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Ada Lovelace medal awarded to Mary O'Kane

Congratulations to Mary O'Kane who has received the inaugural Ada Lovelace medal for an Outstanding Female Engineer. The award is by UNSW Faculty of Engineering. Mary O'Kane has a career as a computer scientist (speech recognition, AI) and chief scientist of NSW.

For details see Women In Engineering Awards

(as a long term fan of Ada Lovelace— a mathematician (and gambler) commonly known as the first computer programmer — I am puzzled why the engineers should have used her name, but it's good recognition for both of them.)

New ACDICT executive elected, new president takes office

Morri Pagnucco (UNSW), took office as president of ACDICT at the Annual Council Meeting July 19 2016, for a period of 2 years.
New executive members include Simon (Newcastle) and Ghassan Beydoun (Wollongong). Katrina Falkner (Adelaide) was elected as deputy president/president-elect.
The full executive is listed at http://www.acdict.edu.au/executive.htm.

Peer Review of Assessment Workshop presentations

The workshops held around Australia in the last couple of months have released their collection of presentations.

Science Meets Parliament - descriptive report

Katrina Falkner (Adelaide) went to Science Meets Parliament in March 2016, an annual event organised by Science and Technology Australia (STA) of which ACDICT is a member.
Her description is in this report.

Digital Careers program update

The Digital Careers program which was run from NICTA, managed by Karsten Schultz, in the past few years has moved into CISRO Education and Outreach, headed by Mary Mulcahy, from 1 July. Digital Careers runs a program of engagement and events with school students that has increased the awareness and career prospects of upcoming university students.
Mary Mulcahy wants "to assure all of you that the Digital Careers program is an important program for us and that these changes will not affect delivery of the program.  We will do all we can to ensure that there is no disruption to the delivery of the program.
We are currently looking at the governance and other operational aspects of the program and thinking about what the next iteration of Digital Careers might look like – especially in the wider STEM agenda."

International Olympiad in Informatics — Australian team includes first female member

from the Australian Mathematics Trust June 2016

Belinda Shi, a year 12 student from Methodist Ladies’ College in Melbourne, will be the first Australian female to compete at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).
‘I’m excited to be the first female on Australia’s International Olympiad in Informatics team,' she says.
Keen to counter the misconception that ‘girls can’t code’, Belinda decided to establish a coding club at school. Her goal is to introduce other girls at her school to informatics, programming and robotics. ‘I want to encourage girls to keep an open mind and give programming and technology a go, because learning to code is not only fun and rewarding but it’s a skill that’s useful in so many fields', she says.
Belinda will be joined by team mates Richard Gong, Year 11, Sydney Grammar School, NSW, Jerry Mao, Year 10, Caulfield Grammar School, VIC, and Declan McDonnell, Year 12, Normanhurst Boys High School, NSW. They will travel to Kazan, Russia to compete in the IOI from 12 to 19 August.


ACDICT Annual Council meeting — for Deans or their representative

July 18-19th - see our Events page for the agenda.

Science and Technology Australia Newsletter

ACDICT is a member of STA — here's their latest June 2016 newsletter.
Note the date for the Science Meets Business meeting will be 24 October 2016.



Welcome from the President


Welcome to the website of the Australian Council of Deans of Information and Communications Technology (ACDICT). The Council which was formed in July 2008 represents all Australian universities and the many disciplines comprising Information and Communications Technology (ICT):

  • Computer Science
  • Information Systems
  • Information Technology
  • Software Engineering
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Systems Engineering
  • Telecommunications Engineering
  •  &bnsp;and any other ICT related discipline

On behalf of the Australian universities and ICT disciplines, the Council seeks to promote ICT education, research and scholarship by liaising with all relevant stakeholders including government, industry and professional bodies. Our Mission and Objectives elaborate on this role. This website provides information and records of Council activities. If you have any comments, suggestions or queries please feel free to contact the Executive Officer who is a member of the Executive.

The Council is grateful to the Australian Computer Society for hosting this website.


June 2016


Undergraduate research experience in early years improves STEM degree outcomes - including those for computer science

Reported in a formal peer-reviewed report in the journal CBE-Life Sciences Education. <http://www.lifescied.org/content/15/2/ar20.full.pdf>
and summarised in The Australian:

An eight-year study at the University of Texas at Austin has found that including postgraduate-style research in the first years of bachelor courses can dramatically improve students’ outcomes.

The study, considered the largest of its type, concludes that “course-based research experiences” boost the likelihood of graduating with science, technology, engineering and maths degrees by up to 32 per cent.

They also discourage students from switching into non-STEM majors or delaying completion of their degrees.
The improved outcomes were those that we would relate to retention in Australian higher education - but not to final GPA.
"Using propensity score–matching to control for student-level differences, we tested the effect of participating in FRI [Freshman Research Initiative] on students’ probability of graduating with a STEM degree, probability of graduating within 6 years, and grade point average (GPA) at graduation. Students who completed all three semesters of FRI were significantly more likely than their non-FRI peers to earn a STEM degree and graduate within 6 years. FRI had no significant effect on students’ GPAs at graduation."
--------
OLT project report published - plagiarism and programming assignments

Just published June 2016 is the PRIANIT report Plagiarism and related issues in assessments not involving text (Simon, Minichiello, Lawrence, Sheard,  Carbone, Johnson, Cook). This includes assessments with computer programming and graphic design. Simon reported on this at ALTA forum in April 2016.

http://www.olt.gov.au/project-plagiarism-and-related-issues-assessments-not-involving-text-2012

(declaration of interest: I was one of the authors - ACDICT Executive Officer Chris Johnson)


May 2016


Office of Learning and Teaching Fellowships 2016

The last set of OLT fellowships have been announced (16 May 2016).
Two are of particular interest to ICT education:

  • Anne Gardner (UTS) Professional identity and agency: changing the way STEM students think about their learning and development
  • Jo Coldwell-Neilson (Deakin)  Unlocking the code to digital literacy
The Seed and Development Grants announced January 2016 included (among several projects of interest across all disciplines)
  • Contract cheating and assessment design: exploring the connection (project leader Tracey Bretag) University of South Australia, Griffith University, UNSW, University of Sydney, Swansea University (UK)
Building productive industry-university collaboration in ICT
- the Office of the Chief Scientist, ACED, AIIA, ACDICT

Employers are struggling to get workers whilst graduates are struggling to get jobs.

The Office of the Chief Scientist has released a communique following the industry-ICT education forum held in Sydney 21 April, which more than 90 people attended.
Thanks for all those who contributed to the survey: it was very useful to have concurrent views on very similar surveys from educators and industry.

Some of the specific actions that will be considered include:

  • Developing a reciprocal exchange program between university academics and industry.
  • Establishing a national annual review process between ICT faculties and industry that identifies the core and emerging issues in the technology sector.
  • Setting out a common understanding of key graduate attributes.
  • Collaborating on the implementation of for-credit work integrated learning at the national scale in ICT; aligning with the National Strategy on Work Integrated Learning.
  • Developing best practice guidelines for the effective operation of industry advisory boards in universities.
There was strong support for the establishment of a standing national-level body of ICT leaders from industry and universities.

Read more detail here.

For more information contact Professor Maurice Pagnucco, m.pagnucco (at) unsw.edu.au

ARC Consultation Paper on Impact of Research—responses invited 2/5/16

The ARC has released a consultation paper on Engagement and Impact—see <http://www.arc.gov.au/nisa>.

Responses are requested by 24 June.
The ARC says:

The purpose of this consultation is to seek the views of stakeholders on the framework for developing the national assessment of the engagement and impact of university research. It provides an overview of the Government’s policy rationale, parameters, and key issues regarding university research engagement and impact.

Feedback is invited from all stakeholders including the higher education research sector, industry and other end-users or beneficiaries of university research. In addition, the perspectives of industry and other end-users or beneficiaries of university research will be addressed through additional consultation mechanisms.

Stakeholders are asked to provide their views on the questions listed in this document. Please use the feedback template provided at Appendix A. Feedback should be provided by emailing the ARC at ARC-EI_consultation@arc.gov.au. The due date for stakeholder feedback is 24 June 2016.

Building Productive Partnerships - CSIRO Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools Program 2/5/16

This "scientists and mathematicians" program includes ICT. Claudette Bateup spoke on this program at our ALTA forum in April.
The Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools (SMiS) and ICT in Schools: a partnership program (ICTiS) is a major national program involving teachers, students, scientists, mathematicians and ICT professionals. It not only has presence in a large number of schools but is significant as an exemplar for a national agenda in bringing schools and STEM professionals together in collaborative arrangements. The program is funded by the Australian Government and CSIRO, and managed by CSIRO.

"An evaluation report of the CSIRO Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program shows that it's a highly effective program in terms of the scale of its operation, the multiple significant benefits for students, teachers and STEM professionals, and the clear return on investment of resources."

See <http://www.csiro.au/en/Education/Programs/SMiS/SMiS-partnerships-report> for an introductory description, a link to the executive summary (1MB PDF), and an address to get the full report.


April 2016

Industry-university collaboration for work-ready graduates

The Office of the Chief Scientist, AIIA, ACDICT and ACED jointly held a one day forum at Women's College, Sydney University on Thursday 21 April.
Actions and conclusions will follow. In the meantime, Morri Pagnucco's analysis of the comparable surveys of industry and academics on the readiness of graduates is informative.
Here is a copy of the combined and analysed Survey Results.

Employment market update report from Adzuna

It's described as bad news for most of the job market, but salaries are best in ICT. The employment website Adzuna report on vacancies, salaries and job-seekers for the first three months of 2016 says:

"Unsurprisingly, the IT industry offers the highest average salary of $118,753, closely followed by Healthcare and Nursing ($117,251) and Legal Services ($90,438)."

The report is at https://www.adzuna.com.au/blog/2016/03/30/average-salaries-drop-and-sa-the-worst-place-to-find-a-job/
Its headline is Average Salaries Drop and SA Ranked as The Worst Place to Find a Job (note that Canberra is the best place). Year on year, average salaries overall rose in NSW, Qld - and South Australia.

TEQSA statistical summary report for 2014 - release 2016

The TEQSA statistical summary report for 2014 university statistics
<http://www.teqsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication-documents/HEStatisticsReport2016_WEB.pdf>
amalgamates statistics across the whole sector. It does not enable institutions to be distinguished, but some sector wide numbers are significant:

1. EFTSL student loads by field of study shows a 10% increase in IT from 2013 to 2014, to 37,992. This is the strongest growth rate of any field of study of any sizeable base.  (page 4)
Other fields have at most 5% or 6% increases.
This counters the impression of the previous year's figures, as used by the last Chief Scientist at ACDICT 2015 Annual Council to conclude that ICT enrolments were lagging.
Anecdotal reports from Deans and Heads of Schools this year show general increases to have continued through 2015 and 2016.

2. The proportion of international IT students was 52% EFTSL - updated.
The first version of the report had an extraordinary claim that the proportion of international students and domestic students in the total (figure 4) showed  90% international enrolments in IT (as noted by Stephen Matchett in his Campus Morning Mail 20/4/16). TEQSA quickly corrected this when asked.
The spreadsheet figures are at
<http://www.teqsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication-documents/StatsReport2016Spreadsheets.xlsx>


ALTA forum 31 March - 1 April 2016, University of Technology Sydney

The ACDICT Academy of Learning and Teaching forum for all Associate Deans (L&T) or equivalents ran just after Easter for two intensive days of updates and discussion on perspectives, policy and practice in university ICT education..
  Details of the program and copies of the slides for this forum

Decadal Plan for Mathematical Sciences in Australia

The Academy of Science Mathematics committee has launched its Decadal Plan for mathematical sciences in Australia for 2016-2025 today 17/3/16 at Parliament House. The Minister for Education Simon Birmingham and the Deputy Minister for Science Karen Andrews both spoke up in support and urged continuing action to continue to persuade parents to support students taking harder options like maths, and pressure industry and other parliamentarians to express support, more frequently than once a year.
The report is at <https://www.science.org.au/files/userfiles/support/reports-and-plans/2016/mathematics-decade-plan-2016-vision-for-2025.pdf>

Comment: Can ICT faculties afford to stiffen the prerequisite for bachelor entry? can we afford not to in the mid- to long-run? If commerce and science have the same requirements then there would be less danger of losing those averse to mathematics from ICT. The currently increasing demand for computing enrolments could be an opportunity to improve student intake and outcomes.

Major recommendations include

1.1 Australian governments, schools and universities should urgently increase their provision of professional development for existing out-of-field school teachers of mathematics and enhance their commitment to the recruitment and retention of new, properly qualified staff.
2.1 Australian universities should immediately plan for the staged reintroduction of at least Year 12 intermediate mathematics subjects as prerequisites for all bachelors programs in science, engineering and commerce.

3.1 Australian universities should collaborate with the discipline to source seed funding for a new national research centre in the mathematical sciences with the objective of enhancing connectivity with industry and strengthening the international collaboration and visibility of Australian research in mathematics and statistics.

Some universities have responded to (or anticipated) the issue:

The cyclical nature of ICT student numbers: lessons to remember

With the anecdotal reports of strong increases in ICT undergraduate enrollments at many Australian universities, this very important analysis on A History of Capacity Challenges in Computer Science [for USA] by Eric Roberts of Stanford. Thanks to Alan Fekete for pointing this out.
<http://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/CSCapacity/>

One of the implications: Australia's claimed "over-production" of ICT PhDs may have a ready market in USA jobs:

Although the precise number is impossible to determine because many of the listings use imprecise phrases like “several positions” or “multiple positions,” it appears that the number of open computer science faculty positions [in USA] in 2014-15 was around 1000.
According to the Computing Research Association’s most recent Taulbee survey, North American institutions produced 1,651 computer science Ph.D.s in 2014.21 Of this number, 244 (15 percent) accepted faculty positions at North American institutions. By this calculation, the current rate of Ph.D. production is sufficient to fill about one of every four open positions.
Although the ratio of applicants to open positions is less than the one-in-seven shortfall of the early 1980s, the number of unfilled positions is significantly larger in absolute terms. If the number of Ph.D.s is sufficient to fill only a quarter of the open positions, then the number of positions that cannot be filled from this pool is around 750. Unlike other fields, computer science has no reserve labor force in the form of Ph.D.s who received their degrees in prior years but who have been unable to find positions.
[Roberts part 4: What is the nature of the enrollment expansion today?]

Australia's Digital Pulse report 2016

The  ACS / Deloitte Access Economics report on Australia's digital economy and workforce is released 16 March 2016
Australia's Digital Pulse 2016

http://www.acs.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/96698/PJ52569-Australias-Digital-Pulse-2016_LAYOUT_Final_Web.pdf


March 2016
ICT Education Statistics update

Australian Information Technology Higher Education Student and Staff Statistics — now available, an ACDICT report presenting statistics on ICT higher education updated to cover 2009-2014. The report shows the start of the recent growth trend in undergraduate enrollments, and shows student numbers broken down into types of degree, gender, and domestic/international across the Australian universities. The report includes some analysis.

Link above, or at
www.acdict.edu.au/documents/ACDICT%20IT%20Education%20Statistics2014-v4.pdf


Report on the future of work in Australia — 29/2/16


Tomorrow's Digitally Enabled Workforce is a seriously written 90+ page report by the CSIRO-NICTA group Data61, supported by the ACS, ANZ Bank, Australian Government Department of Employment, and Boston Consulting Group.
joint report on the future of work on Australia. Not a policy document but projected futures to inform the discussion about the future, in an attempt to get a smooth transition as the nature of work changes.
The launch of the report was reported in ACS Information Age, and included succinct points made by some of the sponsors: "I think the biggest risk is we’re creating a lot of traction in promoting STEM and ICT but we don’t create the employment." said Patrick Maes from ANZ Bank.

ACS Employment Survey for 2015 – 29/2/16


A separate ACS report is just published on its Employment Survey 2015.
This report gives a picture of the current ICT workforce that can inform universities' positions on ICT workers' patterns of employment - and unemployment - in the past few years, breaking the figures down by gender, area of industry, hours worked (academics are not the longest working hours in ICT)...
 and some indication of job prospects. Age, gender and ethnicity discrimination. and towards the end, qualifications - at what level and whether in ICT or other.

Breaking News: Work Integrated learning in STEM – 24/2/16

An article in the Australian Higher Education section Weds 24 February describes the ACER report for the Office of the Chief Scientist on WIL in STEM. ICT is the "stand-out field" in the sciences. Reporter John Ross writes

A new report finds that barely one in 20 Australian science under­graduates experience work- integrated learning placements during the course of their studies.
And just over 10 per cent have any sort of industry exposure.
At the other end of the spectrum, three out of four information technology students are involved in industry-oriented projects while one in three agriculture and environmental science students enjoy some kind of industry placement.

The report is not actually new. It dates from June 2015:  Edwards, Daniel. Work integrated learning: A lesson in good WIL, Research Developments, ACER. http://rd.acer.edu.au/article/work-integrated-learning-a-lesson-in-good-wil
which refers to the full report for the Office of Chief Scientist, published in Work Integrated Learning in STEM in Australian Universities.

Teaching coding in schools — Infographic on the USA issues

Shane Ryan <sryan@datascience.smu.edu> "recently published a graphic with our online data science program, DataScience@SMU. We explored computer science and coding education for grades K-12 in the US and across the world. You can check it out here: https://datascience.smu.edu/blog/kids-and-computer-science-infographic/"

Breaking News

 

School mathematics, university prerequisites, and the study of STEM science technology engineering and maths

The dilemma is of having too much choice of subjects perceived to be interesting but some seen as less difficult.
The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Mary O'Kane, and Prof Ian Burnett, Dean of Engineering and IT at UTS, both commented on the desirability of studying maths at school for students' future careers. [At the ACS Reimagination 2015 conference, reported in the ACS Information Age.]
Geoff Prince from Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute develops his view on prerequisites at more length, in the AMSI Update ed. 2. with contributions from Ian Chubb and Alan Finkel (outgoing and incoming Australian Chief Scientists).


Members Newsletter update November 2015

Newsletter Nov 2015