Thursday, January 28, 2021
Technically Co-sponsored by Minimize





Invited Speakers Minimize


1. Stephen Downes, National Research Council of Canada












Title of Presentation: Supporting a Distributed Online Course

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are 'distributed' when the course is not based on a single platform, but rather, enable participants to use their own web or social media accounts in order to participate. This creates a requirement of a mechanism to connect these different pieces together in order to offer a cohesive and coherent whole. The pedagogy of such a course is based on a philosophy of browsing and active participation. In this talk, the design and implementation of such a course is discussed. Stephen Downes will introduce and explain gRSShopper, the software used to deliver courses such as 'Connectivism and Connective Knowledge' in 2008 and 'Change' in 2011-12 and the upcoming 'MOOC-REL' on open educational resources.



Stephen Downes works for the National Research Council of Canada where he has served as a Senior Researcher, based in Moncton, New Brunswick, since 2001. Affiliated with the Learning and Collaborative Technologies Group, Institute for Information Technology, Downes specializes in the fields of online learning, new media, pedagogy and philosophy.

Downes is perhaps best known for his daily nesletter, OLDaily, which is distributed by web, email and RSS to thousands of subscribers around the world. He has published numerous articles both online and in print, including The Future of Online Learning (1998), Learning Objects (2000), Resource Profiles (2003), and E-Learning 2.0 (2005). He is a popular speaker, appearing at hundreds of events around the world over the last fifteen years.

Prior to joining the NRC, Downes worked for the University of Alberta as an information architect, and prior to that, as a distance education and new media design specialist for Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. This followed a decade of teaching experience both in person and by distance with Athabasca University, the University of Alberta, and Grande Prairie regional college.

Downes obtained a BA and MA in philosophy from the University of Calgary, specializing in epistemology and the philosophy of science. He also studied at the PhD level at the University of Alberta, completing all but his dissertation. Among numerous volunteer and committee positions while a student, Downes served as editor of the Calgary student newspaper, the Gauntlet, for two terms, and as president of the Graduate Students' Association at the University of Alberta, also for two terms. He served as a member of the Board of Governors, University of Alberta, and with the Athabasca University Governing Council.

After completing high school at Ottawa's School of Continuing Education while working as a concession stand worker and dishwasher, Downes studied computing science for one year at Algonquin College while working as a telephone equipment installer and (later) as a security guard. He worked for a year as a computer operator for Texas Instruments in Calgary, then as a pot washer, 7-Eleven clerk, and development education programmer for the Arusha International Development Centre. Downes has also been a newspaper carrier, waiter at a race track, hot dog vendor, building cleaner and camp counsellor. He was a candidate for mayor in the city of Brandon in 1995.

Downes was born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1959 and has four brothers (all younger). He lives in Moncton, New Brunswick, with his wife Andrea (b. Colorado Springs, Colorado; married 1998) and four cats (Bart, Polly, Lexi and Alex).

2. Prof. Shirley Alexander, Deputy Vice Chancellor Teaching and Learning, University of Technology, Sydney

Title of Presentation: TBA

Abstract: TBA


Biodata: Shirley Alexander is Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Teaching, Learning and Equity) at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is responsible for leading the achievement of the University’s key priorities in teaching and learning, student focus, equity and diversity. As Professor of Learning Technologies Shirley has worked at UTS for the past eighteen years, having previously held the positions of Director of the Institute for Interactive Media and Learning, and Dean of the Faculty of Education. She has an international reputation for her research on the use of information and communication technologies in education. She attended her first ASCILITE conference in 1989 and has been a regular presenter and attendee since. She was a member of the Australian Universities Teaching Committee (AUTC) from 2000-2004, and is currently a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, and is Chair of the Academic Board of NSW TAFE Higher Education.


3. Michel Haddad, National Instruments Arabia







Title of Presentation: Do Engineering: Delivering first-class online engineering education with Graphical System Design

Abstract: Engineering Education is on the cusp of a major revolution today. The power of the Internet has fostered a wave of innovation in the past couple of years to bring to fore a spectrum of possibilities to teach and learn engineering from any corner of the world. Most online teaching approaches involve a visually compelling slideset and a set of multimedia videos. While rich multimedia and visual slide shows are sufficient in delivering a first-class experience in most majors,Engineering is not one of them. For a student to truly learn Engineering, in an online setting or otherwise, they have to associate the theory to real-world phenomena and Do Engineering. This is the greatest challenge facing Online Engineering Education. From MOOCs to Full-scale online classrooms, there is a need for industry-standard tools that can scale with multiple hardware options to serve the online engineering student. Graphical System Design is an ideal approach to overcome this challenge. Used by over 35000 industries worldwide, Graphical System Design is an approach that brings intuitive and powerful graphical software and modular hardware to enable students of all engineering majors to Do Engineering. In this session, we will take a look at how this revolutionary approach helps educators scale to a first-class, real-world experience in Online Engineering Education and enables students to go beyond theory and Do Engineering.



Michel Haddad currently holds the position of Managing Director for National Instruments Arabia with offices located in Beirut-Lebanon.

Mr. Haddad received his Sc.M. in Electrical and Computer Science Engineering from M.I.T. (MA, USA) and his BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from George Washington University (Washington D.C., USA) where he graduated Suma Cum Laude. He first joined National Instruments in 1990 as an Analog Design Engineer and has previously held the positions of Group Manager, Senior Group Manager and Section Manager for Signal Conditioning, Switching, Digital Multimeters and Data Acquisition Systems product lines. Mr. Haddad holds several patents in the field of Measurement and Instrumentation.

Before becoming Managing Director of National Instruments Arabia, Mr. Haddad most recently held the position of Director of Technology Relations in the Technology and Corporate Development Department reporting directly to the Vice President of Technology and Corporate Development. At this position, Mr. Haddad worked closely with all engineering and marketing groups in evaluating technologies.  He was primarily involved in expanding National Instruments exposure to a broad range of new technologies and enhancing the relations between key technology sources and National Instruments to facilitate the incorporation of these technologies into National Instruments products.


  4. Dr Keith Willey, Developer of Spark and researcher in the area of engineering education, University of Technology, Sydney

Title of Presentation: TBA

Abstract: TBA


Biodata: KEITH WILLEY (BE 1st Hons and Medal, PhD) is a member of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Technology, Sydney.  He commenced his academic career after 20 years in the Broadcasting and Communications industry.  In the area of education, Keith’s research interests include the learning and assessment associated with working in groups, the use of self and peer assessment for collaborative peer learning, the nature of informal learning in professional practice, flipped learning, academic standards, and improving peer review.

Keith is an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Fellow.  He has received several awards including an Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Award (Education and Training), the UTS Medal for Teaching and Research Integration and both the Australasian Association of Engineering Education (AaeE) Teaching Excellence and Research Design Awards.

Keith has been a visiting scholar at universities in Australia, Europe, North America and Asia.  His commitment to developing high quality teaching and learning practices is supported by his educational research that has been published in numerous conference papers and journal articles.  Keith is the Project Manager and lead developer of the self and peer assessment software tool known as SPARKPLUS.  This software is currently being used by faculty at over 20 Australian Universities and several Universities and High Schools in Europe Asia and North and South America.


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