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Showing posts from April, 2016

Did you ever sheep dip your malware? ...

Way back when I had more hair, smaller children and less of a middle aged spread - I used to be a network manager running a Novell based system for a specialist firm of consultants in South Kensington. Last time I checked they no longer exist - from what I know, they were eventually consumed by a larger conglomerate.

Anyway - that isn't the interesting bit.

An exchange on Social Media - helped me recall a policy I imposed after an interesting experience with one of our consultants bringing in word macro based malware. Back when this was beginning to become an issue and affecting computers mainly via floppy disc transfer.

I implemented a sheep dip policy - I set up a machine that was disconnected from the network. I would update by hand the malware definitions monthly (how romantic to think that this was the frequency necessary). Then all staff would (have to) put any floppies brought in from clients and consultants and scan them. As many travelled and worked with our clients in i…

A bit of a shout out for @CiscoNetAcad as an Academy Instructor ...

In 1999 - yes that long ago, I did not plan to become involved with the Cisco Networking Academy. I was aware of Cisco Systems but had spent most of my time at that stage on Novell and Microsoft products.

Such were the times.

At work a colleague and I had created our own computer maintenance courses - undoing some serious damage by the electronics team who were obsessed with board level repairs and had already set up our own networking courses based on student demand.

Our senior management managed to acquire a substantial matched funded grant from the European Social Fund to deliver telecoms courses. Cisco fitted the bill and to be fair, senior management were none the wiser.

So - we had a plan, went for it - created our regional academy and to be honest, I did not expect to be doing what I do now. Still involved with the Cisco Networking Academy programme some seventeen years later.

Since coming into teaching, I have taught many subjects, networking the most prevalent. What I have a…

Privacy vs Openness my take on Facebook Live vs Periscope ...

Credit to @tjcoughlan regarding a really short yet though provoking post on this blog … “Do you have any views on privacy or open-ness differences?”. To be utterly honest - this is not something that has crossed my mind until the question was presented. Not because I have no regard for privacy or openness, so far I have been focussed on the pedagogical benefits of social media streaming as well as understanding the nature of the audience.
In my biased opinion you need to look at each platform separately - conflating Periscope with Facebook Live is like comparing Coca Cola to Pepsi Cola. They are the same, yet not, both work, both are very similar yet there is a subtle difference in taste (i.e usage in the case of Periscope and Facebook Live) that sets them apart.
I will not labour the analogy any more than this.
Let us explore Periscope in terms of Openness and Privacy: Anyone can follow your Periscope broadcast - armed with the link they can watch it without any restriction - they do not…

Asking a Fish to climb a tree (or wrong assessment for the wrong student) ...

While evolution is a wonderful thing - your pet Goldfish will express dismay if you lob it at a Conifer and shout ... Climb!!! It will gasp, wriggle, flip around (quite a bit) before expiring at your feet.
We would not do this to a fish, why do we often do the metaphorical equivalent to our students? Often I encounter situations in many educational domains where the assessment has as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot, yet with none of the charm. Level may be correct, but the style of assessment is out of kilter with the academic/vocational discipline.

For example - asking a plumber to write on welding joints is meaningless, we are more interested in their ability to do and do it to a high standard. Yet qualifications in the past have made these mistakes asking practitioners to write long epistles - when actually we give more a s**t about their ability to do.

Vice versa is equally valid - there are some domains where writing is preferable to action - especially when the conte…

A quick compare of #periscope vs #FacebookLive for @OUCisco ...

Having successfully used Periscope in anger, when Facebook Live was launched last week - I must admit to an tinge of 'sigh, here comes another one'. Attempting to be fair minded, semi scientific and unbiased - I have given Facebook Live a go. Using on both my personal profile as well as the OUCisco page I manage.

My first attempts on Facebook Live were not production value slick broadcasts - however they have given me enough to give a fair comparison.

Pros of Periscope
One can broadcast to any anonymous audience, it announces to your followers on twitter who can easily re-tweet as well as any periscope followers or souls who happen to see that you are live.Easy to use, personally being a bear of little brain - point, click, broadcast - blah blah blah then done.It has full landscape - a little bit more aspect ratio to work with.Cons of Periscope
Rotate your camera from portrait to landscape at your peril - the recording does not like landscape.Lack of persistence, once it has bee…

A great time doing the keynote at @eSTEeM_OU

Attending conferences is fun, speaking at them is equally fun, having the privledge of being asked to present the keynote ... real fun fun fun.

The slides can be found via ...


The Escaping Classroom from Andrew Smith
Eventually the presentation recording will also be shared - now they have understood that my Pink Floyd quote was correctly attributed under fair use.

As you can see from below - I am getting a warm up ...
eSTEeM Conference 2016 kicking off! #eSTEeMconf16pic.twitter.com/rukKtzB0ny — eSTEeM_OU (@eSTEeM_OU) April 14, 2016 ... before unleashing this thought on the world.
Maybe this is the way forward with @eSTEeM_OU for #eSTEeMConf16pic.twitter.com/ulNjPcSwze — Andrew Smith (@teraknor) April 14, 2016

Are you a 24x7 teacher? ...

Many uninformed members of the public, let us call them politicians - have a nuanced view of teachers. Based on a historically biased view that once the lessons have finished we all bugger off and do flower arranging* or something equally unrelated to our primary profession.

In my experience, now adding up to 'too long', it isn't unusual to find schools (and therefore teachers) contacting me:

At stupid o'clock, early in the morning - while I am still snoring.Again at stupid o'clock at night - when one should have been long gone and tucked up with a cup of cocoa.Early on Saturday and Sunday morningsSunday evenings are also popular.During 1/2 term, into Summer, Easter and Christmas breaks.
Do you recognise this? Are you a 24x7 teacher? Does teaching consume what you do - I think that for many just to stay on top they must manage their communication and administration like this.








*If any professional flower arrangers are offended, try teaching - then you will have some…

Celebs having an opinion on our education system, time for a wall of shame; inspired by @tstarkey1212 ...

Do you get irritated every time a celebrity has an opinion on your profession. I am sure paramedics, midwives, bricklayers carpenters and soldiers all tut and shake their heads as some celeb comes out and shares their view on how it should be done ... wait, no, silly me THEY DON'T do they?

So why the f**k do some often minor celeb feel that they are suitably qualified to offer advice on our already fractured education system. Worse is that some mindless rag is happy to publish this self serving tosh.

While we are all invested in the education of our collective young - have you ever considered that many schools and therefore teachers are already doing what you suggest. But unlike you dear celeb they are not out there waving their public relations focussed self aggrandised promotional machines around.

We inspire, support, work to develop our young, encouraging and offering opportunities that you seldom have the wit to understand. In the spirit of the occasion, from this point onwar…

Original vs Cover ...

Image
I am often bemused when unnamed individuals get upset when group X, Y or Z have dared cover a classic rock/pop song. It is never the same - of course it isn't sometimes it is better, often it is different and yes there are some shocking versions.

Tainted Love by Soft Cell wasn't original - it was definitely the version I preferred. Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet" is years ahead of its predecessor. Ray of Light was shocking until Madonna had a go. The covers of "Suicide is Painless" and "Sweet Dreams" by Marilyn Manson - are not improvements as the originals are fantastic, however these alternates are equally sublime.

I enjoyed Dr and the Medics cover of "Spirit in the Sky", I like Disturbed's version of Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. It's all good stuff. Toms Diner, Suzanne Vega and featuring DNA both are great.

If you are pious about the original please get over yourself - it can be done better.

And finally ...

Everyone can teach, not everyone should be teachers ...

We can all teach - it is in the nature of our species. Long before we uttered uniform grunts and perfected cave paintings our children have learned from adults and we try and convey what we either know or can do via gestures/utterances, strange shapes and images as well as some very visual demonstration.

This is normal. If you have not taught anybody at least one thing in your entire life - then there may be some other issues at play that you should explore.

But - because we all can teach, does not mean that we are all professional teachers. Having clocked up many thousands of hours in different classrooms conveying clever stuff at many different levels. The art of conveying a complex concept to a collection of apes is entirely different than trying to share a single notion to an individual ape.

Yet - politicians and many other self appointed experts, most of whom I have never seen enter a classroom make daily decisions on what teachers must teach and how they should do this. Often h…

The LSA is your eyes and ears and probably your conscience as well ...

Recently this article appeared on my twitter feed ... it put me into a momentary reminiscence, remembering some of the LSA's (learning support assistants) we had when I was teaching in further education. I endorse everything shared by the article and will add the following.

For many groups - the LSA would be attached to one individual who typically followed the timetable of the same group for most of the week. I would take the time to develop a rapport with the LSA's as unlike the lecturers who may appear in the lives of the group for 2-3 hours a week. The LSA saw their student and all the other classmates for 15-18 hours.

You would learn more from the LSA about the quality of teaching and the experience of the students than any questionnaire or interview process. Younger students communicate in younger student terms - this can be a mixed bag of hormones, zits and emotions.

If a colleague complained about any student in a given group - a chat to the LSA would remove bias and …