Showing posts from February, 2010

So many random things to say ...

After a spell of blogging last year for a research collaborative, the latent desire to express ones thoughts has recently been rekindled. Never much of a diarist, blogging is useful insomuch as one does need to follow any chronology or agree to any frequency. If you are motivated by a theme or an agenda, you can share it here, or when the pressure on the spleen requires ventilation, the blog is a natural outlet. So, “what is Andrew trying to say” you may ask. On Teraknor and other related blogs, you will not see any immediate theme emerging, this will come in time, knowing the way I work, I am sure it will be multiple themes. Some educated, some on education, some technical, some off on a tangent and others inexplicable. Before press the send button, I will share with you a favourite quote, on a subject dear to me: It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry. Albert Einstein . An

Looking at how students deal with security questions

Taking care not to give too much away (as some of our students are still taking this assignment). I have been fascinated by the ‘crowd behaviour’ relating to the similarity of each answer, relating to a specific security question presented in the assignment. To maintain the intellectual integrity of the assessment, I cannot tell you what the question or the answer is. But what I will say is that the control methodology being used by each student in the context of the question is almost identical. Ah, so they are cheating ... you declare. Sadly not, this is a distance learning course, the face to face experience is not for another two-three weeks yet, therefore the students are distributed nationally (in fact internationally in a select few cases). Ok, so they have seen the question before ... No, its a unique question, detached from the Cisco Academy norm, students can search the internet to their ultimate contentment, but they will find nothing that will support the idea of

Becoming a reluctant convert to Social Media

In the early days of Web 2.0 I would happily consider myself to have been one of the naysayers, believing it to be both anti-social and a waste of time. Whilst my initial cynicism on the matter has not changed, seeing many both waste their time and engage in a banal (and probably anti-social) exchange of useless information. I can see where the medium and method has considerable benefit. Being a late convert, principally in the last two years, I have found the many tools have enabled me to engage with a wider range of individuals irrespective of location, commitments on the part of all parties and level of participation. I can work with whomever, where ever and more essentially when ever, using what ever platform is available. Via, email, smart phone, web browser, RSS feed etc, I can stay in touch, but not necessarily on demand, more at what ever timescale pleases me. Natually the same applies to those with whom I am in touch (or following, being followed by, in my facebook, li

Making sense of the noise and turning Twitter into an education

As my legion of twitter followers lurches forward, I am beginning to discover the art of adding/removing followers depending on the noise they generate. Now don’t be dismayed by this admission, many tweets have value and can entertain even inform. But you begin to learn who makes noise and has no sense to their multifarious communiqu├ęs. Getting links to allsorts, multi-tweets that have a 1 character change amongst other tactics, make the twittersphere a noisy world. With all of this in mind I have often considered how we (you dear reader and I) could turn twitter into an educational tool. Tools such as twitterfeed and tweet-u-latter, linked to twitpic and (amongst many others I am sure) give an interesting prospect. A student, using ‘whatever’ platform, could be delivered a course, assessment, notices, support etc via a RSS/Twitter stream into whatever platform they wish. Potentially this could be either open source or via a managed access where the pushes to a se

Adults are you worried, yet, if not, why not?

Keeping an eye on the twittersphere this morning a tweet rolled by from FE news @ apart from the obvious state of being an adult oneself (derisive remarks allowed). My concern is not only from the perspective of where is the support for all over 19’s in UK education. But also from the perspective of an experienced educator in further and adult education of where is everyone going to go for their employable skills. Once we leave school/college/university [delete as appropriate] we do not stop needing to learn, for many the lifetime career of 40+ years doing the same job is no longer a reality or even an ideal aspiration. Reskilling, retooling, acquiring new skills, updating old ones, aquiring new knowledge are all part of the package of employed life. Whilst many can ‘teach themselves’, there is a need for accreditation through managed learning as well as enhancing a personal CV. Appreciating the economic climate is at best ‘broke’, I can see that the national

Feeding the feeds

In exploring viral marketing and creating presence on the web it has become very apparent (to myself currently) that we are heading rapidly towards an internet that will become self perpetuating. From one information source (this email) I am blogging, tweeting, contributing to LinkedIN and facebook. Four for the effort of one. Ignoring use of some other tools  (twitpic,, tweet-u-later et al) and the sites following any re-tweets, personal retweets, the one piece of information suddenly multiplies. So ... a thought, when will the critical event occur, when one piece of information is shared, that will become the self-replicating nemesis of the internet and set the system into overdrive. And who will send this tower of Babel crashing to the ground. Please sir, can it be me.

Interesting take on education from one Tweet

If a degree holder is useless that is hardly the fault of the school that they attended, I'd say that the university had a lot to answer for. Moreover the “lackadaisical” attitude is basically a Generation Y thing which both us Baby-Boomers *and* Generation X's can't/won't understand. A couple of years ago I had a Gen X'er describe how a Gen Y job applicant waltzed into the interview talking on his mobile phone, put his hand over the mouthpiece and asked the Gen X'er 'how long would the interview take?' Needless to say the Gen X'er replied that it was finished already. 'Attitude' is mostly a product of upbringing and guess who is responsible for most of that? No, not the parents, surely not! Besides why should youth automatically hold the same values and attitudes of us oldies? How quickly we forget. ... he makes the point perfectly

Open Source wise words of course?

Working on the new Linux course at the Open University has been an enjoyable and informative process. Over this time the interest from other Linux enthusiasts from the modest dabbler through to the zealous technomage has been encouraging. An interesting and personally entertaining thread reoccuring in many of the conversations involves the open source paradigm and freegalitarian nature of the Linux community. Being a keen advocate of this ethos and having made a couple of very minor contributions over the years. I appreciate the culture and concept, but view with some considerable amusement the Puritan fundementalist views being shared. Having worked in the sector from the emergence of Microsoft Windows and the demise of DOS, having used Novell, unix, VMS, CP/M even I have no personal emotional attachment to any operating system. There are those that are 'good', others that have been a disaster, some of these are free, others commercial. Happily using a Mac O/S to submi

Packet Tracer 5.3 a la BGP

Not knowing what NDA’s one has signed with Cisco Systems over the years, one is often restricted by not knowing what I can (or cannot say). Nevertheless Packet Tracer 5.3 is due for release soon and whilst it has many exciting elements I am really looking forward to being able to use PT5.3 for external BGP. After many weeks of crashing packet tracer at my behest, I am looking to try a redistribution scenario over the weekend to test a few ideas for advancing the progress of my research into the creation of a multiuser mesh of packet tracer servers. As time progresses, you will see more on this blog as this research evolves and hopefully, I will be working on other blogs that will support this work as well as many other projects.

Welcome to Alex

Well must say I am impressed, just read article on BBC ... about Alex (see ) a Linux based system that  Whilst for many the price of £39 per month may be a bit ‘steep’ the idea of using Linux to create a laptop environment suited to those who are not normally computer users is encouraging. Well done :-)

So far, so good with T155 Linux: An Introduction

With the course on the Open University system for less than four weeks, as of this week T155 Linux: an introduction ( ) is doing  very well in attracting students (now tipping into triple figures). In these matters it is never a solo effort, with thanks to the supportive work of @liamgh blog ( ) and @comptiauk in sharing the message about the course. The course team are at the final edit stage, with the external proof reader commissioned. We are looking at how the moodle site is to be managed to ensure the moderators are able to support all of the students on each course. Andrew Smith Follow me on Twitter: @teraknor

Time to really get going in the blogsphere

Been tweeting, facebooking, blogging for others, now its time to start writing a blog in my own right.