Monday, May 28, 2018

Review of NZ vocational education system and ITPs - summary to date

The newly elected NZ Government, a coalition of Labour, Greens and NZ First, had a wide range of items to address when they took up office at the end of last year. One was a review of the entire NZ education system from early childhood to tertiary and vocational education. The last six months has seen a flurry of papers and roadmaps of the various work streams to be completed over the next 6 months to a year.

Since I work and research in the sectors, the review of the NZ vocational education system and the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) are of interest.

The state of review for ITPs is as follows:
- The original 2017 report by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) spells out the challenges including lower enrolments across the sector brought about by lower school leaver numbers over the coming years and high employment across all sectors of the NZ economy. Then the TEC follows on with a roadmap of suggestions for a way forward.

The Minister's view is found in here. With usual hyped up commentary from the media on 'can polytechs be saved?'

-  The scope of the review of Vocational education is provided by Ministry of Education. The scope includes a strong network of provision for all regions; work-based learning that adapts to a variety of needs, a system that is effective for a diverse range of learning; a system that supports, and is supported by industry.

As with most reviews, there are opportunities to try to get things better. However, the challenges presented are large and will require systemic change, in particular, funding structures, to ensure public funding is used responsibly but ensuring NZers are provided access to opportunities for vocational education.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Robots and AI - some NZ perspectives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

ASL presentations #4 - Ara Institute of Canterbury

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

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

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

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

Note from a presentation at Ara, yesterday evening.

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

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

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

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

Presented on several technology disruption areas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 10, 2018

ASL presentations at Ara #2

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

SEED presentations May 2018 -Ara Institute of Canterbury

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

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

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