Sunday, 30 March 2014

nzta professional development

I have been to quite a number of Professional development sessions where you talk away one or two bits of information. But this one struck a massive part of not just my teaching, but outside of teaching itself.

Citizenship, yeah, such as boring topic, national, labour, what elections are about. But no. There is another citizenship. That is one around the road. I took 4 students to film some workshops at the nzta education workshop in Christchurch. Something in which they thought, go in, sit there, film, eat some lunch. But no. The session was for them... to discuss how they use the road to teachers, to give their situations, to give their stories. It was even a chance for one of them to explain what was being planned had adverse affects on him as well as other students.

I will write more over the next couple of days as I process more of the sessions, but when you get a tweet like this, you just have to share.
A lot of this has to do with the people at the nzta, they have thought through a lot of how this relates to everyone, and what it means to be a citizen of the road. With the latest campaign of identifying a person who uses the road. 

One ad had an interesting spin on it for me, 

There are great resources available for teachers to use, one that I found useful was the one around the adult literacy standards, these are ones that we are targetting at school for some of our students to assist them with the opportunity to gain L1 Literacy. It will be interesting having a conversation with those in charge this week around how we can assist them in two ways, the road code, and literacy.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

reflecting on a meeting

We had an elearning meeting yesterday. It was interesting to hear the stories of the teachers that are being involved with the class. 

However, there was a strong point being made, not enough time. Time develop resources, time to investigate apps and ideas. Something that these teachers feel like they sit in front of a computer looking at resources and ideas for 2-3 hours and felt that they haven't got anywhere, or felt that they were on the right track. How long do teachers take to develop a resource, or an idea. Or are they using other peoples. I know in my own teaching that an idea is developed over time, not normally for this year, but the idea has been worked away for around 6 months on and off. It allows me to think about how I will use it within lessons. 

Being a digital technologies teacher technology and skills are changing all of the time. Do other teachers not experience this?

We have been looking at the SAMR model, with developing resources and the like to be able to just do S at the point. However, it is with interest that the teachers started off the year with wanting to do things online and they offered paper copies. A couple of student took the option of the paper copies. As we move further through the year, more and more paper copies are being handed out. Why is this? is it because its easier for the teacher? Students? 

We need to investigate why this is the case?

I think one thing that is missing hugely is the support of other teachers in this. This is a trila, it is where it is starting for the rest of the school.

We are heading away to the BYOD conference in auckland later this term. We have set a challenge for the teachers. Take one thing from the conference, build on it within your classroom practice over 6 weeks, and them present it to the group. we need to start looking at professional development time within schools in a different way. We need to build relationships within our own and other schools in developing support and ideas for each other. Could the connected educators month in October be a way of doing this, or will secondary teachers not get on board, will it be the rhelm of Primary teachers?

These teachers need a kick start, they need to realise that they are not alone in this development. 

Problems faced within the BYOD class. Classroom behaviour, we set the class up to be in one room this year, support, try new things out. However, all I hear is that the room doesn't work for these teachers. Interesting, as the teacher feels that they are the visitor in the room rather than the teacher owning the room as they normally do. Classroom setup seems to be another big factor in this. Each teacher wants the room setup for them, they way that they like it.. Considering we have three very different styles of classrooms within our school. We have the 1960's block where rows feature and the odd group  We have the new prefabs that are longer in width , though the rooms are set out in a similar fashion, the room is worked towards the front. It is interesting that I think about this, as the festival of education over the weekend I was shown a number of slides where the classrooms of the world were shown, no matter where in the world they were they all had a board at the front, rows of students all facing the board. I realise that my room is different, the way it is setup is more for students to look at wall space rather than the front of the room, it is why I have to move around. I don't know how to teach in a normal classroom. all of my students look towards walls and windows, just with the room layout.

With the way that the room was initially set out that the teacher wasn't the focus of the lesson, as the students were looking at walls and windows, rather than the focus being at the front of the room, on the teacher. Interesting that they have just changed it so the teacher can stand at the back of the room and all the students are looking at the front of the room now? How long will this last before they change the room again. As in there normal classroom, the design of the classroom is very much focussed on them.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Orionhealth, codeworx and Raspberry Pi

I have had my students enter a competition called codeworx. Using a raspberry Pi they are to develop something to assist with their lives. Thinking about this a little bit more, I would like to see it help with a part around medical healthcare, but that will come later on.

On friday we had Friday Pi-day. The day they received their Raspberry Pi. This day was a special day for them. When have they been given something? When have they been given something at school. Now, this was also another experience, one student missed out? What do I do. He hadn't followed the instructions and all of his classmates got a Raspberry Pi. Some ways I feel that I should be doing something for him, but he hadn't followed the instructions? 

For the students it was like christmas, as soon as they had them I thought they would just go in thier bags and be investigated later on at home. But no, they wanted to get them going then and there. It provided some students  a challenge as there SD card wasn't set up correctly and therefore wouldn't boot. Downloading NOOBS and having it available for them to copy across fixed this. 

It was a heartening experience to give out over $2000 worth of hardware to these students. One that I hope can happen again. These students are treasuring this gift and we have some wonderful experiences to share over the next few months as they investigate, develop work for the competition.

I recieved an email from a teacher, it was about a student who was not doing the teachers homework this weekend as he would be too busy playing with the raspberry pi.
Hang on, he isn't playing, he is choosing to do my homework. Why can't students choose to do what engages them in their learning?

Online assessment

Come on NZQA, the students are wiping the floor with you in terms of working in the 21st century. I am sure all your examiners must have access to computers and the internet. Surely? Why can't the way the students work be the way they are marked and assessed too?"

this is from a blog post that I found from a Design and Visual Communication teacher fighting for what we have been given by NZQA.

As I have posted before, we need to be encouraging our students to and in their work electronically, having done the EDEM626 course last year all university work is now handed in electronically and with the conversations polytechnic's are also online handin. We need to be working in this space.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Looking at Ka Hikitia

Looking at Ka Hikitia, With the new document coming out last year there have been a couple of blog posts that have been written to explore what it means for educators.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Where is Digital Technologies heading?

I don't know of I could summarize where Digital Technologies is going, as there are the five distinct strands plus Generic Technology.
There is also the Vocational Pathways that are coming into play this year.

There is a comment made in a reply to a thread in the NZACDITT google group that resonates with me, "Yes there are some food projects that are not at level 8 of the curriculum but the number of ICT projects I have seen from year 13s that are clearly year 9 work is greater than the number of food projects!"

We need to building up the specialist Knowledge and Skills strands, we need to be moving forward with the knowledge strands, not just the skills strands. Though to be able to show knowledge, we need to have the equipment and facilities to do so. Going with the food analogy from above, doing a function for 200 using a domestic kitchen is possible, but the quality and quality assurance is just not going to be there. You need a proper kitchen and facilities to be able to do the job well, consistent quality and quality assurance to make sure that the product goes out looking the same. This is the same in the Digital Technologies spaces, are we developing a quality outcome that meets the needs of our students and the learning objectives.

The learning Objectives are detailed in the link below,
Learning Objectives of the specialist Knowledge and Skills strands
Indicators of Progression – Learning Objectives (248kb, PDF)

Next requires some outside work, from professional Development, rather than the normal PD opportunities through the Ministry of Education, we use the subject association more. As it has been talked about through the PPTA Subject Association forum, the best PD has been offered by subject associations. We need to also create better links with industry, through the IITP conference last year it was talked about how industry could be assisting the development of this area. We possibly need to be making more use of this area, one thing I talk about with teachers is the idea of real world problems. What type of assessments are we delivering to our students.

Going with some of the information,
  • At least 80% of Digital Technologies teachers believe the assessment standards for their discipline(s) are sufficient, relevant, and fit for purpose.
Do teachers currently believe this?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

BERG, Prototyping washing machine

Sometimes we struggle to understand the interface of all the Digital Technologies and how they work together. One example I was shown tonight was the household washing machine. 

If all washing machines looked like this and has this type of control I might want to do washing more often.(no jokes please)

I do wonder if AS3.10 could be done about the design of washing machines? 

Cloudwash is a prototype connected washing machine. We created Cloudwash to explore how connectivity will change the appliances in our homes… and to figure out what new features will be possible.

Could students develop an interface for a washing machine? HCI for Juniors?

There is a lot more detail available at
and having a look at the there are some interesting ideas that could be investigated further by students.

metadata: Design, electronics, HCI, mobile control, prototyping

Saturday, 8 March 2014

time for a reboot

I saw something interesting on twitter this evening, and i have been thinking. I need a reboot.

I'm heading over for a 'reboot' day next month so will mention your awesomeness (not that you need it)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

formal languages - how good is your regex foo?

been working on ideas for more around formal languages. This idea came from something I saw at an office tonight.

Found this site

What does this code snippet do?…
Those with several years development expertise will realize it’s a regular expression. But even the most astute guru will take a few moments to determine that it checks the validity of an email address. Only a superior subset of that group will comprehend that it’s fairly superficial and won’t check all possibilities.
Regular expressions are extremely powerful search patterns which can be used for string matching and replacement. They’re supported in the majority of languages including JavaScript, PHP, Perl, Java, C#, Python and Ruby.
Individual rules are normally straight-forward, e.g. [a-z] matches a single lowercase character andc.t matches a three letter string starting with ‘c’ and ending with ‘t’ — such as ‘cat’. However, when rules are combined, an indecipherable string of seemingly random codes starts to appear. The one above is relatively simple compared to many you’ll find in the wild.
Creating your own regular expressions is difficult enough and many of us resort to using the force. But it’s easy compared to parsing someone else’s code — which is normally written by someone who has an irrational aversion to comments!
Fortunately, Jeff Avallone has created a solution to your regex woes. RegExper transforms meaningless JavaScript-based expressions into a graphical representation:
Admittedly, you’ll still need a reasonable understanding of pattern matching, but it’s far more evident the expression is analyzing an email address.
Behind the scenes, RegExper is a Ruby application which translates regular expressions into an SVG image. The SVG is embedded in the page, but it should be possible to extract or copy it for use in your own documentation.

Also: great slides that describe regex,

Microsoft Office for students

This has been an interesting experience,

Student Advantage enables every school in New Zealand that licenses Office for staff and to be eligible to get Office 365 ProPlus for students at no additional cost. You can get it now!
This supports the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or 1:1 learning programmes that you may be looking at implementing, or are currently running in your school. Office 365 Pro Plus is the full version of Office and allows each student to install the full version of Office on up to five PCs or Macs.
To take up this benefit, the next steps are:
  1. Contact Datacom to add the zero-cost license Student Advantage SKU to your Microsoft agreement.
  2. To do this you will be invoiced a $75 administration fee from Datacom.
  3. If you do not already have Office 365 A2 plan ordered, this will also need to be ordered and will be included in the $75 administration fee above.
  4. Check with Datacom that your contact person for Office 365 and Student Advantage activity is correct.
  5. Deploy the Office 365 A2 Plan service for staff and students; then Students are able to download the Office ProPlus client software to their devices (up to 5 devices per student).
Please contact your Microsoft Reseller for more details:
▪ For schools enrolled in the Microsoft Schools Agreement with the Ministry of Education, please contact Datacom on
• For all other schools, please contact your Academic Reseller or partner.

Now we need to get the Single Sign on working

dropbox on linux server

Been thinking about this one for a while, was shown it at some pd last year. It has taken me until now to get something up and going..

There is one more part that I am working on, and that is getting the dropbox folder _httpd_ linked in to the www folder, so any changes I make are automagically updated.

for that part, see in this section Wordpress

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Computer Lab issues

We have an issue going through the school at the moment, something that I have not encountered for a while now and surprisingly never happened in my computer lab, until now.

The messed up keyboard. It seems that the thing to do is to change the keys on a keyboard and see what words you can make.
I will be having a chat with the students that sit in particular seats this week. Surprisingly the students sit at the same seats each period, so it is easy to sort out who has done what. But why do it? boredom, work too hard? Guess I will find out.