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Showing posts from March, 2012

So, lets call a strike ...

I dunno if the Machiavelli in me, over reading this, but I do think that our current government have played entirely into the hands of the strikers.

Whilst I am not a particular supporter of any strike, I do support anyone's right to do it, something to do with democracy.  Here, on the suggestion of a strike, the government (well a single minister) declares that it will be wise to fill up with fuel.

So, mass panic, something that makes me face palm at the actions of my nation. More disruptive than the strike itself. There is no strike, it has not been called, there is at least ten days between now and the strike, um, will your tank of fuel last that long.

Learning from this, I wonder if the petrol haulers change tack and simply tell everyone once a month, that they are thinking of striking. Then once everyone starts to think that they are crying wolf, they then do it.

Saves them considerable effort and is a more disruptive way of supporting their cause.

Foot in mouth disease ...

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Caused by politicians who open their jaws, push air, make noises without the intervention of any considered thought.

Also known as 'wind' or 'flatulence', often seen when political representatives are members of governing party.

Is best seen during the mid-term years between one election and another. May involve Cornish savoury dishes or a petrol crisis that did not exist until the political fools opened mouth.




So, when do YOU eat your last Pasty, honest answers only please ....

Three hours of driving, mainly over lunchtime today does things to your mind, especially when the day time coverage repeatedly regurgitates David Cameron's musings over his last Pasty experience [pun intentional].

Really, was it that nice and wow from a train station, where us commoners go, I am impressed, and a big one as well. Mmmmm nice, its so good that with various issues nationally and internationally our prime minister is able to describe his last Pasty.

To be honest, I cant remember where mine was, I am sure with some deep soul searching and maybe some [political] advice I may also be able to recall. I have eaten some this millennium, but really, when, who cares.

Carless tweets costs ...

Contrary to semi-public opinion, careless tweeting does cost, as can be seen here, here and also here.

Its as if once you press send/submit it goes into the abyss never to be seen again, and for many there is a naive notion that they are 'unknown' on the twittersphere.

As we have seen a surge of high profile facebook stories I would guess that now that the matter of ignorant tweets will have the same chutzpa.



Gollum, where are you my precious ...

There is a character in the national educational world one can best describe as Gollum, but without the charm or intellect. This Gollum is a tricky little beast, but has no particular substance, backbone or personality to speak of. In fact I know of more than one soul who has resisted the urge to give Gollum a very hard slap at some time or other.

Unfortunately Gollum is in a position to make a difference, but rather than own or lead, our friend instead wriggles behind whoever has more balls (man or woman alike). So far, what has been accomplished has been in spite of Gollums best efforts (or shall we say the lack of), but then Gollum does sometimes cling onto things that are better left alone.

The really amusing part is, whenever I meet or communicate with this soul, I cannot help but hear the voice of Andy Serkis in my mind.

Our Apprentice ...

It has been very interesting over the last year watching our very own apprentice go through the experience of an apprenticeship.

Instead of this being an employee, it is our eldest, our son.

So, suddenly all of the work done by dad in a professional capacity over the last fifteen years comes into sharp focus. Yet, because he has chosen to be a Chef and lands himself an apprenticeship at a Michelin starred restaurant. One knows just a little bit more than nothing (it isn't programming, networking or computer systems support).

Now, time is not yet up, he started last May and is on target for completion in August. But I feel its worth sharing a few thoughts about the notion of an apprenticeship from the perspective of an informed parent.
No debt, and little burden, he is getting paid each week, food included. All we are paying for is a contribution to his staff quarters once a month. In fact, doing the calculation in the time of his apprenticeship I think we will have contributed onl…

Not Costabucks ....

I have an addiction to coffee, but can cope with strong tea,
My addiction, means I dislike costabucks dishwasher pee.
Scoop it out of the cup, serve it to me raw,
One lump or two, coffee that comes tall.

I don’t care if its ethical, local or from afar,
I like it if its been in the monsoons of Malabar.
Mountainous joy, best served blue,
Even from a kitty’s bum, I like that too.

Great barista what wisdom can you give,
How much coffee a day, please filter it through a sieve.
Can I have it small, give it to me large,
Make sure it comes in a mug the size of a barge.

Adorable aroma, wafting, call me,
The smell of coffee, o’ how I adore thee.
From Arabia this joy,
If I had my way, coffee should be free.

Turkish, Greek, Italian or Dutch,
Each coffee flavour I like, can you have too much?
But those granules, with passion I abhor,
Why o’ why, will people drink coffee that tastes like sweepings from the floor.

Subtle but grand,
I enjoy my mahogany sand.
Morning, noon or night, its all food for me,
After all I …

Memory of once upon a time ...

Do you look back at some of the things you did in education ... then do you realise that with your current experience and knowledge of what could happen. You are likely to not take the risk and leave the idea well alone.

The few of us (all of whom are still in education somewhere), did then, what now could be considered some mad things. The irony is, whilst many centres have replicated the ideas, they have not in any way, shape, form or format managed to capture the heart of what we did.

Is this arrogance, maybe, more likely i can see the treadmill of routine often pulling some good people down.

Yet, i do see excellent ideas, from some very unlikely quarters and wonder if what was the late 90's  early 00's is coming back, but naturally in a different form. I think we have put in place some excellent tools, and as there is an emergence of new blood beginning to understand what can be accomplished. Then we get the different ideas, the rules being bent, the opportunities explore…

Try trepanning it might help ...

I think the original idea of trepanning was to let evil spirits out, before useful chemicals became commonplace. Now i am beginning to wonder if trepanning some educators may help open their minds to the obvious let alone any other new ideas.

Question : why do i need to get students to consider the hardware / software when creating a spreadsheet, after all there is only excel.

I didn't swear (which is an accomplishment) nor did I send them a sarcastic reply. Instead helping them understand that :
Phones/Tablets, WebBrowsers and Personal Computers (including laptops) can open spreadsheets.You have cloudbased (ZoHo, GoogleDocs, Office360) as well as OpenOffice and Numbers. You do have to think ahhhh bless em, after all they are only teaching the youth of today the IT and computing skills of tomorrow.


Read the friggin manual ...

Or better still let me Google that for you?

A personal frustration is when you get inane questions, often wanting you to do the job for them. After a couple of quick 'googles', I can find the answer, its sort of "not difficult". Yet some numpties in the teaching profession will ask the question and then show an almost genuine amazement that there is an answer out there.

My fave is "I can find nothing on this" ... funny, I can. Or, I would like some resources on ? Three minutes of superficial searching and blow me, I find stuff.

Maybe I come from a outdated mindset, where one can both think and search at the same time and if there is nothing, use my modest brain to come up with something entertaining.

What worries me is that somewhere in the UK, these souls are being let loose on our offspring and trying to teach them ICT.


Moving the furniture, always moving ...

Watching a good friend and experienced educator rant online about their daughters school and what seems to be four changes in four terms, when it comes to the exams they are registered for.

This is a student who is on the gifted and talented register and has ambitions to become a vet, something I think they will excel at.

Veterinarians don't take any old qualification, the entry criteria to the few universities that support this practice and education of vets, tend to want some very specific subjects. So, BTEC/OCR and EBacc are not on this list.

Nothing wrong with any of these qualifications, but they are not what were originally agreed, on the options and in the trajectory of this child. Instead, a school desperate to play the league table lottery, with each child being one of the balls they gamble with. Are clearly playing tactical games to use this child amongst others to better their potential results in qualifications they percive have 'statistical' value.

Not like t…

Its all lies, honest guv ...

How do you get things done in the organisation you work, do you tell them everything, or just what they need to know?

When getting two different organisations to work together, for a common good that they cannot comprehend. Do you match each aspect of their corporate persona and ensure that both entities are in unison. Or tell big whopping lies to each party, encouraging them to believe that the other party has similar thoughts to them.

Well do you, or should you.

Now children lying is bad and is likely to incur a smack on the wrists. So, if this worries you, don't lie. But in an educational world, where you often encounter entrenched narrow minded views of the world based on some long lost perspective. Then my best advice is dust down porky pies machine and make sure that whatever you say can always be linked to the truth.

In reality it is never a case of lies, but be careful as to the truth you share. Often neither party can handle the entire truth, so giving them enough inform…

Now, thats a choice I would consider ...

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Following on from my last post, i took a peek at the centre that is offering Forensic Computing, now even more impressed as i see that they are offering a comprehensive range of professional subjects at different centres in their county (hence the repeated entry).


I would wonder what they do on the general pathway (and how many they have), but am also pleased that when I scroll down I also see ....


Sadly, it would be considered imprudent for a senior verifier to link to any centre or name them. But I am sure that anyone with a little wit about them my be able to use the googlesphere to good effect.

In amidst the mundane is occasional glimmers ...

In national education, sadly I have to concur that often the IT/ICT/Computing I see before me makes me heave a heavy sigh. As much of it is soooo mundane, little imagination, little excitement and so few ideas. Almost like the good ideas that we once forged in the furnace of vocational education has been lost to time already.

But, there are occasional glimmers, in the gloom, centres who have the courage (and support) to unfetter their imaginations.

One more enterprising centre would appear to have used their wit and guile to create a BTEC in Forensic Computing. In spite of repressed attempts to get these units into the BTEC on more than one occasion.

On first inspection, what they have created does show some considerable presence of mind.

So pleased to see this glimmer.

When in a room full of experienced education professionals ...

You MUST not :
Speak in a tone that makes paint drying seem like an adventureTry telling them how to suck eggsUse dire presentation techniques Yet the numpty in front at the moment, is exemplifying all of these skills.

Must stay awake, otherwise my need to choke/kill/maim will emerge.

Data Protection, the new health and safety

For those of you not in the UK, you may not understand some of the legal and cultural references. In the UK, we have a habit of referring to some legislation in everyday conversations, and as a justification for why we can or more likely cannot do something.

Often alas for the civil stuff, many cite these in ignorance and often an excuse not to do something.

You don't hear someone say "can't do that, its homicide you know?".

So, in many situations, many unreasonable and dense, you get the "can't do that, health and safety you know?".

Now it seems to have become the same with Data Protection, where call centres, who you call to get them to do something that they initiated, becomes a nightmare.

Last week we sent our sons damaged mobile phone to be repaired, so of it was warranty, some external damage. We get a call from the repair group with a reference, asking us to call to agree payment.

So, as the bill payer I call. I pass many of the fort knox-esq…

More teaching using mobiles ...

Yesterday I had a really inspiring conversation with a centre in the Coventry area. What started off as a major concern, where they were creating the impression that they were using PowerPoint to deliver multimedia (rents out hair in despair) .... turned as it was clear that the first contact was a confused cavalcade of misrepresented whispers.

In the end, it was clear that not only were they using many interesting tools, the culture focused on their students having the tools in their pockets. With iPhones and various android incarnations being the tool of choice for this unit.

With so many free apps and the freedom to express themselves, the centre was doing what many in the world of media have been (for a while), using the multimedia power of the pocket. With a couple of spare digital cameras (just in case) they had overcome the emotional barrier of mistrust. Understanding how to communicate responsibility to their students whilst leveraging an IT investment beyond their budget.

Pl…

Hamilton 1 : Cruz 0 ....

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Take a look at the pretty picture on the right of this text. As you can see a little genuine banter from the twittersphere.

But, lets face facts, whilst you would expect a typical early 40's hetrosexual male response to the question "who would you rather meet", for me, Andy Hamilton would win hands down each time.

The thought of a night of wit and banter is considerably more appealing, especially considering the portfolio of Mr Hamilton's written work.

Whilst Captain Corellis Mandolin is a great film and one of many in my DVD collection and Penelope Cruz is a very good representation of the acting profession. On reflection I have probably spent more hours listening to (or watching) the work of Andy Hamilton and being genuinely entertained.

So, if this is my seemingly odd choice, what would yours be. Who would you rather meet than be entertained by an international film star.


Cursed are the exam factories ....

Watching a friend rant about their eldest child's secondary school on facebook. As an experienced primary school teacher, they are perplexed by the exam factory mentality. Here, a school, an academy, but no better (or worse) than any other, has been busy moving the goal posts. In knowing this soul for the last couple of years, there is incredulous incomprehension at how the school is continually moving the goal posts.

One minute the child is registered for qualification X, then its Y, then suddenly they have completed Z, then are registered for Q, which changes to J.

Now I suspect, by sheer cynical experience that:
The school has spotted greater grade potential, They discover that registration with awarding body A is more risky (worse results) than BThe government have now discarded qualification C from awarding body DQualification E cannot be delivered in time, so qualification F is better (for them not the child)Qualification G has more kudos and can be used in political points …

Breakfast thoughts ...

Putting together the last bits for a breakfast for twenty men from our church tomorrow, a few quotes fell off of the internet to tempt the palette. But using the power of the interweb, this post will appear as breakfast is being served. Its not difficult, you too can use the clever toys if you wish.

So, hope you all enjoyed the food and leave with a few thoughts, including my own.
... fry me an optimist for breakfast. Mark Twain Maybe, please don't expect too much of me first thing tomorrow.
All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. John Gunther  So, best not rush the experience.
I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time". So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.Steven Wright
Maybe the food will be to the same exacting level.

Passed the ethics committee

... was helped by the fact that I was clear on not wanting any personal information.

With access to three substantial populations of Cisco students, studying between May and October. I intend to ask a very short sequence of questions, twice.

There will be no change to the questions, except for two of the populations there will be experience of 'simulation' and one will have less exposure (by nature of their study design).

Asking each population at the same time, but twice, will garner a before and after experience view. Whilst there is scope for confounding information even at this level, with potentially self selecting groups, we hope to encourage participation from a cross section of students.

Now the approval is there, a few careful tweaks must take place, within the parameters of the approval.

Dumber and down ...

I hate with a passion anything that gets dumbed down in education. Before the politically anal brigade get on their high horse and wave their houmous filled forks at me. Let me get my point across :
I have no problem with different levelsTherefore, if something is introductory (or level one), say so But, don't twist a qualification and the skills to meet a framework level that offers approval at the cost of the content and those who will be taking it. It will become worthless in such a short time and those who have been duped, cajoled, press-ganged into taking it presented with more qualification based twaddle for their CV's.

Because school educators want it (well in many cases their senior management), does not mean that the students need it or industry appreciates what is on offer.

When I entered education in 1996, on my first day I had a colleague (of that time), explain to me the GNVQ. With only a couple of hours experience I said "what a mess", the colleague in …

What does a good ICT school look like ...

Terry Freeman, someone I follow on twitter (@terryfreedman) was asked the question via his blog,

What does a good ICT school look like?

Hmmmm, having seen many, including many that could be considered mediocre. I would answer from a sideways view.

Lets forget ofsted, lets also forget the toys, you may have the latest smartBoard-cum-projector with all the IT gadgets to give a geek blood pressure issues.

From my observation of the attitude of the schools (and colleges) concerned, my biased view is:
The teachers have to possess a can do attitude that takes them beyond the IT users mire and offer students 'computing' in its many forms. With the imagination to adapt qualifications, teaching plans and use the many free resources out thereThen, the management (or is it leadership) of that school supports this mindset and allows the teachers to enthuse the students with the myriad possibilities that information technology has to offer. So, what does it look like, look into the eyes and…

Change ....

Is there too much change in education?

Something someone said today, did get me wondering. Then a while later, memory served, I don't think I ever have been in a time where there has not been change. Since 1996, the moment I entered education, change has been constant, for qualifications, funding and direction (and perceptions).

Yet, when one offers a route to ensure that something remains current, someone in the spineless category, wittered on about too much change.

Come on, get a grip dearie, technology has already moved on, it has changed, lets reflect this.




Employment figures ...

Where do they come from? Either they are espoused in the media, or in my world, IT vendors make grandiose claims as to the number of jobs that need XYZ certification.

I am sure the research has been done, but my inner cynic wonders how anyone can get these figures.

Is there some crystal ball, that tells me the next number.

Often, I think it's always the same workforce, but a subset of those who may need the new skill or the proof of their skills.

So, when you see, X cert needed for Y thousand jobs, really you have to think that the shortage is the skills, not the roles itself.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Think for yourself ...

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Trust me dear heart, you do have permission, please, please think for yourself. Don't ask, use your wit, intelligence and take courage, you too can gain freedom, go little birdy, fly away and thing for yourself. It won't hurt, the ministry of love will not visit in the dead of night to take you away to room 101. Your are allowed to think those independent thoughts that you have so long desired.

There is no recognition, if others don't like it, best not care, as they are unlikely too either. If the world is against you, but you are harming no one nor breaking any laws, then enjoy. Please enjoy, but if you crave acceptance and affirmation, then yes, you must think like the others.

Take your mind to places yet uncharted, think them crazy fool thoughts and explore the undiscovered countries of your soul. Your ears wont burn, nor will your eyes explode. Just do that which you really want.


Simulation of childbirth ...

Ok, as a member of the 49% that cannot, I can say with utter conviction that I am no expert and will always lack emperical experience.

But, I can also say that I have read a very interesting article, "is simulation a substitute for real life clinical experience in midwifery".

Whilst the tools describe cannot replace the live experiences described, it can present students with cognicence of some of the procedures and processes they are likely to experience. A dry run, if the analogy is not inappropriate.

One fact, which struck me, was simulation was taking place in France c1700 by Madame de Coudray. Who created a 'woman' from leather and bones, gving the midwives and mothers something at the time to consider when discussing childbirth.

Now, simulation in networking is different insomuch the difference between real and virtual is considerably closer. With midwifery the real experience is very different from the simulated and no deception can yet bridge the gap. Yet in…

The air up here ...

Been watching the maelstrom of education churn slowly on over the last few months. Sitting in what could be considered a slightly detached position, you can take the time to stop, think, sit back and consider what is taking place.

Flat panic maybe, but change for sure. Changes that are taking place in the 14-16 arena from September, will have a knock on effect within post-16 vocational education by 2014, by which time many qualifications validated under QCF will be up for their normal review, if it has not already started by then.

If, you are someone that is uncomfortable with change in education, now may be the time to carefully consider your nervous breakdown. Or, like many of us, accept that change is normal and think how you may direct change to ensure that it can only do good.

The problem is, in some things I do, I could see the early portents of this last summer. Having warned some souls, all I see is the 'same old' taking place with no preparation for the change that w…

In less than 140 characters ...

Tweeted words seldom rhyme, nor keep poetic time, it is all pace, lacking subtle grace.
Microblogging, is it thought jogging, sending noise into the ether, never to return.
Its all noise and endless churn, as the seething masses seem to never learn.One forty characters, that is all, with so much to say in a space so small.
Shortened links, seconds blink, topics trend, more tweets, resend, resend, resend.
Favourite twits, hashtagged bits, today's hits are yesterday's flits.
Tweeted words seldom rhyme, but why would you, when you have no time.

It really is a numbers game ...

At the moment there is a grade review taking place, a national quango in charge of exams does not trust the number of Distinctive grades many centres are getting. On the surface, you would say fair enough, grade inflation is quite an issue and to have a national qualification that has high results 

Having reviewed some centres already, I see a personal trend emerging.

Centres will, as encouraged by the ofsted process, put the right student on the right programme. So weaker students, are put on the 2 A level Diploma, stronger students on the 3 A level extended diploma.

Now with more able students, you already have a higher ability level due to the process of natural selection.

With this in mind, a centre may have a 100 registrations (lets take this number as a fictional figure, but many are not far off). Where the majority are on the two A level route, and some (less than 18 often) are on the 3 A level route.

Of those on the 3 A level route, as they have been suitably counseled onto …

Please sir, can I have some Pi ... @Raspberry_Pi ...

Well done, impressed and very pleased as well.

The Raspberry Pi, has sold out of its first 10,000. No I did not get one, whilst sad I am not annoyed as I know I can get one some other time.

What it does mean is that there is considerable interest and whilst there are all the risks of an overnight sensation, as a Linux fanboy having worked on the OU module which has been a success in its own time. I am very keen to see how this variant of computing develops and encourages new ideas.

Maybe I should think of some as well.


For 11 percent ...

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So, an 11% difference, is this closer than I had expected or higher than anticipated. I will share more on my thoughts and findings. Whilst this was an unscientific poll amongst the converted, it has given me something to consider.

Such as 'is there prejudice?'.

Thank you to all those who have contributed, it has been a considerable help and will feed into a longer term larger study.