Sunday, 30 October 2011

Innovative learning network to lift student achievement

Innovative learning network to lift student achievement

This was announced today, I don't know where but I would have thought that #ulearn11 would have been a great idea to inform teachers of the potential benefits of such a network as they will be the ones using it.
More information will be made available next year for a 2013 launch. But I have an issue with the example, london learning grid, this seems to be an example of offering one service for schools, though what happens to the other systems that we have in place, we use google apps instead of live@efu, use moodle instead of ultranet, have our identity service with gcsn instead of watchdog. Is this still going to be a possibility?

Media release below:

Education Minister Anne Tolley has announced that a dedicated nationwide online network for New Zealand schools will be developed, to ensure that teaching and learning is at the forefront of global educational developments and makes the most of new technology.

The safe, secure system, called the Network for Learning, is estimated to cost between $300 -$400 million over the next 10 years, and will provide high-quality educational content and resources to schools and students, to help lift achievement for young New Zealanders wherever they are across the country.

The Network for Learning, which will be available from 2013, will also simplify and substantially reduce costs for schools accessing ICT content and services, including the cost of internet connections.

“This is hugely exciting for education in New Zealand,” says Mrs Tolley.

“The scale and complexity of the Network for Learning is enormous – with potentially over 2500 schools and more than 800,000 users this will be the biggest network of its kind in the country.

“The Network for Learning will ensure that schools get the most from their ultra-fast broadband connection, and will provide them with affordable access to the latest ICT teaching and learning developments.

“Location will no longer be a barrier for accessing courses. For the very first time every rural and urban school will be able to connect with each other to collaborate and share resources and best practice. For example, a student at a small rural school could take part in a specialist teaching class via state of the art video-conferencing with a large city school.

“Importantly, the Network for Learning will provide a safe and reliable environment, and will also allow schools to share information with parents.

“The benefits for students, families and teachers will be tremendous and we will work closely with the education sector to make sure it delivers the lift in achievement levels that our young people deserve and that parents want for their children.”

The Ministry of Education is working on the next steps for procuring the technical network, and determining how the Network for Learning will be governed and managed.

The Network is expected to be progressively available to schools from 2013. An update on progress will be provided in early 2012.

Questions and Answers

What is the Network for Learning?

Cabinet has approved a business case for a Network for Learning, a dedicated online network for schools, which will run over the ultra-fast broadband infrastructure currently being rolled out across New Zealand. The Network for Learning, available progressively from 2013, will provide schools with affordable, safe ultra-fast internet access as well as a range of online content and centrally-procured services.

Over the next five years, 97 per cent of schools will receive ultra-fast broadband connections enabling speeds of 100 Mbps plus. The remaining 3 per cent of schools, which are in the most remote locations, will receive a high speed wireless or satellite connection.

Why is the Government doing this?

The roll-out of ultra-fast broadband will lead to increasing demand for online education-related content and services among schools.

The Government wants to ensure that schools make the most of ultra-fast broadband and the educational benefits that go with it, while lowering the costs for schools. Through centralised procurement and management of online services, a Network for Learning will considerably reduce ICT complexity and cost for schools.

How much will this cost?

The estimated cost is between $300 -$400 million over the next 10 years. The exact cost will be confirmed following the procurement process.

What cost benefits will there be for schools?

There will be significant savings for schools. The backing of government and the combined purchasing power of schools will enable the Ministry to procure ultra-fast broadband internet access and other services much more cost-effectively than individual schools could obtain on their own.

The Network for Learning will represent much greater value for schools than they can obtain via the existing arrangements and should therefore make access to online content and services much more affordable for all schools.

What services will be available?

This will be determined in consultation with schools and during negotiations with providers. The intention is to have a range of current and new services that allow flexibility and choice for schools.

What funding will be available to schools?

In Budget 2011, the operations grant for schools was increased, with $4.8 million targeted at ICT in recognition of the growing demand for online education content and services. Schools will receive this increase from the beginning of the 2012 school year.

What support and training will schools receive to use the Network?

The Ministry invests $11.2 million each year in ICT professional development for teachers. Further help, including technical support, will be provided on an ongoing basis to schools to assist them in getting the most out of the Network.

When and how will the Network be procured?

A robust procurement process to obtain a provider for the Network and providers of associated services will be undertaken in due course.

Over the coming months, the Ministry will talk with a wide range of agencies and key sector groups to ensure the viewpoints of all potential users and suppliers are taken into account when planning for the procurement, build and launch of the Network. An update on progress will be provided to schools by early 2012.

How will the Network be governed and managed?

The Ministry is investigating governance and management arrangements. The Government has instructed the Ministry that schools’ views should be strongly represented.

Are there other education networks of this type in use overseas?

Yes, for example the London Grid for Learning.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

One of my favorite quotes

Don't plan what you're going to teach - that's about you - plan what they are going to learn. It is their education after all.

our bookmarks

Should we look at using delicious, as with all good things sometimes they are taken over by other companies and changed.

ASHS has a social bookmarking solution, based on Pligg[4]. This allows everyone in the school to save, share and find bookmarks that are use to them and their learning. Pligg supports tagging, RSS feeds, recent bookmarks etc. (Built by students for students.)

micro blogging

an idea that I have had for a while and that has been implemented within a school is the use of micro blogging, am looking at its first major use to display information relating to athletics, students have iTouch and running a local wifi will allow students to gain information needed? Plus am looking at the educational benefits of students being able to micro blog about the work they are doing for there projects, rather than keeping seperate journals.

Looking at what had been done at ASHS and there use of status net, I went about implementing it on one of the machines at school with the XAMPP stack.
Who would have realised that it would end up like this..

ASHS has a microblogging site, powered by the libre[4] application StatusNet and linked into their identity provider, so anyone with an ASHS username and password can use it without having to set up an account. Microblogging is useful for impact projects when teachers and project managers need to be able to see what all team members are working on, even when they are in different parts of the school or even the city. Microblogging is also a useful tool for students and teachers to share questions, answers, ideas and resources when learning. (Built by students for students.)

downloading the software from, great its a .tar.qz and i don't have a extractor on the remote desktop computer.
Download it at home, run it through the mac, and extract it, zip it and place it on google docs to download it at school.
Downloaded and placed into ourmicroblog folder,
Go to install it, create teh database and user in mysql to allow teh program to work.
run the installer, installer works but only to a certain point,
rerun the installer, goes through to the setup page,
input the information needed, great, lok liek I have it working,
wrong, admin account doesn't login... wonders what is going wrong.
try again. drop all tables in the statausnet database, and reinstall, same errors,
jump into php.ini and remove all errors for being displayed, try again, looks better.
Drops the database tables again and tries, still coming up with issues relating to PEAR?
end up having to do changes to PEAR as it has been updated since I installed XAMPP earlier this term
starts following the instruction, running php -q go-pear.php fails, tells me I am using to newer mysql, has to run go-pear.phar
has PEAR installed and running,
tries installation again, runs smootly, creates admin user,
is now able to login and access status net,
right now to change the theme, 1.0.1 has no admin - design features in it,
requires user to create the theme and modify in config.php
will have to leave this for later, now midnight.


Friday, 21 October 2011

Ministry of Health releases FAQ: wifi signals not harmful

The National Radiation Laboratory, a specialist unit of the Ministry of health has released on their website that WiFi is not harmful.
To read the entire FAQ fact sheet click here.

This is probably going to be needed as we move towards wifi developments within our school, parents concerned over cell towers and the mis information that is put out in the media. A FAQ would be of use.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Database Class - Professional Development

Stanford University is offering a free Database course from October 10 2011 to December 12 2011.
This is an online course,

What is the course about?

A bold experiment in distributed education, "Introduction to Databases" is being offered free and online to students worldwide, October 10 - December 12, 2011. Students have access to lecture videos, are given assignments and exams, receive regular feedback on progress, and participate in a discussion forum. Those who successfully complete the course will receive a statement of accomplishment. Taught by Professor Jennifer Widom, the curriculum draws from Stanford's popular Introduction to Databases course. A high speed internet connection is recommended as the course content is based on videos and online exercises.

Why Learn About Databases?

Databases are incredibly prevalent -- they underlie technology used by most people every day if not every hour. Databases reside behind a huge fraction of websites; they're a crucial component of telecommunications systems, banking systems, video games, and just about any other software system or electronic device that maintains some amount of persistent information. In addition to persistence, database systems provide a number of other properties that make them exceptionally useful and convenient: reliability, efficiency, scalability, concurrency control, data abstractions, and high-level query languages. Databases are so ubiquitous and important that computer science graduates frequently cite their database class as the one most useful to them in their industry or graduate-school careers.

Course Description

This course covers database design and the use of database management systems for applications. It includes extensive coverage of the relational model, relational algebra, and SQL. It also covers XML data including DTDs and XML Schema for validation, and the query and transformation languages XPath, XQuery, and XSLT. The course includes database design in UML, and relational design principles based on dependencies and normal forms. Many additional key database topics from the design and application-building perspective are also covered: indexes, views, transactions, authorization, integrity constraints, triggers, on-line analytical processing (OLAP), and emerging "NoSQL" systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What background do I need?The course does not assume prior knowledge of any specific topics, however a solid computer science foundation -- a reasonable amount of programming, as well as knowledge of basic computer science theory -- will make the material more accessible.
2. Is a textbook required? Detailed lecture notes are provided. Having a textbook in addition to the notes is not necessary, but you might want to purchase one for reference, to reinforce the core material, and as a source of additional exercises. Suggested textbooks and readings are listed as part of the materials you'll see after you register.
3. Will students receive a Stanford certificate or grade for completing the course?No. You will receive a statement of accomplishment from the instructor, which will include information on how well you did and how your performance compared to other online students. Only students admitted to Stanford and enrolled in the regular course can receive credit or a grade, so this is not a Stanford certificate.
4. Can online students ask questions and/or contact the professors?A discussion forum is included as part of the course website. Questions not answered by other students will be answered by the teaching staff; top-ranked questions will be discussed by the instructor in a weekly video.

Thoughts around SQL software

I originally looked at mySQL as a possible tool for lrearning, however I was informed from one of my past lecturers that SQLite maybe a better answer, as they can then have it on a flash drive to be able to carry on and do work at home...
Though they will need a GUI to be able to use it in some ways..
Install SQLite:

  1. Download SQLite: First visit this page to download SQLite. The Windows precompiled binaries are located near the bottom of the page.
  2. Unpack SQLite:In my case the latest version of SQLite was 3.6.14 so the downloaded file was named Right click this file and choose to uncompress in the same directory. This will produce a sqlite3.exe file.
  3. Install SQLite:Now double click on the sqlite.exe file to install SQLite.
  4. Test SQLite:To test SQLite open up a command prompt window and type “sqlite3″. To get some help with SQLite type “.help” and to close sqlite3 type “.quit” .
Create a Test SQLite Database:
  1. Create SQLite Test Database:Issue the below command to create a test SQLite database.
    sqlite3 sqlite.db
    Remember to exit out of the sqlite3 command prompt type the below.
  2. Create a SQLite Table: Issue the below command to create a table in the test database.
    sqlite3 sqlite.db "create table tb1 (tb1key INTEGER PRIMARY KEY,data TEXT,num double,timeEnter DATE);"
  3. Add Data Into Test Database: Now issue each of the three commands below to insert data into the test database table we created.
    sqlite3 sqlite.db "insert into tb1 (data,num) values ('Test data',9);"
    sqlite3 sqlite.db "insert into tb1 (data,num) values ('More test data',8);"
    sqlite3 sqlite.db "insert into tb1 (data,num) values ('Third set of data',7);"
  4. View Test SQLite Data:Now list all of the rows in the test table located in the test sqlite database.
    sqlite3 sqlite.db "select * from tb1";
Install SQLite GUI for Windows:
  1. Download SQLite GUI SQTView:Visit to download the latest version of SQTView located here.
  2. Install SQTView:The downloaded file will be named inSQTV.exe. Double click this file to install SQTView.
  3. Test SQTView:Once installed locate the application in the Start Menu under Program Files in the APSoft folder. Now locate the testdb.db file you created with the sqlite3 CLI commands. Open this file to verify everything is functioning properly. You will not be able to edit the database with SQTView. This application is only for viewing SQLite2 and SQLite3 database files.
The above will allow you to create a sqlite3 database and view the database with the SQTView GUI for Windows.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Binary Number Game

I woke up this morning thinking about what to do with my year 13 class since they have finsihed tehre work for the year. I was going to do some office application stuff, but then thought of a comment one of the students made, this was around teh fact that the juniors are doing harder work that than the year 13 students at present. The year 11 stduents now have papers to do on Computer Science., Lucky that a tweet came through this morning with a binary number game mentioned in it.
So a lesson plan was born,
Work through simple binary
00001 = 0
00010 = 1
10101 = 21
01010 = 10
01100 = 12
10111 = 23
11111 = 31
00101 = 5
00000 = 0
10010 = 18

01000 = h
00101 = e
01100 = l
01100 = l

01111 = o

Then get the students to create a message for someone else.

Then to the challenge, what can you get up to in the binary number game...

My score is currently 20500, one of the students reached 26000

Inspired from

Saturday, 1 October 2011