketing ploys. However,  I do like the ‘recommendations’. I find many to be useful and now have a rather large list of ‘want to read’ books archived for follow up. Through the goodreads recommendations, I have been able to find a wider range of books within related topics, expanding my reading repertoire beyond the usual weekly browse of the local library shelves. My ‘recreational’ reading has thus become more ‘focused’. I am not sure if this is a good thing or not. Browsing library shelves is a great way to widen ones’ horizon. The movement to ebooks has dampened some of the opportunities to browse as search engines stick to the patterns intuited from your previous searches. In a way, Goodreads is similar but at least the process is overt and one has a choice to move away from the recommended books predicated on the list of books one has read or wants to read.


Monday, August 21, 2017

AI powered humans

Here is a recent article from the BBC on how AI assists with the development of new drugs for humans. I am not sure if I would find the concept reported to be acceptable. However, I am one who also,  since I have a good sense of direction, find GPS a pain. The report focuses on how AI can eb used to bring researchers together with AI to create pharmaceuticals faster. The process is referred to as Benevolent AI. This Ai sifts through the digital literature across a range of disciplines which specialists researchers may not have the mental capacity to become familiar with. So the AI is able to form some conclusions / synthesis the outcomes from chemical libraries, medical databases and scientific papers to find likely new compounds or procedures to be developed by drug companies or researchers. 

Related to the above is recent reports on the use of microchips in workplaces to provide employees with access to company resources. Again, possible need to think through the implications of this occuring in educaiton.


Some interesting predictions including humans being banned from driving as self-drive cars are safer. A computer becoming your boss, who is able to hire and fire you based on analytics collected of your work. The internet of things allowing you to talk to the room, your fridge, the TV etc. - although it is important to keep in mind that advances in voice recognition still has some way to go - see this video circulating around now for some years - of two Scots men trying to get a voice activated lift (elevator) which seems to only understand American accents, to work. 

Other predictions include Avatars replacing dead actors in movies (already happening); continuous health monitoring of individuals; and pilotless planes within 10 years.

Another recent article from the Melbourne Age, extols the rise of automation, saving workers at least 2 hours a day of doing mundane / repetitive work in jobs of bank telling, retailing. Based on recent report on Australian work and the automation advantage. These jobs are seen to then become safer, more satisfying and more valuable as humans are able to do the more interesting and creative aspects of these jobs. So, food for thought here and another call for 'occupational identity' to become fluid. The days of saying ' I am a/n xx' based on the work we do, may be coming to an end.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Research Week @ Ara - DAY 2

Second day of staff 6 minute presentations. 

Wei Yu is a visiting scholar from Chengdu University to Ara’s Department of Engineering and Architectural Studies. He is today’s guest Speaker and presents on his institutions research direction. Began with quick overview of his institution - video. Summarised the rationale and objectives of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship – with cutting edge –electric cars etc. disciplines. University is in close proximity to industrial area which has multi-national IT and engineering companies (e.g Foxcomm, Lenova, Pepsi etc.).  Applied research in environmental technology, intelligent manufacturing and UAV and robot applied technology. Summarised some of his work, with AUT, on smart monitoring and diagnosing of anaesthetic monitoring processes. Mazharuddin Syed Ahmeh – Ara engineering tutor - presents on a collaborative project between Ara and Chengdu University – healthcare precision engineering. Through management of data from internet of things, to help people keep healthy.

Taka Yokoyama summarises a section of his PhD on ‘Should native English speakers complete teacher training before teaching English in Japan’. Overview of the ‘job satisfaction’ section – match = satisfaction and mis-match – frustration. How does having training increase job satisfaction for assistant teachers of English in Japan. Only if completed more than 20 papers or have had practicum, then satisfaction higher.

James Murray from Commerce, presents on ‘equity crowdfunding in NZ’. Summarised definitions of crowdfunding – from charity through to peer2peer and equity (selling shares). Legally available in NZ since 2014 – selling shares of a company on line. Caveats apply as ‘disclosure rules’ do not need to be met. Generally 60% successful, so not guarantees. Used textual (AI) analysis to find out the ways equity crowdfunding work.

Lynda Roberts speaks on ‘problematising youth policy’ which is part of her PhD. Provided rationale and overview of her research question, methods and frameworks. Looking into policies related to policies on youth transitions. Using a bio-political lens to see how educational policy construct and govern ‘disengaged youth’. Framed by Foucoult’s concepts of power.

Then Gwyn Reynolds provides an overview of the ‘Sumo jazz album #2’. Currently in progress and a continuation of work completed 5-6 years ago. Each staff / graduate writes one work and the group performs the work. Played an example. Album now recorded and mixing currently occurring.

Tracy Kirkbride from medical imaging presents on ‘educating MARS’. Detailed what MARs is – adding colour to xray images – Medipix all resolution systems. The systems needs to be taught how to turn signals into colours associated with organic materials. Seeing ‘different’ materials is important – eg. Difference between bone, cancer, gout crystals.

David Hawke presents on ‘detecting lab mistakes in stable isotope analysis’. Presented background and rationale for work. Use ‘control’ (try tea bag for plant samples) as part of sample delivered to lab for analysis and if results return with different result, then need to re-look at analysis. Ways to undertake quality control always important. 

Sam Uta’I – presented by Margaret Leonard - gives us an update on ‘implementing the Pasifika success toolkit with 3 Canterbury tertiary organisations and evaluating its effectiveness in practice’. An Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub funded project (original project here). Detailed the research process. Currently, the project is implementing a tool-kit which is an outcome of the project. 3 areas are in academic – more contextual relevance; student services; and Pasifika visibility. Tool kit includes definition of success from student POV; exemplars for practice; to be put onto Moodle for staff access.

Bronwyn Beatty presents on ‘access radio for the long term’. Used Plains FM 96.9 and experiences beyond 2010 / 2011 earthquakes. Detailed the struggles experienced by staff and volunteers to disseminate information crucial to ethnic communities. No funding availed for information to be translated, checked for accuracy before it was used. Plains sourced funds for off-site capability and timely translation of messages from Council / Civil Defence – Samoan, Tagalog and Hindi. Participated in advisory / advocacy groups – CLING – community language information group / Multi-cultural Strategies into 2018. Renegotiated relationships and forged new agreements to ensure access radio continues. Increase awareness to 12 access radio stations in NZ.

Ryoko de Burgh-Hirabe on ‘the current trend of reasons why tertiary students study Japanese in NZ’. Drop of students 48% over last decade. Some reasons provided but many are beyond teachers’ control. Collaborative across NZ (5 institutions) using on-line questionnaire with 300 plus replies. Reasons include to be able to communicate in Japanese, interest in language, pop culture and travel to Japan. Obtaining work was not a top reason. Japanese majors generally would like to live / work in Japan but students doing Japanese as an elective usually interested in visiting.


Another interesting range of presentations. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Research week @ Ara - 2017 - DAY 1

The annual research week runs through the whole of this week. Over today and tomorrow, staff present short overviews of their work. On Wednesday, there is the popular Great Debate. This year’s topic is “A robot will do your job better than you do!”. Students present their work across Thursday and Friday with ‘Pitch a project’.

Today’s presentations include:

Guest Speaker Associate Professor Craig Bunt from Lincoln University talks about the ‘collaborations between Lincoln University and Ara’. Began with overview of research scene – has 456 undergrad enrolments in Agricultural / Environmental Science. 220 full-time PhD students (75% are international) with 50% in Ag/Env Science. Presented examples from his projects including 3D printed darts to inject steroids into animals; alternatives to 1080 –  stabilisation of a toxin used in pest control now registered for commercial use; electron spun nanofibers that can be holders of fungicides etc. to be used on plants; and analysis of dog biscuits collected from Antarctica to find out how they were made 100 years ago. Each came about from trying to understand a problem, funded in different ways and reliant on networks of other researchers and goodwill across science community.

Staff follow with 6 minute overviews of their work:

Cameron Pearce from the Jazz School shares ‘Symposium X – original works for jazz big band. Provided background on the group, made up mainly of current, ex- Ara staff and graduates, which has been together for 10 years and provided a snippet of the groups’ original work. Described the creative process involved in composing a piece of work. Using a piece of art work by another Ara staff, John Maillard, as the inspiration.

Tony McCaffrey presents an update on his on-going work ‘we will look after you’: the radical promise of the time after’ in a recent theatre involving actors with intellectual disabilities. As usual, reads an eloquent presentation on his work. Tony’s work continually develops through the production, direction and support of actors, not normally seen performing theatre. Tony is currently working on a book to disseminate his PhD thesis.

Mary Kensington then presented collaborative work (with Rae Dallenbach and Lorna Davis) and with the Universities in Aberdeen and Glasgow on ‘rural midwifes making a difference in NZ and Scotland: achieving a sustainable model of rural practice. A quick overview of a larger presentation – see ASL presentations from a couple of months ago for summary.

Allen Hill from Outdoor Education and Sustainability presents on an externally funded project - ‘Policy practice gaps sustaining unsustainability in schools’. How policy gaps have made it difficult to include sustainability into school curriculum – hence ‘Steven’s Gap’ which is difference between rhetoric (Policy) and reality (Practice). We can express in curriculum documents but teachers do not know how to actually integrate into teaching.

Joy Kuhns presents work (with Julia Wu and A. Habib) on ‘living through uncertainties as the norm: lessons from NZ regional family businesses’. Provide overview of rationale – the uptake of accounting and management systems by family businesses. How did they use these systems and why. Used a responsive interviewing technique. Summarised findings – little use of formal use of accounting systems; agile through continual learning required to keep their businesses profitable and sustainable; learnt by doing, from mistakes and through networks.

Kerstin Dofs updates her on-going work on ‘autonomous learning in the world – Rio and Ara’. Presented on experiences as convenor of the conference in Rio. Themes of conference also detailed and Ara’s approach to autonomous language learning. Detailed current work on PhD and how there is a continual need for learners to be even more adept has self-directed learning.

I (Selena) provide a quick overview on ’eAssessments for learning: examples of innovative practice’. Go over the rationale and objectives, detail the 7 sub-projects and benefits for learners and teachers of e-feedback’.

Ian Williamson from engineering presents on ‘how to save money on your electricity / energy needs’. Provided overview on NZ context. Presently, information from various companies etc. is confusing, difficult to access and understand. Not all options available in every part of NZ. Discussed implication of going off-grid (recommended if now building), solar (not recommended in city), install monitoring equipment, check how house is wired to maximise ability to go on specific plans, being efficient and using less power, is the most important achievement.

Then Dorle Pauli from Creative Industries presents a summary of ‘the work of Michael Reed’ – ‘Feeling blue and Seeing Red’. A distinguished printmaker who has just retired from Ara. Presents the challenges on writing a biography of an artist who is still living, including the ‘collaboration’ that eventuates and the voice/ role of the biographer. The biography will be based on conversations. Shared some of Michael’s work archived at Ara.

Brendan Reilly from Broadcasting presents on ‘sports news on commercial music radio: diversity or disappointment’. Why is rugby the main sport covered? Looked at ZM and The Edge to see what was reported. Rugby, league, cricket and netball – made up 70% of stories. Although females are main audience, male sports still dominate. Presented on some of the reasons why.

Heather Josland (with Kay Milligan, Maggie Meeks, Phillipa Seaton and Julie Withington) from Nursing presents a project which is in collaboration with Otago University on ‘do we need to start earlier: undergraduate inter-professional simulation’ in the context of doctor / nurse communications. Introduced various tools used to help students learn the intricacies of communication, the language differences between doctors and nurses and how to work together.

Then Gareth Allison from Commerce, presents on ‘justification in wWOM – Electronic Word of Mouth’. Seeks to find out how consumers make decisions based on what they find on-line. Described how the move to digital has changed marketing. Many of the past methods, now no longer effective. However, e-advertising is fragmented and still relatively new. ‘Word of Mouth’ seem to be a form of ‘informal’ information used by consumers. Studied a website  - as an exploratory study - with discussion forum to see efficacy of product recommendations.

Grant Bennett from Science on ‘Survive on Mars’. A project that arose from his work on finding how to get probiotic bacteria to last on breakfast cereals. One application is to prepare cereal for astronauts travelling to Mars. Set up student project to find the best type of cereal, that will still taste good and last.

As usual, synergies between the work of several of the presenters to be followed up :) 




Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A decade since attaining Supreme Excellence in Tertiary Teaching Award - a reflection

In 2007, I was awarded the Prime Minister’s award for excellence in tertiary teaching. Yesterday evening, the 2017 award winners join the select group of NZ tertiary teachers recognised for sustained excellence in teaching. All awardees automatically become members of the Ako AotearoaAcademy. The Academy is a community of practice for award winners, they have a mandate to  advocate within their own institutions, nationally and internationally, for support of excellent teaching. The Academy also organises a yearly symposium, always a wonderful, supportive and enervating professional development opportunity. This year, the symposium - Talking Teaching - will he held at the end of November in Dunedin. The first two days will be an open forum for all tertiary educators to share practice. 

In 2007, I was on the cusp of shifting from being a trades teacher, teaching baking into a ‘staff development’ position. Since 1999, I had proportional (0.2 or one day a week to 0.4) positions on various ‘elearning’ projects. Mainly supporting tutors in a diverse range of discipline areas, to shift from being f2f to on-line or blended learning facilitators. In 2008, I shifted full-time into a shared role as a teacher educator and ‘staff developer’. When the then CPIT Centre for Educational Development came into being, I was one of 3 other people, horizontally shifted across to be part of the Centre. Since then several internal organisational changes and a change of institutional name to Ara has seen my role morph and evolve over time. My current role as an educational developer / ‘learning designer’ in the Learning Design section of Academic Services Division at Ara Institute of Canterbury includes about 3/5 of programme design / development, 1/5 of supporting staff in a range of teaching and learning and 1/5 as a researcher and scholar in vocational education. The role has its challenges but is always rewarding and interesting.

When I received my award, I was one of very few non-university staff to attain the award. For many years, I have been inspired by the life of Sir Edmund Hillary. He not only was the first, along with Tenzing Norgay, to climb Mount Everest, but also founded the Himalayan Trust.  The trust raises money to assist the Nepalis to build schools and hospitals and through its almost 50 years have contributed to the betterment of the lives of many people in Nepal. Therefore, Hillary made use of his status, to better the lives of others.

My aspirations are more modest but greatly inspired by a need to foster better teaching and learning capability within NZ vocational education. I was lucky with the timing of my award. Ako Aotearoa, the NZ Centre for Tertiary Teaching excellence, was set up at the same time. The award provided me with networking opportunities with the new organisation, assisting me to build sound relationships and to participate in a range of Ako Aotearoa activities. To date, I have been able to garner funding to undertake two Nationally funded projects and seven smaller projects, funded through the Southern regional hub (see Projects page on this blog for list and links to project outputs). My post PhD scholarly journey has therefore been largely ‘learning by doing’ through the completion of externally funded projects which require results. In line with my goal to build capability within the vocational education sector to carry out ‘practitioner-led’ inquiry, both the National and four of the smaller projects involved other trades tutors or ITO staff. For most, the projects were the first time these tutors have had the opportunity to complete an in-depth study into the efficacy of their teaching innovations.


There has now been a decade of contributing to the ‘evidence-base’ to assist the improvement of vocational learning. There is still much to do, and my contribution has been small but hopefully a start at building awareness and capability. The current project on e-assessments brings together many of my learnings from previous projects. In particular, the project also builds capability with a team of tutors who have a mandate to undertake some research as part of their teaching roles. I am hopeful some of this team will go on to lead other projects as vocational education research is still sparse. Modest beginnings are always better than no work at all :) 

In so doing, I hope some of the following quote, attributed to Lao Tzu, has transpired.

“A leader is best
When people barely know he exists
Of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will say, “We did this ourselves.”


Monday, July 31, 2017

Stephen Billett - Learning through practice - overview of work and bibilography

I prepared this list for a colleague of mine, starting on her PhD journey. She is researching practice-based learning. As many people find Billett's work to be 'dense' and as much of it is now considered the seminal articles on workplace and practice-based learning, I looked into providing her with a smooth introduction into his work.

Firstly, there is a short video (under 4 minutes) which provides a good overview.  As Stephen was my PhD supervisor, I had the opportunity to gain familiarity with his work over a period of time. His first seminal articles on workplace learning were published in the 1990s and early 2000s. I advise other scholars, interested and beginning in the field of workplace learning, practice-based learning and learning through practice to at least read 3 to 4 of Stephen’s articles from the 1990s. They set up a good background for his current work.

The seminal papers on various topics include:

Workplace learning – including concepts of affordances / interdependencies
Billett, S. (1996). Situated learning: Bridging sociocultural and cognitive theorising. Learning and Instruction, 6 (3), 263–280.

Billett, S. (2001). Learning at work: workplace affordances and individual engagement. Journal of Workplace Learning, 13(5), 209-214.

Billett, S. (2002). Toward a workplace pedagogy: Guidance, participation, and engagement. Adult Education Quarterly, 53(1), 27-43.

Billett, S. (2002). Workplace pedagogic practices: co-participation and learning. British Journal of Education Studies, 50(4), 457-481. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8527.t01-2-00214

Billett, S. (2003). Sociogeneses, activity and ontogeny. Culture and Psychology, 9(2), 133-169.

Identity – subjectivities
Billett, S. (2006). Constituting the workplace curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 36 (1), 31-48.

Billett, S. (2008). Learning throughout working life: A relational interdependence between personal and social agency. British Journal of Educational Studies, 56(1), 39-58.

Billett, S. (2008). Subjectivity, learning and work:Sources and legaciesVocations and Learning, 1(2), 149-171.

Billett, S., & Somerville, M. (2004). Transformational work: Identity and learning. Studies in Continuing Education, 26(2), 309-326.

Billett, S., & Pavlova, M. (2005). Learning through working life: Self and individuals’ agentic action. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 24(3), 195-211.

Practice based learning
Billett, S. (2009). Personal epistemologies, work and learning. Educational Research Review, 4, 210-219.

Billett, S. (2010). Learning through practice. In S. Billett (Ed.), Learning through practice:Models, traditions, orientations and approaches (pp. 1-20). Netherlands: Springer.

Billett, S., & Choy, S. (2013). Learning through work: emerging perspectives and new challenges. Journal of Workplace Learning, 25(4), 264 – 276. 

Cleland, J., Leaman, J., & Billett, S. (2014). Developing medical capabilities and dispositions through practice-based experiences. In C. Harteis, A. Rausch & J. Seifried (Eds.), Discourses on Professional Learning: On the Boundary between Learning and Working (pp.211-230). Drodrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

Mimetic learning
Billett, S. (2014). Mimetic learning at work. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.




Monday, July 24, 2017

Skilling for tomorrow - overview from Australian context

Anne Payton from the NCVER has provided a good overview, within an Australian context, pertinent to vocational education in NZ. The key points are well-summarised. The report was launched at the recent 'No-Frills' VET research conference held in Hobart. 
Within the Australia context, the effects of technology, social and demographic changes and these factors contributions to economic and labour market changes are discussed.
Future skills are extrapolated. Some of the findings are very pertinent to NZ although OZ is much larger and has a different economic base.

Some pertinent items of interest from citations –


The report proposes 7 ‘job families’ or clusters obtained through analysis of 2.7 million job advertisements – the generators (retail, sales, hospitality, entertainment), artisans (construction, maintenance, technical customer service), carers, informers (information, education or business services), coordinators (repetitive admin and behind the scenes process or service), designers (includes STEM), technologist. In a way, similar to work in NZ on vocational pathways
Carers, informers and technologists considered to be growth clusters.
If one trains for ONE job, one also attains skills relevant to 13 other jobs. In some jobs, switching to another job may only require retraining in one skill to obtain one of 44 jobs.

Another pertinent report is from Canada - another Commonwealth country with similar social, historical roots to Australia and NZ. The report on future proofing – preparing young Canadians for the future of work – 2017 The report has similarities to the Australian report above but also summarises the technological disruptions in to the near future.

Majority of the 42% of jobs impacted on by automation are currently done by people with lower income and less education. Although only 5% of jobs are fully automatable, 50% of jobs have a percentage of automatable tasks. Therefore, perhaps jobs are NOT eliminated but changed considerably. Increasingly, part-time, contract per project (gig economy) type work are ascendant.
Therefore, preparation for work includes the need to equip graduates with a broad range of technical and soft skills – digital literacy, entrepreneurship, social intelligence.
Most telling inforgraphic on page 15 – when asked ‘are Canada’s youth adequately prepared for the workforce?’ educational providers = 84% Yes whilst Youth only concur it at 44% and employers at 34%!!
Proposes the need for all sectors – public, private and non-profit – to work together. In particular to develop work-integrated learning models which are applicable across all sectors; explore digital literacy programmes for youth; identity and address potential barriers to youth entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship; provide timely labour market data, career planning and mentorship support to youth; enable lifelong learning and rapid, job-specific upskilling and training; and develop data strategy to build a stronger evidence base for policy and programme solutions.





Monday, July 17, 2017

Horizon report – 2017 – for higher education

The Horizon Report always makes for good reading. This year's report is no different.

A much more international aspect to this year’s Horizon report. The report is also available in Chinese, German and Japanese. Good to see a less North American centric version, providing a wider overview of possibilities across a wider range of cultures.

As per usual, the report provides an update on to Long, medium and short term trends driving technology development and adoption across the higher education sector. 

Short term trends are already well along the way - these include blended learning design and collaborative learning approaches - something Ara has had in policies in place for over a decade.

Medium term trends include the growing focus on measuring learning, which is mostly driven by Government funding models. Hopefully in NZ, there will be some shifts as per the 'Productivity Commission's report on Tertiary Education'. The other trend is the redesign of learning spaces, something I am totally steeped in at the moment through supporting our tutors as they shift into a brand new building for architectural and engineering studies.

Long term trends include advancing cultures of innovation and an emphasis on deeper learning approaches. Both have been ongoing work undertaken at Ara by the learning design team.

The Solvable challenges are still significant - improving digital literacy is an ongoing task for tutors and students; and the integration of formal and informal learning is always on the agenda as many of Ara students are part-time, working towards a qualification. We also have large components of work integrated learning in our programmes.

The difficult challenges are both interlinked. Closing the achievement gap between students and advancing digital equity. In NZ, it is centred on closing the rates of course completions between students of Maori / Pacifica ethnicity and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

The wicked challenges are managing knowledge obsolescence - with the need to support life-long learning due to the 'threats' of AI and robotics on work and rethinking the role of educators- as education shifts more from a 'one off post-school' to a continual process.

Developments seen to be important are adaptive learning technologies and mobile learning (current), the internet of things and the next generation of LMS (2 - 3 years) and implementation of AI and Natural user interfaces (4 - 5 years).


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Internet of Things - and Entrepreneurship

Attended two presentations by AlexandraDeschamps-Sonsino yesterday. Each with a different message. Alex has, since she graduated from design school, been working on developing, launching and support structures of a product based on the internet of things - the Good Night Lamp. She runs the consultancy designswarms which earnings support the entrepreneurial Good Night Lamp company.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for a long time, holding lots of promise but most people tend to think of as applying to the 'smart home'. 

First presentation was at Signal - the post-graduate school for IT which is a joint venture between Ara, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, Otago Polytechnic and Otago University. The title of the presentation was "Harder, better, faster, stronger – a case study in internet of things entrepreneurship". She covered how to account for IoT when developing ‘products’. Sharing her experiences to assist us to leverage off her experiences and learning.

Provided overview of her education and experiences since graduation. Has an industrial and interaction design education. Was the first UK distributor of Arduino. London IoT meetup organiser since 2011 – 11,000 members on virtual site and usually 40 or so people at f2f meetups. Writing a book on smart homes for Apress.

Founder of Good Night Lamp – easiest way to sync up with your global friends and family. Provided an overview of rationale, development since 2005 and future plans. Challenges of working with cutting edge tech – in 2005 IoT was still just a concept. Especially working with existing corporations who may be unable to see how a new concept fits into their existing portfolio. Also academic systems not available to protect IP.

Experiences as distributor also provided learning – how to balance a service company with a development division. (2006 – 2012).

Set up company to revive and develop the Good Night lamp after registering trademark in UK.  Detailed development, technical, design and marketing etc. required to work together. Also challenges in finding funders, who envisage tech investment as software, apps etc. and unfamiliar with IoT. Kickstarter was an option but also struggled. Cautions on using crowd sourced funding as often, after initial funds used, there is no backup plan to keep refining and increasing market.
Found a partner – eseye – who had technical expertise – which worked out OK. Important to establish a viable customer base – used Shopify. Then worked with an industrial design studio to produce the ‘holder’ for the electronics. Detailed challenges with production, the design (types of clips, LEDs), technical (shifting from 2G to 4G), material and production (differences in craftsmanhip and quality) issues and how these had to be resolved. Took time to trademark in US to protect IP. Stressed importance of customer service – ensuring all customers had a good product experience. As product is IoT, data from each item sill available and usable for customer service improvement and future enhancements. Plans to go through IndieGoGo to finance shift from 2G to 4G.

Being an early entry means the product is mentioned in various books on IoT. Shared the many lessons learnt and recommendations for support at the early stages, affordable on demand talent and specialised entrepreneurship education and training – which needs to be trans-disciplinary – engineering, design, business etc.

Advice to entrepreneurs is to be ‘driven’ to get ahead with their project.

Second presentation was across lunch time to at Ara tutorial staff.
This time around the emphasis was on how education is able to support the development of entrepreneurship, in particular, around the IoT.

Large number of failures in ‘start-up’. Therefore, a place for support, development in the educational sphere and curriculum for inclusion of aspects of entrepreneur preparation.
From her experience, IoT products require designing a consumer product people will want to buy (product design, pricing, marketing); offering solid web connectivity electronics, firmware and backend design); and designing a universal user experience (ux, web design and e-commerce).
Product design includes product, accessories, packaging and shipping box. Can be done by self, hire industrial designer or most costly option of hiring an industrial design company. Working it out on your end now more possible with hacker/maker spaces, learn CAD online, use laser cutting / 3D printer. Need to account for the supply chain.

Pricing requires selling whole sale price being 4 times of costs which include bill of materials (use Dragon standard BOM google sheet), labour, shipping, tax, cost of returns, IP and other registrations etc. Allow for certification of your product if there are legislative / regulatory requirements – e.g. connected product. Actual prices to consumer will then be marked up 50 to 65%. Is it competitive?
Marketing requires press release, short video on social media, spare units to give away and conventions / trade shows etc. Currently, Consumer Exhibition showcases 50% of products with connectivity, rest a mixture of AR, VR and cars. Build list of websites and magazines and their editors contact details. Consider Christmas editions.

Cloud funding not the only way. Angel investment for lower amounts; If under a million, try a group of angels; above a million is very difficult. Incubators have a role but can cost and take time. Try government and academic grants if looking for under ½ million.


Ability to work across disciplines is important. Helps to understand how each discipline sees the world, what is important to them and how they approach a problem. Much of entrepreneurship is relationship building, resilience and ability to work through large challenges. 

Provided resources for further exploration. List of books via iot.london and her blog.

Monday, July 10, 2017

How long before a robot takes your job?

Here is a bbc article on how long it takes before your job is automated. The stats from from this report. Buisness insider predicts the timeframe for when AI will be able to exceed human performance - using much the same data and graphs as the bbc article. In short, jobs like truck driving will be replaced soonest, but full automation of all forms of labor within a hundred years from now. For truck driving, perhaps OK where there are straight roads (Australia's long haul trucks?) but NZ conditions may be a greater challenge! It will be interesting to check this prediction in 2027.

Another report from Harvard business review  takes the position that AI will help us do our jobs better and that we should leverage of this - as per previous post on book overview - we created AI and must take responsibility for how it unfolds. I think using AI to enhance how humans work is perhaps the most acceptable position. Using robots or mechanical aids and AI as mental augmentation - see this article - provides for transition and help humans understand the affordances and challenges of blending human, machine and digitally derived 'intelligence'.

Monday, July 03, 2017

From Bacteria to Bach and Back - Daniel Dennett - Book overview

I picked up this book from the ‘new book’ shelf in my local public library a couple of  weeks ago. 
Written by Daniel Dennett and published this year - 2017 - by Norton Publishers. The Guardian offers a comprehensive review 

Timing was just right for a wet weekend which allowed for two evenings of concerted reading. The main argument in the book is the role of evolution in producing the human brain. In short, evolution does not need to be ‘smart’ or to understand where it is headed. It just needs to ‘be’ and time will weed out the physical traits and ‘memes’ which will not last. There is an interplay between what is availed in the brains of individuals, with access to social learning affordances. Language, writing, apps, social media are seen to be things invented by humans, to further the development of their species. 

Its a longish book - 400 plus pages with helpful index, list of further readings and 20 plus pages of pertinent references but worth the effort to get into. The book is written for non-academic readers.

Examples and analogies are based on computers and other items familiar to a general audience, help to make clear, the more complex concepts.

The book has 15 chapters categorised into 3 parts. Part one sets the scene, going through the rationale for the argument to be sustained through the book and an overview of the foundational theories. Part 2 – from evolution to intelligent design – contains the main content of the book. There is an overview of the biological evolutionary process with the parallel cultural evolution’s role in forming human thinking. The two chapters in the last part, brings the various threads together to argue support the argument and contains some insights into the future.

The last chapter is perhaps most important. Here, the argument is for humans to be cognisant of their inherent ‘power’. Artificial intelligence may now have arrived, but it the humans, who have invented it, to understand the implications, to leverage the advantages and to ensure the worse implications do not come into fruition.

Overall, a good summary of Dennett's work, reiterating his scholarship into the 'mind' and how we should use our brains better. All in, a worthwhile read with pertinent learning to further / reinforce my understanding of evolutionary psychology.