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Showing posts from 2017

Slow are the wheels that maketh the #Linux NAL ...

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The wheels at my university are renowned for being slow and cumbersome. However, getting a simple prepackaged course from a 3rd party with no rights issues out there has been nothing short of escargot'esqe.

As of the 1st of May 2017 - we have our first Linux NAL - following the model of the relevant knowledge courses that once occupied the students of the Open University. Offering Linux is not a new notion - having offered for three years a short course in Linux that was at the time ahead of most in reaching a distance learning population. In this short time, we engaged with over 2400 students giving them all a taste of Linux.

Now, with the maturity of HTML5 and some considerable insight from NDG and LPI in collaboration with Cisco Systems. We are able to offer a fully remote Linux experience. With the Linux operating system running as a web browser based cloud instance.

Our first presentation of this course will have all the hallmarks of a discovery experience - while running as…

Using Facebook Live seems to be a good thing ...

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For those who are not yet initiated in the project we are working on ... we are 'attempting' to teach over 1000 teachers Cisco (CCNA1) Introduction to Networking. En masse at scale via distance learning so that they can then apply this to their own teaching.

We anticipated 100, expecting 200 - however 1000+ was somewhat unexpected. Our plan to use our webex account required reconsideration. Especially as many were now in a situation that they would probably struggle to connect due to local 'school security' constraints.
So ... time for a rethink and explore the experiences of our social media live casting research. Lets use Facebook Live (FBL), create a community page and focus efforts on using an external easy to use medium. As luck would have it - we had just discovered how to connect open broadcast studio to FBL.

The plan was simple - the teachers covered a single chapter of content per week. A the start of the week - we offered a live screencast lecture/demo focus…

Going on an 'email away day' ...

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Meetings are wonderful, committees are great, I love them as they are so productive. Before you get up out of your chair and call me - concerned that I may be losing the plot. Most of the time I cannot stand the drudge of meetings - however, they are excellent opportunities for a ...
Email away day. Why isn't this a thing - a phrase or a bit of slang. During these meetings I open the laptop, listen in to the conversational drone and work my way through all of those emails I would have otherwise ignored. As well as complete the more piffling of tasks assigned by those 'others'.

Do not be disarmed - I would rather do anything else. However, if you intend to trap me in a meeting for a pointless duration. I will diminish my emails. I have sat before writing content and updating social media automation.

Money for old rope and how this offends me ...

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If you unsure what old rope looks like, here is a clearly recognisable image - I hope this makes sense. However, we will not be looking at pictures of rope during this post. That is far too exciting. I am instead going to have a wee rant!

I cannot describe in sufficient prose, the ire I feel when I encounter educational establishments that have been paying good money for nothing. To access something that is free and in effect pay money for old rope.

I would rather offer an opportunity for free and consider the long term reputation and collaborative benefits. Yet, there are those who can only see the short term income. Solely the income and nothing else. Over the weekend I rescued another educational establishment from this trap. Offering them the same level of service for free.


Permission vs Forgiveness ...

Often amongst academics of my erstwhile institution, a saying is bandied - 'we would rather forgiveness, than seek permission'. A reaction to our oft over enthusiastic administratum where the default answer is normally 'no' or you are allowed to do something that resembles a Goat, when you envisaged a Gazelle.

To be fair, it isn't a sole malady inflicting where I work - time again I see the same issue, the same attitude (from a few) and the same willingness to overcome organisational reticence.

Yet, I must admit when it comes to the notion of forgiveness (in this context) - I feel that I do not desire this either. If I have had to create a workaround solution to overcome an issue that you have created or at least a part of - then to be honest, you are the last person I would ever seek forgiveness from.

So, time for a reword methinks ... I would rather 'seize the day than seize your throat', or 'better to try than hit you for saying no'. 'Funny,…

The sneak reappears ...

Amongst my peers, we all know someone that I will refer to as "The Sneak" - they can seem perfectly reasonable and charming on first contact yet after a while I would suggest keeping them at arms length as they have a knack of tainting anything good.

You get to hear rumours, you get to hear hilarious tales - when the sneak was involved, you wondered how they acquired a teflon undercoat and survived so long. After contributing to a collective fouling and behaving appallingly again and again. It would seem that they have been dumped.

Only to appear at another unwitting college within a momentary blink.

How do we know - students who had left one college because of this sneak are aghast to see them reappear at their new college!

Our sneak is no friend of mine and those who work closely with me on national (and international) opportunities. We are amused to see that they also applied for a mass training activity. Really, did the sneak think that we wouldn't notice. Entry has…

It is not about buildings ...

Recently I visited a Cisco Academy in London - located in what I can freely describe as a humble environ. However, the quality of the kit and the skills and motivation of the teaching team put it all into perspective.

It really isn't about the buildings.

Yes, in other roles - I have been to centres boasting the best/shiniest/fab new builds. Yet from the resource and mindset of those involved. I think that the modest building and the excellent team beats a pretty site any time.

Disruption ... the story so far ...

Yesterday, I explored how disruption is my thing - when something isn't right or needs fixing I am not a go get permission kinda person. More a go fix or tell it to 'eff off' kinda guy. I appreciate that it does not always go down well - however, my motivations are (I like to believe) based on reasoned intentions.

So ... I have disrupted myself. Having set in motion a mass free CCNA1 instructor training programme based on a modest funding resource. I predicted 100 sign-ons, knew I would get around 200 and today I have over 700!!!

While the Open University is used to scalable delivery - this is by far the largest accomplishment in this domain to date. Most instructor training academies will reach around 20 in one go - this is also good, however, maybe we have underestimated the opportunity.

There are naysayers concerned that we are stealing business - while on paper, this is true. They would have never seen sight nor sound of any of these participants as many cost models e…

Being so disruptive, I think I may have disrupted myself ...

Disruption is my thing - when something isn't right or needs fixing I am not a go get permission kinda person. More a go fix or tell it to 'eff off' kinda guy. I appreciate that it does not always go down well - however, my motivations are (I like to believe) based on reasoned intentions.

So ... I have disrupted myself. I set in motion an mass free CCNA1 instructor training programme based on a modest funding resource. I predicted 100 sign-ons, knew I would get around 200 and today I have 500.

Yes, 500!!! - the three exclamations are required.

Now off to rethink our delivery model, drink some coffee and mutter away.

A pen profile of the Cisco Academies within the @OUCisco ASC community ...

Occasionally I pause to ponder, stop, think and consider what we are doing and the impact it has. Taking the time to consider the extent of the Open University Cisco academy support community we have created - it struck me that:We have only been operational for less than three years. At which time we had zero academies.The original plan was to offer a space for a couple of broken ASC's. Me thinks that this has quickly been overtaken by opportunity and ideas. Around 12 were acquired during the assimilation. We cut the price and ensured that it was at the lowest, by moving the overheads to the community.Of our 46 academies, 24 are entirely new creations since we became an ASC.We have an additional three academies that were 'broken' and we are allowing to heal and redevelop with the support of our community.A small handful may not survive - however, that is what we are here for - to enable attempted development even if it is unsuccessful.There are a couple who have jumped sh…

Scalable Teacher Training via Facebook Live ...

When you are trying to reach a large number of teachers, in a vast number of locations. Everyone using different technologies and you want to spend £00.00 then what do you do?

Solution - create a learning experience that is based around Facebook Live.

Winding the story back a couple of notches - at the Open University we decided to use a modest award to reach out to the Cisco Networking community and offer CCNA1 Instructor training for teachers. Once we covered the staff time for the teacher trainers - we were pretty much out of cash.

Facebook (as well as Twitter) have redefined the notion of broadcast communications - both launching their own respective live streaming services. Having already explored both within the domain of micro-teaching. Facebook offers some interesting benefits:
Nearly everyone has a Facebook account (and if you do not, you can create one, for free)Facebook live goes to all platforms, why would we worry if you have a iPhone or a Firefox browser on Linux Mint!Open B…

First 'actual' mass teaching session using Facebook Live for @OUCisco (and it worked) ...

Keen to explore new platforms and ways of reaching those we are educating - I needed an 'available' platform. Suited to broadcast based mass teaching, which could be used by the most participants at the same time; without too many technical affordances, licensing or installation woes.

Enter Facebook Live - and it worked very well. Having discovered (with the the help of colleagues) how to integrate this technology with my desktop via Open Broadcast Studio.  We were ready to rock and roll - and that is what we did.

Below is the first session - colleagues at our Cisco ASC will be hosting more every Monday evening from mid-Feb onwards. The plan is to use this tool to reach as many possible with minimal effort.

It seems that it may work - with 250 signed up, we had 191 views and a reach of 350 in the ninety minutes. This 25 minute session was watched live as well as asynchronously - something that makes this worth the effort.

Looking a gift horse in the mouth ...

I have to keep this short post obscure - I have just been engaged in a set of emails/forum posts. Where one particular very small group of souls, seem to be looking at a free opportunity with the lens of some form of purchasing arrangement.

They do not like Facebook.

Fair enough - however, I am not offering anything additional. There is also nothing stopping you from creating an anonymous account? Yet, I get the immediate impression that they are attempting to look a gift horse in the mouth.