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Updated: 2017-09-11T06:39:56.404+12:00


Recommendations to La Trobe Uni in its considerations of open education practices


We held a public and open conference on open education last week. One of the sessions at the end of the day was to begin formulating recommendations to La Trobe University. This is a much more complicated task then I first considered. I realise now, my preference to work with the individual staff member up to the executive manager - rather than from the executive down, via policy change and directives. So in my own suggestions for recommendations, I've included things that ask the executive to look for and acknowledge work that is already taking place, and to resource pilot studies out in the Faculties so we may benefit from each other's more informed positions over time - say 12 - 24 months. While others are working in a Google Doc, I'm sticking with the wiki, for my part. 1.1 Support copyrights that are inter-operable with open educational resources1.2 Align to the Wikimedia Foundation projects1.3 Become an institution of open academic practice1.4 Engage the Learner's Bill of Rights1.5 Update the Intellectual Property Policy and Procedures1.6 LMS turn on the Wikimedia Commons repository1.7 Marketing messages are always educational1.8 Library support of open education and research content1.9 Recognise and celebrate what is already happening1.10 Give the Faculties time to pilot and position[...]

Stop Stealing Dreams - Seth Godin not quite deschooling


Stop Stealing Dreams (the entire manifesto on the web) - Stop Stealing DreamsI'm reading Seth Godin's manifesto attacking industrial strength schooling, and I think I've found an oversight and contradiction that seems to be common in some people's arguments about current school models being out of date because they don't align with idealistic/futuristic ideas of work.This quote largely catches it:If you do a job where someone tells you exactly what to do, he will find someone cheaper than you to do it. And yet our schools are churning out kids who are stuck looking for jobs where the boss tells them exactly what to do.The US economy has apparently only offered 600,000 "boss tells you what to do" type jobs over the past 20 years. But are cleaners, sweatshop workers, burger flippers, retail shop assistants, police, the military, students and welfare dependent unemployed really on a downturn in the US as Seth implies? I'm a bit confused to be honest. Is Seth accepting the impact of Globalisation on western economies, and seriously arguing that our mass education system should completely change to fit the work profile of a privileged few? is Seth's manifesto another example of bourgeois writing leaning on working class experience to progress a poorly considered idea that ultimately benefits the bourgeois position?Why should schools stop churning out factory workers? Seems to me that's what schools were designed for, not much has changed, nor could it be changed. Perhaps schools should be preparing people for military service, scab labor, homelessness and docile unemployment. We can't all be engineers, designers, culture creators and the like. Someone's still gotta take the garbage out, violently steel resources for the State, and make affordable food for those poor impoverished souls right? Or are we accepting that that is all done by migrants (who we assume don't go to school, at least not schools like ours). Unless we succeed at building cheap robots to do that work (and preserve the idea of welfare for those who would be displaced by that), the majority of work remains in that class, and so mass education should as well.This is the problem with trying to use the vocational education argument back on itself, to prop up a change argument that is less about new work models and more about promoting a different level of social ideals - freedom and conviviality. If Seth had of referred out to others writing on this topic, he might have at least encountered Ivan Illich, namely but not least his books: Tools for Conviviality, In Defense of Useful Unemployment, and Deschooling Society. A consistent thread through all of Illich's work is the anarchic idea that institutions like school, compel our cultural dependence on those institutions, and that we need to develop a viable alternative to industrialised living entirely, to begin breaking our dependence on those institutions. Reforming those institutions to drive such change is a tail waging a dog. And so it's not until we get much closer to a post industrial society, that we can hope for a more convivial experience of learning from one another, doing valuable, self sufficient and flexible forms of work, relying a lot less on schools to care for kids that must limit their learning to industrial strength vocational application. You might try and change the school system in the hope of shaping that more ideal society, but not without frustrating and disappointing those who are subjected to your engineering. Or you might simply make it more possible for people to forgo school entirely and discover and develop alternative ways of learning and being, but not without some fear and anxiety. We're a long way from either option, because in the end people need jobs to survive, those jobs are still very industrialised, and people caught in that need someone to take care of their kids while they're at work! A cruel and vicious cycle that seems to be getting worse with pre and post school chil[...]

Qualitative Analysis of Learning


Qualified Self and Learning Analytics: from Quantification to Qualification

I think the learning analytic research should move from the current practice of doing quantitative data analyses to include in it qualitative analyses. The quantified self should be expanded to be qualified self.

Clay Shirky's criticism of the recent MOOCs


Inside Higher Ed has run a good article by Steve Kolowich, How 'Open' Are MOOCs? November 8, 2012
Shirky’s framing of MOOCs as a phenomenon of the open educational resources (OER) movement -- rather than of the online education or instructional technology movements -- comes shortly after Coursera struck a content licensing deal with Antioch University that drew a line on the extent to which the company would allow outsiders to use its resources without paying to do so.
It is odd to me however, that the obvious example of the best OER (by way of mission statement, its clear success, in its diligent maintenance of copyright, its use of open standard formats, and in its open governance) is too often left out of the discussion. The open free cultural works, and massively popular Wikimedia Foundation projects like Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Wikibooks, Wikiversity, Wikinews, Wikisource, Wikitionary, Wikispecies, and more! Far and away more used than the new sites that are attempting to commercialise open education concepts, yet ignored by too many late entrants to this discussion. Is it a case of an elephant in the room not fitting in with our pre-existing categories?

I've found blockages in the university sector


Steps required to create a new courseSnakes and LaddersBackground image by SezzlesOn FlickrThis past 3 weeks, I've been working to identify the blockages to educational development within the Australian university sector. I was inspired by the remarks of Australian Vice Chancellors recently, who claimed that the regulation of universities was a significant impediment to innovation in our sector.Looking at the 2 main pieces of legislation that govern the operations of university teaching and assessment, I could identify very few, if any blocks - in fact I may have found a couple of enablers (item 16 of TEQSA2011, and item 19.115 of HESA2003).So next, instead of looking at the frameworks, guidelines and policies at this stage - where I expect to find a number of issues and perhaps blocks, I thought I'd try and find and describe the blockages that are well known at the "coal-face" so to speak. The things that are regularly talked about by teaching and assessing staff at all levels below Dean.My hope is that by looking at the legislation and then what happens on the ground, I might be better equipped for finding the specific areas of interest in the various guidelines, frameworks and policies. Once familiar enough with those guidelines, frameworks and policies, I should be in a sound position for designing methods and systems, and advising others with more confidence that I can account for the problems that impact on innovation and development.What follows is some sweeping and very general statements to a number of blocks as I have experienced them working in the sector for over 10 years now. Many have said that the skill in change work is learning how to work around and through these sorts of blocks, but I have witnessed and been part of far too many failures at that game to know that, either the skill is very complex and held by a very elite few, or the idea of working around and through these issues is a little bit flawed.So, at great risk to my personal safety and long and prosperous career, I'm listing these here as a kind of reference point in my on-going project to investigate the blockages widely reported on in the university education sector. Please forgive me if my sweeping generalisations offend.Course and subject approval processes are dense and complexNew course accreditation processes are very slow, dense and complex at best, and can become almost impossible when added to professional accreditation process, the political/technical issues in many change proposals, and the increasing casualisation of staffing and other issues brought about by academic capitalism.Subjects and even more modular units of study are held to course and faculty approval processes for them to attract funding and other supports that help establish sustainability.The local systemic idea of a course and subject is linear, time limited, access restricted, and protectionist. This presents sometimes intense ideological/political/technical difficulties for many change proposalsCentralised marketing tends to be generalised and risk averseMany educational change proposals today, such as open and networked educational practices, eventually confront central marketing policies, and brand management trumps educational and pedagogical design at the momentEfforts to adopt contemporary marketing methods (Cluetrain Manifesto 1996) are often at odds with established marketing methods, budgets and policies that are centrally governedCentralised marketing largely concerns itself with the University-as-a-whole brand, making it less responsive to subject level or smaller event needs.Centralised Information Communications Technology tends to be too narrow and risk averseCentrally supported software is understandably limited and user admin rights are often not permittedICT decisions are based on "business case" less than pedagogical and educational casesCentral ICT systems are considered in terms of[...]

Radical ideas slides


Last week I was asked to contribute radical ideas for education, in the form of short snappy slides. Here they are:

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Submission to MERLOT-JOLT special issue: Massive Open Online Courses


I couldn't really work out the proposal format for the MERLOT-JOLT special issue on MOOCs, and it's due on the 15th of November. I don't normally submit to journals, mainly because I just can't find the time or the call that I'd write to.. not to mention the rather convoluted process of having to create an account with the journal, and subsequently getting a regular barrage of 'calls for papers' from any number of other journals.

But I've been feeling like some history related to the open online courses is being left out - in particular the work I was involved in at Otago Polytechnic, where we attempted to measure the impact of the open online courses, as well as offering formal assessment to informal participants in the courses.

Here's the proposal text:
In 2007 Bronwyn Hegarty and myself started developing open online courses within Otago Polytechnic's Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Learning and Teaching - including formal assessment for people who took the courses informally.

Flexible Learning and Facilitating Online still run today, with new facilitators and new policies that formally endorse their existence. All seems well for open online courses, but the numbers of participants taking these courses have never been "massive", and the other courses within that Graduate program have not followed the model.

This paper will consider these and other outcomes, hearing from the people involved and looking at what they're doing today. We're searching for the useful takeaways, the things that might be learned from this early work projecting out of a little known institution in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Open and Networked Learning presentation


I've been asked to give a brief and initial presentation to people within the Faculty of Health at La Trobe: 

24 October 2012 between 1-2 in HS1 115 to give a presentation on open and networked learning processes, relating to the Internet. 

 If there's facility to project slides, here's what I'll use.. and this is still in development...

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I'll try and record audio and add it here later...

The blurb I sent through:
Leigh is interested in open and networked learning, including academic practices. He will briefly talk about projects he's been involved in, that illustrate an approach to community engagement, research, teaching and assessment that is open and networked. Leigh hopes to stimulate discussion around ideas and projects that tend to challenge, inspire, and confront traditional university based practice.
Leigh has recently joined La Trobe as the Educational Designer with the Faculty of Health Science. His family have come down from Darwin where he directed eLearning at the Centre for School Leadership, Learning and Development. Leigh also worked as the Learning Commons Coordinator at the University of Canberra's National Institute of Sport Studies where he developed many of the practices he talks about today. Although he is not a New Zealander, he spent a significant amount of time as an Educational Developer with Otago Polytechnic helping them establish leadership for open educational practices in the New Zealand sector. Leigh documents his work on

No Blocks Found yet, for Australian university education


Pedestrian Green Traffic Lights YerevanBy HeretiqWikimedia CommonsLast week I started searching for blockages in the Australian University system, blockages that might prevent the development of more open, networked and ultimately flexible teaching and assessment practices. I've just finished reading:The Higher Education Support Act 2003, Australasian Legal Information Institute (HESA2003)Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011, Australasian Legal Information Institute (TEQSA2011)I used Diigo to keep my notes, and it would be wonderful  if others using this system might pop in and leave some notes as well! I'm reading through these laws in an effort to get myself informed enough to be having deeper level discussions around the opportunities and barriers to new or alternative ways of doing education.In TEQSA and HESA I found only a few things that might be an issue, if not directly, then down the line in their implementation.TEQSATEQSA accredits courses only, not units of study, so there may be difficulty in getting new units or subjects up that are not attached to an accredited course. In saying that, there is a provision (41) where a provider can apply for self accreditation. I need to find out if it is common or not for a university to make this application.26 makes reference to Threshold Standards and 58 makes reference to a Higher Education Standards Framework. Both sound as if they might be devil in detail when it comes to blockages at the implementation level.. I haven't read either through, or even located them yet.Item 134 spells out the functions and powers of TEQSA, and I couldn't help noticing item 16. the Principle of proportionate regulation. Is that a nod to 'the spirit not the letter'?HESAItem 19.40 makes reference to an opportunity for exemption from tuition assurance. I don't know what this means, and am wondering if its a way to make room for experimentation.19.115 Makes mention of the Provider to have policy upholding free intellectual inquiry. This strikes me as a significant opening for establishing open and online courses, if having an interest in the content of courses qualifies as 'intellectual inquiry'.I couldn't get a handle Part 2-2, Commonwealth Grant Scheme, or how the fees and subsidies for courses work, but reckon I had it right back in 2010, all-be-it the actual dollar amounts having changed. I think there might be more money than I first thought to be available.So, I could really find very little at this top level of legislation that would stand in the way of developing more flexible teaching and assessment practices. I have no doubt I will find them in the detail, either at the frameworks and guidelines level, or the local institute policies and guidelines (including professional accreditation bodies), or most likely in the instruments and tools we use to administer - not to mention the over all assumption that is not necessarily made apparent, about how education happens in Universities.[...]

Searching for the blockages in Australian Universities


The Vice Chancellors of some Australian universities have been using the public pressure for change in teaching and assessment practices, to make claims that the over arching regulatory and funding bodies that generally govern universities here, are stifling innovation in the teaching and assessment space. Most recently I've seen Jane Den Hollander Vice-Chancellor at Deakin University write as much to The Conversation. And I'm told Jim Barber Vice Chancellor of University of New England made similar complaints at Creating New Futures.I'd like to find out exactly what Jane and Jim are referring to, if it's reasonable to say that such regulation is stifling innovation, or rather if what I've always thought the problem to be - that the premise and traditions of education, copy-cat administration, and narrow approaches to ICT, are the true-er reasons for lack of innovation. As Mark Smithers and Joyce Seitzinger say in their comments to Jane's article on The Conversation, we don't need more money for the sorts of changes that are apparently necessary, and that numerous prejudicial attitudes and narrow minded approaches to ICT in higher education point to a cultural problem.When floating some old (in this head at least) ideas for alternative ways of teaching and assessmen, (2009-2012 ideas, and 2006-2009), I'm so-far pleasantly surprised that I haven't been met with outright hostility or dismissal here at La Trobe. Perhaps I've tempered my verbal delivery of such ideas, or perhaps SD is right in saying the time is right for floating such thinking.In a recent interaction with someone well informed on the administrative processes at this university, I was asking how we might go about setting up a recognition of prior learning process, so we can explore ways of formally enrolling people when they complete a subject, rather than when they start. Might this be a way to report 100% completion rates? No one fails or is recorded as dropping out if they enroll when they know they will pass. Courses would need to adjust to loss-lead funding arrangements, and that will probably be a sticking point, but then again funds will come in as they normally do because most people will continue to enroll traditionally, and when people taking the flexible enrollment route do eventually enroll-at-completion, they bring in another form money. How could we structure teaching, assessment, administration and funding around this inversion of process toward more flexibility and diverse income streams? Might we introduce more granular forms of assessment services through badging while we're at it, offering access and value to people not interested in full degrees? Would it then follow as a logical next step, to offer access to online courses for free, as another loss leader, but fee for more personalised tuition services..?I was directed to:The Higher Education Support Act 2003, Australasian Legal Information InstituteTertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011, Australasian Legal Information InstituteHigher Education Policy, Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary EducationFunding Programs, Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary EducationThe Advanced Standing, Articulation and Credit Transfer Policy, La Trobe UniversityThe Domestic Educational Partnership Policy, La Trobe UniversitySo, it's in these laws, policies and funding arrangements that I hope to answer two questions:What exactly are the Vice Chancellors referring to when they talk about restrictive regulations? and/orWhat stands in the way of my ideas around inverted educational arrangements?Have I missed a key document or consideration?I've started a Diigo Group around these sorts of links, to use it as a note taking spaces in the hop[...]

A true(er) history of MOOCs


A moose, not a MOOC. Care of the USDA Forest Services and Wikimedia CommonsIn my new job at La Trobe University, the word "MOOC" has popped into conversations. I've tried not to write anything much about Massive Open Online Courses, as the emergence of the meme and its adoption by large universities and businesses has irritated me just as much as I'm sure it has irritated others.Many thanks though, to Dave Cormier for acknowledging other people's work leading up to the MOOC meme, 10 minutes and 34 minutes into the audio recording of a discussion with Steve Hargadon on the "The True History of the MOOC" (Massive Open Online Course) with Alec Couros, Stephen Downes, Rita Kop, Inge de Waard, and Carol Yeager. [Audio].Unfortunately Teemu Leinonen was left off again, though I think his work with Composing Open Online Educational Resources (March 2008) was an important reinforcement of David Wiley's seminal work (linked in the acknowledgements section of Teemu's course) that inspired others who would develop the MOOC.Before MOOCs flew the coup of the original developers and became the child of the celebrity universities and businesses, there were a number of people working on distributed open online courses. These early developer's work remained small scale, and remained largely unnoticed, and evidently forgettable. When the open courses run by the North Americans attracted massive numbers of people, this was the part that signified a new stage and development. The scale of participation around their open online courses indicated a possible tipping point for open and networked online learning, and suggested a possible business model, given the scale. The distributed approach to structuring open courses was a commonly accepted principle among the early developers of open courses and, as the discussion acknowledges, this distributed use of the Internet was the only practical way for people to support each other when learning in open online courses. I tried to capture some of this history on the Wikipedia entry for Networked Learning, including copying Dave Cormier's videos to Ogg format and uploading them into the article. I was surprised when a new Wikipedia article had been created specifically for MOOC, firstly because it dropped off some of the history and content I was trying to construct and defend around the Networked Learning article, and secondly because the article had questionable notability at the time (criteria important to Wikipedia administrators). To date, the MOOC article remains poor to Wikipedia standards, with countless unsupported claims. This is not good for the preservation of the principles and values that informed the work of open and networked learning advocates.Today, the publishing businesses and American universities are scrambling to occupy the MOOC meme, riding a bandwagon of value creating market development. I've ignored it until now. But when my local university is discussing MOOC as a new word and not an older acronym, and local media starts asking Vice Chancellors for their not-so-well-informed opinions, I'm compelled to find a position.We are indeed at a tipping point it seems, but I'm concerned that the principles are getting tipped out! Principles of connected and constructed learning, open access, free content reuse, international, cross cultural and collaborative engagement, transparent processes and open documentation, peer to peer assessment and acknowledgement of people breaking conceptual ground in the lobbying and development of open and networked practice. I appreciate the efforts of the participants in the discussion hosted by Steve Hargadon, who attempt to express this concern.So, what am I to do, when drawn into discussions at La Trobe referencing MOOC? Is it an oppo[...]

Indigenous Australians and ICTs


While writing my last post, (which was really just a place holder for more notes on the idea) I tried to find research publications on the use of equivalent words and concepts to 'please' and 'thank-you' in traditional Australian Indigenous culture. I didn't find much out of a cursory glance, but I did find Cultural Issues in the Adoption of Information and Communications Technology by Indigenous Australians. Written in 2004 by Laurel Evelyn Dyson. Faculty of Information Technology, University of Technology, Sydney.Abstract. This paper investigates cultural issues concerning Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Indigenous Australians. Firstly, it examines whether the low adoption of ICTs by Indigenous Australians derives from a rejection of Western values embodied in the technology. A review of the existing literature shows no evidence for this. Instead, there appears to be an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response, limited only by a difficulty in accessing the technology due to cost, isolation, poor telecommunications infrastructure and low computer skills. Secondly, the paper looks at how ICTs can be implemented to reflect particular Indigenous Australian cultural concerns. Contrary to the view of the technological pessimists, who see computers as a vehicle for marginalizing non-Western cultures, ICTs are shown to be adaptable to other cultures, especially once people from that culture have input into ICT design and management. A number of examples of how this is being done in practice are given. What interests me about this paper is that it responds to an issue that I have been trying to learn more about - that technology can mediate a form of neo-colonialism and cultural imperialism over non-western cultures. It also relates to work I find myself doing these days - developing online teaching capacity in the Northern Territory of Australia.Before attempting a review and critique of this paper, I'd like to say I know nothing about the author Laurel Dyson, or the Faculty's work at UTS. I'm merely offering a response on my little blog, to a thankfully open access paper, in an effort to develop my own awareness and position around the issues, and offer something back - hopefully useful, even if critical.Laurel's paper offers a response to the concern that ICTs embody an ideology that may be at odds with, or further influence and dominate sensitive, non-western cultures, specifically Indigenous Australian cultures. Laurel categorises such concerns as techno pessimism, citing Neil Postman as an example of "extreme pessimism" based on a reference to his book Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology.I'd never really considered critical perspective such as Postman's as pessimistic, a warning rather, and I'd certainly never thought such criticism might be construed as being " excuse to exclude already economically disadvantaged groups from the power and benefits of ICTs", as Laurel puts it. Unfortunately this startling suggestion does not get any expansion in the paper, but does repeat in the conclusion.At that, I suppose I might indeed be pessimistic - that criticism of technology will ever get proper consideration by ICT producers, researchers and policy makers - if "pessimism" is deemed an appropriate categorisation of the criticism, and that suggestions of an undisclosed or unrealised agenda do not require further explanation. But I am impressed to have found an open access paper that has a crack at responding to such concerns, I rarely find that!To establish an appreciation of the "pessimist" view, Laurel refers to Neil Postman to support a pretty good summary of the concern.There have been many concerns expressed by computer ethicists[...]



Sunshine, Eve and I just returned from a week in Ubud, Bali. Despite the seemingly unchecked growth in tourism in Bali - the people and their art, their land and its beauty have retained so much.

Here's an 8 minute video we made on my phone at nights.

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Please, thank-you, ownership, attribution


By Steven Depolo
I'm amazed at how relatively difficult it is to teach Eve to say please and thank-you. I bet many people wonder why it should be so difficult, to instill such a concept onto our children. But what is that concept exactly? It's of course much more than politeness.

I think it's about ownership and attribution. Now, just suspend your possible reaction to a negative connotation on the word ownership in relation to politeness. To say "please" to someone (as in to embellish a request, not to ask for pleasure) is to acknowledge that person's sovereignty over something - or ownership. To say "thank you" to someone is to acknowledge their giving something of that to you. (I don't have anything to support that assertion, I just made it up. Any linguists out there want to set me straight?)

So, if it is a common difficulty to teach young children when to say please and thank-you (and I mean difficult in relation to most other concepts and actions at that age) could it be that ownership and attribution are instinctively foreign concepts to grasp for people generally. Might we infer from that some sort of evolutionary meaning? Or that ownership and attribution are ideas and behaviours unique to some cultures and not a ubiquitous across all human culture?

I have heard that many indigenous cultures, mostly hunter gatherer societies, have very different ideas about ownership, especially when it comes to land and personal possessions. But I don't know enough about that to say...

Youtube and copyright


We've all noticed the not-so-subtle changes happening in Youtube. Advertising has almost killed the enjoyment on way too many videos, and copyright clamp downs is making it far less useful for finding recordings of significant TV broadcasting events, and other such things that are in the realm of copyright. On the one hand, it is remarkable, the technology that must be in play to automate Youtube's clamp down. Take this not so remarkable video I shot in Singapore.

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It's set in the Far East Shopping Plaza. It's part of a series of mobile videos I shot of my daughter Eve. The audio in the video is the sound system of the shop I was standing next to while making the recording. Youtube has identified that track, and blocked the video in Germany for my alleged copyright infringement.

Naturally, I've disputed the copyright claim, on the grounds of "Fair Use". It is interesting to note that an option in the dispute process is "I'm not using this for commercial purposes". I didn't see educational use as an option, but I suppose that would come under Fair Use as they call it in the US. 

So, if you're in Germany, I dunno why, but you probably can't watch the video I'm referring to here. Don't worry, you're not missing much, but the way Youtube is managing copyright is interesting.

Technocrats seek to take everything!


I received email soliciting my posting this image:   (image)
Components of a 21st Century Classroom - An infographic by the team at Open Colleges

My reply:
Hi Libby, 
You wrote: "I noticed your blog and thought you might be interested in an infographic my agency just rolled out about the 21st Century Classroom. Take a moment and give it a look: > > >" 
I have two comments, in the form of links, relating to what your graphic leaves out - critical refection, of it's own. 
Technopoly and Duck Dodgers 
Regards, Leigh

Privacy in the Clouds you ascend, fly and fall through


Richard Hall recently uploaded a good presentation, The Cloud and Higher Education, with the main thrust being around the questions of who owns data on cloud services. This is a question of sovereignty, and whether data on cloud services are governed wholly or in part by the laws of the country where the server or company is head quartered (predominately major quake zones in the USA).My work interfaces with the Northern Territory Government from time to time, and while they've put out a number of pretty good guidelines regarding agency use of cloud services,Cloud Computing Policy and Guidelines Cloud computing and record keeping Both from NTG Dept of Business and Employmentapart from these documents (which in short advise the use cloud services for anything that is classified less than Restricted) the general tone of conversations I find myself in with government staff and the like is one of defensiveness, ignorance and risk aversion. It reminds me a little of the sorts of 'conversations' I was in back in 2004 when "Web2.0" was their problem. I'm not dismissing their concerns, not at all, but isn't it all just pissing in the wind? Can we find a way to identify and discuss the deeper more complicated issues please? Richard acknowledges these in his slides on 'values' and local economic considerations...I want to introduce a different take on the questions of privacy and security though.Do government agencies and universities really think that data stored on their servers is secure and private? Climategate, Wikileaks, News International, Windows GodMode, or a Timeline of Security Hacking. Do we seriously think The Patriot Act and other legislation enables or reins in surveillance already taking place? As more and more data moves to open, can we maintain service in an efficient and reliable way?Safe Browsing—protecting web users for five years and counting. Google Blog June 2012Energy efficiency in the cloud. Google Blog June 2012Assuming you're answers to these rhetorical questions fall into line with what I'm thinking, then we might agree that government servers are not only as insecure as any server out there, they are probably targeted if not openly used for the collecting data -  legitimately or not. Shouldn't we instead be asking where can we store data that is more reliable, efficient and secure? We might ironically find it to be the very place we not accepting - the Cloud. It's a slightly different tone of questioning from the one used to date, that wants to imply that servers other than our own can't be trusted. And, just to confirm with all the skeptics out there, yes, I really am drinking the Google cool aid, big time!Google recently published a report on all the government and private take down requests they received for the period 2009-2011, in their effort to become more 'transparent'. While the level of detail revealed could have been more, and I guess we have to just trust they are being honest in both content and intent, if Google keep going down this route we - the average jo citizen, might gain just a little more than relatively simple cloud services for our agencies, we might gain a bit of insight on their work as well. Australian Government requests to Google for data on individual users for the July to December period of 2011. Google Transparency Report, June 2012.Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data in 2010, we also added annotations with some of the more interesting stories behind the numbers. We noticed th[...]

Our baby's poo, disabling professions and open data


Eve woke this morning, crying in pain. She had passed one horribly large rock of poo, but more was still to come. And blood!Our first port of call for every single issue we've had raising Eve has been the forums. My wife Sunshine would make a great case study in open and networked online learning.This story illustrates how the professions have let us down, again, and how open data may bring unintended consequences if left unattended.I searched, "baby poo stuck pain blood". Eve cried in the other room, and Sunshine called out "more blood!" In under 2 seconds I was reassured. To see that so many other people had been through this. If nothing else, that reassurance alone is the single most valuable thing about these forums, and the Internet. We're not alone, others have been through this, and their experiences are here to read. I clicked the result at a baby forum with the most activity and closest sounding description of the issue. While sunshine tried to reassure Eve, I called out sollutions as I read them. Vasaline. Cotton wool tip. Raise her knees to her chest. Push her perenium. Give water. Warm bath. Drink more water in future. It'll be ok.Everything did work out OK. We played cartoons (downloaded from The Pirate Bay), and I read the forums some more, to share in the soothing words of other parents, all relieved they had helped each other through some drama, and that everything was ok - back in 2010 in their instance.But I'm telling this story because I'm angry. It's that same anger that has driven me through the education sector these past 10 years. I'm angry at all those professionals who when asked about the Internet, like broken records of nothing substantial, they almost always mumbled some nonsense like, "you can't trust the Internet"... And if that useless display general ignorance wasn't enough, they usually plucked some extreme story they had no first hand knowledge of to supprt their general opinion. They almost always completely missed any of the sociological importace of the Internet, that we're alone together, and the purpose of their profession will come under question.A frame from the LMS ComicIvan Illich wrote, Disabling Professions in 1987, and unless anyone out there thinks I'm wrong to generalise professional ignorance regarding the Internet these past 10 perhaps 20 years, then I think it can be cited as a specific example. Instead of investing in direct engagement with ICT projects expressly designed to enable people: free software, open standard formats, open hardware, free copyrights, free content initiatives, and an impressive array for communication channels that many lay people use to help each other, the professions chose to ignore all this, denounce popularism, and compete with these enablers. They spent millions of public money setting up their own, parochial websites, offering no cross over into socially relavent channels, restricting access with passwords, preventing reuse with copyright, and ultimately offering very little that was useful compared to what was happening through volunteerism in other channels. And then, time and time again, the professions would close down their useless websites due to a change in funding heart, leaving it up to another generally ignored space, The Way Back Machine at the Internet Archive, to pick up the pieces. Almost all Australian government websites still, to this day, have no or useless RSS, EDNA, LORN, the list is long for dead education projects. Most public schools in Australia block channels like Youtube, and do nothing to fix their networks so tha[...]



A recording made on Seminyak Beach.

Here's another mixed to skiing footage

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Health research in Australia goes open access.. finally!


I learned today, that the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will mandate research that is funded by them, to be open access within a year of publication. A good first step I think, but conservative as always.

Almost precisely the advice I was giving at UC that, I think in part, cost me the job there. The other part was my insistence I suppose. I tried to use the prediction that NHMRC would go open access, to convince a UC Research Committee that they should start developing pre-emptive research publication and storage practices, given the real time it takes to adequately resource and develop anything like adequate practices within a university.

NHMRC are moving faster than expected, by Australian standards.

Need to include this in the Open Data Wikibook:

The Singularity University


Getting Ready for the Paradigm Shift | Old-Thinker News

Globalists at work again, but this post finds some thought and hope in it.

Google ads


You gotta hand it to Google, they tend to have ideas from time to time.

Problem: How do we get people looking in the space we use for ads more?

Solution: Use that space for handy tips every now and then

I noticed in my gmail ad space, not an ad but a handy tip:

"Empty tissue boxes can provide easy and handy storage for plastic grocery bags."

That alone will probably see me looking at the ad bar a little more often