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Keynote Talks

Monday 26th June

Invited Speaker: Roberto Di Cosmo

Talk Title: Educating the e-citizen

Talk Abstract

The education of computer science students is a challenging task: the compexity of the material that is part of a curriculum is increasing at an astonishing pace, following the complexity of the software artifacts that our students are trained to master.

The free software revolution has entered the scene, and offers new challenges, and new solutions; on one side, the sheer amount of code available as free software today calls for the education of a new kind of computer science, and software engineer: they must be prepared to manage the complexity of software systems built out of components coming from all around the planet, evolving at fast, yet unrelated pace, and whose source code is freely available for inspection or customization. On the other side, this very same availability of the source code gives our student the possibility to reach a level of technical insight that was previously unthinkable.

In this talk, we will try to give a few examples of new research challenges emerging from the free software revolution, as well as evidence that teaching computer science can no longer be done without free software.

Nevertheless, it would be a huge error to believe that we are only called to educate computer scientists and software engineers, and hence could stick to a purely technical view of our duties: due to the unprecedented penetration of ICT in every aspects of everyday life, we are also, as computer science teachers, the first responsible of educating the citizens of tomorrow.

This duty will not be fulfilled by simply passing over technical details: as the recent example of the electonic voting machines clearly show, we face the challenge of educating e-citizens which are not simply computer literate, but have a mental model of computer machinery allowing them a clear understanding of the limitations of this technology which is beautiful, but in no way magic.

Roberto Di Cosmo's bio

The speaker is a full professor of Computer Science at Paris 7 University in France. He received a Ph.D. of Computer Science from the University of Pisa in Italy, and was previously an associate professor at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. Di Cosmo's primary technical areas of interest range from functional and parallel programming to rewriting, semantics, logic and formal methods in general. He has also a long track record in scientific polurisation and as a free software advocate. His website is http://www.dicosmo.org/.

Download Cosmo slides in PDF format.

Wednesday 28th June

Invited Speakers: Alison Young and Logan Muller

Talk Title: Aluminum Foil Satellite Dishes and a Millennium of Experience: Sustainability in the High Andes

Talk Abstract

This address will describe an ICT research project that is context specific and achieved economic and social turnarounds where other ICT projects have failed. The message for computer science educators and professionals is that desired impact has less to do with science and technology and more to do with understanding context and culture. Evaluating implementation options to advance educational and social needs is applying intelligence to technology. Technology without context is a chasm.

Literature on contextual relevance such as Habermas, Friere, Husserl, Gadamer, Borgman, abounds. However the absence of minorities in our computer classes, the overarching business use of technology to automate historic processes and the obsession with development of new technologies in the abstract without considering their applications indicate that our profession is slow to grasp this.

The ancient Incan culture, through the Quechuan people of Antabamba Peru, a remote indigenous society high in the Andean Mountains has over 700 years of proven social, environmental and economically sustainable practice. Until only 10 years ago Antabamba was a time capsule which was isolated from the world by several days walk from the nearest road. When the road was built in 1995 the multinational products, television, marketing and western philosophies of business practice soon followed. Within 10 years the population of Antabamba was worse off than in anytime in the previous 700 years and risked losing what the developed world is in search of, sustainable practice.

Starting in 2003 the Unitec project spent a year learning what had underpinned this ancient culture. Yesterdays wireless technologies, internet, web design, No. 8 wire, aluminum foil satellite dishes and some basic tools were grounded in the traditional Incan methodologies of sharing, learning and understanding. Unparalleled results were achieved. Together with the local communities, the Unitec project developed a methodology called "Community Centric Empowerment" (CCE) which has been attributed by OSIPTEL, the Telecommunications Authority in Peru and the Latin American telecommunication council representative as the deciding factor that has separated this project from other "telecenter" projects in Latin America.

Additional studies focusing on the ability of ICT to reduce poverty and exploitation in third world countries by FITEL, the Rural development wing of OSIPTEL in Peru, support the notion of the importance of how, rather than what, when it comes to ICT use for poverty reduction (Bossio 2005) (Newman 2006). These studies showed the usage patterns and impact of the Unitec project to be quite distinctive compared with any other poverty alleviation project using ICT.

In keeping with the phenomenological methodology of the initial study, this address will describe the story of the Peruvian project to demonstrate to ICT educators and professionals that how we implement ICT is as important as what we implement, when social and economic sustainability are our objectives. It lays down a challenge to ICT educators and professionals to reconsider the priorities in our teachings and philosophies.

Alison Young's bio

Alison joined Unitec New Zealand in 1997 as Head of School of Computing and Information Technology, after seven years in a similar position at Waikato Polytechnic. Her move into the education sector commenced in 1972 at Auckland Technical Institute, following a number of years in systems analysis and programming with major New Zealand corporations and private consultancy. Alison was Chair of the National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications from 1988 until 1998 and has chaired national and international conferences including General Chair of the NACCQ Annual conference in 2006. Her contribution to computing education in New Zealand was recognized by her nomination as Computing Educator of the Century in 2002. Alison's recent research projects include: women and computing, e-learning implementation, computing and information technology education and the Poverty Alleviation Project in Peru. She is a Fellow of the NZCS and the NACCQ and is a Board member of ACM SIGCSE and a member of the ACM Education Council.

Logan Muller's bio

Logan is a lecturer in the School of Computing and Information Technology at Unitec New Zealand. He is involved mainly in post graduate teaching and supervision and reearch on the Master of Computing and Doctor of Computing programmes. His expertise is in the use of ICT in developing countries to obtain socially sustainable growth in education and business. Loganís Ph.D. is in socially and environmentally sustainable business and he has implemented his model in NZ, the remote areas of the Andean mountains and the favelas of Brasil. Logan's work has earned him many invitations to speak locally and internationally and his research models are being applied internationally. His interest is predominantly in the use of ICT to create sustainable, socially conscious business in developing regions. While in industry Logan restructured the Internet Company of New Zealand and developed New Zealandís first Internet backbone to provide business oriented solutions to the provincial regions of New Zealand.

Download Young and Muller slides in PDF format.