Showing posts from October, 2014

Challenging the idiocy of bureaucracy ...

I really like my job, it could be said that I love my job but occasionally for my current establishment as well as others I have worked with there is a moment of bureaucracy that leaves me in awe.

Recently in the day job, I was approached, asked to complete a series of paperwork activities to review some modules I manage. The paperwork is a little (ok somewhat tedious) and seemed to replicate paperwork already completed over the last two years.

Asking 'are you sure' ... another soul and I were told that this is what is required. Sitting down, using our mutual brain cell, we checked back through each of the modules only to discover (what we already knew), that this format of report had already been completed.

Question raised again, 'are you sure' as 'we can see the not so old reports, here they are'.

No less than two hours later, you only need to complete this 'considerably shorter' extension paperwork.

Erm ... ok, you have twisted my arm.

There is a mo…

Timeless charm ... of innovative educators ...

There is a timeless charm about enthusiastic educators, motivated teachers and capable champions of education regarding young and old alike.

Herein the charm lies, not because it has been decreed, or taught or invoked as a requirement for educators or their educational establishments. I have seen College Principals try to encourage innovation. External initiatives attempt to create an innovative educational culture yet few of these endeavours seem to work.

Why ....

Its kinda easy, its always the people, the combination of personalities and the environment at the time. When all three combine, in education at least you see great things occur. A competitive element helps but in repeated experiences of different educational establishments. Perception that there is a problem and the attitude that is able/willing to solve the problem. Means that we have innovative educators.

I do like the timeless charm of innovative educators, individuals and centres who in spite of their limited resource…

5 away from the magic @OULinux number for @CiscoNetAcad volunteers ...

Exciting isn't it, so close to 168 volunteers and in just under ten days ... I am so incredibly impressed with all of those who have raised their hand and have agreed to be part of this great endeavour.

For the uninitiated; 9 days ago I started putting our requests for volunteers to support a Linux community. Whose sole intention is to support Schools/Colleges and other educational establishments become centres able to teach Linux Essentials to students.

Rather than teach the teachers to teach the subject, they will get access to the material with the cavaet that they must self teach before enrolling students. But as we all know, that is not always possible as we do have those special questions that need clarification.

Enter the community.

All the volunteers have been co-opted as Cisco Academy instructors, they also have the same material and the same benefits. We only ask that they consider offering 30-60 minutes of their time (a week) checking the forums and answering questions…

Multiple choice ...

I am sitting on an airplane at the moment reading XKCD – What IF … Serious Scientific Answers to absurd hypothetical questions. Hitting upon P278 – SAT Guessing. The question “What if everyone who took the SAT, guessed on every multiple choice question. How many perfect scores would there be – Rob Balder”.

In my professional life I have often wanted to ‘force choke’ morons who try and tell me that multi-choice quizzes always guarantee a mark of 25%’. Knowing that the result is a form of compound calculation.

If you have 4 choices per question and 20 questions. It is 1/(4^20) [one divided by 4 that is to the power of 20). The result is 9.09495E-13 … this value is a negative exponent. So to see this number in plainer terms you have to float the decimal point to the left 13 times. Making it a probability of 0.000000000000909495 (which is smaller than a 1 in a zillion chance).
Most commercial multi-choice vendor exams offer around 50 questions; the CCNA finals are an excellent example …

A week with @CiscoNetAcad in Barcelona ...

I have to admit to always looking forward to Cisco events, having been to many interesting venues and locations over the years. The community and connections make the event worthwhile. Seeing old friends; educators and academics invaluable.

A moments reflection ...

Asleep the rest, asleep the tears;
Weary our rest, come one thousand years.
Hold the sorrow, belay fear. 
Time comes for all, just hold the precious dear.

Have you ever noticed how life goes through seasons. There is no rhyme, reason; even as someone with declared faith like convictions I know that not all can be attributed to a deity.

Over the last few weeks, we seem to have seen a few friends old/new come on the radar for a variety of life defining illnesses. As well as appreciate what some other dear friends are going through with their own loss or close ones who are ill.

Putting aside the challenges in our lives, something that is the subject of another blog. It always gives a sense of perspective. This is not a first time experience, we have seen this before. But that does not make it any easier, hopefully we a little wiser and maybe able to give a little care.

Creating #Linux Academy incubator for @CiscoNetAcad ... the story so far ..

As ideas go, not only is this a little on the side of madness, it may actually work. After some interesting conversations with a wonderful partner in crime +Nuno Guarda we may have an idea that could grow legs and run by itself.

Via the Cisco Networking Academy programme; there is a new course ... Linux Essentials, that can be delivered by instructors with no prior experience. Before anyone panics, the expectation is that they either have some prior knowledge of Linux or do the decent thing and study the course themselves before teaching it.

What makes this opportunity particularly clever is the course creators NDG have successfully embedded cloud based Linux instances into the online curriculum. Which means for schools, colleges, universities and other educational establishments. There is no need to convince the IT chaps that they must allow them to install all kinds of Linux on their precious systems (not that we are discouraging you from doing this).

Phase one is underway, I am ca…

App to remotely wipe phones leaves police in tech arms race with thieves ...

By Andrew Smith, The Open University

Police play a proverbial cat-and-mouse game with those they pursue, but also with the technology of the day they use. This game of one-upmanship, of measure and countermeasure, sees one or the other side temporarily with the upper hand.

For example, some years ago some UK police forces introduced a device that could read and download data from a suspect’s smartphone. However, more recently it’s been found that phones in police custody are being remotely wiped by their owners. This is embarrassing for any police force, and demonstrates how technology designed to reduce crime can also be used to potentially cover it up.
Tracking tool There are now several different ways to track your smartphone. Apple’s Find Your Phone service helps its customers find their iPhone, whether mislaid or stolen – and this can provide police with useful information about whether a crime has been committed and the possible location of the phone and possibly the perpetrato…

Interpreting data ...

Having a modest, yet comparatively sizeable population on a module. We have enjoyed a very (very) modest increase in numbers. Not the kind to get excited by, but enough to show normal variance within a trend.

I get a call from a well known vendor, we all know who they are. The quite sensible soul is telling me that their data shows we are down.

Really? Trying to fathom what is happening, as our status quo is showing modest improvement. Looking at the figures yesterday and analysing ones own over the last couple of weeks we both came to an admirable consensus.

Their data is meaningless as it seems to be asking all the wrong questions; which the uninitiated would take as fact.

Last year (2013) the OU moved its presentational pattern for Level 2 modules. Which means that we had a module start in Feb and another start in Oct. This year, we ran the module in Oct, as we are now in pattern.

Can you you see the surge and sudden drop. For the OU, when we have double presentations, we still se…

Well its a quality process ...

A very interesting conversation recently with one of many protagonists within the 'IT' scene in UK. Discussing some credit sizing taking place with an awarding organisation ... where the net result will lead to a reduction in funding for many centres based on a considerably reduced guided learning hours calculation.

The kind of thing that kills a qualification, as centres are unable to deliver and therefore offer to our students.

But, for the ultimate insult, apparently coming from one of the consultants ...

... we can be sure that it has been done properly.

Hmmm, the Titanic was built properly, lets think what happened?

Will an inspector call? ...

Over the last few days more than one source has shared that a certain local further education college is expecting ofsted to appear. Now this could be conjecture, it could be rumour but considering recent national press coverage ... I am left wondering if they have been tipped off. 
There are connections to a specific academy in Norfolk, it wouldn't take a detective genius to join the dots. Where ... I could be wrong and nothing happensThis is speculation ... based on other ofsted visits in the areaThey have been primed, with some aforethought into the sequence of the other visits to give them time to prepare Let is wait and see