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Showing posts from August, 2012

Helping the scarecrow ...

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I have long held the notion that in education, we are no better than the Wizard of Oz and his solution to the problem presented by the scarecrow in his pursuit of 'brains'.

If you read the story (or watch the film), the scarecrow desires knowledge and the associated recognition (intelligence). During the journey through Oz, the scarecrow does many brave and wise things, showing that whilst they had a head of straw, there is something of substance between the ears.


Yet after his journey, he is seemingly duped, no brain for Mr Crow after all, instead some pieces of paper. The Wizard, in a moment of sanctimonious piffle, declares that the place for 'brains' is gaining pieces of paper from Universities.

As a trader in these relics, what does intrigue is how these are sought (and how I also seek them). It matters not the level, but the sense of accomplishment and pride that goes with the paper. Often exemplifying a process of pain and lobotomizing endurance.

Yet, so many i…

For gravity, the only way is up?

Was that a confusing statement, hopefully.

Down is only relevant when you are the smaller object, closer to the larger gravitationally greater object. Out there in the universe are many gravitationally interesting objects that can be 'larger' or 'smaller' than the Earth and have a greater or lesser pull.

Like life, it is after all a matter of perspective, because its larger, does not mean that it is greater or more powerful. But the smaller it is, maybe this will have the pull to draw you in.

We can often spend our time orbiting the obvious, attractive objects that are of interest to the many. But ask yourself, what out there is the smaller more interesting way to think and see the universe, what maybe the smaller but intensely more attractive; would you let it draw you in.

A neutron star beats a red giant anytime for gravitational pull and is considerably smaller than our own sun.Harder to spot, it will hold onto you, whereas the more obvious red giant is normally &#…

Butterflies ...

What does fruit and butter have in common, they both fly?

Did you understand the last sentence, if not, best not read on ...

I am sure many reading this know of the butterfly effect, the notion that when said creature flaps its wings in the rain forest, the chain of events cause a hurricane in the Caribbean.

Maybe this is a little far fetched, but in the complex systems that govern the way we work, interact and educate, it is sometimes the smallest flutter that can have the greatest impact. Often with unintended consequences.

I cannot claim to have mentally comprehended the entire UK education system, in fact my view is that it is a myriad of many complex interconnected systems. All vying for dominance in their local domains. As each vies and strains against each other, different systems rise to the cesspool surface to have their moment and show their preference, indifference or defend what they are doing.

At the moment the GCSE system, is getting a mixed preference and defensive pr…

Packet Tracer using Wineskin Winery ...

Ok, for many who read my blog, you may be aware that I dabble with many geeky projects, some count as work.

As a fan of the shiny world of Mac, I have produced a couple of creative commons resources over the years for the Cisco Academy community, covering how Packet Tracer may be ported to a Mac.

Looks like we now have a potentially tidy version three offering, moving from Virtual Machine, to Play on Mac now to a fully 'bottled' app, I have this working on v 5.3.3 and v6.0 (beta)

To download please follow this linkand download the app for 5.3.3, it looks like it will work on ....
Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion, but this I would like to see tested.Multiuser seems to work, but you MUST set a rule in your firewall to allow this, otherwise your Mac will ignore any connection attempts. Yes you will need to unzip the contents of the folder to a location that you wish to run this, I may work on a DMG file, but lets do one step at a time. Please also note, it is 238 MB, so depen…

Marking harshly .... eh?

Currently the media seems to have locked themselves into a frenzy about the GCSE exam grades. Over the years they have been reporting the concerns of many that the achievement is going up, now that it has gone down, they are shouting about the turnaround.

But to trust the media to get the story right, is beyond reason. They are telling everyone and their dog that the exam boards are marking more harshly.

Nope, they are not.

The marking process is very likely to have remained the same, so what ever mark the student has gained, they would have gained anyway.

What has changed is the grade boundaries and how these marks are accepted, hypothetically if we were to 'pretend' that 50-60% is the bounded range for a C grade. Then a population of students will produce work that once marked will fall into this range.

Now, if we don't like the look of this, discovering that 62% of students are getting C or above, we can move the boundaries, no change to marks, no harsher marking, but …

Building a network from a zephyr ...

Working on my research methodology at the moment, apart from the harmony I create tapping my head against the wall. The occasional thud generates an occasional thought.

Thinking back to a past assignment a colleague created for our undergraduate students, he took an idea from the Cisco Academy content. Giving the students an output from a 'show ip route' command, the instruction simply asked them to reverse engineer (on paper) the network they see.

Whilst this was simple (insomuch as it was aimed at a 'early' CCNA2 cohort), it did give the students something to think about and some of the minds eye models did show interesting outputs.

Now with the notion of a simulated internet, the challenge has always been the ability of the student to create a mental construct of the system they are part of. Whilst an early step is to enable them to see the world they are joining via a smart board.

Like a real network, once they have made that connection beyond the wall (or into th…

An academic dust bowl dance

Having watched some changes at play in my local geographic area, it is clearly a time of change within the world of education. Like some macabre shuffle, this dust bowl dance is creating a churn which I suspect last occurred in the 90's.

With each cycle, this dance is distributing experience to the wind in the name of optimal resource and rationalisation. Paying little heed to the experience of those lost and more interested in the "perceived" productive value of those remaining.

Unfortunately this is not a location specific experience; being felt across the UK in multiple arenas. The survival of the fittest is coupled with the ability to spot change early and establish an escape route.

Not easy ...


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A little time away from the blogosphere ...

I have been taking some unintentional time away from blogging, no reason, not much to say over the last two weeks.

Now in a post Olympiad world, my thoughts have been in two spaces ...
How the world of a local further education provision has been tipped leftwards since a visit from the inspectorate.The exciting prospect of building something that would have national and international value. Once they have finished fiddling with the long knives at the further education college, I wonder if they have had the intellect to consider the long term impact, including:
Loss of experience where those being lost have probably the greatest experience, when it comes to the subtle art of managing a range of educational programmesLoss of good will, sadly those who remain, may fall into two camps:The average who will remain as they are unable to progressThe disenfranchised, capable souls who have lost the inclination to innovate or inspire  Today, I revisited an opportunity that has been in the churn…