Sunday, 27 February 2011

Single Sign On - watchdog iDp

We have been in a process for the last couple of months, in reality since the knowledgeNET conference. We have been working with watchdog on implementing their Single Sign On service. This has been a busy development for all parties involved. It has required knowledgeNET to finish developing the requirements for SSO, in which they have completed and we are the first successful school to use Single Sign On with them, and it has now reduced some of the issues that we have had with passwords.

In the past we have had to add all of our students manually, well export them from our Student Management System, SMS, and we implemented the websync service just after it was released. This now makes provisioning students a lot easier. Though we still have an issue with the format of our student logins, which require someone to change manually.

Another issue we have found is the issues of the original development and focus of knowledgeNET, which was, this is what is represented in the google search for our knowledgeNET system. This is causing a few headaches, but we are slowly working our way around this and updating our school website and login pages to show this change, we wish that there was a reload or a refresh when someone logged in through the schoolsonline page that would then point it straight away to our knowledgeNET site.

The second service that was activated was google apps. This has been a simple change over and is working well.

The third service is mahara, This one is taking a little bit longer to get going and implemented. At the moment we have one student who is using the SAML login, which does not work, I am hoping that this week will be when we get all of it working. There is still one more service that we can get activated for our iDp service, however, I am unsure at present what we get...

Also with knowledgeNET we are after some real estate on their navigation bar, this will mean that we can include icons on the bar for students to access these service straight away. this has now been added as a development ticket for future work.

Wether it be, access-it library, wikieducator, or a number of other services. This will be a conversation that we next have at our ICT meeting.

mlearning and 2degrees mobile

I have been working with 2 degrees for the last 2 years on a number of projects that I play with at school. The first was Get Lost! We managed to 2degrees to sponsor the SIM cards for the 2009 project. As 2degrees was a new network and they were wanting to get out into the market place. Last year, 2010, we also used 2degrees as well. However, it was a interesting experience this time dealing with a store rather than twitter and email. The face to face contact was great, explaining what I wanted to the manager of the store and dealing with him on the issues that we were having with some of the departments within 2degrees, one thing I learnt is that you have to give them a months heads up, as some departments have difficulty talking to each other. hopefully from last years experience this years will go a little more smoothly.

Why do I use 2degrees and their mobile network. Well, telecom and vodafone the cost of the SIM cards is too high, 2degrees have a better rate for the SIM card, plus I have started to see some of their details are a lot better. They are willing to work with me and solve solutions to the problems that I give them. Also, the SIM cards that I use are to meet the health and safety aspects of the field trips or activities that I run. I love seeing students in the outdoors and experiencing the Education Outside the Classroom that is now starting to become missing from schools.
If I need to contact a student or for them to contact me it is a quick phone call or text. It means that I don't have to have a lot of teachers out in the field with each group, I am finding this has better relationship with the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum. Students, I am finding enjoy using there cellphones for a personal use, but for an educational use they are not too sure. This is mainly due to the $10 text packages they are on, why do they want to use these valuable text for learning. Provide a SIM car with limited amount of funds on it and they want to use it. For the three day Get Lost! programme I provided $5 on each SIM and no student was without credit at the end of it, and I had received over a 1000 texts on my phone from them, including phone calls and PXT.

The latest is to take my year 13 students to a number of locations this year and give them a day to come up with the website. These are 6 hour based competitions that I am thinking of. Students will be given information before the event, like location and any information that is needed. the first one is to north head, this has a self guided walk, what the students will be required to do is to create virtual self guided walk through the information they find on the site as well as what is available on the doc website.

The second is to look at how a qr-code development at auckland museum would work. Students will be given a section of the museum to go through and develop information that could be accessed on an itouch using qr codes or entering in a code. There will be a limited number of exhibits that they can create content for, as well as having to access the museum database as well for more information. They will need to be fast and have access to a wifi network to access information as well as publish information.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Trying new things

I have been working with our schools moodle, a couple of us in the department make use of this great educational tool. We have been busy trying new courses and activities. Though, I found today something rather interesting.

I started to do some work to enable an outside organisation to make use of the resources that we have available, a working New Zealand Moodle for Schools version and it being hosted outside the school. This is so they can access the Moodle for Teaching and learning course that was created as part of the project, which the New Zealand Moodle for Schools version was created as part of.

The students logged in today and straight away I had questions, why was there a new category in the moodle instance, what did this mean, was it part of a field trip, what's going on?

What shocked me was that the students started there inquiry, who was the extra category for, why was it created, what was going to be the outcome of it.

When I teach, they just sit there, they don't talk, I try to engage and possibly one of two students answer back, the rest just listen. Why don't students do the same type of thing when I teach a new topic? Question, ask... is it because this is what happens in every other subject.

I enjoy the fact that i am trying something different with the year 13 students this year, the guiding questions that are up at the beginning of class and them having to blog the answers has been insightful. One of the biggest issues is i started the class this way 3 weeks ago and I had a new student added to the class today and is lost in what is required and how the students have already developed there own learning space, be a blog and google apps currently, but when mahara is all setup with the saml authentication I will be using it as part of the learning space.

But what of my classroom, I have this great online presence, but the classroom is bland and empty. I need to find a way of getting these great environments into the visual space.

Onto something else,

I have been using the mail merge add-in with our e-asTTle PDF documents and it has been working great. We had an issue today that it wasn't until lunchtime when a brief discussion with the network manager happened. Around period 3 we had everything go to a holt for around 5 minutes, found out that the student server had no space left on it in its c: drive. All the space was used. When I thought about it it was due to the 699 PDF documents that I was printing. The print queue for the printer I was using was on that server. I went back to check the printer and have found that 60 individualised e-asTTle reading tests had not been printed. So I have someone going through the print out and working out which of the tests have not been printed. Will have to get these printed off on monday.

And now another,

I know this may look like a broken post, but it is always one of ideas and developments that is related to me.
I use dreamspark with my students, I need to get them sorted out with accounts through live@edu, though do I, some of the programming students would do quite well gaining access to this software as they are interested and play with different things all the time. While others just need to the software that is available, like microsoft visual basic express and microsoft expression 4 ultimate to play with and develop on.

What I need to do is export this from our SMS who needs accounts and sort out the codes...
I wonder if I can create individual printed books for the students with there name already on it for the programming class through the mail merge program.

I realise that I am doing a lot of things but that is part of being an innovator, Now that we have Single Sign on working for knowledgeNET, google apps and hopefully I wont have to manage the import of student accounts for much longer, I can pass this over to someone else. However, what I find is the development of these programs a concern. It is one thing to implement them at school, but I also look at the form and function that they offer and what will work for me with the kit that I have.

I need 5 laptops that can be networked up easily to share an internet connection, I am looking at doing a field trip and need a way for the students to use what they have rather quickly. Think of it as a race, students will be given an area and have to develop a website rather quickly to show off what they found and how it has impact on collection.

Jb hi fi have laptops for <$400 and these would be all that is required for the students to use.
I wonder if this could be an idea...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

busy much?

1400 e-asttle tests individually named through mail merge to pdf(possibly some changes tomorrow), SSO data recreated as I screwed up the mlepOrgansiation, all students now in Active Directory(yay I didn't have to do this peronsally) classes set for relief tomorrow, loves moodle as all work is set and students have no way of saying that the reliever did so the work, library system fault emails have been sent to their helpdesk, knowledgeNET questions have been sent on for further information, and now for department annual report to write - Got to go to bed early for waka ama training, get up at 5am...