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Showing posts from 2011

Help ... i must be a self obsessed parent ...

With 35 cumulative experience of dragging up ones own offspring and a collective experience of fostering at least nine children, i can say with conviction that I am still an amateur when it comes to raising children.Every child presents new, entertaining and informative challenges and depending on your level of sleep depravation and caffeine high (or low). So, when I encounter other parents attempting to share sagely wisdom on how their offspring compares to some magical norm of childhood, i am happy to share. ..... your poor children often raise themselves in spite of our clumsy ministrations.If we are lucky, some of our attempts to influence their development and behaviour rubs off on them. Soooo please, please, don't be precious. We do see many mistakes being made, as we have made them and sit back and laugh. We are still making many mistakes and get it wrong on an almost daily basis. If you think you are a good parent, get over yourself, it wears thin very quickly. If you are …

Because someone says it is, is it?

Probably everyday (or at least nearly so) I encounter situations where I see, hear or read a matter where i wonder if the answer being given is actually valid.I am not suggesting that there is a culture of deceit, ironically i feel that the majority of humanity, is honest giving what they feel to be a correct answer or explanation when presented with a question,But, when you are dealing with a situation that demands a little bit more scrutiny, you discover that often the answer being given lacks any substance.Two facebook conversations from today spring to mind, in both cases, those being observed are intelligent and capable, as well as relatively knowledgable souls.Yet ....The conversation goes off into a 'trust' in supposed authority, when they could be wrong, but because the 'supposed' authority may have said so, then its correct.Now at this point you may ask yourself, what if you are wrong .... maybe i am? But then i bothered to check my own facts before tapping up…

Rejoice .......................

Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!


Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born
Of the Virgin Mary — rejoice!

With love from Andrew, Shirley, Victoria and Jeremy xxx

recovering from my afternoon nap ...

I am pleased to share that i am not a frequent napper, in fact, now the off spring are older, one finds that at the moment one needs to nap less.Having a PM snooze is quite the pleasure, but don't you hate the cold nose you get afterwards (unless its only me, where you are welcome to ignore this observation).The point of sharing this is that with Christmas almost upon us, we tend to enter a period of semi-hibernation, enjoying friends, family and some flatulence inducing food.Yet, i have to admit, in this post internet boom world, two facts concern me:Yep ..... i am getting sales related emails already from eTailers i have used over the last few years, some for 'targeted' stuff i am unlikely to want to buy (the thrill of the fridge gets my Christmas spirit a tingling).Also ..... one unnamed saddo sent a work related email today .... TODAY, matey you are in need of a grip get one, even a convinced workaholic like me has left it alone.So, enjoy the season, enjoy Christmas an…

A morsel of notions, my research gave me ...

Been dipping in (and out) of Martin Weller's, 2011 text, the Digital Scholar, on p169 makes an interesting observation when discussing digital resilience . "What goes, what stays and what comes – each element of this trio is significant. Often we concentrate on 'what comes', but its just as interesting to consider what stays."  And then goes on to say ... "The QWERTY keyboard has stayed thus far into the digital age, despite being an analogue solution, not through any sense of value, but because it is too entrenched to overthrow."When we teach, do we have views that are entrenched, are they so entrenched that they can no longer be overthrown or is there help for us (personally) as well as our profession. Because what we do is what has always (in our view) has been the way it has been done, does it mean that it cannot be changed, or that we are unchangeable.

Well, now its time for a Christmas message from the Smiths, if you dont like spoilers, look away now ....

The Smith family Christmas message, the annual event of cultural and intellectual significance has hit the ether to test your synapses.
In some ways it’s nice to hear from our friends near and far on their accomplishments as well as those of their offspring. Now we have social networking, the inter-wide-web thingy, blogs (that brag), SMS and that tweety thing, it is not like it’s terribly difficult to keep abreast of what is happening in your lives. Well that is if you can be bothered to use the marvel of modern technology that is your personal computer, smart phone like pad thing. "Sooooo …. please, we do not want to see your newsletters, it isn’t cool, its not exciting, it shows a level of self indulgence that clearly demonstrates that you have not spotted that everyone has been using Web 2.0 stuff for at least five years." As a token of our appreciation and our desire to express how we feel on this matter. We too have created a ‘newsletter’ but in the zeitgeist of the age an…

There are times when to resist temptation is to resist a bout of Tourettes ....

I do envy the character of Father Jack Hackett, he says what we all think, at times i speak to some education professionals in my 'domain' and despair.
Dealing with a centre 'somewhere in england' who are struggling with the sheer workload of their qualification. 
At first i thought that this was a little misunderstanding, where they were a little emotional about having to do a little bit more than one would expect.
Nope, worse is the fact that they have built a culture over many years, where: They have lost any real understanding of what the qualification is aboutA culture of belts and braces where neither are neededAs the qualification has evolved, they have added layersAs the sector has changed, they do not seem to have doneConfusion over the simplest of concepts, where evolution, has become devolution and complaints that the nasty awarding bodies are being mean to them Worse, even worse is that they are 'outstanding' in the eye of the inspection regime and in sp…

I write this knowing at least two people that I may upset ...

... but lets face it, will it stop me, no, not at all.This is nothing offensive, unless you are really sensitive, in which case, best put your head in a bucket and go 'blah blah blah' it will help.The new modern sacred cow I wish to offend is the concept of a 'search engine optimiser'.When did such an inexact art become a science.When did somebody decide that a forumule for internet hits, beyond any immediate control of the individual become a job role, and a well paid one it seems.Like a shamen or fakir, the search engine optimiser (or SEO as they seem to like being called, seems to rattle some beads and possibly the entrails of the occasional dead chicken and behold your website increases its position in the ranks of the world wide google web.Clever stuff.So, joo joo is committed, and web site becomes popular.The SEO (sorry i meant to say grand wizard of the net), does clever things with your site, pays for the right adwords, tags in the most appropriate way and twee…

Cows ... how the world really works ...

If you have been struggling with the entire economic situation, our bovine friends gives the best explanation :SOCIALISM You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbour. COMMUNISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk. FASCISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk. BUREAUCRATISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away.
TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income. ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND (VENTURE) CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Compan…

Not the normal blog post, my research ...

Its been a good week, did more than i expect and less than i planned.Apparently this is how it goes.Monday was a very good day, after my work of last year, my friend Paul Wallin asked me back to spend time with his students at Kingston University. In many ways it was a repeat of previous work, so expected to learn nothing new. With 50+ students in the session, there was an unanticipated result which is both interesting and bothersome.Rather than shrug, we will repeat the same experiment in the same room at the same scale but be more systematic about the last part (everyone connecting).I would like to know if Packet Tracer has a limit for EIGRP peers, and if everyone joining at the same instance is still the real issue.By Tuesday, i was into the papers, re-reading past papers and past notes i had regained some considerable lost ground.Not that you want to know about Cognitive Apprenticeships, Zones of Proximal Development etc, but a good read was had.Into Wednesday and i branched off i…

Silly Jeremy Clarkson gives Daily Mail readers something to tut about ...

Yep, he was a plonker on the One Show, then i am not a fan of the One Show, i dont watch it, so lack the same sense of outrage as others.I agree, what he said is a joke, yes its in bad taste, it may work on 'Top Gear' where he can be edited prudently, but on live television, me thinks that Mr J Clarkson has committed a major gaffe and annoyed two opposing groups.Lets think about it, the unions (lets call them the left) are pretty peeved and the Daily Mail readers (lets call them the right) were simultaneously annoyed. After all, nice nurses cannot be criticised, and that simply is not the done thing to be said on ones pre-watershed mainstream evening televisual entertainment (if the One Show can be called entertainment!!!).So, now these opposing factions are unwittingly fettered and united, will the social fabric of the UK suddenly implode in unanticipated outrage.Well timed Mr Clarkson, this will distract the plebs from the nasty recession thing .....
Not that this is my opini…

Do you ever ask yourself ....

What have i learnt today?What useful bit of knowledge have I acquired that will in someway better me someday.-
--
---
----
-----Nope, no hope here.

todays question :

If some of the armed forces of the world are accepting simulation (call of duty etc) as a valid experiential format, why do networkers get emotional.Here 'armed personnel' can make mistakes that would be costly in a 'real situation' and develop a range of skills, whilst not the entire gamut, skills nevertheless.So, what is the view of networkers?

Well it wasn't a bad day ... but then ...

Dear <name removed as they are an idiot>Thank you for your grumpy toys being tossed out of the pram, stroppy rude email earlier today.As you can see from the tone of this email, i failed to come equipped with my 'giving a shit' app and am happy to sit here and think about the many reasons why you are still stuck in your little world.I would like to get engaged in your petty one downmanship, but i am doing too many interesting things at the moment to play along. Sadly you tried to play me off against an old dear friend, for whom i have greater regard and considerable respect.As you can tell, mainly by my absence, i don't work with you anymore, in fact it is almost four years ago since. It may have escaped your attention, we don't play in the same sand pit anymore, having found other bigger more interesting children to play with.If you would like my help, its on offer, but at a cost, where you have to remove your head from a bucket and take a careful look around.Yo…

The award that time (almost) forgot ...

Image
During a random search of the wide wide interweb, an old page from a local newspaper presented itself.

http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/News/Award-double-for-Barnfield-College.htm

I must admit, I had completely forgotten about this, the irony was not lost on me. By the time of this publication, my employer had already decided that the work being done did not meet their new vision and had already started the process of removing my grade (along with 16 others in the same position in the organisation).

In spite of being the only 'pioneer' in Europe, (cant prove it anymore, only claim it).


By the time this article was published in the local press I had already applied for the post I am in now at the Open University.

Isn't the passage time an interesting record ...


Do you ever think why? ...

Not an philosophical why, nor the repetitive why of a pre-schooler. The why, when you see something, hear something and thing Why? Really, why the @@@@ are you here wasting my time?I am sure this exists in many forums, but in education, we seem to have an abundance.One is going to wander off and bang my head against the wall.

Tick, Tock ....

Everything is on the edge of tomorrow
Today passes, another comes;
Yesterday is a mere figment, proven only by frail memory;
Photos and films of times lost ghosts;
Magnetic noises of distant voices, echoes of what might have been.Everything is on the edge of tomorrow
Today passes, another comes,
Chronographic assurances ticking away,
Assured death, assured decay.
Fragile, futile, we toil, that our hopes are still years at bay.What has time done for you?

Semi Detached Reality ...

Part of the art of what one does professionally is to NOT to be tied to
rules for the sake of rules and to be able to avoid adding rules where none
previously existed.

Its not difficult, at least I think it's not.

For some reason, our species has a knack of adding new rules, whenever they
spot a gap. Some are theological, some sociological others procedural.

Yesterday, I was chatting to a friend of my son, she is doing a nationally
recognized qualification in an unrelated discipline. Whilst I know little
about her field of study, the rules for assessment are 'exactly' the same
as my field of expertise as a senior verifier.

She was more than happy to share what her tutor has told her about
assessment, I know its the words of her tutor, as most 16/17 year olds
would not normally use many of these terms in their everyday conversation
(they are fortunate souls, they are still possess hope). After a short
explanation of what she has to do, to complete her assignments, it was
pa…

Can you own my thinking for me ...

My grumpy old git rant of the week (or is it the day, the fading memory cannot be too precise).Why are there so many teachers out there that need their rears wiped for them and then complain when nothing is presented to them in a structured format for instant delivery.Education is not a fast food industry, but it has become so alike. Teachers demanding pre-produced, pre-packed, almost pre-digested pap in some cases and we serve it up to them in a format they regurgitate to our youth.There are artisans out there, but by far too few, crafting their own educational experiences and often ingeniously dismantling the vanilla packaged pulp into something worthwhile.To those educators who want me to think for you, shame, shame on you. Those who have their own ideas, ambitions and desire to improve the minds of our young by being creative and imaginative, please do.

the insecure users of social media ...

If you feel that you don't like me, its ok, you can unfriend me, remove me from your select group of peers and be assured that my lack of friendship will remain intact.Do you get frustrated at the way some of your social media buddies will post inane statuses declaring that if you are a true friend you must post something or that they will become emotional if you do not like something.In my kindest, most considerate tone, worded specially for those, who may be hard of thinking "FOR THE SAKE OF ********* GET A GRIP".If my friendship means that much to you, say hi, send me an email, txt me or if you are geographically close enough, pop over, always happy to pop the kettle on.With such insecurities, social media is really the last place to be sharing your needs, it will sadly expose you and unfortunately may help you feel worse.Sigh!!!!

a couple of very dim lights came on ...

After a bit (well quite a bit) of a hiatus over the summer and september, phaffing around and not getting on with the real task of a literature review for my PhD. The time has come where to be fair to my supervisors, i have to either put up, or shut up (or delay).So after some personal huffing and puffing, navel gazing and any other cliched metaphor i could conjure the decision was made.This did not come via some singular moment of clarity nor was it a revelation on the road to Damascus.I am getting a wiggle on and its thanks to my wife and a lunchtime conversation with a colleague.I have both the support of wife and daughter as well as the realisation that my struggle is not unique, all doctoral candidates have this (and on comes one dim light).So best get on with it then.Now plotting slots in my diary from now until early february, i have already gotten back into the groove today and for six hours of reading some very theoretical stuff have seen something from the 90's that coul…

Money talks, but contributions count

In the last two weeks, someone who has made a considerable contribution to computing has passed away, no, its not who you think.Dennis Richie developed Unix and the C programming language, whilst unexciting the output of this exercise in the late 60's early 70's was the foundation of the majority of systems we now use.Webservers, supercomputers, phones, laptops, defence systems, desktop computer systems all owe their creation to the work of Dennis.Whilst others have been public and have made considerable money from their systems (which ironically used the brainchild of Dennis) their work whilst laudable pales into insignificance.Who else enabled an iterative ++ and += to enter programming and give us the {}.

Ok, can we all stop the insecure facebook polls ...

If you would like to be my virtual friend, thats nice, its ok, i am cool with this.If you would no longer like to be my virtual friend on facebook, unsurprisingly i am also cool with this. You are free to do as you wish, without my consent or interaction.So PLEEEEEESE, facebook friends, stop putting on your walls and therefore into my timeline these naff polls on the big issue of my wishing to remain your friend or not.Its insecure and it is somewhat annoying.Don't care, don't wish to see, not really interested in knowing. Facebook is a great tool, but its not the real world. If you remove me from your facebook friends list, i may even jump for joy in the knowledge that you are making an independent intelligent decision.

The Thane of Cawdor ...

In my limited experience of the Shakespearian world, I can emerge with one thought.
"My head hurts."
Apart from the the temporary neurological paralysis, i must admit it was enjoyable, but if it was not for some excellent advice from a colleague (basically i was told to read a synopsis) i would have otherwise been perplexed on my first foray into the works of the Bard.
What interested me, were two additional factors. The ruthless pursuit of power, with no regard for the consequence and ultimate doom.How the story, had no relation to the truth, there was a Scottish King, by the name of Macbeth who by all accounts was a well loved monarch. The tabloid press could not have bettered this themselves.
I do intend to see some more Shakespeare, it would be rude not to and intend to at least form a view of the playwright before i declare

Misunderestimation ...

What a wonderful word, although the originator was ridiculed, you have to admit, that it does have some interesting resonance.
Misunderestimation : making the mistake of underestimating someone for the wrong thing.
In games of double bluff, and subterfuge, what a wonderful accomplishment, to get someone to miss the point entirely and underestimate me for something else.
Maybe i should drink less coffee?

An inspector calls (less as it costs money) ~

For those outside the UK what i am sharing may seem confusing at best, silly at worse. The schools inspection quango ofsted have announced a new regime to raise standards and reinvigorate the process.See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-15108865So, if you manage to get outstanding, which from personal experience is not as big a mystery as it may seem. You will not get inspected again unless your data slips or there are 'reported concerns'.If your centre is good, it will go from 3 year intervals to 5 years, those that are satisfactory get the normal three year cycle and those who are week get more visits (where the latter two are no different than before).With this in mind, i wonder what the incentives may be?Is the inspection body under pressure to adapt the metrics to ensure there are more grade 1, outstanding schools. This will reduce costs as well as show that during the term of this current government there is an overall increase in the number of schools getting better …

Who would 'credit' it ...

In one of the dumber moves i have seen recently, a player in the UK vendor education space (note: a player, not a vendor) decides today to send a mass mail to promote a programme they are part of.Apart from the hilarious self congratulatory style that would frankly be off putting at best, what tickled me was the fact that they did not check with care their mailing list.So, I get a copy of this email, sent directly. I am sure "so what" is going through your mind, as it would mine. The reality is that the senders of this email were making claims that were not only untrue, they were trying to associate our institution with their efforts as an attempted endorsement of their efforts. Not good. Worse still was some claim to self credit for work that I have done nationally. I would rather not take credit, in fact I would prefer some anonymity, due to the nature of the sector, but when others attempt to claim credit for something that they are not even close to is galling, where it …

Very impressed at the sweat and tears ...

For all my twitter followers, visit ... http://www.justgiving.com/teams/cycleforjustice
This was an excellent endeavour, where many friends participated in a gruelling three day ride down the grand union canal from Leicester to London. These were not a bunch of fitness freaks, some would happily admit that they were a little too fond of the pies. But with considerable preparation, pain and commitment they all participated in a 130+ cycle ride along the canal on what at times was a difficult journey.
Slavery is not the stuff of history and is a modern issue for the world, and whilst you would expect developed nations like the UK not to endure this problem it is here. From forced labour to the sex trade, slavery is more than an issue, its an offence to the humanity of others.
So, please they are pennies away from their target of £20,000 make it work for them, in fact push it over, if all my twitter follows have under a pound (sterling) they would easily beat the target and have much more.

a bit of a naff nemesis ...

As the general definitions of nemesis goes, this one is somewhat naff and in my view quite pathetic. I would not pay them much heed normally except they seem to be pursuing their silliness in a way that is still affecting others.For reasons too obvious i will remain cryptic, but those who know us, will know of an issue with a former employer of a family member. This lead to a successful pursuit through the tribunal system which is a matter of public record. Having bloodied their nose, in an entirely legal way, and seeing the case to its full conclusion, you would assume in these situations that you would see/hear/think no more of them.Yesterday, after the summer break, we could see in a public way in a local town that this individual is still playing silly games and affecting those who work for them.Sigh!!!!!With our experience of dealing with them, I can already see lies and half truths as well as publicly evidence on the net that would lead one to wonder if the public are being give…

No no no, Marketing is not to blame ...

After writing that, a shudder went down my spine, quick check, do i feel alright, temperature is ok, pulse fine, vision is not blurred.At this time of year, i get to speak with many centres, who are in the throes of student recruitment, its normal, its September, that is what happens. Many of the centres are reporting good/reasonable/excellent numbers. Which in the domain of further education is interesting as there is a chance that the higher education funding debacle has to spill out somewhere and encourage growth.So Computing and IT provision is not dead, and doing incredibly well in many pockets in the UK.So a little obvious you may think.Yet with one centre, from personal experience has been very successful and imaginative in how it recruits students i hear from multiple sources that numbers are down and marketing is to blame.Now lets pause for thought .... marketing presents an image and gives a broad message, sales gets the message to the customer?Simplistic i know, my knowledg…

Dear Facebook .... Major Privacy Fail ::::

Ok, i like social networking, it works for me, i am in touch with those i seldom see, i can use you to stay in touch with absent offspring and maintain an awareness of friends past and present.So, please tell me, why the hell do i need to see the replies by friends make to their friends statuses when i know not the original friend. Is this a privacy fail++ i do think so.If i want everyone to see what i have to say, i write it into a publicly available blog (ahem like this maybe). But i am sure there are many who dont feel this way and would like their statuses and the resulting conversations to remain within their community of friends.Sorry facebook, major fail

My business is a little cloak and dagger ...

Anyhow getting back to reality, for me it's not, but this is a fantastic lyric from "I walk the line" by Alien Sex Fiend. With great thanks and respect to Simon Langley who introduced me to this punk/rock/blues/grunge/goth classic.

Yet, I do find that in my work in education, at a national level it bemuses me how I must tell one version of the truth to one party, and a different version to others and so on.

No lies are told, but if you shared the exact reality with some protagonists I do wonder if they will implode in a puff of confusion.

So cloak and dagger no, smoke and mirrors maybe or more often it's telling that emperor their new clothes are wonderful as no truth from any little boys is going to make any difference.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Now are you telling me you can't teach this?

One of the fave queries is "how can I teach this" ... Once the spasm of idiot induced tourettes subsides I will provide an answer (in spite of myself). But deep inside I do wonder about the calibre of those teaching computing to our youth.Worse, I am sure they possess the required teaching qualification.Rant over ....Andrew Smith
Sent from my iPhone

Please note ... Google is not broken ....

Occasionally i think that a few of the dumb queries I get are based on the inability of some, to use Google ... why use a search engine when you can ask a dumb question.So please note dearest dimwit enquirer, Google is not broken and anyone with any wit or intelligence can use it. I am a somewhat expensive replacement for a search engine and happy to charge thus.My rant is over now, the universe may continue expanding unabated.

Diversify me ....

Is diversification the key to survival those with an evolutionary mindset would think so.

Maybe I agree.

I am not thinking about anything theological, nor am I attempting a scientific debate. Not that either are beyond my capacity, one is simply not interested today.

My career in education has, compared to many others been short, yet I have seen an experienced a cornucopia of opportunities over this time. Moving between spheres, seeing the microcosm as well as the macrocosm.

In my alleged short journey, one thread reoccurs ...

If you don't diversify, both personally, academic and educationally you will not survive. Long gone are the one trick ponies of education, long gone is the reliance on one product, one discipline or area of merit.

Yet so many clutch onto this.

The real irony is the past, and how I see different educators clutch onto this. They are sentient, so know that the past can never be revisited, yet somewhere in their consciousness and cognisance they wish for a time long lo…

So, please tell me, why the exotic and strange foods ...

Have you ever found yourself committed to a game where the stakes only increase, but instead of wanting to leave, you are one of the willing protagonists upping the ante.Yep thats me.I do love food, especially good food, which is somewhat cliche in this time of ours.Good food, may be good value, it may be what it says on the tin, it can be simple, but not processed (but here i have some affectionate weaknesses). It has to taste good, and not any old good and being different is part of the pleasure. Why have something else everyone else has eaten when you can try it before others and enjoy the epicurean delight.To understand my mindset, you need to take on board the case of chilli chocolate, one time it was rare, you had to hunt for it and buy large quantitites. And boy was it good, really enjoyable and a talking point. Now alas everywhere sells it, great for everyone, now of limited pleasure for oneself. Understand this and you understand my mindset.I like to try, i love to share and …

Aggravating RSS ...

Hmm listening to a presentation on RSS where I wonder if the academic understands the scope of the technology.Andrew Smith
Sent from my iPhone

So far, so good, at #altc2011

Being a random blogger, with no clear agenda, or idea about what one intends to write about, i have to share my first two thoughts from ALT-C 2011.
The first keynote, wow, a whole nation is using a Linux based operating system to educate their primary and secondary education children. Consider both the impact and the reduction in cost as well as the access to information technology and learning for this generation.The session i am in (room 8.62 http://altc2011.alt.ac.uk/talks/22225), the idea of rethinking the instructional design of distance learning. Working in an organisation obsessed with the perception of the quality of its own content, the planned used of other resources.
Must look more at Jorum.

Getting excited about #ALTC2011 ....

> Ok, maybe one is over egging the anticipation, having heard good vibes about ALTC in the past there an element of child like excitement at the moment.
>
> There a small number of presentations that have already garnered my interest, namely ... http://altc2011.alt.ac.uk/talks/22275 andhttp://altc2011.alt.ac.uk/talks/22209.
>
> With both Twitter and Employer Engagement being much vaunted subjects, often i sigh a cynical wheeze when i see or hear more verbal garb on either topic. Lets see what these presenters have to offer, as the over view is at least promising.

Look back in ....

Took a look at some of my old blog entries, I can see that the main incentive to start blogging was not a desire to vent ones spleen. Whilst many of my entries have often been cryptic attempts, I realize that my original motivation was the desperate promotion of a module that was likely to fail.

Well the module is a success and that is a story often told.

Meanwhile, the blogs entries, whilst less frequent still come through, over the last week a couple of events have certainly stoked my ire. But these must wait, partly for ire to subside also partly for me to consider what I think the best action is.

These days, I try to be less reactionary, most of the time this works, but I must admit, the last 48 hours, something has provoked some very old characteristics, which may yet win.

Sigh, I do want to escape past working experiences, but it seems that some just cannot help themselves.







Position Vacant ... Inheritor of Vision :::

No this is not some megalomaniac delusional ideal, one is far too busy for that, nor am I suddenly going to pack anything in over the next day, week, month or year.

But, I am on the look out for inheritors of a vision, a desire to see to the improvement of IT education in the UK. Its a thankless task, you will encounter many fools and get little recognition. If you are a sideways thinker and enjoy breaking rules, then you may find this will work for you. There are rewards, but you need the imagination to see what they may be.

Applications are not by any normal process, it will be totally obvious, if you are eligible.



The collective tutting sound of the British masses ....

If the last 72 hours is anything to go by, social media is now showing and sharing not only the controversy of the events in London (and around the UK), but also the collective disgust and tutting sounds of the British masses.

For my many friends who live around the world, we are annoyed, the trouble is, when a Brit becomes annoyed there tends to be resolve.

So, I am sure we will see some more events, and hear over egged media reports of idiots taking the opportunity to spread the action. The original issue has long evaporated and even with the underlying issues of our time, there are many who feel that this has become more of an opportunistic event rather than a political statement.

Lets face it, if you are dissatisfied with the economic climate and wish to protest, do so, but looting shops for mobile phones and flat screen TV’s does not cut it with me.

With two teenagers, one at home, still of school age the other working hard in an apprenticeship to work themselves up the career la…

My list of accomplishments ....

After seeing a feed of somewhat contrasting and entertaining comments on the current reality TV shizer, I feel it is time to list my accomplishments:

I have never :

Rang a phone in to vote for anyone or anything, so was therefore amused over the previous controversy Bought the Daily Mail, so could not share the nations ire over ‘Sach’s Gate’ Watched the apprentice, any series or any incarnation. Seen Dragons Den or any other mythical creatures, alcohol induced or otherwise Watched any episode of Big Brother, I have read 1984 (more than once) but feel that for many I am risking being too intellectual Watched X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, Pop Idol or anything similar, I don’t particularly recall the 70’s or 80’s incarnations of these either.

I am sure this makes me dull and therefore unaccomplished and lacking as a member of our society.





For F**K sake PowerPoint is NOT a multimedia application ....

Had a good conversation with some educational professionals today, amongst the many topics we were discussing in the murky world of computing education was the topic of multimedia.

With a passion and a collective vehemence we all united on one key topic, the dire mindset that educators out there are teaching our youth that PowerPoint is a multimedia application.

Lets face it, its good for presentations, that’s what it does, it has some animated text features BUT THIS DOES NOT mean that it can be used to teach our youth that the multimedia industry uses this to create multimedia resources.

As there are no timelines, keyframes, interaction, programmable elements, media controls, streaming resources amongst many more reasons. That should be answer enough by itself. The fact that the industry would P**S itself laughing if some poor student said that they are now a multimedia professional because they have used PowerPoint is even more of a reason.

So, teachers, if you are delivering IT and…

It is not a one stop shop (yet)?

Hmmmm first review of Google+ is that it [currently] lacks the one stop shop ness, that I like about twitter and facebook. I am sure this will come, when it does, and I can integrate all of it into one mechanism that comes to me, then I may be interested. Until then .... Ho hum



Why do you quote, quotes ...

A good quote is often worth a great deal, reminding us (me actually) that nobody is perfect and the human condition is one of frailty.

As some consider the words of religious texts, I like to mix this up with wisdom from many sources, secular and faith based. None are better, no particular source is worse. You often see the same souls repeatedly cited, with Churchill, Einstein, Barber (Twain) and Wilde getting higher billing.

Some quotes are often quite ‘edgy’ to be frank, I quote, quotations that I like, if you dislike them you are more than welcome to stop following me. But please do share any that you like, get them out there, you never know you may have a brief opportunity to inspire someone.

Idiots in education

Had an interesting (aka amusing) email from a centre today, after making an initial offer of help, via a colleague. The recipient decided that the best way to ask was by sending a somewhat abusive request.

Those of you who know me, will attest to the fact that Andrew tends to lose interest rapidly when kindness is reciprocated with rudeness.

What became apparent, and more entertaining was the way they could not desist from the rant as if I was the party to blame for all their woes.

I can't say I know much about this individual, but the tone and candour screams of stress and imminent cardiac arrest,

Sorry to say that I feel sadness for the students that get the benefit of professionalism and experience from this head of computing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

And its all take, take, take ...

Sometimes the education sector makes me stop and think, not in wonder or awe, but often in utter amazement at the ignorance and indifference.

There seems to me, to be a culture that expects to receive, but never to reciprocate. Very much a gimme, gimme, gimme culture, but not idea that those they ask are not paid to give them anything.

Being a noisy advocate, I often get asked to do ‘stuff’ much to misconception of many I will help, when the cause is good, but often decline many a request, feeling that there is more self-interest at heart rather than the desire to better the education of those in their reach.

What becomes more annoying is when, individuals from national bodies, who should be owning the education of our IT/Computing students do nothing and expect others to do it for them, gratis. Sadly, this attitude has little longevity in my experience.

O dear, ah well, lets ignore them, everyone else does.





Getting lost, its impossible with an iPhone

Image
This is a 'more or less' copy of a blog entry i have recently posted on the Cisco Academy CCNA security community.


A big thank you to Greg J, who in response to my last blog post has shared this very useful application ... http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/ . After using this i would say, you all must consider using this in class as an interesting object lesson in encryption, security and how data can be abused.
My iPhone 4 was purchased last october, yet i can see some tracking from my older iPhone 3, based on when/where i have travelled since last summer.
As you can all see, i have been around:










No surprises here, i know that i have been to the UK (home), Hungary, Trinidad and Cyprus.
If we take a look at the UK, we can see: No surprises here either, i have been busy in this time, with London, Milton Keynes, Home and Birmingham the principal hits.
For good measure, i live in the southern part of the UK, lets take a closer look:
Fortunately my wife knows where i am, this i…

A quick chuckle ...

Coming back home tonight an email came through to my mobile which left me in stitches of laughter. Someone, nameless (for now) asked me last week if they could come and see me as they needed to pick brains.

So they send email with free dates, I create meeting appointment for empty slot that works for me (and them).

Get email today telling me I missed my chance, their diary has filled up, one must get in quick.

So, if they want a date, now not free until June, I find myself unusually busy ;-)








Nature abhors a vacuum ...

.. especially when I spot it ;-)

Detached from reality

... I do think that for some in education there is a serious disconnect from reality.

I find that its more common is  those who have never had to lead teams of educators having to deal with challenges, or face students in class when they are presented with the opportunity to be unchuffed.

More often they don’t realise how dependent they are on the support of their ‘casual academic workforce’, often marking exams, verifying standards or dealing with customers.

My flabber becomes very gasted when these disconnected souls, working in national arenas make decisions that will only serve to annoy the  supportive experts they have. Often these heroic souls don’t expect large financial rewards, but do become a little miffed when what little they are being remunerated with, is removed based on a change in policy/practice/direction.

So, one gets to solve the problem, isnt that nice ...



The premise of a complaint requires some knowledge of the facts ...

As senior verifier soul, when you create a process that ensures that some centres will not pass the gatekeeper. You will endure some complaints, these are normally par for the course, often ego’s, principle and practice prevents centres and their internal verifiers from taking it lying down.

No problem with that, would probably do the same.

But, what tickles me pink is when based on some assumption, or claim to some mysterious soul who told them at a training/communication event at some mysterious time, N years ago that there is a mysterious rule in place that would have excused them from ‘failing’ the gatekeeper process.

I must admit, the interpretation of the rules and the excuse “someone in the exam body told me” is become a little tiresome.

My instinctive side has formed two independent views:

The fear that there are idiots in the awarding body who know not the simplest of their own rules, which is probable The amusement that those who fail, will say any s@*t to attempt to get of t…

Meeting like minded souls ...

There are many things I like about my job, apart from the geek, the toys and even more geek. I get the luxury of meeting like-minded souls across the world. Out there in the world of education are renegades everywhere, they don’t see the world in ordered terms, taking a sideways look at reality and seeing things for the way they really are.

What I find exciting is how many of these renegades are innovating, inspiring and pioneering in spite of the systems in place as well as those who surround them.

In the last week I had the privilege of reconnecting with one of these ‘heroes’ managing to push forward to cause in spite of the carnival of fools that surrounds them.

So, if you think you are a educational renegade, you believe that there are idiots around that should be better employed elsewhere (anywhere else), then I would consider it a privilege to become your friend.




A wordy moment ...

Don’t you love it when a new word appears unexpectedly in your vocabulary, if you don’t get the same thrill as I, when this prospect occurs, then best click now onto another website.

Words are powerful little worms that burrow themselves into your mind they express concepts, ideas, feelings and much more. One turn of one little word to a thought can charge the thoughts of many.

So powerful, yet sublime.

Every time I encounter a new word I will look it up, think about it and consider if it is something I can use anytime. Often when I look up the word, I learn more about the subject matter I am reading. Here, often unintentionally the original author (or orator) has embedded additional meaning into their communication.

Even more fascinating is when one learns the multitude of meanings a word hides as well as the original meaning often lost to current thought. Making the word itself a more fascinating tool often telling its own tale.

Once someone joked to an audience I was part of that t…

Thought for today ...

Would we be happy to intervene in the calming of an oppressive regime if it did not have so much oil?

Comments welcome.



Let the lesson plan be the lesson, is that the plan?

I have never been a fan of lesson plans, apart from the tedium of filling the damn things in, they never reflect the reality of a real lesson. Or at least they never reflect the reality of the lessons I teach.

So if this means that I am a sub-standard educator, I will not disagree.

Experience has presented me with the ability to gauge when a lesson is working, as well as when it is not, experience has also given me the resources to plan a lesson in a shorter more suitable format that:

Makes the lesson more entertaining Adapts to the learners during the session Ensures that they are getting an achievable experience, but not diluted by process and paperwork

When writing some books, the editors get excited by lesson plans (they cant understand why I don’t), they say that teachers want these and that they are a deal breaker (are they, really?). I think some educators are so overwhelmed by the lesson planning process, that they grapple for anything that may help.

Recently someone shared wit…

Dear Diary ...

I am so sorry that I abuse the entries in my calendar, it seems that I have a lifestyle where many are not so busy as to think I may be available in the next two weeks to meet with, chat with or socialise with them, then are dismayed that I am not.

That would be nice.

Entertainingly, its wonderful that when I let people know of the gaps in my diary, they take weeks to come back to me, gaps fill, that’s what happens, don’t be surprised.

Then when people ask for dates, when given enquire if others are available, I gave you what was free, if I have not given it, its not free, get it?

There are excellent inventions, such as phone, email, web conferencing, all avoiding the need to be in the same place for ‘trivial’ meetings. The face to face is important, but more can be done, in a shorter time using the other tools.

Get the hint.






Too close to home ...

As some who may follow this blog may be aware, in one of my alter-egos I visit different centres and audit (or inspect, as the mood takes you) the quality  of their vocational provision. A recent visit has made me stop and seriously think about the quality of what is happening out there, where centres are unwittingly damaging the educational experience of their students.

I have seen good, not pretend good, real, fair and honest good. I have seen average, seen poor quality and have seen those who are trying to improve for the betterment of the their learners.

This centre is on the edge, whilst they are playing the game, a collaboration with another centre adds chaos, uncertainty and lack of responsibility to the entire equation. This is further exacerbated by an environmental mentality that seems to prefer all programmes of learning to ‘do their own thing’ with no central leadership (or ownership) of quality.

The result is chaos, disorganization and a culture of shrugging, struggling, …

So, one has been thinking ...

For me it is a matter of trust and ‘good faith’ before anything else, sometimes there are those who seem to feel that they are above or beyond this.

I do like the line from Swordfish, “do not mistake kindness for weakness”.

Interesting times will lead to some interesting decisions being made, some have already been.

An endocrine analysis of ...

Having fully developed my cynical gland, an endocrinologist would be able to use my hormones to measure my levels of bemusement. Over the last ten days I have seen three instances, where three very different individuals are clearly operating under the delusion that their universe centres on them. You could be forgiven for thinking that they may be successful at what they do, but for each, I see ‘players’ who play at their games but seem to contribute nothing new or unique to the collective good.

Yet, they wave, thrash, bluster and boast.

I am sure I am no better, but have learnt to laugh at what I am not.





Three thoughts for today

Somewhere in the muttering madness of my mangled mind is the a little voice that often enquires why? Not the big philosophical why, not a theological why nor scientific or for that matter anything so grand. My little why amuses itself with the minor questions of the universe, insignificant examples like:

Why do people get angry about the apostrophe, does it kill, maim or maul? When I ask for black coffee, why does the question ‘do you want milk?’ come in reply, its black, not white. Rules, they are tools, they are not laws or divine utterances, if something has a rule, why do you let it control you, rather than question why it may be there in the first place.





Up for air ...

Have you ever been in a situation where you find that you have too much work on. Yep that was my problem, sticking my hand up in the air for too much and reaping the reward. Soooo .... after a week where I could not see any metaphorical timber for the forestry a thought wandered into my mind reminding me of why I decided to redirect my career around six years ago.

I was not working smarter, I found myself working harder.

Not good, indeed it was not good.

So after some thought, in fact a great deal of thought, I had a conversation with an editor who I have to applaud as being very pragmatic.

A few other matters need to be put to rest and one may remember why I work and where I work.

If you understood none of this, don’t worry, it doesn’t bite, you can control your work load, it does take a little practice and I am still making the mistakes.





Can you make the decision for me please ...

Are you in charge of making decisions, find them too difficult to make, need assurance from others then, here is some advice from me.

Get a bleeding grip, make the decision and have the courage to live with it!!!

Thank you for reading this public service announcement, there may be some reading this in need of a backbone ;-)





One more bit is being crammed in ....

In ones mind is a limit, as each new fact wanders in, there is a whole array of neurons screaming for respite and committing ritual suicide as you read this.  Whilst the mind is a wondrous tool and for the species is probably our greatest asset (along with our thumbs). It can only suffer so much abuse before the brain, calls time on the torrent of information.

Today, I felt that their is only so much excitement one can take in the realm of virtualisation, sorry chaps, me synapses are seeking legal representation.

As I sit here dribbling nonsensically and chatting with the teapot people, there is a reassurance that there is always more to lose and wonder what we do actually forget.



Me thinks they doth protest too much ...

Just been reviewing some feedback from a very irate prospective lead internal verifier who, upon discovering that they had not accomplished the selection/sampling process felt need to vindicate themselves by sending an irate and pernicious appeal to the awarding body.

The saddest part is not the appeal itself, its a right they have and one I am pleased to defend, but the way the individual concerned approached the issue.

Starting point was the threat to move over to another awarding body’s qualification, which has little similarity to what is offered in the qualification. So in order to spite their nose for the sake of their face, they are willing to sacrifice the education of their students for the benefit of their vanity.

Missing the point, they completely misunderstood the rules for the qualification, seeming to have added some of their own.

Then getting the terms of a criterion wrong, in what would have caused a blocked qualification anyway, the main reason for having lead interna…

An educational uncertainty principle

In quantum mechanics is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, an axiom that explores how you can only accurately measure one physical property at any given moment. In education, a vastly complex and incredibly dynamic system, we often have the same issue, especially when change is proposed.

Currently in the vocational educational space, the government in its wisdom (or lack of, its your choice) is reviewing vocational qualifications in schools in comparison to the assumed relative value of academic qualifications at the same level. With two distinct educational paradigms each operating in the same space, my question is what may happen if you alter the trajectory of either. Out there is a large community of learners now benefiting from a more tailored education giving them a practical experience of technology, ensuring that they are able to become potentially employable. The risk of removing this property, is the risk of disengaging a generation and further damaging the skill set of ou…

O ye of little courage, be gone with you and pass not my lintel until ye gain a bone in yon back ....

Over the top, hope so, have watched a few emails come from some souls for whom courage is not their strength. You get the ‘confused’ emails, knowing full well that they are not, those who are ‘concerned’, only because they need to ensure they can blame you if it goes not their own way and the others who need you to think every thought for time and help them earn their money and take responsibility for them. The thousand deaths of cowardice seems suddenly very apt, I am sure they put on their CV’s that they are ‘decision makers’ and ‘leaders’ but the reality is that they are not.

Spleen vented ;-)


They do believe their own rhetoric, honest guv ...

In some of the national game play I am involved in the review of different centres to assure and ensure their compliance to some of the many national standards. Whilst I am by no means an ofsted inspector, for those we don’t utter these words of Mordor again, I can, if appropriate prevent a centre from certificating their students for an extensive range of qualifications.

Isn't dangerous what a little power can be ;-)

Nevertheless, this is not the subject of my thoughts for today.

One of the entertainments I get to hear is the rhetoric from the centre representatives, there is a suitable saying that ‘Bull***t baffles brains’. When I hear the rhetoric being switched on, having played these games in the past as the centre representative, I start dangling little (and big) fishes of uber-rhetoric to see if they bite and up the ante, sadly they do.

Often they believe that I want to hear it, when they hear me reflecting their words, they cannot escape from the need to layer the rhetoric…

The real deal ....

Apologies for not blogging for a while, the cup overflows at the moment with book edits amongst other things.

But apart from this I am slowly gaining a new respect for educators, not that I never had this before, it does require an open mind and the opportunity to visit different academic centres to gain an understanding of what is in the hearts and souls of these personas.

Having worked in a culture where excellence=inspection-grades and excellence=resources; the culture is seldom focused on the quality and content of the educational experience, instead obsessed with appearance and making the results fit the expectation.

I am sure there are those who would decry the last statement, please do, I am in the mood for some amusement.

What has impressed me the most is when I see a centre with nothing special to offer, when resources are lacking and the culture is not inspection-grade driven. Instead of worrying about resource, or results, they are keen to make the learning experience engag…

Good fun today chatting with some Scientists

Spent some time this morning sharing the viral marketing work with the course team for S240 (Analytical Science), a bunch of souls who have the unenviable task of getting their course out there in the interweb.

Cant do too much to help at the moment chaps, but you do have this page with a mention at the bottom of the page, you could easily start some ‘look whats coming’ tweets.

Enjoy ...

http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/qualification/g15.htm




Reaching conclusions ...

Often in the pursuit of my roles with education I encounter many souls from many organisations, active in many functions, nothing new there.

What I find commonplace in this cross section of humanity is their ability to jump to conclusions, make assumptions and generally misunderstand what is going on.

Or have I lost the plot, maybe this is the problem.

The range of depth of this misconception does concern me, often when faced with issues, the souls involved will make leaps, often incorrectly founded into the abyss and then wonder why the issues they are facing worsen or refuse to resolve themselves.

To be fair the education system in the UK is complex, probably needlessly so, I cannot claim to understand it all and try and keep a grip on the little puddle I splash around in. Yet sadly it seems that many have never been given the tools to realize what puddle they are in or how muddy it may be.






So, with a new year I shall ...

Having never been too mindful of convention and not necessarily being someone who follows the rule, the idea of new years resolutions has for the most part been a source of personal amusement. Having set a low personal standard, it has become easy to maintain, therefore my resolutions for 2011, as follows, all should be easy to honour:

To become more irascible Question and challenge needless rules at every opportunity Marvel at the stupidity of humanity and poke fun at it Bend more rules Remain subversive Play with more Lego