Showing posts from January, 2016

Lost and sitting in cupboard ...

Somewhere nearby is a college with more equipment than most Cisco Academies could dream of, sitting unused in a cupboard - such is its state of decay.

It has been switched off for over two years.

With a little spit, polish a low cost memory upgrade all of this could still be used. Knowing when it was purchased, there is easily an original investment of £50,000. It isn't worth that now, but it could supply four separate Cisco Academies - such is the volume.

It was their Netlab+ appliance, we used to use it to supplement our teaching for college students as well as lease it on a not for profit per hour basis to my current organisation.

I understand that its demise came when a mismanaging leadership decided that the £2000 annual support fee for the Netlab+ system was an expense too much. In making that decision throwing away the £50,000 investment.

There is other equipment - equally as invaluable in racks in two classrooms, acquired by stealth and prudent financial management. Would…

The Trend Trend ...

There must be a trend of trends out there ... a nice, pretty graph that measures trends - so that I can watch out for them. These interweb click baiters seem to have found the trend trend tool (maybe its called trend++).

Every time I see someone promising an insight to the next best new tech trend skills hype fashion thing - I move on and ignore.


Because often the innovative wont be hyped - if it is hyped it is seldom an innovation.

Avoiding be traced when WiFi roaming ...

This is by no means whatsoever cyberbusting rocket science and I seriously doubt that I am the first to notice and exploit these limitations in public WiFi.
Many free WiFi services demand the exchange of some personal details - such as name, email address, sometimes a phone number, often a postcode. In part to track you as a user, also as a way of getting valuable customer marketing details.
Not wishing to be overtly tracked, equally not wishing to be spammed by the establishments marketing team in the future. I literally exist as another …
Try it …  First name: An
Second name: Other
Postcode: W1A 4AA
Number: 0777 777 7777More often, they will let you in - the process has to be quick, easy to accomplish using a smart phone and able to offer you meagre bandwidth to post away on the social inter web.
Extending this further, our government (in the UK) is keen to develop a culture tracking internet activity for all citizens in the name of counter terrorism and cyber defence. Th…

Look after your alumni

When you teach, do you wonder where has the years gone and when it comes to the students, what are they doing? Maybe we need to get (better) at maintaining a relationship with our alumni - meet with them occasionally and learn about their experiences (good and bad) in the sectors we teach.

Many organisations have a broad concept of alumni - however for further education and my old organisation included. There is an intangible notion of alumni, belonging and what it was to be part of the learning experience.

Everyone I met with recently from my old computing department had positive as well as realistic tales to share. Naturally this is a self selecting group - but some were realistic about their experiences.

Our plan is to meet again, invite others and hope that this occasional opportunity works for all.

Touting for prospects ...

Currently via various social media channels I am touting for prospective participants to engage with a mass experiment in the coming week. Cycling times and channels is important as not everyone is on social media all of the time.

Twitter evaporates, Facebook is a dip in/out like LinkedIn and Google+ - in fact, some of these social media channels will not show you everything from every channel, hence the need to get the message out at different times/days to assure the best possible reach.

It is working - the click through rate on the blog article is excellent, the participation conversion rate is easily 20%. In part to selectively choosing which channels to communicate with. I plan to have one more go on a couple of global channels - before letting it rest.

I have three facebook channels I control - below is a dialogue from one of them. It would seem that someone is possibly on-line a considerable amount of time. However, it is reasonable to note that for my click through rate there…

Where do my article ideas come from ...

It is an occasional question ... Andrew where do you get your blog post or conversation article ideas from? I am oft tempted to say - from a secret cavern in the foothills of my mind. But as you know that is a bit sarcastic and typically confuses the easily befuddled.

The reality is that they wander into my head at the most inconvenient moments - and many wander away again before I get a chance to steal a spray can and take note on a nice white wall. I have taken to jotting them down on my smart phone reminders app. However, when one is driving, which is always a good time to think, the the darn ideas appear - rending me helpless, unable to keep record.
I am forming a view that there may be a sneaky mental hobgoblin who lives in this cave at the foothills of my mind. My mental anomaly enjoys teasing me with ideas at the most inconvenient times. Silliness aside - there is no rhyme or reason to the ideas - they appear, if I am on a roll, I will schedule some of my outputs to ensure som…

Quis, quid, quando, ubi, cur, quem ad modum, quibus adminiculis ...

We all ask the same question, in different ways at different times:
Who, what, when, where, why, in what way and by what means  (quis, quid, quando, ubi, cur, quem ad modum, quibus adminiculis). Thinking about assessment - which of the above do you use, thinking about the majority of the work I am involved with it is often a ... what, where, why, in what way and by what means with occasional whens seldom who?

Having those wee swearie moments ...

Do you swear - I do, I hope you do too.

However, one tries not to swear like a trooper nor am I the epitome of refined diction. Yet I do like to have a wee swearie now and then - its good for the soul.

What interests me is how you can easily detect the prejudices of others in terms of your preferred profanity. They will make assumptions about you and I, not that I give a s**t.

Some will say that I have a limited vocabulary - because I swear. Not a good move. Some declare that those who swear have a greater vocabulary. While instinct agrees, I think that swearing can be discovered in all intellects, its presence/absence proves little of the swearers cognitive ability.

Getting the context right is always best - there are times when you can play with the minds of idiots. Rather than ranting away, slipping into polite conversation the occasional f**k or f**t isn't such a bad thing.

Being a teacher is somewhat akin to the curse of Sisyphus ...

Take a little time to watch the above video, a classic oscar nominated short depicting the curse of Sisyphus. If you are unaware, Sisyphus comes from the pantheon of Greek myth. Sisyphus was a Corinthian king punished to roll a boulder up a hill, to see it roll back at the end of the day for eternity.

Do you find that teaching can be somewhat akin, a bit too similar to be comfortable.

Sometimes, with some students it can happen many times in the same lesson, rolling those little boulders over small intellectual mounds only to discover that in the next lesson we may have to skip back down to the bottom of the hill and start pushing again.

Our greater fate is that we get to push one boulder up an academic hill for a year. Only to roll back again in the new academic year and start from the bottom of the hill on the same journey.

Does this ring true with my many friends in teaching.

Talent vs Technology

Does technology remove talent or does it refine the way skills are applied. Watching a Netflix programme on a particular chef, they mused how some technologies have removed particular skills (talents) within their profession.

Thinking about my own field, motherboards used to be a dark art before all the nice colour coding and clearly shaped connectors that (should) only ever fit one way and one alone. Knowing your interfaces and how they connected used to be a talent.

I moot this to both chefs and technologists alike - are the loss of some skills a loss? Have they been replaced by other talents?

Let us not lament the death of the Personal Computer (just yet) ...

As global technology media lament the fifth quarter decline in Personal Computer (PC) sales, I am sitting here in my home office writing an article on one of many many different computers we have, wondering what the fuss is about.
Including the device I am using, I possess the following computer systems:
An Apple Laptop An aging iPad - that still works as an eBook and travel companion Many Raspberry Pi’s - one which is running as I write this An XBox One - which is a personal computer with the singular purpose of being an interactive home entertainment system. My smart iShiny telephone, always keeping me in touch with the rest of the world.
… and of course my old school PC using Windows 7.
Beyond my seating area is other consoles, media streaming devices, smart phones and laptops used by the rest of the family. Occasionally my adult children return home and bring their devices.
What is the point of this article, I am certainly not showing off, as there are many souls out there with a phantasma…

A thought on the geographic reach of @OUCisco ...

Always keen to get a view of how one is reaching others by different social media channels - I explored the geographic reach of +OUCisco via Twitter.

While it is reasonably obvious that approximately 53% are in the UK, the rest of the world 47% is a fascinating figure. I have been positing the notion of leaky teaching and how we could/would attract others into our community. This feed gets no magical corporate push, yet easily goes beyond the traditional campus of my university. Considering that we are a distance learning establishment and could (in naive theory) reach students anywhere. The distribution demands questions around what we could do to extend our offer.

8 minutes for video and audio output?

Chatting at December's social media for learning in higher education conference - I posited the notion that a video session (such as a periscope). Due to the nature of the medium and the typical attention span of most casual observers - has an optimal duration of 10 minutes.

In a separate conversation with a colleague who is working on their own set of screencast videos and may be commissioned by a well known publishing house to create similar content. From experience, they have ascertained two interesting facts:
The publishing house do not want the videos to be longer than 8-10 minutesLooking at their site data (below), the evidence concurs, most viewers switch off by 8 minutes Separately I am working on some micro-podcasts - intentionally keeping the output below 10 minutes. By similar reasoning to the Periscope ideal.
As educationalists, I think we are often stuck with the broadcast model when creating audio and video content for social media. Going for long - programme length …

Are Smart Phones Antisocial?

It is easy to complain about technology - its easy to become critics of smartphone use especially amongst the young. Sometimes I agree - most of the time I do not. We are changing, it may be good, it may not. For whatever reasons you want to stick to the past, there are many trying out new ideas and new opportunities. 
Sony Walkmans, the antisocial scourge, iPods also the antisocial scourge? Yet I would rather have others keep their musical tastes to themselves while I listen to my own bad choices in music.
Are we approving of a child who has their nose in a book because it is a long established tradition - do we think less if it is a graphic novel. I recall tube travel in the 1980’s and 90’s when ignorant souls would stuff their broadsheets into my face - absorbing news, bias and hearsay.
There is an element of etiquette, there are times when young and old alike should be paying attention. Chances are if a adolescent is with a group of adults that you are part of and personally disconne…

c4000 @ConversationUK readers in December by process of osmosis ...

This is not a brag ... this is a thought for academics that are keen to have articles they write, both get out there and have some persistence. Following an opportune organisational statistics email - I could see that between an article I produced early in December and my total readership for that month. There as in the region of c4000 readers that could not be attributed to my Christmas lights WiFi debunking article.*

Once the articles I have written has done their time in the sunshine of early success. I reuse them either by:

Scheduling tweets via my teaching by twitter feeds - as some subjects are worth revisitingHosting articles on my blog - as this gets a modest hit rate per month.Linking other written outputs to relevant articlesLinking articles to work I give students 
Of the above, the first I believe gains the greatest traction. The reality is that each day I am attracting more readers via different syndication and reuse channels. Some are naturally coming via alternate route…

Please do it for me ...

This is a short post - lamenting those in education that expect others to:
DO IT FOR THEM!!! There are teachers that do, do well and can do it without running off and asking for exemplars, examples, samples and pre made work.

Also, there are those that wish for their educationalist bottoms to be wiped for them. You annoy me.

Social media advice ...

The best social media advice I had was ... wait I have never had any. In a field that is still in its infancy - there are many quacks and charlatans (like me), talking about social media impact. Much of what is understood in terms of impact comes from a marketing/promotional perspective. Whereas (in my view) little is yet understood about the educational angle.

There are plenty of ideas around social media in education - as a support tool, extension tool and community tool. Yet, as an extension of the teaching - for teaching - doing teaching. This is happening, it is emergent and in my view an area that is substantially underdeveloped.

Below is a twitter survey conducted by Eric Stoller and shared at ScoMedHE15.

3% of 36 votes, tells me that one soul - rounded up pressed that button. Naturally it would be a better analysis if a larger audience was surveyed. But for the purposes of the argument - for now it helps make my point.

We are doing promotional work, we are creating student su…

Operating System Agnostic ...

Every time I hear the question, what do you think is the best operating system? An inner desire to sigh, tut, mutter and strangle an kitten comes upon me. While I have been a champion of Linux (in some quarters), I also use a shiny mac book pro, for work in the Cisco Packet Tracer community amongst many other reasons. I also use Windows based software and have over the years clocked experience on all systems at one time or another.
The above image describes me well ... on an XBox, with a PiZero, Windows 7, two Mac Books and an open mind. Working as a computing/networking academic, I need to have a view of all - at different times being able to adapt and adopt. I do not dislike Microsoft (I may joke about them, then I have also teased people in the Linux community and also some self deluded Apple lovers).
So why the XBox, my wife bought it for me - I do like to occasionally game and these days it is a very slick media centre. My Son has a far greater proficiency on this tech - which t…

No No NO!!! Porn is not the most common traffic on the internet ...

Should I get annoyed each time some muppet states that porn is the most common traffic on the internet.

That may have been true when modems were king and data volumes meant that pretty pictures and short videos were bandwidth hogs.

Nowadays with so much video and audio content on the internet as well as the pantheon of social media sites. Teenage boys are more likely to be playing Netflix on their XBox rather than hoping for a titillating treat.
I know that there is a market for pornography on the internet, I also know that there is a considerable volume of content downloaded every day. However - the reality is that it now contributes to a negligible throughput when compared to many bigger data hogs.

Tweeting a Poem #Jabberwocky ...

Always experimenting and occasionally playing with different ideas in social media - I (pre) tweeted a favourite poem by Lewis Carroll. Set up before Christmas, with the affordance of Hootsuite limiting me to 5 minute intervals (which is probably idea in this setting). Each verse fitted nicely into 140 characters.
Think what other great poems or texts could be issued via social media, with a little planning and a CSV file.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought— So rested he by the Tumtum tree, And stood awhile in thought.
And as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came!