On the wire – digital citizenship, ethics, and more – articles

North Korea imitates Apple’s Mac OSX

Keywords: Ethics, digital citizenship, piracy, integrity, intellectual property

North Korea has upgraded the operating system used in the country – and it bears a striking resemblance to Apple’s Mac OSX platform.

Read more:

Google Search altered to avoid fine

Keywords: Google, search engines, ethics, business, employment, commerce, politics

Google promises to make “significant” changes to how rivals appear in search results in an attempt to avoid a multi-billion euro fine.

Read more:

YouTube starts auditing video views

Keywords: Social media, video, accuracy, reliability, trends, statistics

The video-sharing website YouTube says it is starting to “audit” the number of views a video has received.

Read more:

Pupils expelled in hacking scandal

Keywords: education, digital citizenship, security, policy, ethics, hacking

Eleven pupils who hacked teachers’ computers and changed their grades have been expelled from a school in California.

Read more:

Call center sends staff home

Keywords: teleworking, business, employment, connectivity

Call center sends workers home to telework, rather than converge on center


Smartphones taking over pre-schoolers basic skills

Keywords: Education , preschool, smart phones, digital literacy, AVG research, new Zealand, Trends

Interesting research by AVG comparing preschoolers digital and “real world” abilities. It does make the flawed assumption that digital skills are not “real world”.


Westpac trials Google Glass app for NZ – Business – NZ Herald News

Keywords: Business, employment, commerce, banking, wearable technology


Bugs money: Software sleuths cash in

Keywords: Business, employment, software development, reliability, integrity, security, safety

All software has bugs in it and now more and more people are cashing in on programmes that reward them for uncovering security vulnerabilities.

Read more:

Arabic suffix leads net name rollout

Keywords: Internet, digital divide, communication, ethics, digital citizenship, policy, standards, politics, government

A new net address written in Arabic script is the first to go live in what will be a huge wave of new suffixes to be launched over the coming months.

Read more:

Have laptop, will travel – and earn

Keywords: Teleworking, business, employment, travel, commerce, communication


School gives an iPad to every pupil

Keywords: Education, learning, schools, computing, BYOD, integration

Government funding and fund raising are enabling this small school to deliver ipad mini’s to each student


Making The Most Of ICT – What The Research Tells Us

Keywords: Education, learning, research, ICT, schools, John Hattie, benefit
Steve Moss looks at what the educational research says about how to maximise the impact of ICT on learning.

read more:

IT Articles –

Recent IT Articles – these relate to a variety of current issues and topics in IT – This especially suits the ITGS teacher.

Untangling the complicated web

Keywords: Internet, WWW, explanation


Tennis coaching gets a smart racquet

Keywords: Sports, technology, convergence, leisure, entertainment, health

Futuristic data-related tennis equipment may be about to change the face of the sport in the way that metal and carbon racquets once did.


The driverless car

Keywords: Business, employment, AI, home, leisure, transport

The driverless car may promise an accident-free motoring future, but Adam Gopnik raises a few moral caveats from the backseat.

Read more:

Money lenders checking social media profiles of potential customers – National – NZ Herald News

Keywords: Business, employment, commerce, social media, privacy


Pack your laptop, we’re off to $chool – Aucklander – The Aucklander News

Keywords: Education, tablet, laptop, BYOD, Cost, schools


The future of work… office not required – Life & Style – NZ Herald News

Keywords: business, employment, teleworking, home office, SOHO


iPads in schools

A friend of mine in the UK just email me an interesting article on iPads in schools – http://www.metro.co.uk/news/869340-kent-school-gives-an-ipad-to-each-of-its-1-400-pupils This isn’t the first school I have heard of that has moved to using iPads. I have heard of schools who are replacing their textbooks with iPads for a similar cost. It makes sense when you see some of the applications like Al Gore’s Our Choice. I like my iPad and I find it a stunning tool for many things, I have even written a book using it (and about the ipad too), but its not yet a full replacement for the desktop or laptop computer.

I have heard a number of people comment that it is a “consumption device” and as a family room table computer which you use to check the email and look up the TV guide, or to play games or surf the net I would agree.

But put it into a classroom and its so much more. As a classroom tool it for fills many of the standard needs that I have. For example:

  • word processing – pages
  • data processing – numbers
  • presentation tool – keynote
  • mind map – iThoughts HD
  • Web surfing  – Safari (or Puffin with flash support)
  • Clickers or personal responce tools  – eclicker and eclicker host
  • Comic Development tool – Comic Life
  • Video editor – iMovie, splice and itimelapse pro
  • Music creation – garageband
  • translation – iTranslate
  • Simple image editing – Adobe Photoshop express

I have over 280 apps on my iPad and only 6 of which are games.

There are so many uses and tools that are available for the iPad, its not at all surprising its making it into the classroom in increasing numbers. And like so many tools, its not the tools that is limited its the operator who limits the tool.

Our use of a tool is limited by our imagination, the restrictions we set in place and the freedom we allow our students to have.

Consider this list of schools – using ipads or launching programs

ipads to students

The Great firewall of … insert school name here..

One of the frustrations I had in China was the so called “Great Firewall of China” which blocked access to many sites often without apparent reason. The Blocked sites include social media like facebook, communication tools like twitter and strangely enough Google Spreadsheets , sites but not documents. However, tools like Astrill which allow you to access these sites and more through the firewall are not blocked by the Chinese government.

Some of the blocked sites included:

  • Diigo
  • blogger.com
  • WordPress.com
  • Google docs and spreadsheets
  • Google Sites
  • PB wiki
  • NetVibes
  • YouTube (and many other video sharing tools)
  • Edublogs.com
  • tinyurl.com

The reasons for these actions, in China, have to do with control of the populous, freedom of speech etc. They are, after all, a single party state, communist and at times quite repressive.

source: http://sendanonymousemail.com/img/Firewall.jpg

source: http://sendanonymousemail.com/img/Firewall.jpg

Reflecting on this state of affairs has me wondering about schools policies regarding firewalls and access to web 2.0 tools and social media. There are perhaps some parallels that could be drawn and it is worth reflecting on the reasons for blocking sites.

Why do we block websites?

Well, we block some because they are total unacceptable. For example pornographic sites

But what about some of the other sites like social media?

If a student is accessing social media in class we should be asking why are they accessing this rather than learning. This is surely a teaching/engagement/motivation problem. (This is not pointing the finger at the teacher, as sometimes inspite of interesting programs, student involvement and motivating activities some students will not engage, however often it is a reflection of the teacher him or her self. ) Blocking the site is masking the issue rather than addressing it. Would it not be better to monitor the site and act appropriately when require seeking the source of the issue be it lack of engagement, motivation or classroom management.

A concern is the potential damage to the school of students posting material that may not be appropriate, the abundance tools and sites combined with the students level of access from their own tools (like cell phones) and at home have rendered this agrement obsolete.

The argument for conserving bandwidth is also now weakening. The availability and reducing cost of internet connection is reducing this argument. So students do not seriously effect other by surfing such sites.

The question of duty of care arises – blocking the site may mean that we can say yes we are protecting them, but it doesn’t really holistically address the issue, its a bandaid a sticking plaster. it protects the schoolat the expence of the students.  Isn’t it better to allow opportunity, monitor and then deal with the issue rather than saying “I’m alright” its now someone else’s problem.

We expect our students to be responsible digital citizens, we do not encourage or develop this by removing the potential. An ethical and moral digital citizen makes a conscious decision or choice rather than having the decision removed. Similarly, we expect the students to make appropriate decisions about when and where to access social media, and again we don’t do that by removing the opportunity.

I think it is time for us to consider what we are filtering and whether such filtering reflects the ethos that we uphold.

Leadership and HR

Over the weekend I had a Board Retreat for my children’s school. I am a member of the board of trustee’s. The day was divided into two parts the first a broad examination of the role of trustee ship and the afternoon a presentation by an HR specialist.

The afternoon provoked a couple of thoughts from me. The first had to do with Jim Collin’s Level Five Leadership.

The model works as follows

  1. level 5 Level 1 Highly capable Individual – makes a productive contribution through talent, knowledge, skills and good work habits
  2. Level 2 Contributing Team leader – Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of the group goals, works effectively with other.
  3. level 3 Competent manager – Organizes people and resources towards effective and efficient pursuit of goals
  4. Level 4 – Effective leader – catalyze commitment to vigorous pursuit of clear and compelling vision, stimulates higher performance and standards
  5. Level 5 – Executive – builds enduring greatness though a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will

What I found interesting was the implication that we should all be striving for the level 5 executive level.Whether intentional or not, this model implies that one must strive for executive status and by this undermines the value of the level 1 individual.

If you have ever had the pleasure of working on a committee made up of Level 3, 4 or 5 people you will know that it is a nightmare achieving little. Also this model does not recognise the fluid nature of work. That while in one instance you may be working at level 5 in the next situation you may well be a highly capable individual contributing to a task or project. Similarly it does not recognise that some people do not want and have no desire to be working at “higher” levels. Inclusion of arrows that indicate this is a fluid process would be better.

Some may ask “well when do executive and management come and work as level 1 workers” and the answer is in progressive companies like the warehouse – regularly. They are scheduled for weekly slots working on the shop floor. This provides them with grounding and perceptions that are not achieveable from behind desks.

We do see this structure in play in schooling too. Perhaps there is something to be gained from staff in executive positions in schools also moving into classrooms too.

The second thing that came to me was the need for an HR, human resources person, in schools. Too often the principal of the school acts as the HR person for the school and this role needs to be seperated because of the conflict of interest. You can not be the staff members employer and the HR person.

We provide our students with the resources of an HR department as a matter of course. They have guidance consellors to help their future direction, counsellors and support staff to help them with concerns, problems, complaints and to act as mediators should they be required. These counsellors are bound by confidentiality too.

However for staff, there isn’t this facility available in many schools. Too often this falls by default to principals, and they are our employers. There is a lack of compatibility in these two roles and potential for conflict of interest.

Change in schools – pt 1 – why change?

The Expectations of stakeholders

Recently, I have been working on a program for the senior school and it is interesting to reflect on this. The first point of reflection is the “why” question. Why do we want to incorperate technology into the program, and this isn’t just a technology program it is actually about any form of change.

I believe that this is directed from 5 different sets of stakeholders who will influence to greater of lesser extent the change in schools. Each brings with them a bias and a unique perspective to the process of change. For some the change is on a macro level and for others on a micro scale.

They are:

  • The government, school district or legislative body over seeing the school
  • The school board
  • The community
  • the teaching staff
  • the students

Arching above all, is the legislative body responcible for education. These have a huge influence and often as not, they set direction for  education. They can provide clarity and purpose, focus and support.

Unfortuantely, these are usually political appointments and while often done with best of intents, are reactionary, popularist and frequently uninformed. Am I being harsh? Yes, perhaps I am but realistically, politicians are making decisions from their lofty view point which is poles apart from the perspective of the classroom teacher or the young learner in the classroom. Most politicians and administrators at a senior level have never been in a classroom or if they have it was years prior and in a 19th Century paradigm. We only need to look at well intentioned but nightmarish programmes like NCLB or national standards which have failed in so many countries to see this.

School boards provide the financial control for the school. They help shape direction of the school. They make appointments, approve projects and ally shape the environment of learning.

Usually, containing elected members of the community, they are meant to be the peoples voice, and indeed many are. But like politicans, the experience of most board members is harkening back to their own school days. Many will see the integration of Technology as important and will feel that more computers is a good thing, but the mechanics in a classroom? The oneof the things that oncerns me about school boards is the tendency for them to attract crusaders. Those on a mission to become elected, to bring in their agenda or ideas, to right percieved wrongs. How often do we see a very limited selection of nominees for school boards, and those who do nominate themselves having an often worthy agenda but with a limited perspective or holistic overview?

The communities influence is often a quieter one, the average parent who does not have time to be a board member as they are working to put food on the table. And as such does not have a great deal of influence except in the carpark as they talk amongst themselves or when they vote with their feet.

Parents want their children to succeed. They want them to be engaged and motivated and enjoying school. They too are influenced by their own educational experiences and this often temers their view of what happens in the classroom. The classic “it  worked for me and look how I turned out.” comments. If the only mode of education you have experienced is teacher centric, chalk and talk, rote learning; the dynamic, flexible and sometimes seemlingly chaotic world of students centric differentitated learning can be disconcerting. So the community to brings in its bias.

Teachers are the catalysts of change. Like a chemical reaction depended on a catalyst you can bring the reagents together, foster an optimal environment, but without the catalyst the reaction is painfully slow often to the point of being immeasurably tiny. Add the catalyst and the reaction proceeds at pace.

In a chemical reaction, the catalyst is often not used up or effected. In the classroom, teachers are always effected and to frequently are changed or just worn out. So we must have a supply of new catalysts – this places an onus of responcibility on pre-service educators.

The quietest of voices and alas the least influencial of stakeholders is the students themselves. Those on whom we are bestowing our educational wisdom, our hope and future, have the least say in direction. This is a hard balance to make how much influence should a student have on their learning? They can lack the wisdom (wisdom = Knowledge + experience) to be able to plot a learning course. They are often living in the now rather than considering the future. They struggle to scaffold and conceptualise why we proceed as we do in the classroom.

BUT does this mean they should not have an input, they should not be involved in shaping the direction of their learning? No they are vital, we must have their buy in, but unfortunately we can actually and do survive with out this.

So where does this leave us?

The shape of any program or change within a school is shaped by the degree of influence of these 5 stakeholders.  For collaborative, sustainable change to occur the expectations of all the groups must be considered and balanced.

Untitled 1Change is  influenced by the expectations and drivers of each of these groups. Sustainable change will see the expectations of each group considered, valued and balanced. The overall goals and objectives are derived from this.

Leadership In schools

I receive from the University of Auckland a regular update on the short course they run (they are very good). The latest one was talking about leadership.

They stated five practices of Exemplary Leadership. They are:

  • Leaders model the way.
  • Leaders inspire a shared vision.
  • Leaders challenge the process.
  • Leaders enable others to act.
  • Leaders encourage the heart.

I have been thinking about these practices and I have to agree with these.

The leader is the Champion and must not only “talk, the talk” but also “walk, the walk” . Often we will see leaders who say one thing and do something else.

The shared vision is vital – unless you have buy in by the staff, students and community (for schools) then most projects will fail. This again needs the champion to drive it, the leader to model the way.

Leaders challenge the process – well this is tricky. Some do, but in my experience these are few and far between. I don’t see this happening in a lot of schools but you do see it happening in industry, and usually the successful industries too. (I guess a caveat here is the unsuccessful organisations don’t survive to be upheld as exemplars). See the bottom of the post for Apple’s “here’s to the crazy ones”

Enabling others to act – I hate micro-management. It is for me the most demoralising and unempowering action a manager can do. You can not be too strategic that you live in the clouds, lofty and aloof. but you must not be a micromanager – that does not enable you to act.

The leader is also a motivator, it again comes back to championing the course. You must have a champion!.

I refer regularly to Thousand and Villas managing complex change because it reinforce the 5 exemplary practices we see outlined above.

This excellent graphic is linked from the Langwitches blog

This is a picture from the Apple center of the piece of prose called “here’s to the crazy ones”

Source: Sue Brown

The text reads as follows:

”  Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They are not fond of rules. And the have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can not do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They Explore. They Create. They Inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? We make tools for these kinds of people. While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. Think Different. “

Chris Lehmann – The schools we need

This is a very cool and fun video. The concept behind this is video is that the presenter has 5 minutes, 20 slides and 15 seconds per slide and you have to present your topic.

Well there is great potential for getting it wrong, but Chris Lehmann didn’t – he got it right! He speaks at full speed for his 5 minutes and conveys a brilliant message. This is well worth watching and then looking at his slides too.

Here is his blog – Practical Theory.

Here is the video on Viddler.

The best lines for me:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who can not read and write but those who can not learn, unlearn and relearn – Alvin Toffler


Technology must be like oxygen… ….ubiquitous, necessary and invisible.

I would like to add another quote from Alvin Toffler to this list.

Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.

Blog entry – Connecting teachers to policy makers in 10 steps

I found this interesting blog article while I was cruising around in the blogosphere.

Connecting teachers to policy makers in 10 steps

I like this its a good article and make sense.

It also relates very well to another paper I like on Managing complex change by Thousand and Vila. This is a brilliant paper. The integration of ICT into a school is with out a doubt complex change, and in order for this to occur one must have a number of key elements (Vision, Skills, Incentives, resources and an action plan) without which change will not happen.

vision + skills + incentives + resources + action plan = change
skills + incentives + resources + action plan = confusion
vision + incentives + resources + action plan = anxiety
vision + skills + resources + action plan = resistance
vision + skills + incentives + action plan = frustration
vision + skills + incentives + resources = treadmill


J. Thousand and R. Villa, called Managing complex change towards inclusive schooling.