Thursday, 17 March 2011

it started with a tweet #2

The reply to my previous blog post on it started with a tweet

I agree that personal mobile devices are the way of the future, be they tablets, smart phones or what ever the future brings us. The Ipad is a classic example of how a new technology can change the way people use technology. Personal devices allow us to blur the lines between work & play. We know how powerful it is to put a laptop in the hands of every teacher in the country. As professionals we take our laptops home at the end of the day, we’re reading and accessing information informing ourselves and developing our Knowledge base.

Its my opinion that too many schools concentrate on the hardware and keeping the price as low as possible when considering any kind of student programme. Thinking, that simply putting these devices in their students hands will dramatically improve their engagement levels etc.. and while this can be true… it is only 1 (and probably the smallest part of the puzzle). First and foremost, there needs to be teaching practice which supports use of the technology to achieve real and measureable results. One of my colleagues, Graham P, who I work with has the following to say about 1:1 programmes (or would apply to 2:1 as well). I’ve cut and paste this from one of his papers:

ICT skills acquisition:

With the introduction of such an initiative the ICT knowledge and skills of the students and staff involved increases immensely – but needs to be supported.  Whilst the students will adapt quickly to their new learning catalyst, the staff learning curve is typically a little slower.

Important in any introduction of such an initiative is to provide for the staff professional development.  Not only do professional development programmes attend to the technical skills needed to cope with new ways of teaching and learning, but also they support the important paradigm shift necessary if the programmes are going to be effective. 

The ICT capabilities of all involved will increase significantly – again, providing a competitive advantage for those involved.

Much of the pedagogical impact of such a programme is lost if the portable programme does not enable the teaching and learning process to change –if we continue to do what we have always done – just with new tools…. We will still get what we have always got!

I think your idea of 2:1 is good, but why limit it to this??? If your network will support it, why not 1:1? Is the answer Money?? Well, there are 3 funding possibilities:

1 student pays – consumer finance, purchase outright

2 school pays – using funding it would have put toward infrastructure anyway, or grant applications.

3 combination of student/school funding - self-explanatory

A lot of schools I talk to think that it is unreasonable to ask their parents to pay for a laptop, so, yes, they should be able to bring one from home, but it needs to meet the basic system requirements needed to perform the tasks demanded. A standardised operating environment in any large network is the ideal, but I appreciate schools cannot “demand” or “force” students into anything. At the same time, how many kids already have playstations, ipods, expensive bikes and other costly toys of one kind or another – sure – not everyone could afford an ipad – but most parents would seriously consider it if they thought it would dramatically improve their kids ability to succeed academically and into the future.. All the better if they can finance or split the cost with the school. Why not have all 3 funding options operating – use the best method on a case by case basis?...

Instead of asking – whats the price – the question needs to be – how do we enable equality & sustainability… so.. how can we support the teachers to adapt their teaching practice to use the technology effectively. How will we assess the results of this new teaching practice? What happens if someone cannot afford to participate? What if their device breaks? How will the school support those students who don’t have an internet connection at home, how can learning continue in the face of these problems. Too often, the lowest price option, is low because there is all care, but no responsibility, no support, no resources because there is no regard for the bigger picture which is not just the sale of a smart phone, but the support of a young persons education, their preparation for a future in a digital world.

Anyway.. I could go on for hours… this is very much a passion for me. I Account Manage a few schools doing 1:1 programmes, they are doing really well, and I want to share their success with other schools, I want to help schools go 1:1 and help them avoid the painful lessons that have already been learned at other sites. I really believe that personal devices in students hands is the way to go. I only need to look as far as myself. I know that having my laptop/iphone in my hands 12+ hours a day means im reading more, im collaborating, im working and playing simultaneously (look at what im doing right now) – it doesn’t stop when I leave the office. This is all adding to my knowledge base. I am 100% sure that every student should also have the same opportunity to learn anywhere, anytime..

I know there are lots of other considerations, and we have a duty of care to protect our youth from the dangers that lurk out beyond the firewall, but it can be done, its really not that hard to do.. it just takes a commitment to change for the best.

Anyway, that’s my 10cents worth… what do you think : ) And please don’t think im trying to “sell” you anything = I really am very passionate about it – I feel like I have such good insight into how well it can work, but im not entirely sure I know how to best spread the message?? I’d love your feedback .

Monday, 14 March 2011

From a group post

My argument is definitely not for teaching staff to understand technology any less and think that it is very important for staff to have a good understanding of ICT, my point is though that even with a good amount of knowlege in ICT there may still be extra things that can be picked up from ICT staff. Effectivly I am just arguing for continuing learning and using all the resources avalible to the school to do the best job that they can.

It's the ongoing learning that makes the difference. We claim that for our students, we need to claim it for ourselves.

I like this comment, as I think it has a lot to say.

It started with a tweet

Tweet: What are the key challenges facing schools when it comes to estalablishing a 1 to 1 student laptop programme... your thoughts??

Answer: key challenge is the experiences that other schools have had in the area, negative information has been passed on, no +'s


another is the thinking that they will get 5-8 years out of a netbook the same as a desktop machine

thanks. Are the negatives you've heard about related to lack of evidence of benefits?

From then one it has now ended up being an email conversation
the negatives are due to the what the principals in the area have discussed the machines wouldn't last, they broke, the wouldn't run what was required. Mind you I think it comes down to what the school brought and experienced. I look at what is available now to what was available last year or the year before.

Lack of academic results? or Poor tools, poor hardware & support, or lack of good prof dev? Interested
I think it does come down to, some people saw the 1:1 computing as "the Answer" they didn't think of the training, investment in infrastructure, it was the big thing of the day. And then what they saw happening in the classroom, students just use them to write up documents, they wouldn't have seen the collaboration of what goes on, as schools didn't think of what is available with google apps now and collaborative google docs. they would have seen then in the classroom charging and not being used, or locked away.

Schools want to see use of there investment, and getting 5-8 years out of a desktop and 18 months out of a netbook are two different things. just because its a computer they think they will last that long. Who is there to repair them, schools do not have the lucky technician that we have, they have a teacher or a tech for 2 hours a week. Who them looks after the students having access and modifying the laptop to them break it and it becomes a door stop until it is fixed.

I also think schools are looking toward the mobile phone as the end device, but i am more looking at the 2:1 devices for students, the netbook/tablet and the phone/android/iphone. We are looking at our network and explaining it to salespeople, they look at me strangely when I say 2:1, all they hear at other places is 1:1.

What do you think around that idea?

and who's thinking is this? Student/Parent or school? I really appreciate your feedback : )
This is the principal who is telling me most of this, we approached the board for a 30 user netbook programme, and got told basically the above.
Our associate principal is looking at what we are proposing with the wireless network, and he has the statement at the moment, "build it and they will come" - I know, bad movie reference, but when we roll out our wireless network the student will bring the devices with them, they have laptops at home already, and if not they have mobile phones, itouches, android phones, the more devices that we can look at attaching to the network, they better as they understand. Do we want to limit the students to a one stop shop of device. or see what they bring and develop.

Ok, I realise this has been written late at night and its ben a long day, but I hope you get the idea of what I am trying to put across from the tweets.
Sometimes tweets are not enough, they start off with an idea and develop from there.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

SSO all working

The single sign on is all operational and working, now worries with this,

Our only issue is now is
number of students able to be uploaded is limited to 200 at a time
all old students on the system have to be manually changed over to SAML
you cannot update any students details through a csv upload at this time
When you import and select the wrong authentication method, you cannot fix it by reuploading
you cannot set you whole institution to SAML in one hit.

I am finding more negatives than positives at the moment with this administration

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Thoughts on the three areas

Our School has joined the new Positive Behaviour for Learning in New Zealand initiative. These are the three areas that we are focussing on.

  • Be Respectful
  • Be Responsible
  • Be a Learner

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Single Sign On update

Hopefully we will have all of our services running on the watchdog iDP.

One thing we are finding though is that the iDP is very picky about what site the that login information is sent from.
we have out which is how most of the connections are made, but today I don't know where I managed to get this was, I didn't pick it at first, it was an email to the developers that pickup up the www. in front.

So things to note is come up with is a list of websites that you will be connecting with,

ie. -knowledgeNET connection - googleApps connection
and - myportfolio connection

and make sure that you reference these in all you sites and developments from now on. you will need to note that the www. is not needed or supported.

This has been a great development opportunity and is allowing us to try different things within our lessons, rather than the worry of students not knowing passwords or forgetting information that was needed to be able to login successfully.

One of the next steps to look at is branding of these sites and being able to link between them, one suggestion has been to add links into KnowledgeNET for this to happen, this would then create that LMS portal, so students login to one place and use that to access the other services for their learning.