There’s an interesting article about first year uni students in the Age, linking to a new study.  I was interested to read that:

  • students now have less contact hours
  • although more students work, they work no more hours than ten years ago
  • students from a higher socio-economic group work more than students from lower socio-economic groups.

Counter-intuitive and therefore interesting.  I hear a lot of complaints (from both students and academics) about the amount of outside work that students take on, and it is often cited as a reason for failure.

learning management systems

I didn’t get to that seminar, too busy with visitors from a Chinese university.

I have been reviewing some FOSS Learning Management Systems for possible use within the Web Discipline.

Widely used,
probably the most feature rich of the ones I’ve looked at,  including a built
in Wiki and good facilities for tracking learner usage.  There is a nice summary
comparing Moodle to Blackboard here:

This one was developed by
MIT but I am not keen on some of the features, such as using
WimpyPoint for presentations.  (While WP is a nice piece of software this would be
a barrier to entry for some.)

This one is focusing
on being accessible and meets WCAG 1.0 accessibility specifications.

people experienced using any of these packages or have opinions about the
goodness or otherwise of any of the above?

We are getting an in house Moodle server that I will co-administer for test purposes.  Should be interesting.  And it is of course much cheaper than the solution the university uses at present.

trip report: amsterdam, tokyo

Back from the trip.  Internet access was fairly shocking in both places so no blogging occurred.  No access at the International PHP Conference.  Some at WWW2005 but in the hotel it was only by perching in one corner of the hotel room that I could use wireless from presumably some other nearby building.  (Thanks guys!)

The trip was sensational.  Met some lovely people in Amsterdam: old friends Christian Wenz, John Coggeshall, and Andrei Zmievski , and new friends Ben Ramsey, Tobias Hauser, Dan Scott, and Stefan Neufind.  Lovely place, very easy to get by and no real worries.  Heard some good talks at the conference, especially Christian and Ben’s security talk, which had great demonstrations of attacks.  I think it really brought it home to people just how easy it is to attack thoughtlessly designed web apps.

We continued on to Tokyo, where I presented a paper in the Workshop for Innovations in Web Infrastructure at WWW2005.  Good workshop, met some interesting people including workshop organizer Simon Courtenage, Juan Ignacio Vazquez from Spain who is working on the same research problem as myself from a different angle, and Cai Ziegler, a PhD student from Germany who works on recommender systems.  There were also heaps of Australians there, including Liddy Neville (W3C Accessibility), Carey Patterson from Ntech media who I will meet again at Ausweb next month, Robert McArthur from DSTC (also catch up at Ausweb I hope), and David Hawking from CSIRO, who I have narrowly avoided meeting on previous occasions when he’s visited my workgroup, the Web Discipline at CS&IT.

Japan was truly amazing.  I have never been there before but talking to Christian and John the week before they had both recently been there and found it hard going.  I loved it.  It’s clean and safe and the people are unbelievably nice to idiot tourists such as myself.  The food was awesome as well.   Since I got back people keep saying "I hear steak is $90" but who eats steak in Japan?  Gimme all the fresh seafood I can handle, yeah baby.

I also bought a PSP.  It is rather nice if I say so myself.  I strongly suggest that no other research students buy one.  Addicted?  No, I’m not addicted….