Saturday, 28 July 2012

Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy

Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy


The term ‘learning environment’ suggests learning happens in a place and space such as a school, a classroom, or a library. However, while much of 21st century learning takes place in physical locations, in today’s technology driven world, a learning environment can also be virtual, online or remote. The purpose of this inquiry is to investigate and provide recommendations on the best structures, tools, and communities, in both rural and urban New Zealand, that could better enable students and educators to attain the knowledge and skills, such as digital literacy, that the 21st century demands.
Submissions are available
I wonder when they will release the findings?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Programming is not algebra

A while ago I created a post on how students got confused with some of the problems that they are given in programming, they seem very algebra based, a = 0; b = 3, a = b; and this gets some students absolutely stuck.

In this post we talked about the number of generation of rabbits 

and reading Andy's blog the other day, made a lot of sense.

The Simple Things

People who have been coding for a long time forget that their variables and equals signs are incompatible with algebra. My friend might have passed the sheep test if her “beginner course” had taught her only these basic definitions:
not like algebra
a sequence of instructions to be executed in order
a name which can be assigned a value
Assignment (a = b)
an instruction to assign to the variable a the value of b
Looking at this has made me want to change my practice in the classroom and wanting to get the students to think about programming as Program, Variable and Assignment, rather than the focus being on the maths at present.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Facebook in schools

It has been interesting the conversation on whether to allow Facebook at school. For one we have boarders on site and should they be allowed Facebook to communicate with home. The other is we have students that are requesting Facebook for in class work.

Now, I have found a really good response, which I will put forward to our ICT Committee -

Rangitoto College has a fairly open policy in terms of filtering and initially allowed students access to Facebook, but that has now been stopped for two reasons – Facebook traffic was taking up too much bandwidth, and also to give students a break from the addictive nature of Facebook, says Hastie.
This has to be one of the best response's I have seen, it talks about the addictive nature of Facebook. Schools are now giving students a break from an addition, the same as xbox, minecraft and a number of others.

I wonder how that statement will go down at school. Maybe we need a Facebook Anonymous group?

Friday, 13 July 2012

culture shift needed in schools

Its been amazing the last couple of days, for one I have been reading a book that I just cannot put down, and tonight completed.

The other has been #nethui,
I find it amazing when I cannot attend a conference that I can still enjoy it online, twitter is a great conference tool.

I had this one tweet come through

We need a hacker culture in schools. You don't get that with iPads. Need open technologies, circuit boards, Raspberry Pis 

I totally agree with this, and continue to fight technicians in schools to open up the networks and computer to allow students to get a touch of such an exiting part of computing.

One resource I find interesting is hacker high school, this is a excellent example of how hacking could be taught to schools students.
the other is the raspeberry pi project. Years ago we talked about people bringing in devices to plug into networks that were small and could sniff a lot of data from the network. This has all of that, an ethernet port, small profile and a power cable that looks like it is for a mobile phone. Thinking about that, you could probably get a raspberry pi to fit into a old mobile phone.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


This starts with a tweet,

10 crazy IT security tricks that actually work

Now looking at this, I wondered, yes it has the things that you would normally do, rename the administrator account, get rid of the global admin entries, use non default ports. But one of these caught my eye, and it is around the use of honeypots.

Now I have just come back from a trip to the North Island where I have been in discussion around getting equipment into schools and the talk of preparing the students for the next wave of Digital technologies through the New Zealand Curriculum. 
Now getting back to it, the guy I spoke to talked about the use of honeypots to test systems and the patching and security of it, now the thing about these systems is that they are open enough to let people in, however, everything they do is logged, so you have the opportunity to go in and see where they went. There was one of these open in the 1990's where on IRC groups the publication of the IP address and username and password was made available, it was up to you to get to the next step, the competition for root access.

Now getting back to the article, looking at these systems
Innovative security technique No. 3: Honeypots
Modern computer honeypots have been around since the days of Clifford Stoll's "The Cuckoo's Egg," and they still don't aren't as respected or as widely adopted as they deserve. A honeypot is any computer asset that is set up solely to be attacked. Honeypots have no production value. They sit and wait, and they are monitored. When a hacker or malware touches them, they send an alert to an admin so that the touch can be investigated. They provide low noise and high value.
The shops that use honeypots get notified quickly of active attacks. In fact, nothing beats a honeypot for early warning -- except for a bunch of honeypots, called a honeynet. Still, colleagues and customers are typically incredulous when I bring up honeypots. My response is always the same: Spend a day spinning one up and tell me how you feel about honeypots a month later. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to try one.
Now the thing is, I have The Cuckoo's Egg and its 11:00pm at night, and I can't stop reading it. And the question I have is, should I get my students to read it. One book I already get them to read is Cory Doctorow, Little Brother. 

top trends for 2012 - Data engagement

Looking at the core education blog I see that they have identified the top trends for 2012- Data representation.

One of the trends is Drivers

There are many innovations that drive these changes in the extent and ways that we can create and engage with data. Some examples are:

  • Increasing sophistication of personal devices such as tablets and mobile phones which allow users to create, access and manipulate data anywhere and at any time. Many people now use their devices for navigation using the GPS function, and apps have been created allowing images and videos to be tagged with their location and shared. An interesting example of GPS use is Geocaching – a form of treasure hunting that relies on the use of GPSdata to find hidden objects. Geocaching is increasingly used to create interesting and authentic learning opportunities for students.
This was a project that I developed and ran as part of Project 72 - an initiative at the school I was at.
This involved students using technology to do different things, in 2009 I wrote up how this project would work, this also ran at the end of 2010. It is amazing to see such a project now being seen for its advantages and difference.

Thanks Core.

Monday, 9 July 2012

A game for students - google a day

Rather interesting site that I was pushed to me today,

Google run a daily puzzle challenge and asked to help get them out to the geeky masses. Each day’s puzzle will task your googling skills a little more, leading you to Google mastery. Each morning at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time you’ll see a new puzzle, and the previous day’s answer (in invisitext) posted here.

Looking ahead: science

Overview of Science initiatives
The Ministry of Education has recently initiated a number of Science initiatives in response to the Gluckman report, Looking Ahead: Science Education for the Twenty-First Century (2011), to examine raising student achievement in Science (years 1-13) through focussing on five project areas.

These initiatives will focus on:
  1. Curriculum support for Science – Improving curriculum resources, both in print and online. These resources currently support teachers and students in the Nature of Science strand, and literacy and numeracy teaching within the Science learning area.
  2. Science community engagement – Developing best practice and ways in which schools engage with the wider science community, particularly at secondary level, to make learning more relevant. It will also explore what works to engage the science community and why it works.
  3. E-Learning in Science – Using technologies to support student and teacher engagement and learning, particularly in the Nature of Science strand.
  4. Building teacher capability through ongoing teacher professional learning and development (PLD).
  5. Examining the flexibility of the curriculum and the qualifications framework, especially at secondary level, to support good programme design.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

wheres my server

A couple of months ago I was asked to come up with some ideas on how to get the new Digital Technologies strands into schools for year 13 students. I sat there and I thought, where can I start. I know what I am doing but is it in line with what others are doing. I looked back at what was done in 2009 and saw that one aspect of Digital Technologies Digital Media strand was to develop a web server. 

I sat and thought about how this could be done, schools could do what they have always done and just got students to create websites but not host them anywhere, or we could start looking at installing ubuntu on a virtual machine and habe that, run a usb livecd of ubuntu or try something way different. Use a hosted server, one that students can have access to and develop. 

One of these have already been developed in New Zealand and used, Catalyst do a high school summer programme which uses wheresmyserver for students to learn how to setup and maintain a server. Could we do something like that in new zealand.

Twitter is such a good place to develop these ideas, a wonderful comment started me thinking

I'm still amazed what uni's/polytechs are teaching wanabe web designers today, some still don't know anything about web hosting/ftp/sql...

If universities and polytechs are not teaching students these things, how are we expected to do this at High School. 
The new Level 3 Digital Media standards are an excellent place to start. With students being able to access there own fresh installed server and do the install of the LAMP stack, setup php and mysql as well as install and theme wordpress. These are some simple and basic issues of a install.

The students have been able to experience some of this already this year in my class. I have a machine at school that I use as a bit of a play machine. I have vmware running on it and have setup a couple of installs of windows xp and ubuntu, the students have been using a ubuntu install to develop mysql and php code to show the results of a BYOD survey we carried out at school. This has allowed them to show what they need for level 2 Digital information.
The issue is that they do not get to setup the sever themselves

Parts i still to work on, getting access to wheresmyserver through the school network, it is being blocked somewhere through a deny port access.
A resource to show others how to setup and install.
Meet with wheresmyserver to create an educational arrangement.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Professional reading - Swimming out of our depth

Swimming out of our depth? Leading learning in 21st century schools

With new technologies being introduced to schools, there is the need for s shift in education to help our students become the best that they could be.

This paper reports preliminary findings from NZCER research designed to explore the following questions:
  • How difficult is it for teachers acculturated in 20th century ways of thinking about education and its purpose, to "shift their paradigm"?
  • Do today’s teachers have the dispositions and competencies they are being required to develop in their students—given that their schooling was not designed to develop these?
  • What kinds of learning environments would teachers need to develop these competencies and dispositions?

So much is starting to come out at present around the introduction of BYOD in schools, changes in school environments. How does a school with 100 years of tradition and traditional teaching practices develop into what is needed for today's students.

Also there is another one to read and understand, this one is around BYOD, does it have benefits with students learning?
Does digital immersion improve students digital literacy -

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Holiday jobs

These holidays I have a number of jobs to do,

1. To get my raspberry pi up and running with a web server installed.

2. To record an online video of a wheresmyserver install and config for an assessment that will be given to my and other students next year. Looking at wordpress as a CMS to sit on top.

3. Wifi, instructions and BYOD AUP to be finalised.

4. Clean my room

5. Enjoy wellington for two days at a subject association forum.