Sunday, December 10, 2017

These students only have slates to write on, so how can EdTech help them ?

If you spend your days developing EdTech solutions with the latest AI technology it is easy to forget that the students who would benefit most from EdTech may not even have paper, let alone high speed internet.

Central Africa Republic: The country with no teachers

Friday, December 8, 2017

Here comes the .BOT

AWS has released the .BOT domain for registration with the stated aim of .BOT is to give a clear home for voice and chat bots.  
To register a .BOT domain you first need to have created a bot with Amazon Lex, Microsoft Bot Network, or Dialogflow.  Currently the only registrar supporting the domains is EnCirca, so hopefully other bigger registrars will come on board as .BOT grows in popularity.  Prices for domains varied between $75 for less popular words, up to circa $4000 for and $7000 for domains like, but the yearly registration fee is set to the same value as the initial purchase price, so if yo buy an expensive domain you will need to pay the same each year to extend ownership.
If you haven’t created a bot before, AWS Lex is quite easy to get started, building simple bots to take audio and chat input, but I still have a lot to learn to integrate the bots with my exam API.  I then registered and to supplement and deliver content over chat and audio via technologies like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home.   Bots have multiple uses, from guiding users through customer service interactions using prompt flows, to implementing voice input in cases where you can’t or don’t want to use your hands (e.g while driving, cooking, exercising, or writing).
If you think that the use of bots will increase across mobile and voice applications, then you may want to get started creating a bot and registering your .BOT domain at  
Unfortunately,, and were already taken, but there are still lots of great domains available, including and so get started creating your first bot !

Friday, August 25, 2017

Want a 15% pay rise ? Get an IT certification.

This 2017 global salary report proves that IT certification does pay.  According to their survey, in Asia Pacific certified IT workers earn 15% more than uncertified, followed by 13% in EMEA, 11% in North America, and 10% in Latin America.  Below are the relevant quotes from the report if you don't have time to read it all.

"In the U.S. and Canada, the difference between salaries of certified and non-certified IT staff is nearly $8,400, or 11.7 percent. The difference for IT decision-makers is $9,201, or 8.9 percent. Although the base salaries are lower in other global regions, the trend is the same. "

"A Latin American IT staff-member possessing a valid certification earns on average $24,751, or 10.3 percent, more than his or her non- certified counterpart who earns $22,430."

"In EMEA, certified IT decision-makers earn an average of 13 percent more than their non-certified counterparts ($63,557 versus $56,262)."

"The combined average salary for certified IT professionals in Asia-Pacific is 15.3 percent higher than for non-certified ($44,118 versus $38,254)."

So if you were thinking about getting an IT certification, but were not sure if it was worth the time and money, now you can weigh the cost against the average benefits.  If a few weeks of study and a few hundred dollars to sit an exam can get you an extra $5-6000 per year, for the rest of your life, then that is a pretty good deal.

What certification will get me the highest pay ?

The report also details the highest paying certifications across the geographic regions.  If you want to maximise your pay, go for the CRISC, CISM, CISSP, CISA, AWS-SCA, or PMP certifications.  The old favourites of Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix, and CompTIA will also maximise your pay rise, as long as you focus on the more senior cloud, security, architecture, or project management specialities.

Top paying certifications
Top Paying IT Certifications

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Why online proctoring doesn't work.

Proctoring exams is expensive and inconvenient.  

In an era when you can do almost everything online an exam candidate will be annoyed at having to make an exam reservation, take time off work, and travel across town to an exam center, just so they can be monitored by a real human.  The need for a physical exam location, computers, and a real human to monitor the candidate also increases the exam price, reducing the number of candidates, and reducing the profits of the exam vendor.

Obviously there is a business case for online proctoring, and there are plenty of companies that claim to have a solution that works, but in reality they will only catch an incompetent cheat, and a truly devious one will get away with a 100% score, courtesy of Google, or a friend in the next room.

A number of certification vendors now offer exams with online proctoring, but usually only for their introductory level exams, and not for the exams that lead to truly valuable certifications.  I guess those vendors understand the risk of cheating and dilution of the certification value, but decide the increased revenue is worth it.

What online proctoring solutions exist, and why don't they work ?

Shutting down other programs on the PC and locking the exam to full screen.

This sounds like a great idea, stopping users from running web browsers or chat clients ... until you realise that most people these days have multiple internet connected devices, and exam candidates could easily get a substitute to sit the exam, or look up answers on their phones, and enter them into the PC exam window.  FAIL.

Webcams and microphones and remote desktops.

The theory behind webcams and microphones is that they can monitor who exactly is sitting in front of the computer, to avoid substitutes, and watch for suspicious activity, like abnormal amounts of typing during a multiple choice exam.  Unfortunately webcams don't give a 360 degree field of view, so they can't check the room for additional computers or monitors, additional people, or trace computer cables.  The average highschool student would be able to setup a second monitor on the exam PC, so a friend sitting behind the webcam or in another room could view the screen, google for the answer, and signal to the test taker which answer to choose.  You need to secure the computer software and hardware, and monitor all activity in the room to avoid cheating.

Does that mean we can never stop cheating with online exams ?

Only a paranoid proctor can catch a devious cheat.  If the integrity of the exam is important, and any suspicion of cheating must be avoided, then the only solution is to use secured hardware, software, and real paranoid humans.  For low value screening exams, online proctoring may still be of use, but should never be considered to be 100% secure.  

One way to improve the integrity of online exams is to turn the exam into a timed race, where a candidate who KNOWS the answers and can answer quickly can get a higher score than someone who needs to search for an answer or communicate with another person, but this requires that the questions be based on memory recall, rather than reading comprehension or problem solving, and I am doing some research at Exam to build an online recruiting solution that implements this theory.

Redhat releases their first MOOC but you won't be Redhat certified

Interesting to note here that Redhat is going to offer a MOOC through EdX.  Unfortunately, at the end of the course, if you pass the exam, you only get an EdX certificate, and not Redhat certification

It is good when a vendor reduces the cost of their training and opens it up to as many people around the world as possible, but disappointing when they won't recognise the effort.  I guess they are just using the MOOC as an on-ramp to their more expensive Redhat training and certification.

IIT JEE Advanced dates for 2018

Based on previous years, following are the tentative dates for 2018 JEE Advanced exam.

Events Dates (Tentative)
Online Registration Starts 4th week of April 2018
Online Registration Closes 1st week of May 2018
Admit Card Availability 2nd week of May 2018
JEE Advanced (Paper 1 & Paper 2) 3rd week of May 2018 (9 to 12, 2 to 5 PM)
Online display of ORS and scanned responses Last week of May 2018
Answer Key Released 1st week of June 2018
Receiving feedback from candidates on answer keys 1st week of June 2018
Declaration of Result 2nd week of June 2018
Architecture Aptitude Test (AAT) Online Registration Date 2nd week of June 2018
Architecture Aptitude Test (AAT) Exam Date 2nd week of June 2018
AAT Result Declaration Date 3rd week of June 2018
Seat Allotment Starts 3rd week of June 2018

IIT JEE Main exam dates for 2018

Based on last year dates, following are the tentative exam dates of JEE Main for 2018.

Events Exam Dates (Tentative)
Release of JEE Main 2018 Notification 3rd week of November 2017
Commencement of Online Application Form 1st week of December 2017
Facility for Correcting Images 2nd week of December 2017
Closing Date of Online Application Form 1st week of January 2018
Last Date for Fee Payment 1st week of January 2018
Opening of Application Form Correction Window 2nd half of January 2018
Availability of Admit Card 2nd week of March 2018
Examination Date for offline exam(Pen & Paper Based Test) 1st week of April 2018
Examination Date for online exam (Computer Based Test) 2nd week of April 2018
Answer Key and OMR Sheet Availability 3rd week of April 2018
Declaration of Result (Score & Rank) 4th week of April 2018