Monday, 25 February 2008

Microsoft Education in New Zealand Part IV

I finally had time to ring Microsoft today and ask about the Microsoft Academic Alliance High School Membership program. I got a guy in Australia who answered my question. I can get everything that was mentioned in my previous post. I forgot to ask about Microsoft Expression though.

The cost of the license is $549.50 which covers the school for the next 7 years. Yeah I kinda jumped when he said that figure. Seven years I said, is that cost for each year. No, that is the cost to have the license for 7 years.

I now have to get this past my HOD and through to the principal. I think it is worth it. Plus it gets our school on the map.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

The future classroom?

I was informed the other day that the computer lab that I use will be returned to a normal classroom in two years, I was kind of surprised at this. Then talking a bit more to the guy he explained that in a couple of years everyone will have a laptop. He explained that the one they are looking at is about A5 in size, small screen and just a bit bigger than a pda. I knew then what he was talking about even though he didn't know the name of it. It is the ASUS eee pc.

Through a but more research I found out where he was getting the information from, from the site.

I have a number of friends with this ASUS eee pc's and they absolutely love them. Me however, I am waiting for a bigger hard drive and more RAM.
Available in New Zealand, it is called the ASUS eee pc and it is available from Dick Smith Electronics for around $599

From The site...
The RM Asus miniBook is the perfect choice for pupils; a genuine "anywhere, anytime access" device at a startlingly low price. Smaller than an A5 pad and weighing less than 1kg, it combines the portability and quick-start of a PDA with the capabilities of a notebook. Starting from only £169, the RM Asus miniBook is an exciting new category of device, set to fundamentally change ICT provision for pupils.

Perfect personal ownership device

The RM Asus miniBook is perfect for pupils to use at home, at school or on the move. Small and light enough to be taken anywhere, the robust design offers increased protection against the bumps and grinds of mobile computing in the education environment.

Everything a pupil requires for mobile computing
  • With a 7" screen and weighing less than 1Kg, it's smaller and lighter than many textbooks.
  • Robust solid-state hard drive provides fast boot-up / shut-down and preserves pupils' files.
  • Integrated webcam (4G model only), microphone and speakers for easy web video-conferencing.
  • Integrated 802.11b/g wireless and optional 3G module provide great connectivity.
  • Integrated card-reader and three USB 2.0 ports provide a simple way to add additional storage and easy connection for peripherals.
  • Full-size VGA-out for connection to projectors or monitors.
More details can be found here

Respect for creativity part II

Just as I get introduced to the resources available through the education gazette, I then find an article on one of the blogs that I read. This one is on intellectual property and the information is from microsoft. They have created a curriculum that helps introduce the topic to teens.

Reality Check: Teaching students about Intellectual Property Rights

More and more computer science programs are including units on ethical and legal issues. Perhaps one of the most controversial issues involving computer technology these days is that of intellectual property (IP).

One of the problems is that young people (and many older people) really don't understand the laws around IP. From a recent press release about a survey commissioned by Microsoft said:

Microsoft Corp. today announced the results of a new survey that found teenagers between seventh and 10th grades are less likely to illegally download content from the Internet when they know the laws for downloading and sharing content online.

About half of those teens, however, said they were not familiar with these laws, and only 11 percent of them clearly understood the current rules for downloading images, literature, music, movies and software. Teens who were familiar with downloading rules credited their parents, TV or stories in magazines and newspapers, and Web sites — more so than their schools — as resources for information about illegal downloading.

To help with educating students Microsoft has created some teaching resources for teachers (available here) that make up "a comprehensive set of cross-curricular classroom activities designed for grades 8-10 (but easily adaptable for use in grades 6-12) and organized into thematic units."

A companion site for students called MyBytes allows students to create their own content (or Intellectual Property) and to learn more about the why and what about IP. There are a number of interviews there with creative artists who talk about what IP means to them and their way of life.

Now on the other hand not everyone agrees with these ideas of intellectual property, especially where copyright is concerned. At Wikipedia you can read about the anti-copyright movement. The Creative Commons organization supports a number of licences that allow various kinds of access rights for different purposes. The use of technical means to protect copyright, often called Digital Rights Management or DRM) is the heart of a controversiy that is both of its own and part of the greater discussion of copyright. The Free Software Foundation has a lot to say on that score. I think of them as extremists but others see them as heros. Your views may vary.

Now are ethics and the law in agreement or in opposition here? That is the big question. I'd love to hear the thoughts of others but especially of students. If nothing else I think this is an important topic to discuss with students no matter which side you stand on the issues.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Respect for Creativity

In the Education Gazette on the 18 February 2008 there is an article on Respect for Creativity.
In the article there is a competition for students on a serious topic, respecting copyright law.

Respecting Creativity Competition 2008

The student competition will again promote the theme of respecting creativity and is linked to World IP day. Students will develop design work, a short film, soundtrack or article for a copyright and intellectual property campaign aimed at the under-18 age group.
It is open to all Y11-13 students. entries must be received by the Ministry of education by October 28.

Visual art and design, music, media studies, technology, graphics and English students may develop entries as part of study towards assessment of relevant achievement standards and unit standards. Full details of the competition can be found on the website:

Part of the article form the Education Gazette is posted below,

A design competition touches on a serious topic for schools and students alike – respecting copyright law. WAYNE ERB reports
Respecting creativity is a concept that Yang Gan truly understands as a budding design student – he can see the rewards flowing from respect for his work.
After winning an intellectual property design competition last year as a Year 13 student at Hutt International Boys' School, commercial interest has been shown in Yang's work. T-shirts by another entrant, Alex Austen, are also likely to be put into production.
For Yang, it is exciting to see rewards and respect for his creative output.
"I put a lot of hours into this work and it was great afterwards to see the results and think that my work could be out there in the world."
He created a logo, a poster and a wall display for a photocopy room – all to convey a message about following copyright laws. That got him thinking too.
"I am trying to make all my work original. I am trying not to copy anything so that is one of the main things I have got from it."
This year, he begins a design course at Massey University in Wellington and is interested in a creative career.
For senior students with similar aspirations, the Intellectual Property: Respecting Creativity student competition runs again in 2008, and is sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Economic Development and the Copyright Council of New Zealand.
The competition is designed to raise awareness among students of intellectual property (IP) rights, a topic worthy of discussion in classrooms, and staffrooms in the country's schools.
It is part of a wider public awareness plan by the three agencies to promote the themes of World IP Day (April 26) which include the contribution made by creators and innovators and how IP rights promote their work.
IP might seem an esoteric topic, but with the high levels of creative product consumed and created in schools, it is a topic worthy of classroom discussion.
Respecting creativity can mean students are aware of what they can and can not download from the internet, and what they can do with it next. It means teachers understand the boundaries around how they use copyright material in the classroom.
Ministry of Education secondary education publications senior adviser Nigel Evans says the Ministry is aware of situations where schools could unwittingly be in breach of the law.
He says schools could look to the tertiary education sector where robust procedures are in place to check and clear copyright material before use.
Nigel suggests teachers not only consider their own knowledge of copyright but also raise the issue with students.
"We have to ensure that schools are educating young people to understand their full responsibilities in relation to other people's property," says Nigel.
Mark McCall, director of anti-piracy for the New Zealand recording industry, shares those concerns.
He says young people are among the savviest at copying music clips off the internet, and he sees teachers having a crucial role in changing the perception that whatever is on the internet is free.
He backs the Respecting Creativity competition as an awareness-raising exercise, because today's students will be tomorrow's creators and stand to benefit if a framework for protecting intellectual property is maintained.
"We want to make sure students know how to negotiate that framework because that will allow them to protect their own creativity. It's about the safeguards on their own creative works.
"In the broad strategic sense, we're looking at the knowledge economy and showing the world that New Zealand not only has great creative talent but also respects and protects their own and others' creativity."
He says it is important that creative industries listen to schools as well.
"We want a way where we plan and grow together and create resources that can be used within the education sector whilst respecting copyright and rewarding creativity."

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

House websites

I thought I would put down some details on the house website this year.

it is running on one of my servers that I brought a couple of years ago. It has at least 1 gig of ram in the thing, however it only has a 4.3Gig hard drive.
I am running windows xp sp2, I know that it should be a linux system, but I am at least running my favourite three, apache, mysql and php. It is running an application called wampserver. A nice windows application that links in all the necessary applications. It has a shared folder in which wamp is installed to be able to copy across those important files across the network.
For the management of the 5 house websites, I am using wordpress. An individual installation for each house with its own database running in the background. Now for the fun stuff I have been playing around with today. I am running gallery2 on it to provide the photo albums of each event. this provides teh best of both words, no matter what computer I am on I can update the latest photos, it creates the thumbnails, resizes the images and can provide a slideshow of the day. One of the things I am most fearful of is that it will not be able to handle the load, I have looked at performance and modified the gallery2 control panel not to update the pages and counters every time, it will only do this every 6 hours, so at least I won't have the database crash. I am thinking that the server might be punished, so I will look at the load throughout the day Just worried about the network down to the server as it is coming off a 100meg connection that is shared off a classroom switch.It might need to be moved to another area where it has direct access off the frame itself. Now to get the video files working off it. And to free up more space as it only have 600 meg free space on the server. How to remove windows hotfixes?

Monday, 18 February 2008

staff meeting

we had our staff meeting today, the first part of the meeting was on reminding us that bullying is a major concern at secondary school, with students trying to pressure others into doing things that they don't want to do, how far can you push someone till they break and fight back. Just small little things like calling someone names and mocking them in class. Bullying needs to be reported and not just kept to the teacher that has been told. Tell someone in the Senior Leadership team or the school couneller. 
The next part of the meeting was on professionalism and we were reminded on what was expected of us as professionals. It doesn't end when we get our degree or teaching certificate and registration. It is forever, we need to be professional in all of our dealing with students and parents.

Also I have managed to put in my request for the Mounatin Bike Nationals, now I need to do the RAMS forms and parent information sheet.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Mountain Biking

ah, the events for this year are large in number,

the link below is for the entry form for the secondary school nations

RACE DAYS:  Sunday March 16 Auckland XC Individual Champs

Saturday 12 April NZ Secondary School Champs Levin

Sunday 13 April NZ Secondary School Champs Levin

Saturday May 10 Moonride 12 Hour race in teams

Sunday 1 June Winter Series Race 1

Sunday 29 June Winter Series Race 2

Sunday 10 August Winter Series Race 3

Sunday 7 September Winter Series Race 4

I have tried to find as many of these as possible, now I need to figure out where I can put in the training rides for these. Also need to figure out a way to make the $100 for travel, accommodation and entry not seem so much,

Large class sizes

The beginning of every year is the same, unpack and setup the new computers, new teachers arrive at the school and are eager to get busy, the year 9 students turn up in crisp white and clean uniforms ready to begin their last five years at school and large classes.

Large classes of 30, or over 30 in some cases, we are told that they are still working out the students that are not returning or still on holiday, then there are the students that were refused access to the subject last july/august and are now in the subject because they have managed to get around the teacher and have pleaded there case to the deans and then the teacher finds that they are in the class with there mates. Hence they will struggle with the work as they will treat it as a social time. Hello class seating plan. Also there are a number of students who have managed to get into the class without the correct number of credits, I found one today with 42 credits in NCEA Level 1 that had got into computer programming, he hasn't got the maths or the literacy credits to even cope with the terminology or vocab required. We have prerequisites for a reason.

I find it difficult that we are supposed to be carrying out what the PPTA has fought for us in the STCA in which the school will endeavor to have an average class of 26.

So far I have
30 12 programmming students
18 13 programming students
24 13 web design students
15 9 inf students

I know that I am under the endeavor, but trying to teach 30 students visual basic is rather hard work.

To make matter worse I have a relief tomorrow, period 2. 12 intro to computing with 29 students.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Expression Web

Having a look around this morning on the net I came across a new curriculum that Microsoft has developed. It is based on there product Expression Web. As well as this is available through the Microsoft Academic Alliance, High School Edition

"Your Learning Guide to Expression Web" provides a convenient method to learn valuable Web development skills using Microsoft® Expression® Web. In this self-paced, 55-page tutorial, you will learn the basics of using Microsoft Expression Web and build a creative, dynamic Web site from scratch with the design tools that IT professionals use.

While creating a Web site about laptop computers using Expression Web, you will:
• Learn about ASP.NET
• Create page layouts with layers
• Incorporate images
• Format text with Style Sheets
• Use CSS with other elements
• Design and use Master Pages
• Create links
• Include an interactive calendar

You will be able to apply what you discover in this tutorial to create many styles of Web sites.

This tutorial can be used as a stand-alone resource or to accompany the "Expression Web Curriculum for Pre-collegiate Students" (listed below as a related item).
Copied from:

The curriculum link are available here

Details of the curriculum

The "Expression Web Curriculum" is a Microsoft teaching and learning tool for high school Web development students. The curriculum unit (with lesson plans) was designed and tested by high school teachers for high school teachers and students.

The NETS (National Education Technology Standards)-based activities guide students to answer an essential question, conduct research, and communicate their learning by building a Web site.

The curriculum unit can be customized to focus on technology integrated with a variety of curricular areas and is adaptable for collaborative team projects. About 10-15 hours of class time is needed to complete the activities. It requires the tutorial, "Your Learning Guide to Expression Web," which is available as a related item listed below.

Essential Question posed in the curriculum:
"What electronic device (e-cessory) has had the greatest impact upon your life or the life of your friends, family, or community?”

Learning Tasks:
Students will identify an “e-cessory” to research and create a Web site to communicate their learning. The content of the research will include identifying four events in history, inventions, or people that have led to the need for, and development of, their chosen “e-cessory.”

The tutorial will guide students in developing a fairly simple Web site about laptop computers. The tutorial topic serves as a model for the type of information students might want to research on an electronic accessory of their choice. After completion of the tutorial, students can either use it as a template to insert in the information they discover or create a Web site from the “ground up”, incorporating what they’ve learned and adding additional features they learn about from the other readily available resources from Microsoft.

Our major goal in developing this curriculum unit is to provide Web development teachers with lessons for teaching creative, state-of-the-art Web development.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

day one, first full day with students

Today started off differently, I arrived at work early to be able to get 18 machines running on the network, and to help get the student logins created. It was also the day that an outside technician decided to come in to replace a motherboard in one of the servers that stores the student profiles and network space. So with all the problems of getting your class going you were not able to get them going on the network.
I also had to get an order through to Natcoll to renew the schools license on the Creating Futures programme for our web design class as we use some of their assessments. One of the problems that this created was multiple phone calls from Natcoll Publishing wondering how many Visual Diaries we wanted. So three phones calls from them and one email later resulted in an order being processed. These will be sent out tomorrow.

So with this day progressing I went to my normal Thursday meeting after school every second thursday month. It was an interesting webmeet with the strangest program in development being presented. This is a wonderful and very different venture that is using flex and flash actionscript 3 to develop a world that can be controlled by you and created by you. Everything has been thought about from the stereo that plays through to the tv that plays youtube videos that you and a mate can watch. You can play pool, change a competition on the arcade games or draw on the wall with someone else.

Other things that need to start being done are the student email proposal to the Board of trustees, as well as a email to microsoft New Zealand asking about the Microsoft academic hugh school membership now that I have a contact inside microsoft through the meetup that will be able to pass the information onto the person concerned, Maybe there will be a part 5 in the microsoft education section of this blog.

Also checking the tki just up news feed today, I had a link to sent to me that might be useful for the graduate papers I am doing this year,

eLearn Magazine
Read this not-for-profit online magazine which provides news, information, and opinion on the field of online education and training.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Day one, first full day with students

I look at today and the work I have done to date through my diary and see that i have done very little work towards getting  my students started for the year. This is a bit of a problem. I know I am starting with ethics with both the year 12 and year 13 programming classes and will worry about what to get my students to do for the web design class on Friday. 
I have had a look back on what I have covered throughout the blog last year and I see a block entry for ethics this I looked at again and again. I read this blog entry about three times and started to wonder how I managed to write something with conviction and understanding as at the moment that isn't coming. Maybe its that I haven't yet got into the educational spirit of things yet as I am still setting up classrooms to be able to work within the school system. The student account have yet to be created or that the last couple of days have been seeing the students for one hour just to make sure that they are coming back to school. Maybe a couple of days in the classroom will get me back into things, as well as the two post graduate papers that I will be doing this semester. I look forward to writing more on the work that will be going on.

Saturday, 2 February 2008


Isn't life funny, I have been working on what I am going to teach in my year 13 web design class this year. With the webmeets that I have been going to a number of the presenters talking about using Content Management Systems to design the work for the site for their clients. So I have been looking at a number of products. However there was a high school google summer of code compeition that has been happening over the summer. they have been using silverstripe as the product to be developed.

So why not get the year 13 students to create a website using Silverstripe. There are tutorials available and it seems to be what they are interested in, in that way I mean that they used templates off other websites last year, why not let them use the CMS.

So doing some research I have managed to get myself into some PD on Monday for this as there is a meetup for this on Monday. Things just seem to fall into place.

The description of the event is here

*** Main topic ***
Topic: Silverstripe and Google Highschool Contest
Speaker: Sigurd Magnusson

The Talk:
Introduction to the SilverStripe web platform, and how Google helped over 200 complex tasks get done by highschoolers worldwide.

SilverStripe is a Wellington-born but now globally used open source platform for building vibrant websites and rich web-applications. It is heavily focused on usability (the out-of-the box content management and administration interface strives to be the most efficient system to manage a website), and a fantastic environment for coders; a truely PHP5 object-oriented framework that shall limit programmers mutinying to Ruby on Rails.

Get an insightful overview of the SilverStripe platform, and also breaking news on the Google Highly Open Particaption contest, which saw over 60 individuals from around the world work on 200 tasks covering QA, coding, theme creating, translation, movie making and other highly supporting activities to the project.

You can learn more about SilverStripe at

About Sigurd:
Sigurd Magnusson is the community manager and a usability evangelist for SilverStripe, a modern open source web platform. In 2007 the SilverStripe project commissioned a usability study, and through the generous support of Google?s Summer of Code, several hundred enhancements were added in the space of months.

Sigurd has been living and breathing the internet since 1995 when the City Council of Wellington, New Zealand provided the region's only internet service; then entirely text-based and only 2400 baud. Add a grandma who taught him C before he got to high school, and the rest all makes sense.

Sigurd would like to see webapps compete with Apple products for usability supremacy. Having helped build a few hundred websites over the past decade, he now focuses on supporting the developer community around SilverStripe, a modern open source web platform he co-founded. He makes a point of using the finished project every day to continuously feed the developer community with a stream of usability enhancement ideas.

Aside from his beautiful partner and daughter, Siggy loves adventure: snowboarding, turning up in a foreign city, reading books in the sun, and being dared into dancing Salsa at annual street carnivals.

So this is on Monday 4th February at Natcoll in Auckland, at 7pm