Resources about New Pedagogies for Deep Learning

I’ve just wandered into this by chance, and it feels like a good piece of serendipity. The global project New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) is just starting here in Victoria. So as part of my research journey I’m collecting together in one place resources I find;

The blog post NPDL – An opportunity for 80 Victorian Schools gives some useful links, but the Expression of Interest closed in March. A this time DEECD has eight resources on FUSE, New Pedagogies for Deep Learning Australian cluster resources.

Looking further a field, on I’ve found;



New threats on the computer security front

It seams that month does not go by without another security threat or risk. This look at the threats and opportunities created by big data [Hattip to techcrunch] are with looking at.

We live in an exciting time, but unfortunately in the case of security, that is a double-edged sword. New technologies present new opportunities for criminals. We are optimistic that great new companies are emerging to rise to the challenge.

The old methods of identifying signatures based on simple actions or software is no longer as effective. As potential security breaches can occur over a long period of time from multiple sources. So applying behavioural analytics becomes important, but this needs data captured over an extended time to analyse the potential risks.

This is where big data steps in because it can produce security insights, identify how a breach occurred, and what the consequences are by tracing all the IT assets regardless of physical location. This allows a greater emphasis to be placed on finding solutions, instead of problems

All of this tracking of data in the name of security does lead to privacy issues for employees of the individual business, and larger questions about where this data tracking should end.

iOS/Mac threats

For the iFanatics out there. Malware Discovered In China Could Herald ‘New Era’ Of iOS And Mac Threats. It has just been a matter of time, before malware creators focus there attention on the apple ecosystem. For a long time Windows machines have been the best targets because of the numbers who use them (Windows is about 90%) without a real understanding of how to safely use it. For comparison Android and iOS devices are about 45% each.

Messaging Apps

It seams that the areas of privacy and security now overlap with companies looking for big data opportunities. Hat tips to TechCrunch and LifeHacker for the Secure Messaging Scorecard study by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. it asks some simple questions to interrogate the functionality of the various messaging apps out there.

  1. Encrypted in transit?
  2. Encrypted so the provider can’t read it?
  3. Can you verify contacts’ identities?
  4. Are past comms secure if your keys are stolen?
  5. Is the code open to independent review?
  6. Is security design properly documented?
  7. Has the code been audited?

The last three of allowing independent review, proper documentation, and auditing of the code make it less likely for problems like Heartbleed or Shellshock to go unnoticed. A story I remember from the early 2000s was Microsoft’s encryption, which was broken a few days the code was released. This demonstrates a weakness in all encryption forms, excluding one time message pads, and they serious need for more than a few people to consider important computer code. To paraphrase Linus’s Law, “with enough eyes all bugs are shallow“.

Here are all the messaging apps that tick the seven boxes, which does not mean they are secure but it does show they are going the right direction;

And finally a word about passwords

Please change them from the default. The following, Insecam Displays Unsecured Webcams From Around The World, shows the risks of not doing so and it also breaks some of the basic no’s of security, computer or otherwise.

Book: Pasi Sahlberg’s Finnish Lessons

This book provides an excellent background on the reforms that have brought Finland from the middle ranks to near the top of the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) ranks (See the Wikipedia Page for PISA). At the time of writing Finland was at or near the top of the charts, but now appears to have slipped back a few places with the top spots being held by Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Macau, & Japan.

You can check out the book notes by Jane Sigford which give a good outline of the book. For me, the interesting points made by Finnish Lessons concern things like the low anxiety rates among students and teachers, high levels of respect for teachers and other educational professionals and the focus on literacy early on in the educational adventure of students.

Many of Finland’s policies work in conjunction to create a teaching profession and an educational system that is used as a way of reinforcing the Finnish culture and maintaining their identity.

The book outlines three paradoxes.  On the surface the first paradox – Teach Less, Learn More – does not make sense.  However, because of the high level of competition to enter teaching and the fact it is a respected profession, the question should be how would a dedicated educational professional spend their time? I see it thus, enhancing their skills to create the most up to date curriculum possible, creating stronger links with and between communities, and helping those students who need the extra support.

There is also a side-effect of this: a lower level of anxiety and stress among teachers which should lead to higher staff retention rates. It is worth noting that in business terms the cost of high employee turnover can be up to 2 years worth of salary. (See Employee Retention – The Real Cost of Losing an Employee). This would likely translate as a lower quality of educational outcomes as the new teachers develop the skills. If this is systemic across the entire educational system, then the overall outcomes would suffer.

With the second paradox –Test Less, Learn More – I remember a quote from somewhere “you don’t fatten pigs by weighing them”. In this context, I’m talking about standardised tests used to benchmark students and schools against one another, and not assessment of student understanding. The former tends to be low level (See Blooms), while the latter can be high level. As an activity testing will draw the students attention away from enjoyable things like learning to sitting in a room recalling facts. This is likely to cause levels of anxiety and stress for students, which will lead to lower results. In Neuro-biological terms, stress stimulates cortisol production, and long term, an overload of cortisol can have many negative health effects (you can look at these two unverified sources. Stress Effects from the American Institute of Stress or Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes from help guide. Or you can look that up yourself)

The third paradox – More equity through growing diversity – points more towards the policies used to maintain the equity across the system as the country’s population becomes more culturally diverse.

Finnish teachers require a research-based masters degree, which means that they are highly trained in educational theory, pedagogical content,and subject specifics. Once in a school they are given a teaching load to allow more time for professional development, community engagement, and pedagogical reflection. Schools are  given autonomy to implement educational objectives as they see fit. The school hierarchy is governed by those with an education degree to ensure that the focus remains on providing the best outcomes for the students.

Teachers at all levels of schooling expect that they are given the full range of professional autonomy to practice what they have been educated to do: to plan, teach, diagnose, execute, and evaluate. [Pg 76]

Contrast this with the educational reform movements of the world where the teaching & learning are becoming standardized, the curriculum is more prescriptive with a heavy focus on literacy and numeracy, which is enforced with test-based accountability. All of which scream that there is only one way of thinking and achieving, which is the death-knell of creativity and innovation for teachers, students and the education system.

Schools are being more scrutinised with organisational and motivational ideas borrowed from business practises (see RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, and the corresponding TED talk – Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation for why this is wrong.)

Looking beyond the book

Since Pasi keep looking at the PISA data, I thought it was worth including the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) comments for 2012 (taken from, for a complete overview see the report [pdf].

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) focuses on young people’s ability to use their knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges. This orientation reflects a change in the goals and objectives of curricula themselves, which are increasingly concerned with what students can do with what they learn at school and not merely with whether they have mastered specific curricular content. Since the year 2000, every three years, fifteen-year-old students from randomly selected schools worldwide take tests in the key subjects: reading, mathematics and science, with a focus on one subject in each year of assessment.
The latest set of results from the 2012 data collection (PISA 2012) focuses on mathematics and compares the competencies of students in 65 countries and economies.
Around 510 000 students between the ages of 15 years 3 months and 16 years 2 months participated in PISA 2012 representing about 28 million 15-year-olds globally.

  • In 2012, Asian countries as Shanghai-China, Singapore, Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea have the highest scores in mathematics, reading and science. The only exception is Finland, which also is among the top five performers in science.
  • Some countries, such as Mexico, Turkey and Germany, improved both their mathematics performance and their levels of equity in education between PISA 2003 and PISA 2012.
  • PISA reveals that in most countries and economies, far too many students do not make the most of the learning opportunities available to them because they are not engaged with school and learning.
  • Stratification in school systems, which is the result of policies like grade repetition and selecting students at a young age for different “tracks” or types of schools, is negatively related to equity; and students in highly stratified systems tend to be less motivated than those in less-stratified systems.
  • PISA also shows that the impact of socio-economic status on problem-solving performance is weaker than it is on performance in mathematics, reading or science.

This latest set of PISA testing shows that various Asian countries have taken the lead in their responses to the tests. However, Asian is looking at western countries to see how we foster creativity and we are looking back to see how they foster dedication.

Where to get it

Fishpond => Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?

What is Crowdfunding, and how do you make it work?

When something like Potato salad (See Kickstarter) can make over $55,000 on its $10 goal. It reads like a joke and probably started that way. So I can see why this TechCrunch Handbook on the new era of crowd funding talks about how it defies logic, and in a sense it does, because you are talking about the democratization of ideas and funding these to get started. It appeals to people to have a hand in backing an idea to positively change the world.

So according to TechCrunch what are the ingredients for a successful campaign?

  1. Telling a great story to get your idea across.
  2. Partner with people who can help tell your story, like Video Producers, PR and marking people to improve the reach of your story.
  3. Funding the ad with a real budget, to improve the reach and maximize success.
  4. Having a digital storefront. So that once the campaign has finished, customers can keep coming back.
  5. Gamification of they campaign. To have stretch goals (or levels) that can be unlocked, or to allow customisation of the backer level.

So from the above you can tell that Crowdfunding is expanding from a grassroots movement to include small business to secure funding for a great idea or product, or a testing ground for corporations to trial new product ideas.





Using Android phones for remote control presentations

Years back some teachers had Bluetooth remote to control their Power Point or Keynote presentations, which is a great little tool to make presenting to the class without having to look at the computer. So today I wondered if anyone had made something equivalent for the mobile phone?

Thankfully people have and after some searching, comparing, reading of the reviews, and testing I found Bluetooth Remote PC for the Android phone. It’s made up of two parts. The first is the server that is installed onto your computer to receive the signals from your phone.
For the Computer =>
PlayStore =>

There should be similar cross-platform solutions for apple <-> iOS devices, Apple <-> Android, or PC <-> iOS. The above solution meets my needs and I will not be taking this further, however, if you find a cool or useful app or program then pass it on.

Historical Novel Society Australasia Conference 2015

The Historical Novel Society Australasia gave me a mention in their list of service providers for the background image I created for the 2015 conference pozible campaign.

It is worth noting that many of the authors have produced young adult novels that explore historical periods. For example; Australian historical novelist Wendy Dunn has written Light in the Labyrinth provides an interesting perspective on the live of Anne Boleyn from the perspective her niece, the 14 year old Kate Carey.

Support the Pzilbe campaign for the Historical Novel Society Australasia Conference 2015

HNSA 2015 Conference Pozible

Classic arcade games, now online

Thank you to TechCrunch for this gem. Maybe it’s a desire to relive my misspent young or to show the artful game play of old games to a new generation. Either way this collection of over 900 games is now playable online in the Internet Arcade via a web-browser. This builds on The Console Living Room, which offers up emulators of ’70s & ’80s consoles in all their hideous glory.

Even with retro gaming currently being popular, I doubt this collection would have much use educationally, except for a way of analysing the game play of old games or reviewing the game from a modern perspective. Both of which are not likely to yield educational benefits that could offset the distractions caused by the games.

However, the technology behind it is cooler and could provide an example of a cleaver coding project, with a JavaScript based emulator (JSMESS) being created and embedded into a web browser by Jason Scott.

Visual Perception, looking at Tetrachromacy & Colour Blindness

Is your perception the same as mine? There are the extremes of Tetrachromacy & Colour Blindness that create unique abilities and problems, but for the rest of use it does raise questions of how we perceptive colour.

Looking at developmental neuro-science for a child I assume that the neural pathways in the visual cortex that handle colour perception are formed early on. Our brain makes the links between the perceived colour and the linguistic label for the colour. So it seams extremely unlikely that the pattern of neurons that formed the visual cortex are identical between people.

Tetrachromacy (tetra = four, chroma = color) in humans is a visual oddity which allows the perception of 100 millions colours (See this from IFLS). This is a boon for artists, like Concetta Antico who can see the colours to produce them in art. (BTW her website has a few pages on Tetrachromancy including a Preliminary report of her ability and the genetics involved) It appears to be X-chromosome-linked, so it will be more common in women, but still exceedingly rare.

On the flip-side there is colour blindness. I’ve used colour-blindness tests to head head off potential visually based problems with assessment. To ensure that it is a fair assessment, based on student skill and accounting for disability.  There is Color Vision Testing Made Easy, which as a bunch of images online, and there is the EnChroma Color Blindness Test an interactive online test and a mobile app. Disclaimer: Neither of these should replace professional expertise.