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drinkme | 2010 | October

honest resume . . .

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So walking out of elevator at UTS I cannot but help overhear the conversation of four nearly graduated engineering students who had just completed some hairball exam and were joking about to relax the recent tension.  Convo snippet to which I was privy related to the post-testamur  job hunt.  Tall lanky young man pantomimes potential employer reviewing a resume during a job interview.  Lanky lad then adds the commentary which went something like this:  “So young man, I see here by your resume that  you like to get drunk.”  Got a laugh from his pals and me, too. Thinking, too. To what extent revealing honesty?

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Categories : Anecdote

2010.10.20 Precap

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EIGHT weeks until my 14 December doctoral assessment.  Much work to be done.




  1. Scheduled weekly supervisor meeting
    • Wednesday
    • 1pm – 2pm
  1. Ad hoc supervisor interaction
    • David and I have practice so we two ok
    • Not sure what works for Bruce  . . .
  1. DA Committee
    • David to approach Didar Zowghi at appropriate time.
  1. UTS facilities
    • Student id for swt -> waiting for skin to heal
    • Desk for swt  ->  spot for me on Level 23 -> though Bridgett missing some paperwork from Phyllis?
    • Computer for swt -> TBD
  1. CRIN
  1. DIAC (
    • Student visa:  expires 2014
    • Perm Res Visa:
  1. FEES
    • Paid:
      • I have paid $5400 which is 1/2 cost for term.
      • Contingent on getting past DA -> $10K support 2010 + $10K support 2011. THANK YOU.
  1. Paid Work
    • Need to get some irons in the fire.
    • Teaching for me at UTS?  Labshare re-funded?  Other?




  1. CenSoC (to help clarify research question bits about decision making  and decision support)
    • Met with Edward 2pm  on Wednesday 13th. 645 Harris Street, Ultimo.
    • Edward begged off once he better understood the issue at hand.  Edward builds decision support systems. A prerequisite for building a decision support system is an underlying decision-making model.  Edward acknowledged a lack of expertise in the  precursors of decision support systems.  Edward suggested contact with — who apparently runs the CenSOC daily operation —  and see if she might point us in the direction of someone with expertise in experiment design for investigations into the decision-making-process. Edward protected busy senior researchers  with remark that the Professors are very busy and that best approach would be for David or Bruce to make contact with Maria and inquire after the appropriate individual and suitable arrangement to meet our objectives.
      • Edward’s suggestion, though legitimate, is perhaps overformal for our initial purpose.  At this point, an informal one-hour visit with an appropriate CenSOC researcher would do just fine.  Therefore, I am going to communicate directly with Maria myself and see how she responds.  I hope for the first go that there will be no need for David/Bruce escalation.
    • Edward did recommends a book in the world of choice methods.
      • I have already ordered book and it should arrive sometime next week.

  • While our research may conclude with a prototype DSS, our research begins with effort to understand the decision-making-process undergone by teacher-academics considering remote laboratory adoption.
    • Early days speculation suggests a model-based DSS.
    • Model based DSS requires an underlying model.
    • Underlying model hopefully emergent from experiment data.
    • Still need guidance/wisdom with selecting appropriate methodology upon which to base experiment design.
  1. Methodology
    • A number of suitable methodological approaches are likely to exist; unfortunately I know not which.  As per David, I am wary of getting seriously sidetracked by a wide ranging exploration of methodological possibility.  It should suffice at this point to find one or two candidate methodologies and put them in play.  I am seeking guidance/advice from those who know better.  I am revising/updating  the introductory message I sent Edward Wei. I will pass the message to a few friends that might have insight. Will also target a few academic departments  at UTS and elsewhere . With luck, a few methodological suggestions will accrue.
      • Wayne Babchuk
      • Victor M. Gonzales
      • Gloria Mark(?)
      • Steve Abrams(?)
      • Anthropology (?)
      • Business/Marketing (?)
      • Cognitive Science (?)
      • Marketing/Communication (?)
      • Political Science (?)
      • Psychology (?)
    • Will see what book has to offer when it arrives.
    • ANOVA and Factor Analysis have been mentioned in our conversations.
    • Triangulation: research conclusions stronger if same results achieved by multiple methodologies.  Is one methodology (and results) sufficient for PhD or  are more needed?
    • Qualitative v. Quantitative:  richer data obtained by qualitative investigation but generally  takes more time; quantitative generally faster to get data.  Ideally, I suppose, would do some of each for problem at hand; I certainly can imagine doing so; however, I am wanting to achieve the objective swiftly as may be; perhaps a few interviews but mostly quantitative is what I am hoping.
  1. Other DA reports
    • Have gotten one from Steve Murray.  He has nice opening diagram that illustrates position of his research in the general literature.  I might try my hand at such.
    • Andrew Bucknell no longer has his DA report but has offered to take a look at mine as it progresses.  Very kind.
  1. My DA reports
    • Next week let us take a look at where my report currently stands and discuss what needs to be done and where it needs to go.
    • Known issues:
      • Methodology + research design
      • Project plan + schedule
  1. Looking at UTAUT / TAM
    • Trying to understand why TAM not completely supplanted. Some homework before I actually write to Vehkatesh.
    • Have not done much with this yet.
  1. UTAUT
    • What role will UTAUT be playing for us?  Early on we had thought that UTAUT would help structure the investigation.  UTUAT says that ~70% of an individual’s decision to adopt a technology will be influenced by three factors: performance expectancy; effort expectancy; and social influence.  Early thinking suggested that we would go hunt for those remote lab characteristics meaningful to teacher-academics along the  three dimensioned mentioned.  Now it seems we have been talking about assembling a list candidate characteristics and setting up an experiment of sorts (survey data being easiest perhaps) to find out which of these characteristics are identified as useful by teacher-academics  in the remote lab adoption decision-making process.  What are we doing with UTAUT as the approach mentioned makes use of it not.
    • UTAUT remains a framework for describing /understanding technology adoption decisions.  Perhaps offers a way to structure some of our discussion?
  1. Activity Theory
    • I definitely am thinking that Activity Theory will be a useful conceptual tool for the purposes of analysis and understanding.
    • Just making a note here and will explore further in subsequent musings.
  1. Papers
    • Doing better on this front. Seem to swallowing a paper about every other day.  Will maintain the pace and step it up where possible.
    • Here are the papers so far read under current regime.
      • Cooper, M. & Ferreira, M.M., 2009. Remote Laboratories Extending Access to Science and Engineering Curricular. Learning Technologies, IEEE Transactions On, 2(4), pp.342-353.
      • Gravier, C. et al., 2008. State of the Art About Remote Laboratories Paradigms – Foundations of Ongoing Mutations. iJOE, 4(1), pp.19-25.
      • Lowe, D. et al., 2009. Evolving Remote Laboratory Architectures to Leverage Emerging Internet Technologies. Learning Technologies, IEEE Transactions on, 2(4), pp.289-294.
      • Tzafestas, C.S., Palaiologou, N. & Alifragis, M., 2005. Experimental Evaluation and Pilot Assessment Study of a Virtual and Remote Laboratory on Robotic Manipulation. In Industrial Electronics, 2005. ISIE 2005. Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on. IEEE, pp. 1677-1684.
      • Wolf, T., 2010. Assessing Student Learning in a Virtual Laboratory Environment. IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, 53(2), pp.216-222.
    • Note that  Mendeley (Harvard) is not Harvard-UTS.  Is that going to be an issue?
  1. Research Design
    • Waiting for  10.


Progress continues . . .

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You had asked for interest points and expected outcomes.  No particular expectations other than chance to run some of my fuzzy thinking past someone who also thinks about this kind of stuff.  I know more about decision support systems than I do about decision-making; so I suppose I would like some insight into that world.  Perhaps decision-support is not even the most appropriate vocabulary for my purposes?  Interest points shall be revealed in the text that follows.

Take five minutes and read the opening page at

Laboratory work is a fundamental ingredient of an engineering education curriculum.  A laboratory may be classified as proximate, simulated, or remote.   A proximate laboratory is the traditional lab where the student and physical apparatus are co-present.  In a simulated laboratory there is no physical apparatus, the student interacts with a model based computer simulation.  Remote laboratories employ physical apparatus but the student operates the apparatus remotely via some telecontrol interface.   My research concern regards remote labs.

Take as given

  • that remote labs are being developed and deployed in numerous institutions that deliver engineering education;
  • that that institutions which deploy remote labs would like to see the labs be utilized;
  • that remote labs do not as yet get much use;
  • that among the ways to increase use of remote labs is for teachers to require remote lab activities of their students.

SO – if a teacher incorporates remote lab work into a subject, remote labs will get use.

SO – what do teacher’s need to know about remote labs to decide if they should use one?

Here is the present state of my main research question:

Which characteristics of remote laboratories can be used in providing decision support to teacher-academics considering whether to adopt remote laboratories for teaching purposes?

I am puzzling over just what I mean by “decision-support” and this is the matter I should like to discuss with you.

Though I can speak casually on the matter, I find that I am faced with both conceptual and methodological difficulties when I attempt to address the matter with rigor.

Let me attempt to illustrate my consternation by describing the circumstance of interest.  A university teacher is charged with delivering a some subject (e.g. physics).  The subject is defined within some curriculum (e.g. civil engineering).  While the curriculum delineates the subject content (e.g.  Physics will include Newton’s law of universal gravitation); it is the teacher who crafts the pedagogy that will actually deliver Newton’s laws to students in her physics subject.  This is what teachers do, right?

Suppose a teacher wishes to include a laboratory lesson in which in which students conduct an experiment determine the value of g (i.e. 9.8m/s*2).  Proximate laboratory? Simulation laboratory? Remote laboratory?  What ‘things’ would a teacher want (need?) to know about a remote laboratory to be able to make a decision as to whether or not to use — or not to use — the remote laboratory?

Ok – at last we have arrived at the beginning of my troubles.  Here is some of my thinking.

  • I am wanting to look at the decision-making-process; i.e. that which leads up to a decision.
  • The decision itself is immaterial; it is the capacity to make a decision that is of interest.
  • PROBLEM:  ‘Capacity to make a decision’ is conceptually inadequate.
    • An arbitrary yes/no decision is always on the table.
    • An arbitrary decision makes any notion of *support* superfluous.
    • Partial Fix: so it must be a ‘capacity to make a non-arbitrary decision’
      • Note that non-arbitrary implies value; i.e. non-arbitrary is somehow ‘better’ than  arbitrary.
  • PROBLEM:  ‘Capacity to make a non-arbitrary decision’ is methodologically inadequate.
    • At what point along some continuum does an arbitrary decision  become non-arbitrary?
      • I cautiously suggest that non-arbitrary could mean ‘reasoned’ or ‘informed’.
    • By what measure can I evaluate a teacher’s ‘capacity to make a non-arbitrary decision’
      • Prof Lowe has wondered if we might measure the ‘confidence’ or ‘readiness’ that a teacher self-reports.
        • Are you ‘confident’ about making a decision?  Are you ‘ready’ to make a decision?
        • LIkert scaling . . . ?
  • I assume the above two problems are tractable.
    • By tractable, I mean that that a conceptually sound and methodologically defensible definition of ‘decision’ can be had.
    • Which leads to the nest . ..
  • PROBLEM: What should (could?) be meant here by ‘decision-support?
    • What kinds of support are possible?
    • What sort of support is needed?
    • How best to provide the support?

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Categories : PhD

Feeling Overwhelmed

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Probably need to step away from computer for a while.  Go fly a kite.  Quite a bit on my mind.  Seriously need to step up the organization as so many things going on in so many directions.

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Categories : PhD  Self