Reflection on 2012

The events for Engineers Australia on Titanic went well with a good turn out for the Titanic event in April at the EA Head Office in Sydney. There was good collaboration from Peter Jenseen who set up an reproduction of the original Titanic radio room. The theme of relating popular culture and technology was interesting and it worked well. Disappointing was there was no other collaboration on this.

u3a events were mixed:

Genealogy and Cultural History – I inherited a group mainly interested in Australian family history but they all had at least some Irish connection. Again this has come to a dead end despite some very interesting research esp on the archaeology aspects. How said that you reach an dead end in Irish Genealogy because the record were burnt in 1916? With archaeology and the maps readily available on the web you can extend your family to clan history. Thanks to the University of Cork for publishing the Annals of Ulster to track your clan involvement in Irish history. Shame there was little interest in this from local Irish organisations in Sydney.

Visual Communications & Preparing for 2013 centenaries courses never launched. There was a lack of interest in u3a members wanted to learn to be facilitators. Many in u3a seem t be only interested in being passive learners and most only want entertainment.

New Technologies in u3a had quite a following – that is on average 12 attending. Problem was that  its scope was too broad – you cant please everyone. These demos are very hard to prepare, setup and run esp in an environment different to my home setting. For example bluetooth coms from surrounding smart phones in the seniors centre meant that coms for the Lego NXT robots did not work as expected. Similarly demos for home automation were a complete failure – I saved files to the local home server but did not copy these to the local drive for the demos.

Again I got a lot out myself for preparing including the history of various technologies but I must admit that there was too much content on this. Other problems: they sessions were not balanced with very little opportunity for active participation from u3a learners. Sessions were poorly concluded and the structure at the end collapsed – there was no feedback or group reflection. There was some very interesting discoveries for me though esp in robotics, android systems, iPad, home automation, 3D photography, GIS etc

Theme for 2012 was Lessons from History

History has a tendency to repeat itself. Do we learn from history or do we keep repeating the same mistakes? This site was  used to add online extensions to some face-to-face  u3a courses where we saw how our future relates to our past. So far two u3a courses have been completed – Genealogy and Cultural History and the Titanic. A new u3a course: New Technologies included some history when looking at how we create and critique new technologies. Some of this history is from the distant past: writing, printing and the clock. More recently history relating to how Australia developed its skills in technology and is now developing new technology.

In the Titanic course we explored events from its history during the centenary year and saw how some modern ship designs and practices have not learnt from the Titanic disaster. The course looked at both technology and popular culture of Titanic is examine both the myths and reality of Titanic.

In Genealogy and Cultural History we examined our connection to our Irish ancestors and discovered their role in history from the stone age to modern times. We even allowed you  to discover the archaeological artifacts of your ancestors in their townlands.

To use the resources on this website you should be a registered user and use the Collab (Collaborate) tool. This will get you access to every thing about the site including course syllabus, resources (videos, books, ebooks, websites), events and blogs. You will need a logon name and password. To get a logon account email me at  In 2013 I will still host the following courses:

  • Titanic
  • Genealogy and Cultural History
  • Visual Communications
  • 2013 Centenaries
  • New Technologies

New theme for 2013: Technologies for Autistic Children in Australia (TACA)

I will cover robots, iPads, music technology and technologies for gardening, health & entertainment to help kids with autism.

I am unlikely to cover all of these and will focus on the robotics. The robotics platform will be Pleo rb but I will also cover Lego NXT, ravio, Robosapiens, Furby and SEGA’s chicks.

This website will change in Jan to support this topic. Collab, wikis and blogs will still be used. To register you just have to be a serious interested partner and learner – no cost but actively contribute.

The Collab tools and resources are not open to everyone. Users will only be registered  and after sending an email request to be registered. The general wiki & blog  is open and may be of general interest to anyone.

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