Australian Catholic Uni turns analytics onto student wellbeing – Projects – Cloud – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Australian Catholic University (ACU) has turned its newly united data environment into a data lake to provide a single view of student development.
The data lake uses Microsoft’s Power BI and Azure data platform to support students who may need extra help or who are at risk of dropping out from the university entirely.
ACU found these insights by combining data streams from a number of sources including student management systems and customer relationship management (CRM) tools, the university’s chief information officer and IT director Niranjan Prabhu told iTnews.
ACU was one of five universities to pilot data lake development for a “360 degree view of students” with the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology (CAUDIT), Prabhu said.
He added that the university was keen to bring together different environments from across its nine campuses in Australia and Italy to cater to its growing cohort of over 35,000 students.
“We’re generating and capturing more data than ever before, on an increasingly varied set of data sources, providing us with the opportunity to understand [and] support student success through the student lifecycle,” Prabhu said.
“Effectively managing that lifecycle is the key to excellent learning outcomes and student success.”
Common risk factors include slipping grades, financial stress, and social or environmental factors.
ACU can now identify these patterns in the data along with engagement, participation and attendance data as early warning signs where extra support is needed, whether that be in the form of financial assistance, tutoring or pastoral support.
However, it’s a delicate balance to get that right while respecting students’ privacy, Prabhu said.
“We definitely need to strike a respectful and conscientious balance while achieving the best outcomes for both the student and the university.”
A new assistant
Part of the support plan involves the development of AVA – the ACU Virtual Assistant.
AVA is designed as a “level one service desk one-stop shop” to help the IT support team cope with a large volume of routine enquiries.
The chatbot is powered by Microsoft Azure and uses natural language processing capabilities and integrations with ServiceNow, Microsoft Learning Pathways, Who-bot (a prebuilt Teams bot), and ACU’s COVID-19 FAQ to provide instant answers any time of the night or day.
It came in handy as the university transitioned to remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“[The IT team] weren’t flooded with calls about COVID because of the bot,” Prabhu said, with no calls left waiting for extended periods thanks to AVA’s rapid responses.
“Furthermore, when interacting with our chatbot, if the staff member requires further assistance, there is the option to seek help via handover to a live chat or log a service ticket through ServiceNow.
“This means staff are fully supported no matter their issue.”
Additional capabilities such as voice activation are planned for the future to improve the user experience, especially for members of the ACU community living with a disability.
Importantly, the effort expended to develop a robust and unified data environment and remote operations during the pandemic will speed up work on future projects.
“The foundations are there to build on all the new digital footprints when initiating new projects, meaning faster turnaround [times] and more productive work,” Prabhu said.

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Monash Uni infosec staff find gaping security hole in Palo Alto Networks gear – Security- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Palo Alto Networks has issued patches for a critical authentication bypass in several of its enterprise security products that was reported to the security vendor by two Monash University infosec staff.
The flaw, discovered by cybersecurity systems analyst Salman Khan and systems engineer Cameron Duck at Monash University, rates 10 out of 10 on the Common Vulnerabilities Scoring System (CVSS) version 3, and is easy to exploit with no user interaction required.
“When Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) authentication is enabled and the ‘Validate Identity Provider Certificate’ option is disabled (unchecked), improper verification of signatures in PAN-OS SAML authentication enables an unauthenticated network-based attacker to access protected resources,” the security vendor wrote in its advisory.
Multiple versions of the Palo Alto’s PAN-OS running on the company’s firewall, gateway, virtual private networking and access products are affected by the flaw.
Upgrading to PAN-OS versions 8.1.15, 9.0.9 and 9.1.3 fixes the authentication bypass vulnerability.
The United States government cyber command advised users to patch all their Palo Alto Networks devices immediately, warning that overseas nation-state sponsored hackers would likely try to exploit the vulnerability.

Please patch all devices affected by CVE-2020-2021 immediately, especially if SAML is in use. Foreign APTs will likely attempt exploit soon. We appreciate @PaloAltoNtwks’ proactive response to this vulnerability.
https://t.co/WwJdil5X0F
— USCYBERCOM Cybersecurity Alert (@CNMF_CyberAlert) June 29, 2020
If it’s not possible to immediately patch against the vulnerability, Palo Alto Networks said configuring the SAML authentication with a Certificate Authority (CA) Identity Provider Certificate, along with enabling validation of the credential, can be used as a complete mitigation for the vulnerability.
If SAML is not used for authentication, the bypass bug can’t be exploited, Palo Alto Networks said.
For now, the security vendor is not aware of any attempts at exploiting the vulnerability.
Attempts at exploiting the vulnerability can be logged by systems, but Palo Alto Networks said it can be difficult to distinguish between valid and malicious logins or sessions.
Unusual user names or source internet protocol addresses found in system logs are indicators of compromise, Palo Alto Networks warned.

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Murdoch Uni launches digital futures academy – Training & Development- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Murdoch University has launched a new digital futures academy to tap the developing market for short courses and micro-credentials in digital industries.
Content will be delivered both online and in-person, with plans to centre the academy at Murdoch’s planned ‘vertical campus’ in the Perth CBD.
Vice chancellor Eeva Leinonen said the academy would offer students real-world learning experiences and industry-relevant certification.
“[Students] will have the opportunity to explore how technology impacts across multiple disciplines, from law technology to business analytics, fintech to bioinformatics, from gaming to computational and systems medicine,” Leinonen said.
“Working with our foundation partner, Cisco, initial courses will give students first-hand experience in the internet of things, followed by offerings in automation, artificial intelligence, robotics and blockchain technologies.”
Certifications will also be endorsed by Cisco in a bid to lend a globally recognised name to the qualifications and help students use their skills in international markets.
Murdoch’s chief operating officer Darren McKee said the partnership with Cisco will also extend beyond learning and education into developing new, digitally enabled infrastructure projects in Western Australia.
“We are committed to building sustainable smart cities and being a university of the future,” Leinonen said.
“Partnering with Cisco will allow us to integrate the Murdoch experience with the digital infrastructure and education needed to ensure Australia’s digital future.”
Cisco A/NZ’s general manager for education & industry development, Reg Johnson, said the work with Murdoch builds on the company’s existing training initiatives.
“Cisco is already a major investor in skilling and reskilling, predominantly through our Cisco Networking Academy, and the digital futures academy represents a new immersive model to ensure Murdoch University students get access to rewarding and sustainable careers that make our cities, economy and society smart.”

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Swinburne Uni partners with Software AG on IoT – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Swinburne University of Technology is set to adopt Software AG’s Cumulocity internet of things (IoT) platform in its research and teaching programs.
The university will introduce the platform to its work with commercial research partners, particularly in industrial sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing, which is run out of Swinburne’s IoT Lab and Manufacturing Futures Research Institute.
The IoT Lab and Manufacturing Institute forms part of the university’s industry innovation precinct that was launched in 2018 to facilitate industry collaboration, in many instances with support from the federal government through its Cooperative Research Centres projects grants program.
Software AG’s IoT solutions are already in use for one such project currently underway.
Swinburne will also incorporate the German software vendor’s full IoT and analytics platform suite as part of its educational IoT and engineering programs, addressing growing demand for IoT knowledge in large scale construction and engineering projects.
Employers in these sectors are increasingly working with digital twins – virtual representations of real-world assets often with live data feeds from IoT equipment – to track the development of projects, maintain assets after project completion and monitor working environments to ensure optimal use.
IoT Lab director Dimitrios Georgakopoulos said several vendors’ platforms were examined before the university went with Software AG.
“We were looking to partner with a software company with an agile and scalable IoT platform that was able to support and integrate directly with our research customers. We looked as several technology providers and Software AG ticked all the boxes for us,” Georgakopoulos said, adding that the solutions are well suited for the industries being targeted for commercial research.

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Melbourne Uni scores $4m to launch space capability – Projects – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Source: University of Melbourne

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have received $3.95 million from the Australian government to help develop the nation’s space capability.
Science and engineering researchers at the university will develop a miniature satellite – about the size of a shoebox – due to be launched into space by 2022 in collaboration with local space industry companies and the Italian Space Agency.
Lead investigator of the project, Associate Professor Michele Trenti from the University’s School of Physics, said that despite the Space Industry Responsive Intelligent Thermal (SpIRIT) satellite’s small size, it will be quite powerful.
“It will carry innovative X-ray sensors, sophisticated on-board computers and radios, and even a miniaturised electric propulsion engine, so we could well say that we will be building a tiny robotic spaceship.”
“It will be the first Australian-made spacecraft to host a foreign space agency payload, with an X-ray detector provided by the Italian Space Agency.”
X-ray observations from the craft will be combined with data from a constellation of six other European satellites to spot “cosmic fireworks” produced when stars die or collide with each other.
SpIRIT could also demonstrate that locally made spacecraft can be internationally competitive and open new market opportunities, Trenti added, demonstrating innovative technological elements in the areas of thermal management, real-time communications and on-board autonomous decision capabilities.
Dr Airlie Chapman, co-investigator on the project and senior lecturer in mechatronics from the Melbourne School of Engineering, said building the nanosatellite comes with its own unique challenges.
“This project will help us apply engineering research to break new ground in nanosatellite design, manufacturing and operations, hopefully acting as a guide for Australian aerospace research in the future.”
The funding comes from the government’s International Space Investment – Expand Capability grants, with the UNSW also receiving $700,000 and the University of Canberra scoring $430,000 for their own projects.
SpIRIT is a partnership between the University of Melbourne’s Physics and Engineering Schools, Sitael Australia, Inovor Technologies, Neumann Space, and Nova Systems, with support from the Italian and United Kingdom Space Agencies.

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Flinders Uni taps Workday in HR overhaul – Cloud – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Flinders University has launched Workday HCM as its new human resources platform as part of a larger digital overhaul of systems spanning teaching, research and administration.
The move to Workday is billed as an opportunity to enable the People & Culture team at Flinders to transition from a transactional focus to an advisory partnership role.
Steve Barrett, director of People & Culture, said Flinders is also rethinking 100 HR processes by bringing together planning, recruitment and talent development on a single cloud platform.
“We’ve reviewed and refined over ninety of our processes with a focus on making life easier for our people and removing time consuming administrative processes,” Barrett said.
Flinders chief information officer Kerrie Campbell added that the work being done with HR will be used to inform future projects as part of the digital overhaul.
“Workday will allow us to secure, manage and utilise our workforce data more effectively and will unlock many opportunities, including further technology changes in coming months,” Campbell said.
“What it’s about is ensuring our people are supported to be the best they can be.”
The expansion of People & Culture’s role is also expected to bring greater engagement with staff, benefit staff development and improve job satisfaction and productivity.
Flinders has already implemented a range of new systems using Microsoft’s three-cloud set-up, which included replacing its aging, bespoke customer relationship management system (CRM) with Dynamics 365.

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Uni tech chiefs ask IT suppliers for price relief – Finance – Strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

IT directors at Australian and New Zealand universities have sought financial relief from their technology suppliers as the ongoing COVID-19 crisis eats into revenues.
In an open letter, the peak body for the higher education sector’s technology chiefs thanked many vendors that had already provided free software licenses when social distancing measures were first put into place.
However, new modelling that outlines the extent of the financial hit from the crisis has pushed the Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology (CAUDIT) to ask for further “assistance and consideration”.
Universities Australia estimates the sector could lose up to $4.6 billion in revenue this year, while Kearney Consulting estimates the blow from the loss of international students could reduce revenue by up to $9 billion in 2020.
Ongoing revenue losses as local and international markets continue to suffer could potentially reach 20 percent of current levels, with recovery takint until at least 2024, CAUDIT said.
The present challenges follow years where costs were already increasing more rapidly than revenue, CAUDIT added.
“Universities have reacted [to COVID-19] swiftly; cancelling projects, releasing contractors, reducing casual staff numbers, reducing pay (at some institutions) and considering redundancies,” the open letter states.
“Universities are reviewing their positions and contracts, and have asked CAUDIT to do the same on their behalf.
“We are looking for true partners to help universities through this crisis and asking our IT vendors to assist – to help reduce our operational costs, to offer direct price relief and to contribute in any other way that may be possible.”
The plea for support from IT suppliers coincides with the release of CAUDIT’s ‘Top Ten’ report into the most significant areas of interest for the IT leaders in higher education and research.
Members of the association ranked business transformation, supporting student success and information security as the top three essential areas of interest for the third consecutive year, with security taking top spot for the first time this year.
The promotion of information security follows a number of high-profile breaches at institutions that have also increased awareness about the field among the broader student population.
“Information security practices are quickly evolving from a purely defensive ICT approach to a proactive mindset combining technology, process, and people,” the report states.
“The frequency of cyberattacks, and potential for adverse consequences, has increased with the advent of COVID-19.”
Sustainable IT practices featured on the list for the first time in 2020, with a stated goal to “develop ICT funding models sustaining core services, supporting innovation, and facilitating growth in the context of increasing demand and limited resources”.
“Enthusiasm for changes to ICT capability is commonly deeper and wider than ICT budget allocations.” the report states.
“ICT budgets must support activity that applies the institution’s digital capabilities in new ways to meet current or unanticipated needs, or deliver improved user experiences.”

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Australian Catholic Uni taps OpenLearning in pivot to online learning – Finance – Training & Development – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

OpenLearning’s Adam Brimo and Cherie Diaz with ACU’s Zlatko Skrbis

The Australian Catholic University has signed a three-year deal with Sydney-based software-as-a-service provider OpenLearning to underpin its online learning ambitions and staff professional development.
ACU will use OpenLearning’s platform to deliver short courses, micro-credentials and internal development programs following the sudden shift pivot to online learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New courses will initially focus on health and education, with OpenLearning’s learning services division also working with the university to enhance its online courses and support its internal team to build their own capability.
The agreement builds on ACU’s existing relationship with the ASX-listed company after taking a significant stake in OpenLearning’s initial public offering (IPO) in November last year.
While a number of other tertiary institutions across the Asia Pacific region including the University of Melbourne and the University of Technology Sydney use OpenLearning software, none participated in the IPO.
The university will be charged based on the number of unique learners brought onto the platform “materially in line with” the company’s SaaS pricing structure, which will be renegotiated if that number exceeds 20,000 unique learners during the term of the agreement. ACU currently has 35,000 students.
ACU’s acting provost, professor Zlatko Skrbis, said the turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic has only served to benefit the university’s investment in OpenLearning.
“I could not have predicted how quickly this investment would come into its own, with the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic hastening the need to transfer more services online and for them to perform seamlessly,” Skrbis said in a notice to the market.
“OpenLearning will be a valuable addition to ACU’s ability to deliver high quality courses in a continually transforming digital environment and supporting our innovation agenda.
“I am looking forward to this promising partnership which will enable nimbleness and improve our reach into an ever-expanding market of short courses and micro-credentials.”

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Tasmania Uni ramps up space tracking capability – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

UTAS Mt Pleasant Observatory. Source: UTAS

The University of Tasmania is preparing to play a greater role in the exploration and use of space with upgrades to its optical observatory.
The university is set to augment its space tracking capabilities thanks to a funding agreement with the Australian Space Agency that was formalised in November last year.
Part of the new capability will be established with the installation of two antennae at the university’s Greenhill Observatory, 70km north of Hobart at Bisdee Tier.
A 7m antenna will provide support for a broad range of satellites and operations from the observatory, while a second dish between two and three metres in size will support Australian-made nanosatellites.
Nanosatellites, often in the form of small, modular “cubesats” about the size of a loaf of bread, are used by academics and industry to monitor space, the environment and Earth’s upper atmosphere due to the relatively low cost of production and launch of such small devices.
Professor Simon Ellingson, acting Dean of the School of Natural Sciences, said the university expects to announce the contract with the antennae manufacturer “within a matter of weeks”.
“The schedule of installation is uncertain with the current COVID-19 lockdown, but we expect to install the antennae later this year.”
The Greenhill Observatory houses a 1.3 metre optical telescope whose original primary mirror is currently being replaced after an optical flaw was discovered that prevented it from being used to its full sensitivity.
Despite the setback, the Greenhill Observatory has contributed to studies of Pluto’s atmosphere and the discovery of Earth-like planets orbiting other stars since being commissioned in 2013.
Greenhill is one of five observatories run by the university, the others being radio telescopes at Cambridge, Ceduna in South Australia, Yarragadee in Western Australia, and Katherine in Northern Territory.
With Greenhill’s new mirror and augmented antenna array, the university is set to support the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission scheduled for mid-2022.
Researchers at the university led by Dr Guifré Molera Calvés are already in the process of of crunching the data from a joint exercise with the European VLNI network of telescopes in February that tracked the position of NASA’s Mars Insight lander.
The observations aimed to determine the measurements of the red planet’s rotation and nutation (variation in the tilt of its axis), and to study the liquid content of its core.

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Curtin Uni to launch 5G research lab with Optus – Strategy – Training & Development – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Optus and Curtin University have teamed up to use the telco’s nascent 5G network for teaching, research and industry collaboration and establish an on-campus 5G lab.
Optus’ first 5G partnership with a university will also be used to further Curtin’s smart campus initiatives that kicked off in 2017 and increase adoption of emerging technologies like augmented reality by using the high-speed, low-latency network.
Curtin vice-chancellor Deborah Terry said the co-investment builds on the university’s relationship with Optus, which has had a strong focus on data science and applied research into artificial intelligence.
“The lab will give us the space to educate and conceptualise the application of the new technology and enable our students and staff to make substantial contributions to the Australian industry and economy,” she said in a statement.
“Curtin’s new smart campus will allow students to learn new digital skills and experience the power of 5G through practical, hands-on applied research while collaborating with industry.
“We will also be able to better integrate emerging technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence into our teaching and learning programs.”
Importantly for a WA-based institution, the increased connectivity should also help overcome “the tyranny of distance” in delivering remote education and telehealth operations, Terry said.
Optus Business vice president of product innovation Deon Liebenberg said the collaboration with Curtin will be a practical solution to advance 5G developments and use cases across a range of industries including mining, agriculture, health and fossil fuels.
“The technology’s low latency and fast speeds have the capability to transform remote learning and support academic applications of virtual and augmented reality,” he said.
“From virtual lessons and class trips, to advances in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and medical training – the potential of 5G in education is enormous and we’re excited to explore its future alongside Curtin.”
Optus’ 5G network has been expanding since its launch last year and now covers more than 740 sites in capital cities, with 72 located in the greater Perth area.

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