Posts

Showing posts from March, 2014

Doughnuts ...

Often I wonder how I managed to get away with some of the punishments I used to inflict on the students I used to teach. Intolerant of lateness in oneself as well as others, I would rather be early than considered tardy. Age has not improved this ideal, still putting my watch a few minutes ahead in a futile attempt to control time.

Nevertheless discipline was important, as was timekeeping. If one was to endure inspection, we had to have a class 'prompt' and active by the magic minute or your grading was on a downward spiral.

To overcome this you need to create a culture form the outset. Do not be late, especially for Andrew. I could accept 5 minutes at 9am as the local public transport was erratic. But any other lesson (when they were all on campus), I could not envisage any reason apart from divine intervention that could provide an adequate excuse.

So, when some hapless soul made the mistake of being late. I would have to act, punishment was the required option. Letting all…

Poor practice that makes me angry ...

I am not shy about sharing my opinions regarding some of the things I see in the world of national education in the UK. The reality is that there is some appalling practices taking place.

The trouble is that with the 'cases' one has to review, I cannot share, imply or infer any detail. You will not find the 'worse' acts anywhere in this blog (because I am not that foolish). So one has to say ... be careful, be very careful as your sins do tend to find you out.

I do hear of cases, some in places I know.






Ode to a Yorkshire Pudding ...

Image
Ode to a Yorkshire Pudding, puffed up for thee.
Pray for the pudding, rise you bugger rise,
Setting the batter free.

Lamb, Beef, why not Chicken
Any roasted option will do.

Serve with gravy, as a starter, as a side too.

Humble origins, who cares, it is a British ploy.
Sunday best, survived times test, it is sheer joy.








Mothers day post ...

Interesting thought (for me), is we often have much to thank our mums for. For me, it was the ZX81 she bought for us (my brother, sister and I) in the early 80's. There were already better computers at that time and it wasn't a trivial expense in this single parent family.

Now that was the sudden key that unlocked my geek, maybe as the eldest I dominated the toy. I read the manual from end to end and started buying the monthly Sinclair magazines. Quickly learning the basics of programming from this little plastic wedge with 1K of RAM.

The enthusiasm of my brother and I soon motivated us to save. We acquired a paper round, one of those weekly free papers and started the process of saving our pennies to get a ZX Spectrum and it had to be the 48K version.

Having the ZX81, gave us something to work on, while we put those pennies aside for this silicon joy. Eventually getting that computer as I commenced my O Level in Computer Studies.

If it was not for my mothers investment, I wo…

Article : The hunt for MH370's black box is on, but it may not reveal all ...

Image
By Yijun Yu, The Open University and Andrew Smith, The Open University

The latest developments in the case of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 strongly suggest that the plane’s wreckage has been found in the southern Indian Ocean.

As the authorities from various countries and companies zone in on the objects identified in an area south west of Australia, they will, among other clues, be looking for the aircraft’s black box recorder in the hope of finding out exactly what caused MH370 to crash and how it ended up so far from its original course.

Black boxes are normally referred to by aviation experts as electronic flight data recorders. Their role is to keep detailed track of on-flight information, recording all flight data such as altitude, position and speed as well as all pilot conversations. It is common for many civil airliners to have multiple devices to carry out these tasks so that information can be gathered more easily in the event of a failure. In most instances,…

There is a class of educator that seems to want their hand held ...

Often I see different educators in different 'situations', where standards verification suddenly elicits a denouncement of any grey matter and sense of ownership (or responsibility) by other educators.
In plain english, when an inspector calls, suddenly they seem to know less than when you meet them in a more 'normal' context. 
They will ask you want you 'want', knowing full well what the standard requirements are. I often respond with an open reply ensuring that they make the decision. As what they are often trying to do is pin it on me, rather than accepting that they are the ones responsible for all of their standards verification processes.
In some respects; maybe out of a notion of fear (or uncertainty) they do want their hands held. As this has such an impact upon them. Yet when I encounter some centres that simply contact me then ship out their work for confirmation, I know that there are many others who are very comfortable with owning the process them…

Project Delivery ... before opening mouth matrix ...

Image
From experience, I prefer to under promise and over deliver. It gains the greatest satisfaction and ensures that in the eyes of others the objectives are met. I may not always achieve this, but on the whole it tends to work.

Seeing an email exchange taking place in another sphere, I am wondering if they need to apply my 'before opening mouth matrix', seen below:
Feel free to share (and attribute), it may help someone prevent an unsightly professional embarrassment.

Has a teacher’s strike ever held back the education of our children?

It really depends on the country you are in and what your political views of any strike action may be. The reality for the majority of western economies the strike action of teachers is broadly symbolic in terms of its impact. 
Think about it from this perspective, many reading this article may recall a teachers or lecturers strike from their youth. Yet the many reading this still have their qualifications, the quality of which is often decided by our aptitude and attitude rather than the 100% input of our educators since infancy.
In a typical year there may be a couple of strikes in some western nations. They tend to be single days, avoid exam periods and tend to be short-term affairs. In fact, in the United Kingdom over the last ten years, more children have lost valuable educational time to snow stoppages and flooding in some areas when compared to the actual number of strikes.
In fact there are more years without strikes than there are those years containing single days of action…

Presentation for FIA ...

A little something from a presentation I gave last week in Athens ...


FIA MOOCs ... Internet on the Internet from Andrew Smith

A sad sight ...

Image
Consider the following ...




















This is a pile sent by one 'large' city college as part of my 'standards verification' role on a Computing/IT qualification.

What is the saddest part, is that everything produced apart from a few signatures, was originally entirely electronic. With a little imagination, they could have distributed their entire verification process via email, memory stick, CD/DVD or some cloud service. Everything printouts, even printouts of online assessment systems that could have been a PDF.

My son regaled the look of amusement that come from the postman, even they seemed to consider this a little pointless.

So, dear centres, all those teaching any qualification, including Computing and IT stuff ... you ARE allowed to use electronic means.

Why I think VARK is pants ...

I could have used some more interesting anglo-saxon terms, but pants will suffice. The amount of times I have heard souls say 'I am a visual learner' and had to repress the urge to physically reenact Vaders Force Choke technique (using my kinaesthetic hands of course).

Unless you are blind, deaf and lack any paws at the end of your arms. You are in various proportions for various tasks and learning experiences a combination of all three.

Notions like 'I am a visual' learner grates, when the soul in question is taking on board something shared on BBC radio. I prefer auditory stimuli, don't we all. As someone with crap hearing, I equally need sound, words, etc as well as the practical experience and seeing what is going on. Often words (yep them things) set the context for our visual information.

It is interesting that sound engineers on Radio or a PodCast can easily create a audio soundscape and encourage the listener to devise their own mental picture of the situa…

A couple of cheesy videos ...

Image
These will eventually be imported into an iBook, but as they are public, I will overcome personal embarrassment and share ...


and also ...


Loving the customer ...

I work in a world where one maintains a relationship with eleven suppliers. Its not a typical relationship, they don't give us a product. Instead one pays them to deliver an educational experience for our students based on a product we jointly use and a method of our own device.
The money we pay is very good, we know that we are generous. But then we also know that we are leveraging their 'experts', accommodation and technical resources at a time of week when they are not normally servicing their own students.
For some centres, they can easily make 1000's from working with us. An income that is entirely external to any traditional funding stream they may normally attract. So, one does often wonder how they manage to operate any business model. When I have to deal with some of the issues I encounter?  As they are dealing with our customers, one becomes very emotional when they are upset and it would seem that in this instance our customers views are justified.

Somehow …

Lying to your children ...

Who has lied to their children … especially in the pursuit of getting them to eat their food? Or at least the food that you put in front of them!!!
As a parent, now with two ‘adult’ children, I am proud to say that I have told them some real porkers.
Of the four that come to mind:
Snow Carrots: telling a daughter that hated parsnips that this white item in her dish was snow carrots. She loved them but hated the nasty ‘snip’ thing. She bought into the lie and was very miffed when we revealed the collection of Snow Carrots in the supermarket. Ironically we still call them Snow Carrots, a much better name in my view.
Interesting Sandwiches: there was a time when our eldest would pick at his sarnies at lunchtime. So, one got him involved, had him cutting all kinds of ingredients and added some mayo – instead calling them ‘interesting sandwiches’ rather than those boring ones he disliked. It worked; better name, propaganda and marketing worked a treat. For many years, the children would ins…

A matter of quality ...

I am often involved in standards conversations, nationally and with educational centres. No surprises there, it is a matter of the art of a senior verifier. But what often scares the s**t out of me is the fact that we can have excellent education that meets assessment standards yet when we unpick the teaching and the quality of the content is not fit for purpose when it comes to the detail, level and quality of the teaching.

So, it can be s**t teaching, not fit for any industrial purpose yet meet national standards.

Did that scare you ... currently a large awarding body is focussing on a large further education college and worried about the standards of assessment. Yet nowhere in this equation is the question ... is the teaching of our subject fit for purpose and is it of any value when our student escape education and try and make their way in the world when they use our qualification?

So, often do I see lowest common denominator teaching. So often do I encounter centres that meet s…

One-liners, worth remembering ...

I am sure that these are unoriginal. Many I have used or abused in the past, if you want to share, try them out or add your own spin, please do. Explanations are added, if I think they are required.
One side parting too many: losing ones hair and not having the courage to admit it.Were you born stupid, or is this the result of practice: speaks for itself.Evolution has dealt you a cruel hand: can be used in a multitude of contexts, best used in a ‘bible believing’ congregation.Hmmm, slower than a dead cat: usually applied to poor Internet connectivity.Impressed that their head hasn’t imploded under the negative pressure. Still waiting for the clanging sound as the penny is yet to drop.In a universe of their own making and still they are not God: can be applied to anyone with delusions of their own grandeur.Has as much hope as a fart in a hurricane: doubting the impact (or success) of someone’s endeavours.Declared missing in action during a hide and seek game: someone people would rathe…

So what about teaching by twitter

In the next week, I will be moving onto stage four of this ‘action research’ based social media ‘teaching by twitter’ experiment. So, what do I think I have learned so far …
Engagement
Twitter and Facebook has slowly grown, whilst Google+ and LinkedIn has remained almost static. Across all platforms we have around 500 participants. I am aware that some have engaged with more than one, but alas the technology is not subtle enough to accurately ascertain the crossover.
What I am aware of is that there are four distinct types of individuals engaging with the range of communities:
·The professional that wants to help others learn, these are interesting souls as they occasionally ‘join in’ and add their wisdom/experience to the conversations ·T216 (CCNA) students, following the learning, sometimes asking questions or sharing their academic woes ·Students on our post-grad or ex-T216 students, chipping in giving advice ·Non-OU students, using our community as a place to extend their own learning

So it is one bit at a time …

Painful so it is, you cannot see the dark side when data is so slow.
Ok, so maybe a witty retort, but one that bears some thinking in our infrastructure rich nation. At the moment, I am in the capital city of a quite affluent and well-managed African nation.
It is not your typical biased image of this continent; infrastructure is good and resources excellent. There is in relative terms little poverty as the people in their own view are relatively comfortable.
So, dear folk in the UK; yes there are areas where bandwidth and connectivity is not at its best. Yes, I do agree, it needs to improve. But here we have a landlocked nation who is totally dependent on its neighbours for connectivity. I can ‘kinda’ sympathise with their frustrations, as the connectivity is up/down like a proverbial fiddlers elbow.
There is an entire university with 25megabits, yet at home, I have 120megabits. For one household, with no more than for occupants, I get five times more bandwidth than an university t…

A matter of blame ...

One of the difficult facts that one deals with when out in the field as a senior verifier is that in some cases there are victims. Not the students, tho the perception is that they are the prime driver for many of the decisions made. Instead I often see teaching staff become victims of their culture as well as the drive for 'supposed' standards.

Dealing with a current case, I am beginning to appreciate that even if their culture has created the problem. The teaching staff are going to fall on the sword of the situation that has evolved. New senior leadership has 'come in'; having to revive the reputation of a once lauded school and in the face of negative press coverage (which I note lacks any real facts). They seem bent on the idea that a member of their teaching team is going to have to fall on their sword in spite of the fact that the predecessors culture created the situation now present.

So, dearest reader, please take heed. There is always the chance that you wi…

They know, they think you don't, they don't know that you do ...

Facts are often nefarious, you have to take the information you receive with a pinch of salt. But occasionally, there is information that heads your way that stacks up with your long term suspicions.

There is someone out there that has formed an opinion, based on their inadequacies rather than the facts in front of the world. Unlike them I do not hide in the shadows like some Grimer Wormtounge. If I have something to say, it is in the public domain. You can see it, so can they.

Don't make the mistake that I still don't know what you were up to.



...

Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō