Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Google releasing package for the office

Google releasing package for the office
Sounds simple and sounds great.
The return of the mainframe at a scale that is so huge. WOW. I am so excited by this on the one hand and on the other extremely concerned. I want free and open education for all and this provides such great potential. The sorts of features that Google are creating provide this access with the only $ costs being a computer capable of running a browser. Bugger all $ costs to the school and education system provided that they can maintain a reliable and suitability sized connection to the rest of the world.
All of this data being hosted on servers somewhere has the potential for abuse. Being able to be indexed by someone whose intentions may be honourable now but....
Then we have the issue of what is seen as appropraite now may not be seen as appropraite in the future. People being judged retrospecticvley using todays values on yesterdays life. This has always happened IMHO, however with the simple access and computing capacity to process vast collections of data this issue becomes magnified.
To my mind this makes the teaching of history soooooooooooooo important and yet it has been in decline in our schools for some years.
What to do?
My worry I guess is compromising 'free'.

AJAX=free access for all in education


Welcome, boys and girls, to the computing world of tomorrow! Desktop programs
are a thing of the past, replaced by free, simple, Web-based apps that do
everything from spreadsheets to e-mail -- and more!

That's the hype, anyway. But is it actually true?

I've been keen on Linux terminal services as a method to provide my school with abundant and efficient access to ICT tools. It will not be long and all we will need for many/most nodes in the school will be a relatively low spec machine, terminal services and a browser. How much will that cost? The thing we will need most is a big fat pipe to the rest of the world.

The pendulum is swinging back to the mainframe isn't it?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Both south but different hemispheres

South Australia - 22 August 2006

"DECS proposes to enter into a three year Microsoft Campus and School Agreement
with Microsoft,"
South Korea - June 21, 2005
The South Korean government is rolling out a homegrown open-source platform to
10,000 schools in the country.

We did this first because of security issues and budgetary concerns.
"The third reason is local support--most applications will be our own developments. If we get the software vendors to do this, where will be the local support? This means local vendors will be given the chance to support their schools."

I would like to find out how the Korean project is evolving. The words used in the Korean story suggests some government initative - "If we get the". That sort of government support would have to strenthen their IT industry one would think. Is it seen as working out well for learning and schools?

Neither report mentions issues like access for students, learning and teaching issues.

Poor engagement - high results. How can this be?

Who's No. 1? Finland, Japan and Korea, Says OECD
This article was produced after the results of the PISA 2000 survey of 31 participating OECD countries. In my figuring, New Zealand would be next followed by Australia.

The talk about student engagement is interesting

The study also measured students' "general engagement with school," which accounted for "big variations in attitudes to reading and even more so to mathematics."
More than one in four students in 20 of the 28 OECD member countries surveyed "consider school a place where they do not want to go." With 46 percent, Belgium had the highest proportion of reluctant students, followed by Canada (37 percent), France (37 percent), Hungary (38 percent), Italy (38 percent) and the United States (35 percent).
Even students' attitudes, though, weren't an automatic performance determinant. "The relationship between student attitudes and results is complex, and some countries perform well despite below-average attitudes," the study noted.


In PISA 2000, Korean students took sixth place in reading, and recorded the highest average performance in science and the third highest in mathematics among 41 countries. In contrast to the high achievement in the three literacy domains, Korean students showed a low level of interest in learning. Korean students' interest and self-concept in reading and mathematics were lower than most of the OECD countries.

I find it surprising that we see poor engagement figures coupled with high results. What does this mean?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Change management

We lack great leaders
1. Establish a sense of urgency
2. Form a powerful guiding coalition
3. Create a vision
4. Communicate that vision
5. Empower others to act on the vision
6. Plan for and create short-term wins
7. Consolidate improvements and keep the momentum for change moving
8. Institutionalize the new approaches

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

'Blackboard' - bwahahahaha

My concerns and anger about the Blackboard patent threat has suddenly become sooooo humorous. I have been angry about the audacity of that mob threatening 'Free and Open education'. Well thanks to CobDogBlog I've been alerted to the rightful patent holder



Can't stop laughing at the silliness of the whole thing


I wonder if I should patent my idea from my last post - Moodle for parents


Moodle for parents

I think I had a great idea while walking to work this morning.

I am frustrated with the logistics around parent involvement in the learning team. I want to be able to better involve parents with the education of their child (mainly middle and senior secondary for me) but the logistics for this is very burdensome. Notes home are a huge effort - compose, duplicate, distribute, check receipt. Phone calls are a huge effort - ring ring, wait wait, talk talk talk talk (hmm I have a few more calls to make can we bring this a to a close a bit quicker?) talk talk talk.

Wouldn't it be good if parents could easily talk to other parents in the class as well?

My classes are all run with the aid of Moodle. The students all have to create their user accounts and enrol in the courses. What if I had a separate class in Moodle for the parents? I could say to the students that their homework for tonight was to help their parents get connected to the parent course.

News items could be used to very easily let parents know that we were starting a new unit, or we were finding a particular unit tough going, or that a new assignment will be starting tomorrow, or ..........

Parents could discuss or question via the forum. It would be easier for me to contact individual parents.

I think I might trial this with one of my classes.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Another social bookmarking type site thats focus is on the identification of resources and producing lists of these.
I am not sure that I will be contributing to yet another of these sorts of sites But it is documented here to remind me that it might be a useful place to go when i am looking for something.
As a test I did a tag search on 'free online storage' and came up with a good list of places that I could temporatily or more permanently store files online and even email very large files.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Parents fear Grand Theft Auto spawning generation of ultra-violent fat kids

Some humour creeps into the great games debate. Thanks Mal for putting me onto this site.