Showing posts from May, 2012

Willingly do, but seldom think ...

Amongst my many chuckles in life, it witnessing the hapless efforts of those that do, do as asked but divorce this from common sense. The net result is some half witted effort that is often damaging to others.

In the world of standards verification there are many rules, but the first rule is not to follow the rules but think. The rule may be right, but the resulting action from the application of the rule could present the rule giver with unexpected and unintended consequences.

Often because they did not bother to explore the situation in any depth and discover that there may be more (or sometimes) less to a situation than first appearances may dictate.

Once situation was an application of a rule, which was vocalised in a meeting, by someone that should have known better. Unfortunately this was one of a series of meetings. In mine, a later session, when hearing the utterance, I challenged the idea and helped them discover that the reality would turn that rule into a epicentric disast…

Discontiguious arse elbow syndrome ...

Life can be one large disconnect for some, often lacking the label needed to guide them through the simplest of processes.

Do you know someone with this affliction, unable to spot the difference between their arse and maybe the odd elbow. No matter how they are shown, the labels used and when spoken to, in the manner befitting someone who is hard of thinking. They still mess it all up.

These people need help, encourage them with words of less than two syllables and avoid long sentences with commas in them, they cant cope.

Seeing Distance Learning in action courtesy of @CiscoNetAcad ...

In spite of this being the eighth year of the CCNA being run at the Open University and over 5000 students having now participated on either the v3.1 or Exploration curriculum. One does still marvel at the enthusiasm and intense desire to learn, present in all of the students when they come to our day schools.

Today, I visited a relatively new partner, Milton Keynes College (@MKCollege), where Ken and his team have a small, yet perfectly formed Cisco Academy delivering Day Schools for our students. Here we have students preparing their routers and computers for the exercises/activities relating to CCNA2- Routers and Routing Protocols.

It was very pleasing to see how the tutor and the group collectively worked together (on a Saturday) to build a range of different network topologies. Using OSPG, EIGRP, RIP and static routes to considerable affect.

I have another couple of visits to other centres planned for later this year, lets see if they are as equally engaging.

Worse than Pascal .... COBOL why?

Last week I learned that there is a university (probably not the only one) that includes at least four weeks of COBOL in their undergraduate programme.

Just in case their students may encounter the need to write code on a legacy system.

In sixteen years of teaching and having reached thousands of students, I know of only one that has a job working in this capacity. So, it must be good then, surely not.

Often it is a case of the academic (or teacher) in question foisting the programming on the hapless student to assure their own need to retain legacy skills rather than apply effort in learning a new language.

Objects in the rear view mirror ...

Been on a Java course this week, so far, I feel that 95% or more of the stuff is has encouraged me to appreciate that the dormant talent for Java programming is still there.

Yesterday, became quite surreal and metaphysical in programming terms. With the group discussing how objects could check other objects and how an object could become recursive and check itself to see if it is an object.

If you are lost at his point don't worry, I don't think that this has any practical value, but the notion of recursive* referencing of oneself to see if you is appealing to my sense of the absurd.

class object extends Object
    public void method (Object o)
        if (o instanceof object)
            System.out.println(o+" why");

public class myClass
    public static void main(String args[])
        object anObject = new object();
} *Recursion in this context is a computing function that calls itself repeatedly…

Credit to @UKTesco where it's due ...

Recently, we had our second online shopping fail from Tesco.

Having dinner guests and a manic weekend, we decided to order lamb shanks, as they are easy to 'pre-prep'. So, conversant with the wiles of internet shopping, she orders six.

Email confirmation comes, and is always checked, everything ordered is as is expected 6 lamb shanks confirmed.

So, delivery comes 0945, delivery chap friendly helpful as ever, your order is complete (meaning no replacements or unavailable items). Shopping brought in, delivery van leaves, then .... 1 lamb shank?

Receipt with delivery, 1 lamb shank, email with original order, 6 lamb shanks?

So, wife, not the shy retiring type, phones up the customer services line and gets the run around, being passed from one operative to another then cut off. Not only was the air blue, war was being declared.

Being marginally social media savvy, I send these two tweets.

Where within a few minutes I get this response.

Naturally the DM conversation, contains some …

Rat's, Ships and nautical analogies ...

Just learned about a member of a local colleges senior leadership team getting a job at another further education college as their principal.

Impressive movement in such a short period after a poor inspection, unless a cynic would think that as quality was their remit they could see the writing on the wall a while ago.

Silly me.

A little bit o' Java ...

No, this is not a caffeine related post, in a past life I used to do a bit of programming in Java. To say that my skills are a little dusty is an understatement. I doubt that I have actually touched for at least four years.

So, I am being sent on a Java course this week, totally free, (yay me) and provided by Oracle.

I am sure I may get a chance to share a few observations this week, like why I am bleeding from the ears. How my neural matter how fused and somehow quantum theory is suddenly meaningful.

My thoughts, phones in classrooms ... @mikematthewsCDN ...

If you have not read an open letter in today's Guardian, you must.

In part of our new esteemed Ofsted Cheif Inspector's recent speech is his Victorianesqe view that phones are not of the classroom.

Ahem, let's think about this for a nanosecond, you have these wonderful computers in the pockets of most school children where you can teach a range of skills including programming (which his bosses, the current Education Minister and Prime Minister are advocating).

Apart from the subject of programming, we have a notepad, a Dictaphone, a GPS, an array of applications, a camera, a video camera and much more. With the obvious internet capability we have the ability to link many of the learning environment tools into the students pocket. Even better THEY ALREADY DO, Moodle amongst others are mobile compatible.

This is like the well known possible urban myth of the student, after the teacher writing on the whiteboard retrieved their phone and took a picture so they could do …

Follow me ...

Here is my interesting and possibly random thought of the minute ...
Are you defined by who you follow on Twitter?  I am sure my collection of people I follow describes an intellectual wasteland. I was trying to see if someone I knew had a twitter meme and in spite of my best efforts resorted to looking at a close colleague of theirs 'follows'. Somewhat cluttered with celeb it was a stark contrast to my own choice of follows. In fact I could say that I could not see any common ground.

Now, how can this be measured and how fascinating it would be to get a measure of the aspirations and cultural preferences of someone by who they follow.

How would/could someone do this?

Thinking not drowning ...

Most who know me, know that I swim most days, averaging about 2 kilometres a day, around 10 kilometres a week. I have been active for around five years (ish) and can keep up with most in the fast lane at our local pool, sometimes having to yield for the fitter (which means even faster).

One thing one learns is that it takes time, I average 45-48 mins for this distance, which is pretty reasonable, as you cover 80 lengths in a 25m pool. Faster I could do, but to maintain the pace, this seems to work best.

At this point, I would guess that you are wondering why you are sharing this.

I have to dig out some of our older pictures, they will be somewhere, they show me as a much larger soul. Wearing XL or 2XL shirts etc, it was hard work, you don't shed weight easily. My choice was a calorie controlled diet with slow increase of exercise. My intention was to keep it up, with the exercise being the pressure valve and encouraging better cardiovascular performance.

Am I fit, well I am a lot…

The fresh smell of paint ...

Chatting to a friend of my children who are at 'college' age, they shared their recent experiences as a student watching their college get ready for their impending ofsted inspection.

I asked them what they thought of it all, a reasonably eloquent soul, they noted two interesting facts:
Suddenly their tutor turned up, turned up on time and stayed for the entire lesson.The cosmetic change to their college campus, with the obvious fresh smell of paint and other superficial features (like clocks and new carpet). When I visit centres in a different capacity, I am personally amused by those centres that give me the rhetoric and flannel. I look at a wide range of provision and can cause them some considerable emotional damage in a process that feeds into the world of ofsted. Whilst my role has no comparison, many senior managers make the mistake of underestimating the experience of the soul sitting across the table from them. Often putting their foot in it before their teaching staf…

The worst kind of lazy ...

There is a industry out there, feeding off of the fact that many educators at secondary and tertiary level are so busy that they lack the time and often the confidence to create their own assignments for some qualifications.

Some of the resources are good, some average and the majority just plain awful. Having written some for well known publishers, I wouldn't be so deluded as to believe that my contribution is outstanding. But as for some of the drivel I have seen, I could say that my confidence has not been particularly undermined.

Please beware, after what I have been shown via a member of my national team today, do check the quality of the assignments you may be considering using. If they are anything like that which has insulted my eyes, I can foresee a centre in pain as they will be unpicking a messy situation.

Using the assignments of others, without checking (we call it verifying) them is the worse kind of lazy. Whilst it is dull and uninteresting, this process is designe…

So, how is further education doing?

After hearing of a well known further education college slip dramatically from grade 1 (outstanding) to grade 3 (satisfactory, which is now no longer). I had one of those mad thoughts as I awoke this morning to look at what the current trend is. I know what you are thinking, he must live such an adventurous life to have such wonderful (ahem dull) thoughts.

Anyway, with bee in proverbial bonnet, I went a looking on the ofsted site, unsurprisingly, it took little effort to find some data within a couple of minutes. I feel tainted to say that this site is very well organised and easy to use.
For September to December 2011 they reported Of the 23 colleges which were inspected between 1 October and 31 December 2011, one was judged outstanding for overall effectiveness and eight were judged good. Five colleges were judged inadequate – two were general further education colleges, two were sixth form colleges and one was an independent specialist college. Seven of the nine colleges which had …

Members of the escape committee, please confer ...

Do you feel that you were part of an escape committee at sometime in your working life. When you worked in an organisation, that somehow was eating you from the inside?

The hard part is knowing when to dig the tunnel and make that dash, before its too late and the stampede starts.

In the escape committee, there are an array of characters :
Some that talk escape but never do anythingThose too emotionally entrenched to escapeThe inmates who help others to escapeSome that make vain attempts, which never amount to muchThe unfortunate that escape to a worse fate and may return Then the ones who think it through and actually escape to better pastures
So, who am I in all of this and more importantly, who are you?

If you are genuinely happy(ish), where you are, you will not understand what this blog is about. But many I encounter in further education, seem to fit categories 1-5 or are otherwise so immersed in the life politic and corporate culture that they cannot understand what many others…

Ha-Ha and simulation ...

Simulation often is used to create an interesting walled garden around the learning experience of an individual, like a ha-ha described in wikipedia and this article.

An interesting concept and worth considering, here you can have an area for free roaming learners to do as they wish without recourse or fear of 'damage' yet in the centre, the ha-ha surronds the area that they must not touch.

The ha-ha could be a literal domain or metaphorical, with the ha-ha of a networking student being the practice of configuring routing tables. Where the ha-ha protects them from wandering into the real-world and upset the real routing tables of a live network.

LinkedIn clues ...

Something that fascinates me about LinkedIn is how it gives me a subtle insight into the behaviors of others. Unlike Facebook, you can see not only the soul, but whom the soul connects to, what their connection may do and whom they work for.

Hmmmm, this is sort of like telling everyone what you may be up to in your professional life. So, as a potential competitor, I may just get an idea of what you are up to. In fact, I can tell if you are looking for a new job, improving your prospects or worried about your current position.

Now, you can control this and set various rules on LinkedIn, just like Facebook now also offer, its not particularly difficult. If you find me and become my professional contact, you will struggle to see who my other contacts are.

In fact, anything I share via LinkedIn, is what I wish to be public, like this blog post.

So, if you are a cynic, you would think that I am grazing LinkedIn getting an idea of your affairs, to be frank if I was, would I share this, an…

One One Three Bump !!! ...

When you are at the top and have been in this position for at least nine years, then movement can only go in one direction. To maintain your position in the world of Ofsted is unenviable, as they keep raising the bar (much debate about what this may mean) you have to work harder to maintain the same position.

Pleased to have escaped this world some time ago, it is with personal macabre interest that I still watch the antics of colleges when faced with their so called nemesis.

One in particular, some readers will know who, has taken a seismic shift from grade 1 down to 3, since their last inspection in 2007.  Whilst I am unsure how long it will take before the report is out, but I feel for those working at the chalk face as their leadership will churn and inevitably attempt to shift the blame towards the teaching staff.

Bring back pen and paper, all is forgiven ...

Even with my varied collection of iShiny toys, as a worshiper of tech, I still hold strongly to the view that pen+paper is the way forward.

Somehow from infancy to age induced incontinence, this noble technology has managed to survive the test of time. No matter how clever the tech becomes, the scribbled note is still the most agile form of communication. Interoperable with many platforms and comes in a multi-language format.

The size of the text can be adjusted for different needs and those who cannot see, can replace the pen with a pin and have a similar experience.

Unjust treatment ...

In a phone conversation with an excellent friend this evening, I learn that through mealy management, a talented educator will be lost to the system.

Attracted by the 'can do teach' campaign and their experiences in the classroom, it is a crying shame when their management, who is all 'agenda' but no 'duty of care' treats them in the manner described to me.

The reality is, I know this college well and have dealt with them directly and indirectly for many years, so tend to believe the story from the talented educator as I have watched their sharp practices tear apart other capable souls before now.

Before any conclusions are drawn, it is not where you think. So don't, chances are it will be the last place you look.

Sigh ...