[LINK] Gonski Report into School Funding misses the point of the digital education revolution

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Thu Feb 23 09:04:04 AEDT 2012

On 22/02/12 13:57, Paul Brooks wrote:
> On 22/02/2012 8:27 AM, Tom Worthington wrote:
>> On 20/02/12 19:41, I wrote:
>> ... DEEWR ... 7.4 Mbytes of attachments. ...
> <Devils Advocate hat on>
> Tom - what is the metric you are considering to be inefficient here? ...

I was thinking of the limited speed of my wireless modem, which is 
supposedly "broadband" but often slows down to dial-up speeds.

> Had they sent an email with links, you would then have clicked on the links and
> downloaded the same PDFs in any case ...

The documents emailed to me were listed on the web site above where I 
registered for the events. So I had already downloaded the Ms-Word 
versions of the documents. I did not need a PDF version of the same 

> ... using up precisely the same amount of download quota ...

Two copies of a document will use about twice as much quota, as one 
copy. Also as these were sent using two different protocols in two 
different formats, my system would not be able to work out it was 
already in the cache.

> ... order of magnitude larger than they were a few years ago as
> well - so no saving on bandwidth or data cap. ...

My data cap has increased greatly (I currently have 10 Gbytes a month), 
but the speed has not increased as much.

> They could have put glossy dead-tree documents in a real paper envelope ...

I was also handed an information pack at the DEEWR forum on Wednesday in 
Canberra, so I had THREE copies of some of the documents: two electronic 
and one on paper.

> ... By that measure, they have been more efficient by delivering the
> documents electronically. ...

Assuming that people actually wanted the documents (and did not already 
have them), then yes, the electronic delivery was more efficient. But if 
I did not want the documents, then electronic delivery of the documents 
is less efficient than sending none at all.

> By sending a link, they would be making a larger number of assumptions about your
> level of connectivity - that you had a web-browser installed ...

I was invited to use a web browser to register for the event. So it is a 
reasonable assumption I have a web browser.

> ... Perhaps they were being more inclusive, by not assuming your
> email was based on Internet technologies ...

I have not seen email recently on a device which does not also have web 
access. I expect there are some phones with email and no web, but I 
would not want to read 7 Mbytes of documents on their small screens.

> ... had they merely sent links in the email, they would not be able to attest
> that they had delivered the information to you - they would only have delivered
> pointers to the information, not the information itself. ...

The High Court of Australia considered what constituted being "given" an 
electronic document in 2002. My interpretation of their decision is that 
providing someone with the address of an electronic document is "giving" 
them the document, provided they also have access to the electronic 
document store.

See: "Muin v Refugee Review Tribunal; Lie v Refugee Review Tribunal", 8 
August 2002, High Court of Australia: 

> <hat off>
> ...  Vacant bandwidth on the other hand is there to
> be wasted. ...

ICT systems cost money, use energy and cause greenhouse gas emissions. 
Duplicated documents fill up storage devices which run on electricity 
and cost money. A few percent difference in system use does not much 
matter, but when something is a thousand times larger than it need be, 
that is significant. Also sending people documents they do not need 
wastes everyone's time.

ps: The Minister did a good job answering questions at the Schools 
forum. I got to ask the last question, about if there would be funding 
for on-line course development: 

Tom Worthington FACS CP, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards

Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Research School of Computer Science,
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/

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