Learning to Teach On-line with an E80 Blend

Tom Worthington

Slides and notes: http://www.tomw.net.au/technology/it/learning_teaching_online
For Computing Education Conventicle 2016, University of Canberra, 28 September 2016
Also ACS Canberra e-Learning Special Interest Group, 23 November 2016

Description: Tom Worthington reviews his last five years as a student of education, at the Australian National University, University of Southern Queensland, Canberra Institute of Technology and a North American university. He suggests that university academics should be trained in entrepreneurship, as well as teaching, to prepare them for an uncertain future where they will have multiple careers working mostly as part-time casual staff. Tom proposes Australian universities should be preparing for an E80 blend of education: 80% e-Learning plus 20% classroom-based.

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We're here for you Swinburne University 2016

My most useful lesson from being a student of education is how much hard work it is being a university student, especially a part-time, on-line, international student. It is not as depicted in TV advertisements, such as We're here for you (Swinburne University, 2016).Tutors do not suddenly appear when you need help. Course administration and content are difficult to understand, time-consuming, frustrating and very, very difficult. Designing and delivering higher education courses and programs required specialized skills which university academics need to be trained for in assessed, accredited programs. I have spent the last five years learning to teach, including learning to teach international on-line students, by being an international on-line student.

Introduction: Tom Worthington

Tom Worthington preparing to depart the USS Blue Ridge by Military Helicopter during Exercise Tandem Thrust 97

Tom Worthington on USS Blue Ridge

* This year ANU celebrates 45 Years of Comp. Sci. and ACS 50 Years

After seventeen years working as a computer professional for the Australian Government, I decided to become a private computer consultant in 1999. My job would be short term projects for companies and government agencies, about their computer strategies and policies. This role would involve extended periods of time working alone in my home office.

To give some continuity, I volunteered to help out at local universities and was appointed a Visiting Fellow in what is now the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University (this year ANU celebrates 45 Years of Comp Sci). In return for a desk and status as academic staff, I helped out with research and teaching. I found myself drawn to the issue of how to use computer technology for the teaching. It seemed obvious that computers and the Internet should be utilized for teaching computer science students, but how and what?

Trying to Teach in a Classroom: My First Lecture

Slide from lecture notes by Tom Worthington

Lecture Slide (2000)

For ANU course "Information Technology in Electronic Commerce", COMP3410 (2000):

  1. Web-based lecture notes,
  2. Slides, and,
  3. Audio Slideshow in SMIL.

For live lectures and an on-line facsimile of lectures.

At first, I tried the obvious step of using the World Wide Web (the web), to provide lecture materials, with HTML in place of Powerpoint to prepare and present lecture slides and notes. Then I added audio to the slides for on-line delivery. However, these were not satisfying for me as a presenter, or for the student audience. I did not know it, but I was trapped in the "lecture 1.0" paradigm.

Trying to Teach On-line

"... ACS employs a teaching methodology described as mentored and collaborative; meaning that, under the guidance of experienced IT educators and practitioners, students work individually and together to analyze and understand workplace situations and problems. And to support both its aims and its teaching methodology, it is delivered in a learning environment which is anywhere, anytime ..." David Lindley, 2007

From Lindley, David. (2007, November). Computer professional education using mentored and collaborative online learning. In SEARCC 2007, Proceedings of the South East Asia Regional Computer Conference (pp. 18-19). Retrieved from http://ijcim.th.org/SpecialEditions/v15nSP4/P09SEARCC_ComputerProfessionalEducation.pdf

In 2006, I was appointed Director of the Professional Development Board of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), responsible for postgraduate education and short courses for the society's 13,000 members. My role was mostly political and not based any particular expertise with education. While I fought for a budget in the ACS governing council, the staff educated me on how computers and the Internet could be used for learning. In particular, Dr. David Lindley, the Academic Principal and Chief Examiner of the ACS, provided a very clear vision of on-line professional education (Lindley, 2007).

My First On-line Course

Green ICT Strategies, commissioned by ACS in 2008.

Designed in three months, with mentoring from David Lindley

Published as a book and offered from 2009 by ACS, ANU, OUA

North American graduate version and undergraduate self-paced versions.

Course design won the ACS Canberra ICT Award for Education 2010 and Australian ICT Higher Educator of the Year Gold Digital Disruptor Award 2015

See: Worthington, T., "A Green computing professional education course online: Designing and delivering a course in ICT sustainability using Internet and eBooks," Computer Science & Education (ICCSE), 2012 7th International Conference on , vol., no., pp.263,266, 14-17 July 2012 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ICCSE.2012.6295070

In May 2007 I was contracted by a local government agency to run a short course in "Writing for the Web". To do this, I set up an instance of the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS) on my company website and had the agency create a temporary electronic classroom, to deliver the material in real time. Moodle worked well in the computer equipped classroom and I repeated this for a one day workshop at the ANU, at the request of the National Archives of Australia (NAA). However, I could not see how to translate this "training" to the university education context. At this stage, I envisaged using the web to enhance face-to-face learning, using facilities such as a Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) room. At that stage, it was not conceivable that courses, especially courses at a leading research university could be conducted on-line.

In 2008, after ending my term as ACS Director of Professional Development, the ACS commissioned me to design an on-line course in "Green IT Strategies", implemented using Moodle. Not having any previous experience in developing a pure on-line course, I used one of the existing courses as a template. The process took three months, with training and mentoring by ACS and I documented it in thirteen blog postings, "e-Learning Course on Green ICT Strategies". What I did not realize at the time was that the format used by ACS was a conventional distance education on-line course design, very similar to that employed by Open University UK and other open and distance universities around the world. For the next eight years, much of my time was spent in understanding and refining this approach to DE, implemented using Moodle and other open source tools.

Vocational & Academic Education

"In the weekly forums and the two major assignments, you are asked to write about the ICT sustainability of an organization you are familiar with. It may be where you work, where you have worked, or an organization you can obtain information on from public sources. ..."

From ICT Sustainability (Worthington, 2016).

Worthington, T. (2016) ICT Sustainability: Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future, Retrieved from http://www.tomw.net.au/ict_sustainability/assessment.shtml

In 2008 the ANU began a transition from the Web CT LMS to the Moodle. I had attended an introductory Web CT course but had not used it for teaching. However, on the introductory Moodle training course for ANU staff, I realized that this was already a familiar tool.

While other students were trying their first outline, I logged into the ACS Moodle server, backed up the Green ICT course and restored it to the ANU server. The course displayed using the ANU theme and, in a flash of inspiration, I realized I could perhaps make a few changes to have a course suitable for both ACS and ANU. Also, I realized that an ANU course does not require lectures or examinations. I have spent the last eight years refining that process.

The course changes needed for ANU were relatively minor. The most difficult task was to convince Australia's leading research university (ANU), that a course with no lectures and no examinations could meet quality standards. What made this possible was the way a DE course is well structured and self-documenting, including the relating course materials to assessment, to skills to external standards. Both the ACS and ANU versions of the course were approved by their respective academic standards committees and commenced in early 2009.

One of the students in the first student cohort at ANU was the Chief Information Officer at a North American university. After completing the course, they asked if their institution could run it. So I provided a copy of the Moodle course backup file, and they adapted this for delivery as the graduate course Green ICT Strategies (COMP 635), this was then made into an undergraduate self-paced version by Mary Pringle, in 2014.

Having run the Green ICT course each year for ANU and ACS, I felt I had a reasonable grasp of this form of e-learning. Slight refinements were made to the materials, in particular reducing the number of separate documents provided to the students.

My Last Lecture: August 2008

Cicero Denounces Catiline, Maccari, 1889

"Tom Worthington at the Australian National University recently announced that he had given his last lecture. No, he's not retiring. He and his students simply don't have a need for lectures. Check out Tom's Net Traveller blog for more information." Lecture 2.0, Wikiversity, 2012

From Lecture 2.0. (2012, September 28). Wikiversity. Retrieved 06:25, September 28, 2012. Retrieved from https://en.wikiversity.org/w/index.php?title=Lecture_2.0&oldid=951666.

I continued using web-based slides for live lectures, until mid-2008, when in an epiphany, I found myself announcing to the students that this was to be my last lecture, which found its way into a Wikiversity entry (Lecture 2.0, 2012).

In a flash of realization, I understood that I did not like giving lectures, had never enjoyed attending them, and I had an obligation to my students, and myself, to seek better ways to teach.

Higher Education Certificate

ANU Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (GradCertHE) 2011 to 2013. Classroom-based courses:

With two on-line courses from USQ*

ANU discontinued the GradCertHE in 2013.


In 2011 I enrolled in the ANU's Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (GradCertHE), which all university teaching staff were expected to complete. Due to my interest in e-learning, I took advantage of an ANU/USQs partnership, allowing me to substitute two USQ courses from their education faculty, for two of the four ANU courses in the certificate program. I selected Online Pedagogy in Practice (EDU8114) and Assessment, Evaluation and Learning (EDU5713). These were both delivered on-line from USQ's campus in the regional city of Toowoomba, 1,000 km north of Canberra: a regional university delivering on-line courses national and internationally.

An ANU-USQ Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), allowed ANU students to enroll in USQ courses. However, the cross-institutional study procedures were so complicated, I instead enrolled at USQ as a professional development student and then applied for credit at ANU. One of the lessons I learned as a student is how much of an impediment the administrative processes of institutions can be. In choosing where to study later, the simplicity of the administration was as important as the quality of the education provided. The option of enrolling in one course, outside a program, is an opportunity a university should allow.

The USQ courses used Moodle and were in a similar format to those I was designing and delivering. The approach utilized for the course design and the content followed the distance education approach developed by OUUK, with carefully prepared and tested course materials and standardized assessment based on asynchronous and synchronous forum participation, group and individual assignments. Perhaps more important that the teaching skills learned, was the experience of being an e-learning distance education student.

By July 2013, I had completed the four courses required for the ANU GradCertHE, and the next step would have been to articulate into the ANU Masters of Education program. However, ANU decided to discontinue offering qualifications in education, and I could not proceed beyond a certificate.

Higher Education Certificates have been the way Australian universities expected their staff to learn about teaching. However, universities seem ambivalent about such a qualification: is it education or staff training?

Vocational Training Certificate

Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (CERT IV TAE40110) from CIT in 2013.

To teach ACS Dip IT Vocational Education and Training (VET)

* Also useful skills for university "work ready" skills.

In 2013 I was teaching on-line courses for ACS, as well as ANU. I was asked if I was interested in helping teach vocational education and training (VET) courses for ACS. The Australian VET sector is highly regulated, and this required me to obtain a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (CERT IV TAE40110). Having completed the university equivalent, I was able to obtain 80% of the CERT IV by Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) by August 2013. An assessor at the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) helped me assemble the required evidence, in a one-on-one face to face session.

The remaining 20% of the certification was thorough on-line modules via Moodle. Much of the material was familiar from previous studies, and this was, in theory, a lower level qualification (Level 4, versus the Graduate Certificate's Level 9, on the Australian Qualifications Framework), but it was still not easy. I realized how much I still had to learn about teaching and e-learning. One of the main lessons I have learned as an on-line student is how hard being a student is (something teachers need to be reminded of).

My studies made me better understand what my students were going through, had me work harder on making course materials simpler and assessment tasks clearer for my students. One experience stands out: in the USA course Assessment, Evaluation and Learning (EDU5713), I read a considerable amount of research literature about student's attitudes to harassment. One point was that students do not read the detailed feedback provided with marked written assignments. I did not believe this literature: I spent much effort writing detailed comments on assignments, so surely the students read these comments. I got back the first assignment for this course, read the mark on the cover and then tossed it aside. In a flash of insight, I realized I have not read the comments, exhibiting the behavior I claimed good students did not have. After that, I studied techniques to get student attention and applied them in my course design.

This study paid off: I had less difficulty with planning and delivering courses, and my student feedback scores were higher.

Learning to Teach Internationally

No Suitable MEd in Australia

In 2013, Australian MEd programs were primarily for classroom-based school teaching and required more than a Graduate Certificate in Education (Diploma or Degree).

A few more MEd options in 2016: By Research at ACU in Canberra or UNE, or on-line by Coursework at ECU, JCU, Monash University, UNE.

In 2013 there was a limited selection of Masters of Education programs available in Australia for someone interested in tertiary teaching and without a degree in education. Most programs offered were for school teachers and required at least a diploma or degree in education.

A few more MEd options are now available in 2016: By Research at ACU in Canberra or at UNE, or on-line by Coursework at ECU, JCU, Monash University, UNE. However, most MEds are still aimed at school classroom teaching and require at least a diploma in education.

Selecting an International MEd

Masters Level Teaching, Learning and Assessment: Issues in Design and Delivery by Pauline Kneale

Two institutions frequently appeared in the education literature:

  1. Open University UK
  2. A North American university (much like USQ)

A bonus was that, unlike Australian Masters programs, the North American program allowed students to select coursework or research after enrolling, so less neglected (Kneale, 2015).

See: Masters Level Teaching, Learning and Assessment: Issues in Design and Delivery, Pauline Kneale, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015

After searching on-line and attending several graduate programs fares, I then looked to international DE programs. The two institutions which frequently appeared in the literature were the Open University UK and a North American university. The North American institution replied more promptly and personally than OUUK, so I enrolled. One issue with enrolling in any program is the amount of time and emotion invested in the process. With this institution, I was reasonably sure of being admitted, as they were using a course I had designed. Kneale (2015) reports my comments on program selection in Chapter 2 "The Diversity of Master's Provisions" (p. 22) and at the beginning of Part 5 "Curriculum Design" (p. 201).

I commenced an introductory Masters course in January 2014.

MEd Structure

Students undertake five core courses and two of 24 elective courses (using Moodle and Mahara). Then either:

Finally, students write up a research thesis, or e-portfolio, for the oral defense.

MEd Courses Selected

The DE courses are structured much like those of other "open" universities: 12 weeks grouped in modules of three or four weeks, with three or four major assessment items (some group work) and about 25% assessment for forum contributions. Each course has a cohort of about 25 students at the beginning, with a loss of about 25% of students in the first few weeks. There are one or two instructors. Students are typically mature age teaching staff of colleges, private training providers, and military organizations, mostly in North America or expatriates around the world. Most courses are primarily asynchronous (non-real time), some with a small synchronous component.

The Moodle Learning Management System is used to provide electronic notes to students and for submission of assessment. Paper-based textbooks are proved, supplemented by a reading list of research papers and videos available on-line. Assessment is by traditional written assignments, as well as multimedia materials (such as course modules produced by students), submitted via Moodle.

These are conventional distance education courses, with the advantages and disadvantages of materials designed through a rigorous process and intended to be used unchanged for several years.


Capstone with oral defense via webinar

Select 5 artifacts to show 47 competencies in 6 categories:

  1. Problem Solving, Analysis & Decision Making (11)
  2. Instructional Design & Development (7)
  3. Communication Technologies and Networking (5)
  4. Communication & Interpersonal Skills (8)
  5. Research (11)
  6. Management, Organization and Leadership (5)

From: Hoven D. (2015) ePortfolios in Post-Secondary Education: An Alternate Approach to Assessment. UAE Journal of Educational Technology and eLearning, 2015 Jan 7. Edition 1, 11-24. Retrieved from http://ejournal.hct.ac.ae/wp-content/uploads/2014_Article2_Debra.pdf#page=10

The Capstone e-portfolio requires the students to reflect on their learning using five artifacts, which usually are a subset of the assignments already submitted in coursework (Hoven, 2015, p. 23). Rather than just leave the student to work this out for themselves, the e-portfolio is structured as a course, with an instructor and deliverables. Students receive feedback from the instructor and provide comment on each others draft e-portfolios.

Artifact: e-Colombo Plan Paper

"This paper first looks at the aims of the origins and aims of the original Colombo Plan, at the new Plan, then at the application of Distance Education in computer science and engineering disciplines in Australia and China. Lastly, the paper proposes how to bring these elements together to teach Australian and Chinese students together on-line, as part of degree programs."

Worthington, T. (2014, August). Chinese and Australian students learning to work together online proposal to expand the New Colombo Plan to the online environment. In Computer Science & Education (ICCSE), 2014 9th International Conference on (pp. 164-168). IEEE. DOI: 10.1109/ICCSE.2014.6926448

This is an example of an artifact from a course, for the e-portfolio. In this paper, written as an assignment for the introductory course, I looked at the current and future climate for DE and the industry and formulated a strategy, reinvigorating the Colombo Plan, current business and administrative functions in DE, the fragmented approach to vocational education, the selection of learning technology.

When I enrolled in a North American program, I assumed there would be minimal differences to an Australian university, sharing a common language and culture. However, there are subtle differences between language and practice. Some of these differences are amusing, such as one group of students were labeled "loons" by the instructor, which I thought inappropriate until I discovered this was a reference to a North American bird. More seriously, differences in grading and what was expected in assignments caused difficulties. This put me in mind of my international students and their difficulties with plagiarism rules: rules which seem very clear and obvious to me, but not to my students from a different educational system.

Artifact: Mobile learning

Responsive design is now incorporated into learning software, such as Moodle and Mahara (Video)

The designer just needs to consider what is a suitable amount of content and task for the mobile learner

One of the MEd courses I undertook was on mobile learning. Much to my embarrassment, I had to admit that I did not have a smartphone or tablet computer. So I purchased a low-cost smartphone and tablet, of the type a student in a developing nation might have. In particular, one device was the XO Tablet Computer, from the Open Laptop Per Child project. These were used to try applications and develop a learning module, to be evaluated by other students. The revelation here were not the new educational Apps, but that existing desktop software, including Moodle and Mahara, had been upgraded to use responsive web design and automatically adjusted their interface when displayed on a mobile device (see the video "Tom Demonstrating Responsive Web Design"). This still requires the educational designer to consider the context of where the learner is. The mobile interface is useful for presenting small amounts of information and asking for a short response. However, the student is unlikely to be able to write a 4,000-word essay, while sitting on a bus.

Lessons Learned


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

From Harrison, W. (2006). Eating your own dog food. IEEE Software, 23(3), 5-7. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MS.2006.72

The most useful aspect of being an on-line student of education is "dogfooding", a term coined by Harrison (2006) for the practice of those who develop a product to use it. In the case of education courses, the designers, and instructors demonstrate that the technology they are advocating works and the students learn what it is like to be a DE student, before being an instructor or designer. Each course reminded me how crushingly lonely being a student can be, especially a distance student and even more so for an international student. As a result, I take additional care now to ensure my course instructions as well as content are very clear and try to avoid cultural confusion. However, the experience of being a DE student can also be liberating, compared to a part-time, after-hours, campus student.

Combining Vocational & Academic Education

Tips for e-learning at University of Cambridge, 2015

University of Cambridge

There are two areas of assessment in the course:

  • Weekly Assessment (20%): Contributions to weekly discussion forums (10%) and completion of a weekly quiz (10%),
  • Assignments (80%): midcourse (40%) and at the end (40%).

To pass the course at least 10/20 for Weekly Assessment and 40/80 for Assignments is required. Grades of 70% and higher (Distinction and High Distinction) are based only on Assignments.

Worthington, T. (2016) ICT Sustainability: Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future, Retrieved from http://www.tomw.net.au/ict_sustainability/assessment.shtml

An issue which came up throughout my education studies was the difference between vocational training and academic education. The Australian VET sector tends to use a different approach to assessment to that of universities. Courses for graduate professionals tend to fall somewhere in between training and education. In designing courses for both professionals and university students, I found myself with one common set of course content, but two different assessment schemes. Vocational and professional training emphasize competence (students are either "competent", or "not yet competent"), whereas academic education grades students into more levels (pass, credit, distinction high distinction), the exact meaning of which is not clear. Many university programs require students to obtain more than a "pass" in courses. After completing several courses on course and assessment design, in 2016 I decided to blend the two approaches by limiting the amount which some assessment items contributed to the student's final grade.

In 2015 I was invited to discuss some of these ideas at the University of Cambridge.

Digital Disruption

Uberisation of University Teaching: casual, insecure & untrained

"... casually employed academic staff account for approximately half the academic workforce in Australia, on a headcount basis. ... Casual academic employment is not the entry level to an internal labour market of more secure, permanent employment. ... Casual academic staff in disciplines with greater external mobility are less frustrated and tend to be less qualified. ... PhD study provides training in research, but not teaching, yet at least as much of a teaching and research academic's time will be spent teaching, as undergoing research. ..."

From May, R., Peetz, D., & Strachan, G. (2013). The casual academic workforce and labour market segmentation in Australia. Labour & Industry: a journal of the social and economic relations of work, 23(3), 258-275. Retrieved from http://www98.griffith.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/handle/10072/57321/90918_1.pdf?sequence=1

May, Peetz and Strachan (2013) detail how the Australian academic workforce is becoming increasingly casually employed and that this is not a path to permanent employment.

Lecture Attendance Low

"... live lectures are not working. ... attendance declines over semester to around 30% of original signup. ..."

From That Sinking Feeling: Counting the Cost of Live Lectures, Professor Hughes Warrington, ANU, 6 July 2015

Australian universities are introducing lecture recording and learning management systems, allowing on-line delivery of education. However, university academics still cling to the idea that the typical student attends lectures and has the time to sit around the campus having deep intellectual discussions. Also, the assumption is that the average student will want to go on to postgraduate research and obtain a tenured research position.

Less than half of students attend lectures: 30% at ANU (Warrington, 2015).

Students Are Flipping

"The ANU College of Law has recently established a Juris Doctor degree online (JDO), with ANU students expressing concern about its implementation. ... classes will be taught as 'webinars' ... excludes lectures ...

Olivia Sparrow, Juris Doctor (Education) Officer on the ANU Law Students' Society, questions whether 'on-campus students could be disadvantaged with their larger class sizes and conservative teaching delivery'." (Kirpalani, 2016).

Online Juris Doctor elicits student concern, Kanika Kirpalani, Woroni, 22 August 2016

A recent item in the ANU student newspaper, Woroni, expresses concern over a new on-line program. The concern is not that the on-line program is inferior, but is superior to the existing lecture based program, so disadvantaging the campus-based students (Kirpalani 2016).

New Ways of Learning Are Not New

"... On Thursday, July 12th, a meeting was held of some of those interested in the concept of a Learning Exchange in Canberra. ... The Melbourne Learning Exchange has its own newspaper in which items of interest and lists of teachers/potential learners are published. It is hoped that the extra work-load could be avoided by printing the same sort of information in regular spaces in various established community newspapers. ... An article about the Learning Exchange will appear in the CAE paper, CCAESARIAN soon, and also hopefully a feature in the Canberra Times ... For further information ... read the article in the second Woroni of this term."

From "LEARNING EXCHANGE", Woroni , Thursday 2 August 1973 in Forsyth, H. (2014). A history of the modern Australian university. NewSouth.

Much of what is proposed under the banner of digital, electronic or on-line learning is not new in concept. Access to ubiquitous digital technology makes it much easier to implement.

Response to Digital Disruption

Plan for E80 Blend: 80% on-line and 20% classroom education

Train all students to teach and be entrepreneurial.

Prepare graduates for multiple careers, where they will be required to sell their skills.

Use flipped, blended, group project based learning, assessed via a portfolio.

"...institutions need to support early career teachers to learn to teach in much the same way that students who are new to higher education are supported: through integrated and intentionally designed transition strategies."

Fraser, K., Greenfield, R., & Pancini, G. (2016). Conceptualising institutional support for early, mid, and later career teachers. International Journal for Academic Development, 1-13. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2016.1218882

While much education can be undertaken on-line, not all can. Students need to learn from experienced members of their discipline, learn to work in teams and learn to use equipment not available at home. A reasonable blend would be 80% on-line and 20% in a classroom.

Courses can be designed for on-line delivery and then necessary, or desirable, classroom components can be added.

Fraser, Greenfield, and Pancini (2016) suggest that early career academics need integrated and intentionally designed transition strategies, like those provided for students. I suggest we could go further and teach students to be teachers.

In addition to training in how to teach, students will also need training in how to be entrepreneurs. Graduates cannot expect to have a full time "permanent" jobs, so they need to learn to work in self-managed start-up teams, develop products and pitch them to customers.

Teach Students to Design and Deliver Courses

The skills required by a university educator are much like those required of a VET teacher and of professional in industry: structure knowledge, communicate, lead and assess. Education can be offered for all of these by universities. One approach would be to offer the VET Cert IV in T&A, plus advanced units for university teaching and supervision. Incorporating VET would have the advantage of emphasizing speed and efficiency in teaching, as well as customizing the teaching to the student's needs.

ANU TechLauncher

ANU Techlaucher computing group projects:

  1. Six months or one year, or longer projects
  2. Government or industry client, or student start-up
  3. Assisted by the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN).
  4. On-line project management tools are used as well as learning management software

Could be applied beyond IT and for on-line students learning to work in virtual teams.

This semester I have been tutoring three teams of ANU Techlaucher students in a program devised by Dr. Shayne Flint. This provides a model which could be used more generally for teaching "soft" as well as hard skills to university students. This can be applied to any university program where the students are learning skills which can be applied in the workplace. The use of on-line project management tools allows for teaching of techniques of virtual teamwork and can be used with on-line distance education students.

Teaching Impresarios

"Entrepreneurs have two roles in the economy: to introduce new ideas, and to energise business processes. The term entrepreneur, derives from the French words entre (between) and prendre (to take), referred to someone who acted as an intermediary. The term was originally used to describe the activities of what today call an impresario, a promoter or a deal maker. ..."

From "Entrepreneurial behavior", Open University (UK) module quoted in "Introduction to Innovation", April 10, 2015

For the course Instructional Design in Distance Education (MDDE 604)

Post-secondary educators and academics have been trained on the assumption they will be employed by a university or vocational education institution, or in a corporate training position. However, they are more likely to have a career made up of multiple short-term contracts of a few days to a few years. This requires the educator to have the skills of a deal maker. Universities are now offering training in innovation centers, such the Canberra Innovation Network. This training is also suitable for preparing educators to be an impresario.

For the course Instructional Design in Distance Education (MDDE 604) I was required to prepare a small course module, so I took the opportunity to prepare one on a topic I have been interested in for decades: innovation. The idea was that this would be an on-line module, used alongside a face-to-face series of workshops run by the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) for students of universities in Canberra. I had been a mentor for the program for several years and was increasingly frustrated that while the students learned useful skills, none of this counted towards their degree. By adding an academic framework, I hoped to make their extra-curricular activities curricula. I produced a further module for this "An Introduction to Entrepreneurship in Technology" for Openness in Distance Education (MDDE 622).

e-Portfolio Driven Degrees

Load the student's portfolio with a template of competences required:

For teaching certification:

E-portfolios provide a conceptual framework for a flexible approach to education. However, learning management systems and e-portfolios provide insufficient support at present to implement this. Systems are needed which allow a template to be loaded into the LMS (such as Moodle) and then competency evidence semi-automatically harvested from the e-portfolio (such as Mahara). Current systems act as little more than a documentation system for the process.

With a more intelligent system university programs could be defined regarding outcomes. When the students selected a degree program, they would be provided with a template to complete, listing competences required. Set activities, such as courses, would have the competencies they provide listed. When a student completed a course, the competences and evidence would be automatically recorded in their e-portfolio.

This approach would also allow for optional certifications to be acquired by the student. As an example, the education, training, and assessment skills, required for any professional role, could be certified in this way. The student could use the courses they are undertaking for their main studies as evidence of their training skills. A reasonable level to be expected would be for a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment with a bachelors degree, Graduate Certificate in Education with a Masters, and Diploma of Education with a Doctorate.

ACS Professional Year and SFIA Self Assessment

ACS Professional Year (PYear) in ICT for International Graduates

mySFIA: self-assessment of skills against the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA).

Use general competencies tool for similar certifications: Moodle Competencies plus Mahara Annotation?

ACS (2015). Skills Framework for the Information Age Version 6, Reference Chart, Australian Computer Society. Retrieved from http://www.acs.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/107714/SFIA-v6-Reference-Chart.pdf

The ACS Professional Year (PYear) provides graduates with training and an internship to prepare international graduates of Australian universities for the workplace. Completion provides 5 points under the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

The ACS provides the mySFIA web-based application for applicants to self-asses against the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA).

A graduate is likely to need a collection of certifications for employment. A general e-portfolio tool tracking competencies might be used to support similar industry schemes and certifications. For example, Moodle Competencies plus Mahara Annotation.

SFIA Education Skills

SFIA Category Skills and quality:
Subcategory Skill Code Levels

* SFIA Version 6 definitions from ACS (2015)

Skill management Learning and development management ETMG --34567
Learning assessment and evaluation LEDA --3456-
Learning design and development TMCR ---456-
Learning delivery ETDL --3456-
Teaching and subject formation TEAC ----56-
People management Professional development PDSV ---456-

SIFA includes training and education skills for computer professionals. One of the six SFIA categories is "Skills and quality". This includes six skills definitions, with five from the "Skill management" subcategory and one from "People management".

The SFIA Skills Definitions (Assessment Portal, 2016) would not on the face of it appear to relate to what the typical computer student learns or does in the workplace. However, many of the basic skills, such as preparing documents, giving presentations and collecting feedback, are common to IT development and education. A small component of training specifically on learning skills should be sufficient for the typical computer degree graduate to meet the SFIA Level 3 requirements. However, preparing the documentation for this, without the use of a tool, could be onerous.

Education Related Skills Definitions in SFIA Version 6

Category Skills and quality

  1. Learning and development management (ETMG): The provision of learning and development processes (including learning management systems) to develop the professional, business and/or technical skills required by the organization.

  2. Learning assessment and evaluation (LEDA): The assessment of knowledge, skills and behavior by any means whether formal or informal against capability and qualification frameworks such as SFIA. The evaluation of learning or education programs against defined outcomes.

  3. Learning design and development (TMCR): The specification, design, creation, packaging and maintenance of materials and resources for use in learning and development in the workplace or in compulsory, further or higher education. Typically involves the assimilation of information from existing sources, selection and re-presentation in a form suitable to the intended purpose and audience. Includes instructional design, content development, configuration and testing of learning environments, and use of appropriate current technologies such as audio, video, simulation and assessment. May include third party accreditation.

  4. Learning delivery (ETDL): The transfer of business and/or technical skills and knowledge and the promotion of professional attitudes in order to facilitate learning and development. Uses a range of techniques, resources and media (which might include eLearning, on-line virtual environments, self-assessment, peer-assisted learning, simulation, and other current methods).

  5. Teaching and subject formation (TEAC): The specification, design, development, delivery and assessment of curricula for computing and for information technology (including electronic communication), at any level of the education system from primary through to tertiary (all age ranges) and in the workplace. The topics addressed are those of the fundamental and more advanced areas of computing and the common skills needed to make productive use of computers and IT systems for both computing and IT professionals and competent users of IT based systems including the ideas of computational thinking and the application of computational concepts to everyday and professional life. Special attention is paid to the methods, techniques and pedagogy (the study of being a teacher, tutor or lecturer, and the process of teaching) of computing & IT education.

  6. Professional development (PDSV): The facilitation of the professional development of individuals, including initiation, monitoring, review and validation of learning and development plans in line with organizational or business requirements. The counselling of participants in all relevant aspects of their continual professional development. The identification of appropriate learning/development resources. Liaison with internal and external training providers.

SFIA Skills Definitions from: Assessment Portal (2016). Retrieved from: http://assessment-portal.azurewebsites.net/SFIAv6Index/SFIASkillsDefinitions(v6).aspx

Kerry Webb

Kerry Webb

Digital Distribution in 1990s Government

Tony Barry, ANU Deputy University Librarian, inspecting computerised library system in 1986

Tony Barry

Government publishing moved to the web in the 1990s:

"For people like Kerry Webb from the National Library of Australia and Tony Barry from the Australian National University, Australia's first on-line budget was like the first step on the moon. As key players in a 'cabal' of Canberra academics and bureaucrats with a passion for the Internet, Webb and Barry have managed to convince a somewhat reticent bureaucracy to get its information out to the world."

Communications Update. (1995). The cabal that connected Canberra. Communications Law Centre. UTS, Sydney. Retrieved from http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/CLCCommsUpd/1995/56.pdf

A similar process for e-learning?

Academics, including at the ANU, assisted the Australian Government to move from providing information via print to on-line in the 1990s. This was a largely informal process. A similar process, where those from academia, government, and industry loosely coordinate can be used to help introduce the changes needed in Australian Higher Education.

More Information

  1. The presentation notes are at: http://www.tomw.net.au/technology/it/learning_teaching_online
  2. Slides for these notes are also available
  3. Version 1 was presented at CECS Teaching and Learning Seminar Series, Noon, 7 September 2016, Australian National University, Canberra.
  4. Tom Worthington

Version 2.0, 9 August 2016, Tom Worthington

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Learning to Teach On-line with an E80 Blend by Tom Worthington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.