Monday, August 29, 2011

Standardised designs for schools

The OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments has released “Standardised design for schools: Old solution, new context?" (8 Jul 2011). This 18 p-age booklet is particularly useful as it contains model floor-plans for schools and references to source documents on-line.
“Standardised design” can cover many aspects of the design of a school, or any other type of building.

Standardisation can take place at many levels from processes, dimensional co-ordination of buildings, components, assemblies and modules. However, standardised design is often thought of in terms of “template” or “repeat” design, and in its most simplistic interpretation implies a singular design solution for widespread implementation, the principal benefits of which are time- and cost-savings.

The increasing demand for school places across OECD countries during the post-war period through to the 1980s saw “standardisation” in at least two forms as part of the remedy. One was the creation of standard school plans and another, the development of industrialised buildings systems, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. From the early 1980s, as the volume of school building reduced, standardisation attracted less attention. However, it has returned to the agenda in recent years as economies have addressed a number of different issues from finding ways to construct buildings more efficiently by using off-site fabrication, to looking for ways of constructing buildings quickly and more cheaply. For example, template design was a feature of Australia’s recent Building Education Revolution programme. In the UK, standardised design is one of the recommendations of the report into England’s school building programme for the Department of Education by Sebastian James published in April 2011. This “Review of Education Capital” recommends that “a suite of drawings and specifications should be developed that can easily be applied across a wide range of projects”.

The report argues that this does not mean that buildings will all look the same, the designs can be tailored. The aim is to both improve the efficiency of the process of building many schools, but also to facilitate feedback into the design of education environments through periodic reviews of these standard designs.

Critics of “standardised design” cite it as being inflexible: It thwarts innovation and fails to address diverse educational and other needs of communities. However, there are examples from some countries that suggest that developing best-practice “standardised designs” and modular construction methods can be cost-effective, and reduce design and construction costs while producing a range of tried-and-tested educational environments that support teaching and learning. In the face of tightening budgets and increasing demand on governments to provide learning environments that support the development of 21st century knowledge, skills and attitudes, could standardised design be a model for the future?

On 30 March 2011, 10 members of the OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments Board of Participants – representing Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal and Serbia - participated in a live web video conference on “Standardised design: Applications and challenges” (see Annex 1 for a list of participants). The context, implementation and overall impact and benchmark for the future through using “standardised design” approaches in six different countries, in addition to drawings, photos and links to further information, are presented in this report. ...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Portable Classroom Design Competition

The University of Melbourne's Design School is running a federal government sponsored competition for a relocatable classroom design, called "Future Proofing Schools". The competition is open to anyone, but primarily aimed at professionals and tertiary students including Architects, Landscape Architects, Urban Designers, Planners and Industrial Designers. There is also a special web site for Year 10 to 12 school students.

Available are:
  1. Brief and Guidelines
  2. Frequently Asked Questions
  3. 21st Century Learning
  4. Sustainable School Environments
  5. Landscape Integration and Connections
  6. Prefabrication
Three-step challenge

The competition has three steps:
  1. Propose design ideas for next-generation
    relocatable classroom space [s] that:
    • suit a core cluster of up to 50 - 60 students*
      * based on teaching space of 3,5sqm per student + amenity spaces such as teacher preparation areas, wet areas and lockers + core spaces such as toilets
      Note: Australia’s Federal Guidelines suggest 9.75sqm per student for an entire school.
    • can be scaled to suit larger or smaller student populations
    • can adapt sustainably and economically to a range of physical and cultural contexts [climates, topographies, amounts of land available]
    • provide delightful spaces within, between and adjacent in which to teach, learn and play can be installed rapidly
  2. Show us how your design idea from step 1 works
    by applying it to a school site, either real
    or hypothetical:
    How will your design idea:
    • address variations in climate, topography and amounts of land available at different schools?
    • address connections to the outside, and existing buildings?
    • allow for clustering to create connected learning communities?
    • convey a sense of permanence, even though it is relocatable?
    You are free to tailor your design ideas to physical contexts of your own choice. ...

  3. Show us how your tailored design idea from
    step 2 can be re-located and re-adapted to
    a new school site with different physical
    parameters, either real or hypothetical:
    • How will your design idea adapt to this new set of parameters?
    • What building elements might change?
    • What building elements might stay the same?
    Consider that your tailored design idea may be relocated after one year, three years or even more at its first school site.
An ABC Radio "By Design" Podcast about the design of demountable school buildings with James Timberlake (Kieran Timberlak) and Arie van der Neut (HVDN) is available: "Reimagining 'relocatables' as 21st century learning spaces".

The competition is funded as Australian Research Council Linkage Grant project "Future Proofing Schools: using smart green integrated design approaches to prefabricated learning environments" (LP0991146, by CL Newton; T Kvan; D Hes; K Fisher; MJ Grose; S Wilks).

Schools in the Community Context

While the competition guidelines do a good job of setting the learning and environmental context, they do not appear to take into account the school in its social environment. Treating a school is a resource for the community and should be planned to be available for use by the community. A school building can be used by students of other schools in the area and as a community facility when not needed by students. At the same time the cost of the school building and its facilities can be reduced by drawing on community resources.

As discussed in my submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the NBN, governments are paying for unnecessary duplication across education sectors in both online learning and physical infrastructure. Substantial savings could be obtained through the creation of an ‘Australian Learning Commons’ consisting of multi-use school buildings and free sharing of teaching materials throughout Australia.

Rather than have a single purpose relocatable school building which, has to be dismantled and moved on a truck every few years to re-purpose it, this can be done by changing the use of the classrooms from daytime school student use to nighttime adult education class, to weekend community class. Instead of having to move walls to reconfigure the classroom, which could take minutes or hours, the software running on the computers in the classroom could be changed in seconds.

Hi-tech to see at Cyberjaya, Malaysia

I will be at Putrajaya, Malaysia, in mid October 2011 for a conference. Apparently this is a bit like the center of Canberra: a planned city, specifically designed as a national capital with landmark buildings around a lake (and a bit dull). But Next to Putrajaya, and sharing the same same railway station, is Cyberjaya with a science parkand part of Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor.

Most such planned hi-tech centres have not been successful. London is attempting this with East London Tech City (or " Silicon Roundabout"), intended to build on the investment in London for the Olympics. Post-Olympic developments have been even less successful than artificial high-tech parks and it will be interesting to see how London does. One of the UK's successes is Silicon Fen, the area around Cambridge University. However, this grew up organically, as described in "The Cambridge Phenomenon". I have visited Cambridge a couple of times to see how this was done and it will be interesting to compare with the Malaysian equivalent.

Solar Street Lights in Afghanistan

US Aid reports funding the installation of solar street lights in Afghanistan ("Tirin Kot Residents Enjoy Nightlife", 17 August 2011). Each streetlight has two 60 Watt photovoltaic solar panels and a 180 Ah sealed lead acid battery. The 30 Watt LED lamp illuminates about a 25 meter around it.

Solar street lights have the advantage that each unit is independent of mains power and each other. So the lights can be installed one at a time and start working immediately. However they are expensive to purchase compared to mains powered lights. A 30 Watt Solar Street Light is about $4,000. Also the batteries require to be replaced every few years.

The power produced by the solar panels can only be used for the individual street light. Much of the time the panel will be producing surplus power which cannot be stored by the on-board battery. One way to harness this would be to install a standard 12 Volt outlet on the base of the pole, so local residents could use surplus power to charge small appliances.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Teaching Performance Bonus Evaluation

In "A Big Apple for Educators: New York City's Experiment with Schoolwide Performance Bonuses", RAND Corporation reports that providing extra money to schools as an incentive did not improve student results. This may be because the bonuses were not large enough, or because in most cases the money was not allocated to the top teachers in the schools. Or it may just be that such bonuses do not work.

A Big Apple for Educators

New York City's Experiment with Schoolwide Performance Bonuses: Final Evaluation Report

by Julie A. Marsh, Matthew G. Springer, Daniel F. McCaffrey, Kun Yuan, Scott Epstein, Julia Koppich, Nidhi Kalra, Catherine DiMartino, Art (Xiao) Peng

In the 2007–2008 school year, the New York City Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers jointly implemented the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program in a random sample of the city's high-needs public schools. The program lasted for three school years, and its broad objective was to improve student performance through school-based financial incentives. The question, of course, was whether it was doing so. To examine its implementation and effects, the department tasked a RAND Corporation-led partnership with the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University to conduct a two-year study of the program that would offer an independent assessment. This report describes the results of our analyses for all three years of the program, from 2007–2008 through 2009–2010. This work built on past research and was guided by a theory of action articulated by program leaders. Researchers examined student test scores; teacher, school staff, and administrator surveys; and interviews with administrators, staff members, program sponsors, and union and district officials. The researchers found that the program did not, by itself, improve student achievement, perhaps in part because conditions needed to motivate staff were not achieved (e.g., understanding, buy-in for the bonus criteria) and because of the high level of accountability pressure all the schools already faced.

Document Details

  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 312
  • ISBN/EAN: 9780833052513
  • Document Number: MG-1114-FPS
  • Year: 2011


  1. Introduction

  2. Background on Pay-for-Performance Programs and the New York City SPBP

  3. Research Methods

  4. Implementation of the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program: Attitudes About and Understanding of the Program

  5. Implementation of the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program: Compensation Committee Process and Distribution Plans

  6. Implementation of the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program: Perceived Effects of the Bonus and Program Participation

  7. Effects on Progress Report and Student Test Scores

  8. Teacher Attitudes and Behaviors in SPBP and Control Schools

  9. Conclusions and Implications

Friday, August 26, 2011

ICT Sustainability Book Published

"ICT Sustainability" is now available free on the web, as well as a print on demand paperback and a PDF eBook. This is a new edition of the notes for the postgraduate courses: COMP7310 (Australian National University), Green Technology Strategies (Australian Computer Society) and ACS25 (Open Universities Australia).

Changes from Previous Version

  1. Skills descriptions: Two SFIA sustainability skills have (SUST: Sustainability strategy and SUAS: Sustainability assessment) replaced the six ICT skills specified previously.

  2. Structure: The course has been divided into two sections, each covering one of the two skills.

  3. Assignment Titles: The descriptions of the two assignments have been changed to match the two skills.

  4. Reference Changes: The number of links to external sources and also internal links (particularly to the Glossary) has been reduced, to avoid confusing the reader. The list of sources cited has been consolidated into one section at the back and Harvard style references used.

  5. Title: ICT Sustainability has replaced Green ICT in the title, to match the skills descriptions used.

ICT Sustainability: Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future

Paperback, 137 pages

ICT Sustainability is about how to assess, and reduce, the carbon footprint and materials used with computers and telecommunications. These are the notes for an award winning course on strategies for reducing the environmental impact of computers and how to use the Internet to make business more energy efficient. This book is designed to be used with an award winning on-line course for professionals, using mentored and collaborative learning techniques.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Parliamentary Report on NBN

The report "Broadening the debate: Inquiry into the role and potential of the National Broadband Network" has been released by the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications. The full report is 426 pages, available as one 4.3 Mbyte PDF file or chapter by chapter (with a HTML version to follow). This is a mostly upbeat report about what the NBN could be used for (if we had it), rather than looking into the cost of building it.

Report Contents
  • Preliminary pages: Contents, Foreword, Committee Membership, Terms of Reference, List of Abbreviations and List of Recommendations
  1. Introduction
  2. Government services
  3. Health
  4. Education
  5. Infrastructure and the environment
  6. Economic development and diversification
  7. Research and innovation
  8. Community and social
  9. Network capacity and technology
  10. Government coordination
  1. Background
  2. Glossary of Terms
  3. Submissions
  4. Exhibits
  5. Public Hearings
  1. That the Government continue to coordinate the implementation of the National Digital Economy Strategy across government, ensuring appropriate regulatory frameworks are in place and promoting a consistent trans-sector approach to supporting its goals.
  2. That the Government require its departments to report against the goals identified in the National Digital Economy Strategy in their annual reports.
  3. That the Government continues to implement broadband-enabled technologies into its own services and operations as a means of improving efficiency, as well as to encourage NBN uptake and utilisation.
  4. That the Government continue to support strategically targeted pilot projects in cooperation with relevant industries and communities that model innovative applications of the NBN.
  5. That the Government consider allocating resources to each Regional Development Australia committee to allow these bodies to provide enhanced local digital economy leadership. This leadership role should include identifying regional goals and implementing related strategies and programs.
  6. That the Federal Government develop a comprehensive engagement strategy incorporating a range of approaches to promote the uptake of broadband and digital technologies during the NBN rollout.
  7. That, recognising the important roles of public libraries and community centres, the Federal Government works in an appropriate capacity to implement a network of public access points connected to high speed NBN services in as many communities as possible.
  8. That the Federal Government, with other organisations as appropriate, develop targeted programs for those currently disadvantaged by the digital divide to improve awareness of publicly available high-speed internet facilities, to improve access, and to promote the development of relevant skills.
  9. That the Government provide continued support for organisations involved in the development of high speed broadband applications.
  10. That the Government maintains regulatory support to encourage increased levels of research and innovation in the private sector and recognises the NBN’s importance to the realisation of its innovation agenda.
  11. That the Government develop a strategy for the digitisation of Australia’s culturally and historically significant content.
  12. That the Government facilitate discussions between representatives of key content industries and internet service providers to work towards an agreed framework for minimising online copyright theft.
  13. That the Government provide further support for digital literacy programs, based on the Broadband for Seniors kiosk model, making use of existing resources such as libraries and not-for-profit groups where possible.
  14. That the Government continue to support programs that equip small and medium enterprises with the knowledge and support they need to compete in the digital economy.
  15. That the Government develop strategies for the collection and provision of data on workforce needs in the ICT sector into the future.
  16. That the Government develop a long term strategy to up-skill and/or retrain the existing workforce and develop new training programs to address emerging skills gaps.
My Submission Cited

My submission "Broadband for a Broad Land" has been cited six times in the report. I suggested the NBN could help with education, but this will require a large investment in teaching teachers how to teach on-line (a topic I am studying on-line). Also I discussed how the NBN could help the environment, but this would take some planning and investment.

While it says in the report "... Mr Worthington also told the Committee ...", the committee did not ask me to give verbal evidence and has gone just by what was in my written submission. This shows the value of a carefully written submission, which has been formatted so it is easy to cut and paste from. ;-)


Chapter 4: Education

4.98 Mr Tom Worthington, an independent IT consultant and computer scientist based in Canberra, stated in his submission to the Committee that governments are paying for ‘unnecessary duplication’ across education sectors in both online learning and physical infrastructure. Mr Worthington wrote that substantial savings could be obtained through the creation of an ‘Australian Learning Commons’ consisting of multi-use school buildings and free sharing of teaching materials throughout Australia:

Despite work on a national curriculum ... individual teachers have to find materials to teach. Sharing of materials can be facilitated by the use of Creative Commons licensing, which allows any teacher to use the materials produced by any Australian educator, without the need for separate permission or payment of fees. 109

4.99 Mr Worthington noted that the long term restructuring of the education systems towards a more efficient and effective ‘blended’ mode of education will require ‘retraining of teachers, restructuring of courses and the remodelling of buildings’ at a cost ‘far higher than for the implementation of the NBN itself’. 110 However, he also noted that due to the relative size of Australia’s expenditure on education, if the NBN can enable a 10 per cent reduction in the cost of education it would be enough to pay for the entire network within eight years. 111

From: Page 94

Chapter 5: Infrastructure and the environment

5.2 The Committee was told that an expanded digital economy, supported and enhanced by the NBN, can provide a means to ‘dematerialise’ the traditional economy. That is, it can replace ‘physical goods and activities with network based alternatives’, 1 ...

1. Mr Tom Worthington, Submission 17, p. 4.

From: Page 97

5.11 The Committee acknowledges the views of some contributors that the NBN also has the potential to harm the environment and therefore supports constructive advice to mitigate any negative impacts. Mr Tom Worthington submitted that the technology being deployed in the NBN is relatively energy efficient; however, as the NBN will be overall a very large user of electricity, the network should be designed in such a way to minimise energy consumption:

... for a given technology, as the data rate increases, so does the power consumption. Most of the time, most of the NBN will be carrying little or no data. The equipment used should therefore be designed to switch to a low power mode to conserve energy when possible. 13 ...

5.12 Mr Worthington also told the Committee that ‘in the absence of sufficient planning and investment, there is a risk the NBN will harm the environment through the creation of electronic waste’, in particular the back-up batteries provided with NBN Co’s household units and equipment such as ADSL modems that will be made obsolete under a FTTP network. 14 Citing similar concerns, the Communications Alliance indicated to the Committee that it ‘strongly supports’ an ‘opt-in’ policy for NBN back-up batteries to help minimise the potential for improper disposal of such waste. 15

From: Page 99 of Broadening the debate: Inquiry into the role and potential of the National Broadband Network, Report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications, Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, August 2011

How to make an ebook with free tools

The free "A beginner's guide to ebook development for e-Learning" (by Scripture Union Queensland, 2011) has been released as part of a government funded Flexible Learning Framework Innovations Project. This describes how to produce e-books inEPub and HTML 5 formats for mobile devices, Calibre and Sigil.

This is a useful guide, but producing educational content this way is still more difficult than it need be. As I have noted when preparing my ICT Sustainability course notes, the e-learning formats, such as IMS Content packages are very similar to e-book formats. It should be possible to create free open source conversion tools for converting between Moodle books, IMS Content Packages and EPub e-books.

ps: It is odd a report on how to make an e-book has been published only in PDF format, not in the EPUB format being advocated for use.

Hi-tech to see at Putrajaya, Malaysia

I will be at Putrajaya, Malaysia, in mid October 2011 for a conference. Any suggestions on what hi-tech to see in the planned city? I have 10 and 11 October free to look around and can give a talk to local ICT and education practitioners, if anyone has a venue and would like to host a talk.

On my last visit to Malaysia, I gave a talk on emergency use of mobile phones at the MobileMonday Global Summit, in conjunction with the 2008 World Congress of Information Technology. This talk was not planned as I was actually there for the Malaysian Corporate Governance Conference at the Securities Commission. But I read in the local newspaper that the WCIT was on, when I looked out my hotel window, there was the conference venue. So I sent the organisers a message to say I was in town and they responded with an invitation to fill in a gap in the program due to a canceled speaker.

Putrajaya has many similarities to my home in Canberra. Both are planned cities, specifically designed as a national capital. Both have landmark buildings around a lake. Canberra is subject to criticism for being artificial, but is a very pleasant place to live.

Mobile Devices for Education

The Canberra Institute of Technology is hosting "ilearn: idevices for education" 6 September 2011. Teachers are ivnivted to bring along their ipads, tablets and smart phones for a free interactive workshop on how to use them for learning.

Professional Development Workshop

iteach | ilearn: idevices for education

September 6th, Tuesday 8am- 9.30am, B016 Computer lab, B Block ground floor, CIT Southside Campus, Cnr Hindmarsh and Ainsworth, Phillip.


Mobile devices such as ipads and tablets, smart phones and iphones are here to stay and adult learners are becoming increasingly enamoured of their use as a learning tool.

Bring your device and join this interactive workshop to learn what can be done and share what you and other educators are doing to put smart devices to work for learners. The emphasis of the workshop will be on ipads and iphones but much of what is discussed should apply to tablets and android phones as well.


Free for Educators


You need to register your interest in this session by 5th September. Please email or telephone:

Helen Lynch, ACT Toolbox Champion, Australian Flexible Learning Framework

Phone 02 6207 4031


For more information about other upcoming professional development opportunities for ACT educators please visit the ACT Framework webpage at:

Planning for Climate Change in the Canberra Region

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Canberra Urban and Regional Futures (CURF) is holding its Inaugural Regional Symposium 2011. This is looking at the issue of climate change in the region around Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). This follows a Climate Research Expo which I spoke at on Monday. There will be a second CURF Inaugural Regional Symposium 2011 on 26 August in Batemans Bay.

For me the major issue is how to make these long term planning issues relevant to the short political and commercial decision cycles. There is little point in preparing plans over decades if political and business leaders are rewarded (with reelection or pay rises) over times scales of months or years. There is no point the planners saying that the decision makers need to take a long term view. Any politician or business leader who focuses on long term issues will find themselves out of office at the next election (or board meeting). Planners need to come up with short term results which will motivate decision makers act.

In planning the Canberra region in response to climate change, I believe that ICT Enablement could assist, with dematerialisation and smart systems moving out of industry and business, into the community (as I teach in my ICT Sustainability course).

ICT will have a significant impact in Canberra. As a large proportion of Canberra jobs are in the knowledge industry and many for just two employers (federal and ACT government), these jobs can move to neighborhood and home offices.

Broadband cable and wireless provides the infrastructure for this, as I discussed in "The Smart Apartment and a Proposed Design for the National Information and Communications Technology Centre of Excellence (for the Bauhaus Serve City Sydney Trimester III, 12 June 2002, Sydney).

What is also needed for knowledge workers are the skills to use the on-line applications, as I teach in: "Electronic Document and Records Management".

ICT can also help with social housing and public cohesion. On-line systems can be used to run collective housing, such as body corporates. By sharing resources this can reduce cost, energy and waste. As an example, City Edge (behind the O'Connor Shops) has a shared solar hot water system.

Information systems for coordinating transport could be used. This would include simple public electronic sign-age and smart phone applications to advise when the next bus is due, as well as more sophisticated systems which blend aspects of buses and taxis. This does not require a large investment in ICT, as most can be done with the passenger's smart phones. Also the ACTON new smart tickets are already smarter than the sophisticated system used for Istanbul.

The report which the Bauhaus students produced for Sydney's inner west is of relevance for Canberra

An adaption of Senator Lundy's "Public Sphere" process for having blended on-line and in-person discussion of issues could be used for consultation on planning issues. This would allow more people to be involved and lower the cost of the process.

One seemingly mundane issue is how the results of planning are communicated to the community. In the past I have seen many such projects end by producing a large glossy book which almost no one ever sees. If available on-line at all the reports are produced as very large, hard to download and hard to read PDF files. A set of accessible web pages which work on smart phones would be preferable.
Canberra Urban and Regional Futures’ first symposium will identify and explore the issues facing the Australian Capital Region in achieving sustainable development, with a particular focus on adapting to climate change.

Bringing together Federal, state and local government, business, community and NGO groups as well as academics working in the field, this symposium offers an opportunity for raising awareness, sharing information and the development of new approaches and strategies to develop resilience in our region.

The Symposium will also be an opportunity for networking, engagement and partnerships between business, government and community groups to ensure a sustainable, resilient future.

2011: A Tablet Computer Odyssey

According to the FOSS Patents Blog, "Samsung cites Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' movie as prior art against iPad design patent". In their motion Samsung are said to have included a still image from Exhibit D is a true and correct copy of a clip taken from Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey", showing two astronauts using tablet computers. It is argued this covers what is in the Patent. Arthur C. Clarke wrote a novel of the same name at the same time as working on the film, and it would be interesting to see if the computers are described there, as Clarke is noted for his descriptions of technology.

Of course 2001 is not the only science fiction to feature tablet computers. In 1996 I gave a talk to the Australian Computer Society in which I suggested that by 2005, the Personal Access Display Devices (PADDs) of Star Trek Next Generation would become commonplace:
"... the dimensions of a B5 sheet of paper, by 1 cm thick). PADDs usually have a touch sensitive screen covering the whole upper surface, which is also a high resolution (2000 x 2000 pixel by 16 million colour) screen. All PADDs have video and audio built in and can operate as what a 1996 person would know as a mobile phone, radio, TV and video cam-corder. ...
Variations on pen based writing and voice input were tried for PADDs, but it was found that just a finger pressing buttons displayed on a touch sensitive screen were enough. Most people's writing wasn't good enough for pen input (and they usually just need to select from a few menu options anyway). Voice input works well, but was disruptive in a group and people were too self conscious to talk to a lump of plastic on their own. The QWERTY keyboard, in its virtual form is still in use for data entry. ..."
From: "Australia: The Networked Nation",Tom Worthington, Draft of: 4 February 1996, delivered, 7 February 1996 in the Audio/visual room of the Townsville Grammar School. Republished as the chapter "The Networked Nation", in the book "Net Traveller", 21 July 1999
Senator Helen Coonan, Australian Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, refereed to this talk in the speech "Developing a National ICT Capability" in 2007.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Intelligent Energy Efficient Military Vehicles

In "The U.S. Combat and Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Fleet" the RAND think tank makes suggestions to the US Congress on how to buy better military equipment. The study looks at several recent US Defence procurement programs and discusses the difficulties of selecting equipment for future requirements.

The most troubled program RAND discusses is the Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV). This was intended to be amphibious, but was sunk (literally and figuratively) by a requirement from Congress it be armored to resist large Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The extra armor made the vehicle so heavy that it would no longer float. As RAND point out in their dry technical language, a decision needs to be made between competing requirements: mobility and protection. Curiously RAND seems to be reluctant to point out that the failure of this program lies with Congress and the obvious solution: the legislature should not be involved in the detail of military vehicle design.

More successful has been the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR). As RAND points out, these are essentially militarized civilian trucks, reducing development cost and risk.

RAND discuss how increasing amounts of electrical power in military vehicles are needed for electronics, with computer displays and radios. However, their solution is larger generators, more batteries and auxiliary generators. An alternative approach would be to rationalize the electronics on the vehicle, to reduce the power requirements and at the same time reduce the cost and space required.

A civilian security example of rationalized electronics is the LAPD prototype squad car by National Safety Agency. This has a one large touch screen built into the vehicle centre console, to replace the assortment of radios, computers and other devices normally installed in a police car.

Military vehicles could take the same approach, as in military aircraft, where electronics are installed in an sealed bay, connected to a communications bus around the aircraft and operated by a screen in the cockpit. In the case of a vehicle, the wiring and location of the electronics bays and displays can be incorporated in the vehicle design, while the electronics itself will be upgraded over the life of the vehicle. Some of this approach is taken by Thales Australia with the Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicle.

In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, Congress requested a study of the U.S. ground combat and tactical wheeled vehicle fleets. In the study, RAND researchers assess the U.S. military's requirements and capability needs, identify capability gaps based on recent conflicts and emerging threats, identify critical technology elements or integration risks associated with particular vehicles and missions, and make recommendations regarding the development and deployment of critical capabilities to address identified gaps. The study also examines risks in the technologies required to close the capability gaps, in the business processes used by the U.S. Department of Defense in managing the initiatives producing and modernizing these vehicles, and in the modeling and simulation process supporting the vehicles' research, development, and acquisition. The technical challenges that will continue to affect the ability to field cutting-edge vehicles that meet operational requirements include the need for improved protection, power generation, and fuel consumption and the increased complexity spurred by sensors and networking. It will also be necessary to address how cost estimation, testing, evaluation, and staffing are handled. Finally, an improved modeling and simulation process will be essential as Congress and the Department of Defense move forward in aligning funding decisions with current and future requirements.

From: "The U.S. Combat and Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Fleet", RAND, 2011

Disability Broadband Proposal

Paul Budde has released a "Australia - National Broadband Network - Disability Broadband" (22 August 2011). This proposes a national coordinated strategy to use the NBN and on-line services to improve access for those with a disability. While this is a good idea in principle, the document is vague about what it proposes be done.

Universal service obligations are a complex area. See "Telecommunications Policy In Australia and People with Disabilities" which I published for Michael J Bourk (2000) for some history of this area.

Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd, have provided their report as a free nine page PDF download (270 Kbytes). Unfortunately, as this is PDF it is less accessible for those with a disability, than a web page meeting W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, have been. Here is an excerpt from the report:
New technologies are offering unprecedented opportunities for people with disability, older Australians and people experiencing illnesses to develop a much more inclusive and accessible infrastructure for a range of communication, information and social applications.

A new approach using the significant investment being made by the government in the NBN, and its related trans-sector policies in e-health, e-education, e-government, e-commerce and smart grids,
would allow the disability community to break through the many inflexible silo-based structures that have been created over the last 50 years. It could also help to break down the inflexible, vertically-integrated structures that impede competition and innovation while at the same time increasing costs.

There are many silo-based systems within this sector, mainly due to the technical limitations that have existed in the past. Broadband technologies now give us the chance to take a fresh look and explore ways of introducing more innovative applications, which will enable a more seamless integration of services to these communities into the broader array of services in our community.

The trans-sector approach is a crucial element in the creation of a more inclusive society.

The government and the wider community should take all of the new opportunities into account, consider the all of the new possibilities that broadband has to offer the more disadvantaged groups in our society. This report provides a broad outline of what these opportunities are and how they can be
further developed.

Taking these new developments and opportunities into account a new policy scheme should be designed and funded – one that is framed, not in line with the current silo-based environment, but according to the trans-sector approach, since this would better meet the long-term needs of the people addressed in the review, their families and carers.

With the proposed inclusive broadband infrastructure, using cloud computing as its IT utility, employers will see reduced accommodation costs and employees will be able to get to work right away, without having to specially provision each workstation they need to use.

By utilising new technologies such as those developed by broadband and internet media companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, etc a demand-based service can determine the people most in need of support, the services that should be available to them, and the appropriate service delivery arrangements.

A trans-sector approach based on broadband is far more efficient and effective than the dozens of often competing and uncoordinated processes currently used by many of government departments and agencies. Apart from this, the lifestyle improvements that can be achieved by this new approach offer enormous social and economic benefits to the people involved, as well as to their carers, employees, friends and families.

Government leadership is needed to break through the many silos, as it is extremely unlikely that these changes can be achieved from within the silos structures of health, aged care, informal care, income support and the injury insurance system.

This report proposes to commence the transition – from the present rather outdated communications technologies to a much more efficient and effective system. Such a transition could be developed in parallel with the rollout of the NBN.

At the start most users would still use existing technologies and other traditional services as they are currently used by the communities. However, towards the end of that period a full transition will have been made. Obviously there will always be a need for some highly specialised stand-alone services for some, but in one way or another even most of these people will benefit from this new inclusive access infrastructure – for example, with many ATs (assistant technologies) being linked through systems such as the IoT (Internet of Things). ...

From: Australia - National Broadband Network - Disability Broadband" Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd, 22 August 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cybersecurity and the law

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra,
Professor Scott Shackelford, from Indiana University, is speaking on "Tweet softly, but carry a big stick: defining state responsibility for cyber attacks". There is a video of a previous presentation also available. Scott is preparing a book on this topic for release later in the year.

Scott started by talking about why cyber-attacks matter. He used the example of the Stuxnet attack, which damaged Iran's nuclear plant. However, he argued that so far we have not seen a "CyberWar", however I would argue that it may not be possible to say when such a war was happening, as this would be more of a covert "cold" war. There is no clear distinction between large scale criminal activities, terrorism and warfare on-line.

Scott pointed out there had not been much cyber-terrorism so far, with terrorists using the Internet for coordination and PR, not direct attacks. He speculated this was because terrorists do not have the technical skills needed. This seemed unlikely to me as terrorist groups were shown to be able to recruit engineers, so it seems likely they could recruit software engineers. It is more likely that they find it difficult to conceive an attack which would have the news value of a physical attack.

Scott mentioned that the International Court of Justice for Bozina adopted the more rigid "Effective Control Standard" "rather then the "Overall Control Standard". This requires a higher burden of proof to say that the state is responsible for the actions of individuals. This is a major issue as it will be difficult to say who is doing the attacking and why. However, it seems to me that it will be politics, not the law, which determines the actions of nations in this area.

Scott pointed out that ICANN had done well resolving domain name squatting disputes. But this seems a long way from resolving international cyber-war disputes. Perhaps we need an international criminal cyber-court. ;-)

Scott was critical of the concept of "cyber-peace" from IUT. See: "The Quest for Cyber Peace", ITU, 2011.

The RAND think tank advised the US military that it was not feasible to respond in kind to a cyber-attack. The US Government recently warned that a cyber-attack on the USA may result in a conventional military response.

Scott discussed the different views in academia over the relivance of international law to cyber-war. His own view is that it has some relevance. It seems to me this is the same issue as with laws applying to the Internet in general. Laws apply, but not very well. Some new customs grow up quickly around the Internet.
Professor Scott Shackelford Professor of Business Law and Ethics, Kelley School of Business,
Indiana University

The ANU College of Business and Economics is pleased to present a free public seminar on cyber security and privacy by visiting Professor Scott Shackelford.

The seminar is based on research from a paper being published by the Georgetown Journal of International Law entitled “Defining State Responsibility for Cyber Attacks: Competing Standards for a Growing Problem”, and Professor Shackelford’s forthcoming book “Cyber Peace: Managing Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business, and Relations” (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Professor Scott Shackelford earned his Bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude with honors in Economics and Political Science, from Indiana University along with the Elvis J. Stahr Distinguished Senior Award, his Masters of Philosophy in International Relations, with highest distinction, from the University of Cambridge as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and his J.D., with academic and pro bono distinction, from Stanford
Law School where he was co-Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Journal of International Law.

A frequent speaker to a variety of local, national, and global audiences, Professor Shackelford’s current research grows from his doctoral dissertation on the governance of global common pool resources and
focuses on cyber security and privacy.

Presented by Registration required ANU College of E: hayley.mcneel(a) Business and Economics

This seminar is free and open to the cyber-security community of interest.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rootza Information Indexing and Search Service

Victoria Redfern demonstrated her RootZa "... online tool to assist researchers, students, professionals and the general public to search the internet or www". There is a paper in the ACM digital library by Victoria: "World wide web: online core concept thesaucratic database development to improve information seeking". Also her patent application "ENHANCED SEARCHING USING A THESAURUS" (WIPO Patent Application WO/2007/012120). The tool has a visualization of the results as a diagram but the claims for invention appear to be about how the thesaurus is generated. This may be of use for Defence classification systems.

Handbook of Climate Change and Society

At the Climate Research Expo, John Dryzek discussed the The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society, which he prepared with Richard B. Norgaard and David Schlosberg. He said it would be availbel from Oxford University Press, first in hardback. I noticed that Amazon has the text available for preview.

Jutoh e-book software

I downloaded the demo version Jutoh to try for creating ePub/Kindle e-book publishing. This also required me to download Amazon's KindleGen software for creating Kindle e-books (although I have found Amazon's on-line tools work okay).

After installing the Linux version of Jutoh, I pointed it at a folder containing the file from an IMS Content Package generated by Moodle, containing the chapters of my book in XHTML format. Jutoh extracted the HTML and created an e-book in a few seconds. The chapters were not in the correct order (the ISM table of contents is an XML file which Jutoh seems to have simply ignored). There were 22 errors with the HTML reported. This was disappointing as I assumed the application would fix the HTML.

Also I tried using my LibreOffice file as a source document. But Jutoh did not recognize the ODM master document format. So then I tried the HTML print file generated by Moodle. This had the problem that Moodle does not using a HTML heading tag to identify chapters, but a class. I could not see any way to get Jutoh to recognise this and one of my attempts too more than ten minutes to process.

It seems that the software is designed to create an e-book in only one format. So while you can use the same source documents, you need to compile the book separately for each format (ePUB, Kindle and the like). After generating the EPUB, I tried switching to Mobi, but this seemed to confuse the software.

So over a few minutes trying Jutoh, I concluded it does not work significantly better than the other tools I have tried. Given Jutoh costs money and the other tools don't, I did not think it worth persisting with.

Climate Change and Global Conflict

At the Climate Research Expo, Devin Bowles, from the
National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health is talking about the indirect effects on health of climate change. He pointed out that changes in weather patterns, such as drought in the Sudan, will result in conflict. As well as the causalities from wars caused, there will also be a breakdown in infrastructure, resulting in disease. The RAND Corporation, a US military think tank, has produced a series of papers on climate change and security

Australian Building Ratings Underestimate Energy Use

Speaking at the Climate Research Expo, Annie Egan mentioned that here research on energy performance of Australian office buildings shows they are about 20% less efficient than the energy rating standards, such as NABERS, would indicate. One problem is that NABERS assumes one person per 15 square metres in an office building, while in reality there are 25 to 42 square metres per person. Also the air leakage of building varies widely.

This research suggests one simple way to improve the efficiency of building: reduce air leakage and adjust airflow depending on occupancy. At present Australian buildings are designed to have airflow for the maximum number of people the building can accommodate. As a result there is no need to seal the building, as a lot of airflow is needed anyway. In reality buildings have far fewer people in them most of the time, so need less fresh air. The buildings could therefore be sealed (at low cost with some sealant) and then the airflow adjusted automatically based on occupancy.

For more on this see: The Potential Energy Savings through the use of adaptive comfort cooling setpoints in fully air conditioned Australian office buildings, a simulation study, Aileen (Annie) Egan,
Energy performance simulation of Australian office buildings

My work aims to investigate energy performance simulation of Australian office buildings and look at sources of inaccuracy with these simulations.
Increasingly these simulations are being relied upon to verify that building designs will perform well. So far I have looked at issues such as occupancy, air leakage and weather data.

Annie Egan
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Latest Climate Change Research Results

Greetings from the Australian National University, where I am talking part in a Climate Research Expo. The university's researchers are discussing climate-related research. I have been invited along to talk about the ICT Sustainability course I run at ANU. Abstracts of the talks are available.

The first speaker was Professor Tony McMichael, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH). He discussed the human health effects of climate change, as well as increased deaths due to heat stress, there is expected to be tropical deceases spreading to more of Australia and increased mental illness amongst farmers due to more difficult conditions.

The next speaker was Dr Michael Roderick, Fellow, Joint between Research School of Earth Sciences and Research School of Biology. He talked about the work of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate System Science. Climate change is a "big science" issue, as a result considerable effort has to go into coordinating work between large numbers of researchers. In this case the centre will be doing the equivalent to 30 normal research projects.

Like the "Earthquake of the Week" symposium I attended at ANU in March, this was a little like being in a disaster movie. Expert after expert details in the dry language of science the details of a disaster. The question then is what can and will anyone do about this.

Here is the program:

Monday: 22 August 2011

8:45 – 9:00 WELCOME AND OVERVIEW: Will Steffen
9:00 – 10:00 SCIENCE
Chair: Michael Roderick
Climate change and the prospects for Australia's health Tony McMichael
Introducing the new ARC Centre of Excellence
Michael Roderick
The Ocean and Climate: Why do we need to understand the ocean to understand climate change?
Chris Chapman
Land surface processes
Fubao Sun
Terrestrial carbon cycle
Heather Keith

10:00 –11:00 ENERGY
Chair: Ken Baldwin
New Endex technologies for decarbonising fuels and flue
gases: Rowena Ball
Teaching Energy Efficiency with iPads and the Web: Tom Worthington
Trends in Info-Comm Technology (ICT) Sustainability in a Carbon-Constrained World: Idris F. Sulaiman
Energy performance simulation of Australian office buildings and sources of inaccuracy with these simulations: Annie Egan
Connecting solar PV systems to the US national electrical grid: Arnold Mckinley

11:00 – 11:30 Morning Tea

11:30 – 12:30 ADAPTATION
Chair: Barbara Norman
Climate change governance under politics as usual and the deliberative alternative: A tale of two publics
Simon Niemeyer
China and the Third Pole: Katherine Morton
Adaptation: Hot and cold weather - risk assessment and
projection: Keith Dear
Climate change, conflict and health: Devin Bowles
Future Fire Scenarios and Economic Implications: Project Researchers: Eddy Collett

12:30 – 13:15 Light Lunch (provided)

13:15 – 13:45 ECONOMICS
Chair: Howard Bamsey
Meta-Analysis of the Costs of Abating Carbon Emissions
David Stern
Valuing climate change damage in economic measures of
global sustainability
Paul J. Burke
The Economics of Climate Change Policies in China
Shenghao Feng

13:45 – 14:15 LAW
Chair: Andrew Macintosh
Law and Policy
Karen Hussey
Impact of ‘Law and Policy’ on Bushfire Management
Michael Eburn
“States in Decision: The US and the EU in the international climate negotiations”
Christian Downie

14:15 – 14:30 Break

14:30 – 15:00 ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
Chair: Kyla Tienhaara
Asia and the Pacific: Climate change risk assessment in
Dave Harley
Environmental implications of land use policies in a
decentralised Indonesia
Fitrian Ardiansyah
Sustainability of water resources in rural Bangladesh
Md Zillur Rahman

15:00 – 15:30
Chair: Barry Newell
Desert Channels: working on local and global scales
Libby Robin
Urbanism, Climate Adaptation and Health Cluster
Katrina Proust
The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society: An overview
John Dryzek

15:30 – 15:45 Closing remarks
Will Steffen
Posters Luke Menzies
Centre for Public Awareness of Science
Maria Taylor
Centre for Public Awareness of Science

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Google Creating Culture Online

Alan Noble, Engineering Director, Google Australia and New Zealand, talked on "Supporting Culture Online - How Google is working to preserve the world's cultural heritage, both by making it accessible and providing platforms for the creativity that enriches culture to thrive" at NICTA in Canberra, 19 August 2011. This was unlike the technical presentations which Google staff give at the Australian National University in Canberra a few times a year. This was a talk for a more general audience, saying what Google does, but lacking technical details about how Google does it.

Alan discussed several Google projects to digitise books and works of art at great galleries and libraries of the world. But also projects to put lesser known culture online. This included projects to encourage oral traditions of the third world to be put online for the first time (Alan also speculated about how much is being lost through the extinction of indigenous languages in Australia). A cynic might say Google is doing this simply top have more web content to put ads on and make money out of. But in the main, Google does seem to be genuinely trying to "not do evil" and provide a cultural contribution (even if does happen there is then more content for them to put ads on).

Alan's talk reminded me of a Workshop on the Use of Technology for Museums of the Pacific Islands Region I conducted in 2005 for the International Council on Museums, UNESCO and ANU. The museums of pacific countries are very vunerable to natural disasters, particularly cyclones and tsunami (the Apia museum we visited was on the seafront, less than a metre above sea level).

Alan also mentioned working with UNESCO on preserving cultural works and opening an office in Paris. I suggested that the Google staff might like to pop along to the UNESCO office in Paris. I had noticed that there were some artworks in the cafeteria on a visit in 2000.

Making Academics Teach Improves Their Research Skills

In "Learning On-line Tertiary Teaching for Research-Led Education" I suggested how the teaching burden on early career academics could be reduced by training them in on-line mentoring. But new research suggests that the process of teaching may also help new academics to be better researchers. So teaching would be of benefit to both the teacher and the student (I learn a lot from my students):
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate students are often encouraged to maximize their engagement with supervised research and minimize teaching obligations. However, the process of teaching students engaged in inquiry provides practice in the application of important research skills. Using a performance rubric, we compared the quality of methodological skills demonstrated in written research proposals for two groups of early career graduate students (those with both teaching and research responsibilities and those with only research responsibilities) at the beginning and end of an academic year. After statistically controlling for preexisting differences between groups, students who both taught and conducted research demonstrate significantly greater improvement in their abilities to generate testable hypotheses and design valid experiments. These results indicate that teaching experience can contribute substantially to the improvement of essential research skills.

From: "Graduate Students’ Teaching Experiences Improve Their Methodological Research Skills" (Feldon and others, Science 19 August 2011: 333 (6045), 1037-1039 DOI: 10.1126/science.1204109.

Increasing Housing Density by Dividing Existing Houses

This month's Owner Builder magazine features "Two Houses from One" by Amanda Scully. This describes how a detached house was turned into a duplex, by placing a fireproof dividing wall through one side of the hallway. The wall was continued out into the garden to provide privacy. As the article points out this is a way to reuse overly large houses, avoiding the financial and environmental expense of demolishing and rebuilding. While the article describes modification of an old house with a large garden, it would be interesting to see how this would be done with newer "McMansions".

Increasing the density of housing in suburbs would have social benefits by increasing the amount of money available for public services, such as buses, as well as reducing the environmental footprint of buildings. Of course some residents may not like the character of their suburb being changed. But they may prefer this be done subtly by dividing existing houses, than by knocking them down and building multistory apartment blocks.

The same magazine follows with an excerpt from the book "In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House into Two Homes" by Michael Litchfield (Taunton Press, 2011). This describes what are known in the USA as "accessory dwelling units" (ADUs). Apart from grannies, these might be used by students.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Learning On-line Tertiary Teaching for Research-Led Education

In "Postgraduate Certificates in Tertiary Teaching" I looked at some of the courses of study for those wanting to learn about how to teach at university. After looking at the options, I decided to enroll in the Australian National University (ANU) program, as that is where I am an Adjunct Lecturer. However, I decided to do two of the four required units at the University of Southern Queensland, using provision for cross institutional study. This is possible as USQ offers their program on-line. Given that I wanted to learn about how to teach on-line, doing on-line courses from a institution which specialized this is area seemed to make sense.

Units Selected

The courses selected at USQ, in consultation with my education adviser, were:
  1. Assessment, Evaluation and Learning EDU5713, Semester 3, 2011
  2. Online Pedagogy in Practice EDU8114, Semester 1, 2012
These will then be followed by a course at ANU in "Research Supervision" followed by the capstone course.

The intention is to try to develop a form of e-learning which suits a research oriented approach to teaching. While it is easy to say that research should make for better courses, it is difficult to do in practice. World class researchers do not necessarly make world class teachers, nor do they want to take time out from research to give lectures.

But it should be possible to use e-learning techniques to supervise research work by students and also to run better courses, at least at the postgraduate level. These courses may use the same tools, such as Moodle, as undergraduate and vocational courses, but will need to be more flexible, to take into account the fluid nature of research.

Online Research Lead Education for Social Inclusion

Such an on-line approach to research informed teaching might address the problem ANU had with the "2012 Good Universities Guide". The Canberra Times reported ANU did not rate well in some teaching measures ("ANU's teaching score confusing, chief says", BREANNA TUCKER, 18 Aug, 2011 04:00 AM). The university needs to improve teaching quality, without compromising the excellence of its research. One way to do this, would be to provide the staff with on-line tools and training to use them, in a way specifically tailored to researchers.

Early career academics should receive training in how to collaborate on-line as part of their basic education. They would be encouraged to use these skills both for research collaboration and for tutoring students. Staff would then not spend so much time on administrative parts of teaching, not feel the teaching is taking them away from their research and the students would benefit form a more personal, more relevant education.

Some of this is already done in the ANU course "Green Information Technology Strategies" (COMP7310), which uses on-line mentored and collaborative techniques developed by the ACS. These techniques would also help with social inclusion issues, such as gender balance, entry flexibility and the proportion of TAFE accredited students and provide a way to implement the "research-led environment" promoted by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ian Young.

Enrollment On-line Not Too Daunting

One very useful aspect of enrolling in a course is that it gives a teacher an insight into the difficulty of being a student. Cross-institutional enrollment is just about the hardest thing to do, as it involves coping with the administrative procedures of two different intuitions. At one point it appeared to me it was not possible to do, as the procedure for each institution seemed to say that I had to enroll at the other one first (a situation know in the computer discipline as "deadly embrace"). However, as I was at ANU I enrolled there and then applied to USQ for cross-institutional courses.

The procedure at USQ proved remarkably easy. The information about courses and requirements is complex, but the web site is reasonably well laid out. I sent a message to the inquiry service and received a prompt and helpful reply. What was a little disconcerting at first was that as part of making an inquiry I ended up with an account on the USQ system. This seemed a little intrusive, as I was just making an inquiry, not signing up for a course. But this turned out to be very useful, as when I asked another question, the person answering it had a record of what I had asked before. This way I did not need to repeat everything. What was even more remarkable, was that when I phoned the inquiry line with a quick question, the person answering had my details on screen and could give a very fast answer.

The enrollment process was still not completely clear. There was a four page form to fill in, with a lot of detail. But I found I could bypass all this as a "professional development" student. With this option I simply indicate what unit I want to do and pay the fees myself. As this is not part of a program of study, and I am not asking someone else to pay for it, much of the paperwork is not needed. I simply filled out a half page form and submitted it.

The next day I received an offer by email and accepted it on-line. I got a paper copy of the offer as well but this was not really needed. The only other piece of paper in the process was a one page letter with my student ID and initial password. I assume this is sent on paper for security reasons. What also was a surprise is that so far I have not been asked for any money. The course does not start until November (being in third semester). I assume I will get a bill shortly before then.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ethical foundations of climate engineering

Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, will speak on "The ethical foundations of climate engineering", at the Australian National University in Canberra, 12:30 PM, 23 August 2011:
Public Lecture

The ethical foundations of climate engineering

In the standard consequentialist view, the question of whether it is ethically justified intentionally to shift the planet to a warmer or cooler climate depends on an assessment of the costs and benefits of the new state compared to the old one. The worldview of climate ethics is built on an unstated (and mostly unrecognized) understanding of the natural world that grew out of the Scientific Revolution, complemented by Enlightenment philosophy’s conception of the human as a self-legislating Kantian moral subject.

This paper argues that the grip of “technological thinking” based on this worldview explains why it has been so difficult for humanity to heed the warnings of climate science and why the idea of using technology to take control of the Earth’s atmosphere is immediately appealing.

Yet recent discoveries by Earth system science itself—-the arrival of the Anthropocene, the prevalence of non-linearities, and the deep complexity of the earth’s processes—-hint at its inborn flaws. The emerging understanding of the Earth highlights the dangers of technological thinking, and suggests a source of moral authority beyond the self-legislating Kantian subject.


Clive Hamilton is the Charles Sturt Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics in Canberra. For 14 years until early 2008 he was the Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Australia’s foremost progressive think tank. His book "Requiem for a Species: Why we resist the truth about climate change" was published last year. He has recently returned from a visiting position in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He is a member of the Royal Society's Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative.

Speaker/Host: ANU Climate Change Institute Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Hedley Bull Centre, Cnr Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU Date: Tuesday, 23 August 2011 Time: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Website: Enquiries: Roz Smith on 6125 6599, Colette Gilmour on 6125 0633

Defining state responsibility for cyber attacks

Professor Scott Shackelford, from Indiana University, will speak on "Tweet softly, but carry a big stick: defining state responsibility for cyber attacks" at the Australian National University in Canberra, 10:30am, 23 August 2011. There is a video of a previous presentation also available.
Professor Scott Shackelford Professor of Business Law and Ethics, Kelley School of Business,
Indiana University

The ANU College of Business and Economics is pleased to present a free public seminar on cyber security and privacy by visiting Professor Scott Shackelford.

The seminar is based on research from a paper being published by the Georgetown Journal of International Law entitled “Defining State Responsibility for Cyber Attacks: Competing Standards for a Growing Problem”, and Professor Shackelford’s forthcoming book “Cyber Peace: Managing Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business, and Relations” (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Professor Scott Shackelford earned his Bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude with honors in Economics and Political Science, from Indiana University along with the Elvis J. Stahr Distinguished Senior Award, his Masters of Philosophy in International Relations, with highest distinction, from the University of Cambridge as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and his J.D., with academic and pro bono distinction, from Stanford
Law School where he was co-Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Journal of International Law.

A frequent speaker to a variety of local, national, and global audiences, Professor Shackelford’s current research grows from his doctoral dissertation on the governance of global common pool resources and
focuses on cyber security and privacy.

Presented by Registration required ANU College of E: hayley.mcneel(a) Business and Economics

This seminar is free and open to the cyber-security community of interest.