Archive for March, 2012

Weekend reflection – the worlds cheapest, easiest and most effective solar power device.

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

I’ve been thinking about the CSIRO State of the Climate Report and pondering what action we an take.

In Australia and more particularly in Victoria where we burn brown coal for power, using less power is a smart move.  Anything that produces heat or cold sucks power so, instead of throwing your clothes into the dryer as your default action, use the most efficient solar power device ever invented and hang them out.

hills hoist

But what about in Winter I hear you say?  Well you heat your house don’t you?

Buy a clothes horse.

Don’t tell me you dont have space.  Just have look at your options.

Job seekers getting asked for Facebook passwords – This is just messed up.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

“When Justin Bassett interviewed for a new job, he expected the usual questions about experience and references. So he was astonished when the interviewer asked for something else: his Facebook username and password.”

This a U.S. article and I’m pretty sure the Australian privacy and IR laws would prevent this.

I would expect a prospective employer to search for my public online info, but as an ex HR person, if someone asked me for access to my restricted Facebook site, or any social site with limited access, or heaven forbid,  any password,  I would just walk out.

For me, this is a clear indicator that this an amateur outfit with no real understanding of their legal responsibilities to their employees.   I would also be suspect about their IR ethics.   I would not want to work for yahoos like that.

If you find yourself in this situation it might be worth contacting the Fair Work ombudsman for clarification.

The article also refers to Facebook apps.  My basic rule is don’t, don’t, don’t don’t use Facebook apps.

“It’s not always clear how Facebook apps interact with the data you share on the social network. Are they allowed to broadcast it? Sell it? Compile it in a way that you never intended?

“When you turn all Platform applications off, your User ID is no longer given to applications, even when your friends use those applications,” says a portion of Facebook’s privacy policy. “But you will no longer be able to use any games, applications or websites through Facebook.

Simply, should you choose not to share with apps at all, they are taken away from you. If you want to use some, but limit their functionality, you have to carefully customize your privacy settings in order to ensure your information is used appropriately. With the Open Graph, which can push any information to your Facebook page without explicit permission each time, it becomes more of an imperative.”

Read the rest of this article here

Ethics in Accounting and Finance

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

“Self-Interest Spurs Society’s ‘Elite’ to Lie, Cheat on Tasks, Study Finds”

“The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to raise their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work, the research found. The solution, Piff said, is to find a way to increase empathy among wealthier people….

Previous research has shown that students who take economics classes are more likely to describe greed as good. Pairing ethics courses with economics may be beneficial, Piff said.
“It might be as simple as not only stressing individual performance, but the value of cooperation and improving the welfare of others,” he said. “That goes a long way.”

In the research reported yesterday, the experiments suggest at least some wealthier people “perceive greed as positive and beneficial,” probably as a result of education, personal independence and the resources they have to deal with potentially negative consequences, the authors wrote.”

Perhaps if you are looking for an honest employee the first  two interview questions should be “where did you get your suit”, and “is that your BMW outside?”

Weekend funny- Duelling Banjos…….performed on Tesla coils!!!

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

‘Awesome’ is an overused word, and one I try to avoid but,


duelling tesla coils

“Internet Plagiarism: A Teacher’s Combat Guide”

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The sun is shining the birds are singing, our students are still keen and showing up for lectures, but soon the dark times will return when our students sleep in and begin looking for the academic philosopher’s stone that will magically turn their leaden study into assessment gold.  Some will nobly forge their way into the forbidding and impenetrable texts we recommend, they may even choose to venture out on their own onto the information highways of the internet.  But they must be warned, for this is a place of many dangers.  Here lie the twin succubi of YouTube and Facebook, the false professors of wikpedia and google, and tricksters aplenty offering dull students the promise of easy progression.

So I say to you fair teacher, forewarned is forearmed.  Read this and smite the little buggers.

Suarez, J., & Martin, A. (2001). Internet plagiarism: A teacher’s combat guide. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education

If you’re looking for a free online Plagarism checker you could try .  I haven’t tried it myself but it seems fairly widely used.

Weekend reflection – The new world of social involvement (Kony 2012)

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

If you haven’t heard of KONY 2012 you soon will.  Basically, Kony is a Ugandan warlord and from all reports a despicable person, and there is a global grassroots movement to get him arrested.  The movement is a bit hipster/cool/trendy and is supported by youth targeted merch.  While everyone agrees with the sentiment (the guy really is scum) , the process has drawn criticism for being a bit naive and simplistic.  Have a listen to the NPR report for a reasonable overview of the issues.

Regardless of what you think about the KONY 2012 cause, the way they have gone about it is interesting.  The idea of using YouTube and social networks to promote a worthy cause isn’t unique but it is still fairly novel.  GetUp are a good local example (if you are interested in Social Justice and equity issues in Australia you should have a look) .    KONY 2012 is particularly interesting due to the size and speed of the movement  (although the Invisible Children group has been active since 2006).

In the long term, one of the main advantages of the KONY 2012 movement may be the lesson it provides for future people power movements.    Particularly in a world where information is easily obtained and strong informed (and un-informed) opinions can be more easily presented.  Again if you are looking for a better managed example, have a look at GetUp.

If you feel spurred to action to support kids and families in developing nations, but have some reservations about donating to Invisible Children, here are some well established and proven alternatives.

Oxfam ( ) – buy a someone a goat.  If you’re a Monash person you can get a gift card from the Campus shop.  Too easy.

Worldvision ( ) – Sponsor a Child – This is a larger commitment, but let’s put it in perspective, how much to you currently spend on junk food, pet food and wine?  Worldvision also have gift cards

If you are more commercially minded or prefer a self help option, support a microloan project

Worldvision Micro ( ) is probably a better choice than most (although I’m no expert) because they have a more holistic approach, as opposed to development banks who have come into some criticism recently.

If you are a religious type you don’t have to look very far, all Christian denominations and all major religions have overseas (and local) social support arms.  You might have to ask a few questions to make sure your money goes where you want it to.  Some overseas programs are focused on social aid while others may be focused on evangelical mission.

Anyway have a good weekend.

We need an good OER Gateway

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I want a version of this that finds Open Education Resources and Creative Commons texts.

This company deals with the US market where purchasing is very different from Australia.  The idea is great.

” Rafter Discover™ makes it easy for educators to find, evaluate, compare, and choose the most affordable and engaging course content.

  • Search real time market pricing of new, used, retail, print, and rental data on over 11 million unique ISBNs
  • Discover which textbooks and content other schools adopt and see ratings and reviews from educators and students
  • Enjoy the confidence that all data is neutral and objective with no publisher bias”


Is there something already out there that’s slick and comprehensive that I don’t know about?  I don’t want to have to build my own.

2012 Horizon Report

Monday, March 5th, 2012

The 2012 Horizon report is out and as usual there are no great surprises about what’s in, and as usual there are a great many innovations left out.
One of the interesting things about it the Horizon Report is the lack of discussion it now generates amongst practitioners in the field.

But anyway here it is.

“Each year, the Horizon Report describes six areas of emerging technology that will have significant impact on higher education and creative expression over the next one to five years. The areas of emerging technology cited for 2012 are:

Time to adoption: One Year or Less

  • Mobile Apps
  • Tablet Computing

Time to adoption: Two to Three Years

  • Game-based Learning
  • Learning Analytics

Time to adoption: Four to Five Years

  • Gesture-based Computing
  • Internet of Things”

Tablet computing is interesting.  My own thinking is that this wont really take off in a sustainable way until we have more PC tablets (like the Samsung Series 7 Slate or a Mac Air tablet (which must be in the works).
Dealing with iPads and Androids at an enterprise level is just unnecessarily messy.   Of course if this happens it will simplify the process for creating mobile apps, as these could just be standard web applications  modified for a smaller screen.

Game based learning continues to be listed,  I think more in hope that it might happen one day.

Learning Analytics will be important.  The ability to identify at risk students early (and to act on it) is a smart way to improve outcomes.
Being able to say to a student in week 4 that based on their current performance all indicators predict they will fail the exam, could be quite effective.
Pearson, Wiley and Blackboard are all developing analytics systems.  There are also some Moodle projects in development.

I put Gesture based computing in the same bucket as games.  Some people will do some tricky things with it, but for most it will be an ignorable novelty.

The Internet of Things will be important.   If we are going to have smart green power it’s going to be essential.

Will it impact in any directly significant way on teaching and learning?
I don’t know.   I suspect it will be something that happens out of sight as part of day to day living.

What is the Internet of Things?

the  internet of things

Sui Fai John Mak has links to collection of videos about the Internet of Things on his blog – Learner Weblog

Star Wars Movies viewing order (nothing to do with eLearning, it’s more important than that)

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Is this the optimal viewing order of the Star Wars Movies?

IV, V, I, II, III, VI.

See the rationale here.

Student spotting guide

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Given the increasing average age of university staff it can be hard for us to keep up with the changing ways of our students.  Categories such as ‘digital natives’ and ‘millennials’ have proven to be bogus and of no use at all.

What we need is more detailed descriptions.  Well Rob Dobi creator of the ‘Your Scene Sucks‘ website is here to help us.

Click on the ‘Choose a Scenster‘  drop down in the Left side bar and choose a type.

faux hip hop