Research First, Angry Email Later

Despite the title, I am not in favor of sending angry emails. I use to be known for my emails, sent out of frustration, and also justified in content. However, in hindsight, I regret all of them that could have been communicated face-to-face, or after the frustration had faded. I …

How to Help Your Dude Named Ben

If you are not aware, “A Dude Named Ben” refers to the generic and often ignored systems administrators who work at/in organizations. When the IRS lost all their emails, they claimed total ignorance, and had no idea who their tech people were. This video is entertaining and can explain the origin …

Are You Planning a Maker Space?

I was having a conversation with a tech director from another school , and we were discussing budgets and resources. The amounts were fairly staggering for bandwidth, subscriptions, and network support for content management and VPN. Shortly after the conversation, I started to question my priorities. What was driving my …

Not the Best, Not the Worst, and Getting the Job Done

I was reading an article on Slashdot, by far my favorite website. The Slashdot posting linked to this original article, The programming talent myth. The article discusses this perception that programmers are either rock-star-ninjas or barely able to string to strings together (that was a programming joke by the way). However, the …

2015 – Bad IT Planning is Still Going Strong

Consider this question: If you want to run an event, start a new curriculum, communicate better with organisational stakeholders, audit for efficiency, train a group of people economically, or simply show a movie to a large group of people, would you do those things with technology? Would you require support …

You Don’t Have a Supercomputer in Your Pocket

I was listening to an older episode of This Week in Tech (TWIT), and one of the hosts said, and I am paraphrasing, “we are all walking around with supercomputers in our pockets.” Then I started hearing people imply this frequently. I have not blogged for over a month, but …

Gestalt Thinking and The IT Department

Last week I spoke to someone who was doing some consulting work at an international school. They were trying to assess what was causing the various problems. It was not money or resources. It seemed the administration was trying to make things work. So as we began to speak she …

Options Lead to Issues

“Walk on road, hmm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later… get squish just like grape.”~ The Karate Kid, 1984 I am a strong proponent of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) for students and personal ownership of the tools needed for professionals to get their …

How a ‘C-‘ Can Be a Good Thing

It’s about getting things down to one number. Using the stats the way we read them, we’ll find value in players that no one else can see.~ Moneyball  I often take ideas and assign a numerical scale to them, in order to compare them to other things. I always tell …

Opportunity vs Experience

I was in a meeting. I dislike most meetings. Not because I dislike people or discourse, but because most meetings seem unfocused and more for ritual than utility. In this particular meeting, we were presented with some self-guided learning options for students who need to be challenged more. That means …

When Does a Project Need to Die?

When does a project need to die? I notice things that are broken. I often see people working on projects that have gone on so long, that the project is invalid. Time and money keeps being poured into the project, but there is no end insight. In the past I …

Offense Wins Games, Defense Wins Championships

Richard Dent, Chicago Bears Superbowl MVP Catchy title- but statistically not accurate. I trust the people at Freakonomics a bit more than I trust my family screaming at the TV on Thanksgiving. So is this post about statistically irrelevant phrases? No. It is, however, about offense vs defense. I spent …

No Youtube… No Problem

In mainland China Youtube is blocked. Some people and schools pay for VPNs to have a slow and throttled Youtube experience. I suppose if core curriculum content is coming from a third-party source that is being hosted on Youtube,  there are not many options – VPN is the only solution. …

Google Searching in China- Did I PWN It?

Before moving to China, everyone told me about how it was impossible to “use the internet”. I heard stories of schools using VPNS and losing 75% of their speed just to access Google search and Google products. I personally experienced teachers claiming they could not run their classes unless they …

Are Universities Falling Behind in Maintaining Standards?

A recent article on Slashdot.Org – Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician’s Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation, explained how a statistician struggled to implement a system that would account for grade inflation. He found many professors were grading too easily, and irregularly. The articles is good, and the research is also interesting, but after …

Am I Too Old or is This Actually Better

In 2001 I was at a conference. One of the presenters showed both Apple and Microsoft operating systems on his screen. He said, and I am paraphrasing from memory, “Apple stole their OS from Xerox. Microsoft stole their OS from Apple. What if Xerox got it wrong?” I was very …

Get Your PING ON

I am declaring war on all network technicians and engineers. I am doing this because they are ruining my life, and the lives of children…THINK OF THE CHILDREN! As always I was coming home from a day of asking, W*frack, and I sat down to watch a few old episodes …

Wish Lists and Half Measures

I recently started helping a school plan a fairly large IT budget. The scope is not only broad in the areas this budget will impact, but the projects will span from 2014-2018. Before I began planning I asked to see the previous budget and documentation prepared by the previous IT …

The Situation

Resources are always an issue wherever I work. Maybe I could find somewhere where that is not the case, but so far I have not been able to be that lucky. There was a battle this week over some resources. A person actually cried. Normally, I make people cry, but …

I can’t find the piece!

For a while I have been working on a book that centers around teaching robotics. One of the most import things about robotics is the “eureka moment”, when all of the frustration results in a solution. Today, something devious and educational occurred to me. What if I found one of the most …

Apps…Apps…I now need Apps.

I went on springbreak.  I had a great time. I destroyed, I mean completely destroyed my phone. I was in Krakow, Poland. It was cold. The ground was frozen. I had my gloves on. I tried to extract my phone from my pocket, a routine move, and my grip slipped. …

Skill Building with Simple Games

Today I was working with some Grade 5 students on a robotics project. I was helping two girls fix a friction problem with their wheels. I said, “There are numerous ways to do this, but I find this way to be the easiest.” One of the girls said, “What does …

Single Missions vs Swarm Logic

Single Missions vs Swarm Logic from “The BYOD Playbook” , available soon on the Kindle and iTunes Stores ____________________________________________________ In 1973 the Hughes Glomar Explorer was secretly commissioned to do one thing- raise a sunken Soviet submarine from 17,000 feet of water. The project was so amazing that if you watch a …

BYOD and Printing, What You Should Be Doing

BYOD and Printing, What You Should Be Doing Why are you printing if you are BYOD teacher? Printing and writing are not connected. This is something that everyone in a BYOD program needs to be aware of. Here are the rules you should follow and communicate to your students: All …

Consumption vs Creation

Lately I have had many discussions about mobile devices and iPads. It is very difficult to get people to focus on the negative side of something that is innately exciting.  You may ask why I have to be so negative, and the answer is because it is part of my job. Someone …

Is your IT Resource Management ready for BYOD?

Before overloading a campus with people using individual devices, everyone knows they need to make sure they have “enough” WIFI. They also know they have to have enough bandwidth.  These points are usually the center point of discussion, but really before BYOD can occur the IT resources need to be …

Change & the 50%

“There were no easy answers and whatever road you took be it high, low, or more likely somewhere in between, half the people would hate the result and half would applaud and the hell of the thing was in a way they’d both be right.” ~David Baldacci, Divine Justice I read …

Wouldn’t This Be Great

Wouldn’t This Be Great This method of teaching is designed to create autonomous thinkers. Plan and build the main course of thought (theme) through the lessons. Build in potential errors for discovery and discussion. Keep a list of common misconceptions and if they do not come up, bring them up. Start …

An Experiment ?

Today a teacher came to me with an issue. They wanted to rip some DVDS – legally not for boot-legging. I showed them some software, which I had listed on the software resource page, that would help them facilitate this on their new Macbook. Now you need to know that …

Help Crowd Source MATH DATA for NWEA MAPS

Hi all. I am gathering DATA related to NWEA MAPS in the MATH category.  I am looking for overall scores by grade from 2009-2012.  The contribution format is very flexible. After it is all done I will share it. CONTRIBUTE HERE Thanks in Advance Tony DePrato

Flame Virus,Cyber Weapons and the Cloud

The Problem Recently there has been press on a new Cyber-Weapon called FLAME. Now many of you might be wondering why I called it a Cyber-Weapon. Well here are a list of things it can do: Record audio from your computer’s microphone. Take screenshots of your screen. Record keyboard activity, …

Too Many VLEs, PLNs, and Online Learning Spaces

Recently I have been contracted to review some websites, which will remain nameless. This post is not about my thoughts and feelings concerning their quality or functionality. This post is about: where did these things come from and are they “legal”. I have noticed in the last couple of years …

Content is KING just ask Gordon

I can say without any hesitation that every school leader, guidance counselor, technology developer, and soccer mom needs to spend a marathon weekend watching nothing but Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay. I have watched probably 125 episodes of Kitchen Nightmares. I did so originally because my brother said watching Ramsay …

Operation Overlord…The War on Office and Email

There was a good response from the last post related to transitioning from email as a major tool for collaborating. After a meeting with some people we decided a few things: 1. We do not need to try and compare an OFFICE package to a cloud package, instead we need …

It’s 2012 Stop Using Attachments

I am deeply concerned about the forward motion of my school and the workflow practices that the teachers at my school are married to. I say married, because it seems like it is going to take an attorney and court of law to get them to leave behind 400 mb …

Demo This

On a very regular basis, annoying sales people penetrate the switch board protocols and arrive at my extension. I am normally not inclined to entertain cold calls because when I need something, I research it and find suppliers. A few years ago I dealt with these people by just saying that they needed to …

Opportunity Cost

According to Wikipedia – Opportunity cost is the cost of any activity measured in terms of the value of the next best alternative forgone (that is not chosen). It is the sacrifice related to the second best choice available to someone Basically it means that you could have done one thing, …

The Proof

When ever I help students with math, I always have them do proofs. I want to be sure they understand what they are doing, and not just working a pattern. The word “proof” is a very powerful term, and being able to use it means that one has been able …

Setting Goals without Making Loopholes

I notice people seem to set goals for their IT development that are either undefined, too general, or too specific. This causes a waste of resources and time, and often a declaration of SUCCESS! without any real results backing-up the excitement. I think common sense can tell you where I am …

The Cost of Doing Business

I had a heated argument last week with a teacher about printing. One of the issues on the table, and the one that stuck in my mind, was that the teacher wanted to have all their students print projects.  Normally this is not something that is even discussed. Students have …

Specifications

For the last month I have been having demos installed on-campus so our community can test new projection and interactive display technology. I have even roughly budgeted to redo 25-50 classrooms a year for the next three years. However during our last formal round of surveying, I have found that …

Recently I looked into going with a VPS Server to expand my school’s online services. My current assignment is outside of North America, so I ran into numerous issues with the billing. So I looked into some other options and realized that we could create what we needed using a …

CC AD Day 1 Part 2

So far three speeches are all about the hardware and then an explanation of the layers of software involved. But no one is showing their cloud solutions at work? No video…nothing. Strange. Every thing needs a DEMO version and a sandbox. If those do not exist then how can you …

CC AD Day 1 Part 1

The conference wensite is here http://www.iirme.com/cloudcomputingabudhabi People seem down on the cloud. I think whats funny is the average person is using the cloud but just not for work. Companies want people to agree to the move due to cost and resource savings..but people do not move. I think the …

Sharing My Stats & Data

Stats & Data This LINK Will take you to a recent shared library I have setup in Google Docs. It has 3 very recent surveys and the results. 1. Classroom Technology Survey. 69 Teachers responded. 2. High School News – assessed how students want to be informed. 3. High School …

Conf-Idea 5: The Problem is at the TOP

This one is short. Efforts need to be made to change external exam structures such as IB, AP. GCSE, etc because students have skill sets that cannot be measured soley on the basis of a single three hour written exam. Students also have working portfolios that count for very little …

Conf-Idea 4: One to One is Dying

One theme at the conference is that schools need to provide the network, cloud services, and storage. However they do not need to provide laptops. Most schools are reporting that students prefer their own devices and it is a better use of a school’s resources to invest in infrastructure. I …

Conf – Idea 3: Assessment

Assessment concepts for diplomas and certifications just assume people have zero knowledge. People need the opportunity to show up and demonstrate their knowledge. This includes students. Do all students need Grade 9 math? Not if they can rpove that 75per of the curriculum is already part of their skill set. …

Session 2: QA with Heppell

People are simply asking one of the main keynote speakers Stephen Heppell. http://www.heppell.net/ He has a huge collection of projects he has done and his presentations are story based with little to no reliance on powerpoint style communication. When I say pp-style I am refering to the very linear style …

session 1 – Change Management _ Images included

Ilearn at UWCSEA One key point is that avoided a controlled one-to-one program. Students with their own tech were part of the plan. This means have modern thinking behind your network planning. They used the NETS standards but developed them visually in a map. Fianlly they created a brand for …

Conf. Note Taking Concept

Not too radical… Each day a kid is assigned to put their notes on the class blog then nominate the next student to do the same. So this continues and participation grades are assinged. It also reduces the teacher workload and gives students a chance to restructure and comment on …

21st Century Learning Conference Day 1.1

There are way more people here than I thought. Most of my focus will be on leadership sessions and library/research technology. Apple laptops are domiinating ad well as people attempting to be interesting with their Ipads.Every Ipad user has to have a laptop though to do sessions. I think this …

Are APPS Killing Students?

I am starting to notice that students in the high school and middle school where I work, are becoming dependent on Apps and stolen software. This bothers me because I am sensing they are losing actual IT skills, and the knowledge to create. Even the devices they have are limited. …

The Next Classroom Design

Today I read an article on Slashdot that lead me to an article on Slate about “21st Century Classroom Design”. As I read some of the ideas I almost feel off my chair. Especially since I was in my office at school where I can see the impact of technology …

How to Support Open Source with your IT Budget

Many schools use open source unofficially. They download programs like VLC and then clone them across all their installations. They run servers with Apache to provide numerous services to their communities. Yet normally they cannot donate or contribute any money to these open source projects because of the way supplier registration works.

Anyone can hire a consultant

It is difficult for school administrators to know what they are getting when they recruit someone to lead their IT programs and/or manage their IT infrastructure. After all if the person comes with a good reference then they probably can do the job. However this may mean out sourcing every …

Invest in People, Bandwidth, and Servers

Invest in People, Bandwidth, and Servers Sometimes making IT related decisions is tough. Everyone seems to have a solution or idea. This includes co-workers, vendors, and friends outside of school. So I believe you need a philosophy to shape your decisions, and my decisions are driven by this: People need …

Don’t be Pwnd ! Own Your Data

Being Pwnd means being beaten, or owned. It means losing. Making mistakes. And ultimately being embarrassed. In fact if you are publicly embarrassed we could say Uber Pwnage. When I refer to the term “system” I am referring to Content Management Systems, Learning Management Systems, School Management Systems, and possible …