Archive for the “Diary entry” Category
It's now 20 years since the WWW was brought into the world, and to celebrate,The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) has recreated the website that launched it.
CERN is not only preserving the original site, but also a range of information and artefacts associated with the origins of the web, including Tim Berners-Lee’s original proposal for the web.
Preserving this unique piece of the world's history is really important. As Dan Noyes, the web manager for CERN’s communication group says:
I want my children to be able to understand the significance of this point in time: the web is already so ubiquitous – so, well, normal – that one risks failing to see how fundamentally it has changed. We are in a unique moment where we can still switch on the first web server and experience it. We want to document and preserve that.
The whole project is being housed at the original web address info.cern.ch, and is worth visiting as it contains the history of the web, as well as CERN’s plans to preserve that history.
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I spent today at a meeting of the Canterbury Primary Principals Association (CPPA) – an all day workshop facilitated by Dr Cheryl Doig of Think Beyond. focusing on sharing ideas, dreams, visions and concerns about the future of education in Christchurch.
Cheryl used the work of the SUCE group to frame a series of activities through the day. It included short provocations from the CEO of CERA, Roger Sutton, international perspectives (by video) from Stephen Heppell, Julia Atkin and Damian Allen and Elaine Ayre, plus a handful of local people, including myself.
The day was expertly planned and facilitatted by Cheryl and her husband, David, and begain with a sharing of individual stories around group tables, exposing the extent of the problems being faced by schools in the city. I was in awe at hearing the stories of these leaders who collectively share a responsibility for the health and wellbeing of a significant number of the children and their families in our city. The role of principal in Christchurch has been hugely expanded as a result of the earthquakes!
During the day we faced the reality that we are in this for the long haul. It will be years before we can say we have addressed all the re-building issues we face in the city, and during that time each of these principals and the school communities they represent will need to be working together to face the challenges of, on the one hand meeting the urgent and immediate needs that they face on a day to day basis, and on the other, take time to raise their heads enough to engage in some of the visioning and future-focused thinking that is required to galvanise a shared vision for what the future of education in the city might look like.
So what might that future be? Well, nothing was decided at this meeting – that wasn't the purpose. But lots of issues were exposed and have been taken away to be processed for the CPPA to follow up on in future meetings.
For me there was one theme that repeatedly underpinned a lot of the thinking and discussion. Whatever the final shape of education in Christchurch might look like, it will undoubtedly be based on the principle of a network, of connected-ness, of a 'learning system' in which individual schools are the nodes, and not the fortresses they are now. I look forward to being involved in further discussions and working groups as these dreams and ideas turn into strategic directions and then become realities!
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I came across a couple of resources tonight that have captured my attention and I’m sure will be very useful to some of my colleagues and others in my network.
The use of social media applications as research tools has become quite popular in recent times, with lots of experimenting and trialling of ideas taking place. Social media: a guide for researchers has been produced by the International Centre for Guidance Studies, and aims to provide the information needed to make an informed decision about using social media and select from the vast range of tools that are available.
The 48 page downloadable PDF guide is well worth a browse – it contains some informative case studies as well as links to useful tools and applications in the social media space. It also has an excellent section on managing information overload – with a useful introduction to filtering information and to network theory.
The second resource was posted as a response to the first, and is titled Impact 2.0 iGuide – New mechanisms for linking research and policy. This guide exists in a wiki format, with the original text developed by Cheekay Cinco and Karel Novotný, Association for Progressive Communications APC and later versions of the document co-authored by Bruce Girard, Fundación Comunica.
This guide is intended to be used as a manual, which aims to provide you with concrete tools for your communication needs in specific situations. it covers a range of topics from an introduction to What Are Web 2.0 Tools and Why They Should be Incorporated into the Research through to how to build new policy networks based the evidence this research provides.
Great to see this sort of guidance being documented – I’m sure it will be useful to a whole new breed of researchers out there (and some of us older ones too!)
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At the recent hui for the National Aspiring Principals Progamme (NAPP) I had an opportunity to reflect on the history of the adoption of ICTs in New Zealand schools and the significance of this for school leaders and aspiring principals. When we are in the midst of such rapid change we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture and some of the things that have happened which in turn set the scene for where we are now. These sorts of understandings can be very important for us to be able then to chart some sort of trajectory for the future.
Over the past twelve months it’s been my pleasure to work with my CORE colleague, Dr Vince Ham, to bring together the thoughts and reflections of more than 20 New Zealand educators who have been at the fore-front of the ICT revolution in this country into an edited edition that we’ve called eLearnings: implementing a national strategy for ICT in Education, 1998–2010.
Few countries in the world have embarked on such an ambitious approach to a national ICT strategy for schools as New Zealand. This book archives the impact and implementation of the national ICT strategy in New Zealand, 1998-2010, from the perspectives of the people who effected that implementation. It is a story of both policy initiative from the ‘top down’ and local innovation ‘from the bottom up’, as seen through the eyes of some of the politicians, bureaucrats, industry partners, consultants, principals and teachers who lived the experience.
The book contains a collection of ‘personal perspectives’ from people who have been prominently and intimately involved in the implementation of the various Strategies over the last twelve years.
We officially launched the book at the recent Learning@School conference in Rotorua, however, the CHCH earthquake left the bulk of the books available sitting in our building in the central city which has been out of bounds – apart from the small window of opportunity we had to go in and rescue some essential items. I’m pleased to say that we did manage to retrieve just a few boxes and these are now available for sale via the CORE website.
I encourage anyone with an interest in understanding more of the context of change in the NZ schools and early childhood centres to read this collection of accounts that provide an excellent historical overview as well as some indications of where we might be headed in the future.
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ANZAC day today – and another change to reflect on what the day is all about, and the lessons we have learned (or not?) about the significance of this event in the history of our nation. I have a number of images in my mind, formed from conversations with those who were involved in the campaign, and from the books and movies I’ve been exposed to over the years – along with the stories that are told at ANZAC parades. So I was very interested when I came across this resource from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which brings to life what happened at Gallipoli on that day.
Gallipoli: The First Day was created when ABC Innovation producer Meena Tharmarajah saw the terrain at Anzac Cove and realised that seeing the terrain gave her a whole new perspective on the battle. She realised that you could use mapping technologies that are now available to tell the story of these events in a recreation of that environment, giving people a far deeper insight. It would be the next best thing to being there.
The 3D Map of the peninsula was built using topographic data taken from 1916 Turkish maps. Surveys of all the Gallipoli battlefields were made in 1916 by the Turkish Mapping Directorate under Brigadier General Mehmet Şevki Paşa and 43 maps were made. As the data is true to the period our 3D map doesn’t show contemporary building developments and roads. Sydney University Archaeology Department then supplied the GIS data used to shape and create the terrain topography.
The scenes that tell the story of the day were created in 3D using Cinema4D software. The models of soldiers and objects that populate these scenes were meticulously created for Gallipoli by Plastic Wax, Sydney, based on photographs and descriptions recorded at Gallipoli.
The site contains a useful teacher resource area that provides a range of ideas for you to implement in the classroom.
There’s also the option to download a version of the resource to run it directly from your own computer (NB need Adobe AIR installed).
Although it is developed in Australia, there’s plenty here to make it relevant to NZ, including reference to several New Zealanders in the profiles section, which provides some excellent background material for use with the teacher resource ideas.
All in all, an excellent resource that I can see would capture the imaginations of many school students. I can imagine it being used particularly effectively with a whole class and an interactive whiteboard.
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A colleague recently said to me, “I aim to learn at least one new thing each day from my Twitter connections”. That pretty much sums up why I became hooked on Twitter – the network of people I’ve connected with provide me each day with thoughtful comments and links to sites that are a continual source of new ideas and stimulation. Here are just a few that I’ve been looking at over the Easter weekend (apologies for not referencing the people from whose ‘tweets’ I linked to these – it only occurred to me afterwards to blog this, and I was simply looking at a row of open tabs.)
Shakespeare on Blogging – a very clever and humorous interpretation of the advice that Shakespeare may have provided for those looking at becoming proficient in communicating through blogging.
Ways of teaching thinking – I’m very interested in the development of thinking as a part of what we teach in schools. It’s identified as one of the key competencies in the curriculum, but how well do we understand how to develop it in our students? This link highlights four thinking-centered approaches for infusing high-level thinking instruction into your regular curriculum
Using the video game model in the classroom – a brief but thoughtful post from Mary Beth Hertz in Edutopia that identifies three key features of video games that can be incorporated into what we do in the classroom.
Can gaming change education? – still on the gaming theme, Meris Stanbury from eSchoolNews discusses a recent report from MIT titled “Moving Learning Games Forward: Obstacles, Opportunities, and Openness,” by Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil, and Katie Salen of the Education Arcade. this quote sums it up: “[We] believe that the demonstrated potential of digital media wisely guided by caring adults could become a ‘game changer’ in advancing children’s prospects in the decade ahead.”
The evolution of classroom technology – as someone who taught Education Technology classes for 11 years I’m always interested in this sort of post which provides a useful historical overview, complete with images, of the technologies that have been used over time.
Top ten sites for note taking – note taking at my computer is becoming increasingly common (as opposed to the usual paper format) and this list provides links to ten very useful note taking applications. Provided by David Kapuler at TechLearning.
Using Evernote – I’ve begun using Evernote on my laptop and my mobile devices recently – still getting the hang of it all. This tutorial provides some excellent tips on how to use it well. Evernote is a great, free resource that allows you to easily capture information using whatever device or operating system you use. It then makes this information accessible and searchable from anywhere
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I spent the early part of this week at the National Aspiring Principal’s Programme hui in Auckland. It was one of the most invigorating and professional challenging times I’ve had in recent years – superb organisation at all levels, engaging around 250 aspiring principals from around NZ in the concept of leadership and what it means in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand.
I had the privilege of being asked to provide a short address prior to the evening meal on Monday night, on the topic “Shaken but not stirred: reflections on lessons for leadership after the CHCH earthquake.” I chose to describe my talk as a ‘rave’, based on a loose comment from some family members who this term to describe my talks. Here’s the summary of my ‘rave’:
R – Resilience
In the weeks since the earthquake the word resiliance has been almost overused as people seek to find superlatives to describe the response of the people in CHCH, not least, our school leaders. I referred to those principals in the city who found themselves having to ‘camp out’ all night in the school grounds with students whose parents failed to be able to come and pick them up until the following day; the teachers who systematically contacted all their students in the day or two after the quake despite having their own homes damaged and families affected, and to teachers and students who have adapted so quickly to new timetables in their shared facilities.
My youngest daughter’s school focuses on resilience as one of the key attributes they seek to develop in their students. At first I was skeptical that primary aged students would understand what this means, but over the years I have seen this done superbly, and the children at the school develop not just their understanding of what resilience is, but also exemplify it in the way they approach things at school. After the events of the past six months, I’d strongly encourage all schools to consider how this might be encouraged.
A – Agility
In times of crisis our ability to respond quickly becomes important. Many of our conventional ways of doing things and the layers of bureaucracy that at other times serve us well become hinderances to providing the timely response required. As leaders we need to be agile in our thinking and our response to people – to quickly assess the situation and make wise but immediate decisions.
In the case of CHCH I illustrated this with the efforts of the GCSN team who had so quickly assembled a range of teaching resources to support teachers who had lost access to theirs in the quake. This was done through crowd-sourcing using social networking, and drew an overwhelming response from teachers around NZ. It also drew a response from international organsiations who have made their online learning materials available to teachers in NZ free of charge.
V – vision
A leadership mentor of mine wrote in his book, “there are three characteristics of a leader, they have vision, they are able to articulate that vision, and they engender the trust of others to pursue that vision.” Nothing could be more true at the moment in CHCH. Amid the turmoil of what is happening on the ground, it is important that there are people who are thinking ahead, and not simply responding to the ‘tyranny of the urgent’. I was reminded by a colleague that the World Bank and the United Nations both came into being within within six months of the end of WWII. Such significant and forward thinking developments could only have been achieved with some people engaged in a visioning process that looked beyond the immediate needs of restoring essential services in the war-ravaged cities and countryside.
E – empathy
In the midst of such upheaval a great deal of inter-personal empathy is required. I described the situation we face as a little like when there’s a death in the family. Not everyone wants to talk about it, and when they do, it may be just to those close to them. Those who are not directly involved will want to be supportive, and are often in a better place to do so – but it requires a great deal of understanding and empathy. The last thing you want to see is large-scale, overbearing interference from well-meaning people who haven’t taken the time to understand the context and the way people are feeling.
I have seen evidence of each of these qualities in abundance in some of our leaders in CHCH, particularly our school leaders. They are to be applauded – and supported, for the responsibility isn’t going to ease of in the near future. Further, for our leaders of the future, these are qualities to aspire to and to work hard to develop, both in ourselves and in those for whom we share a responsibility in their future.
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Yesterday (April 7th) was the 42nd “birthday” of the internet, the date marking the publication of the first “request for comments,” or RFC, documents that paved the way for the birth of the internet.
Here’s a link to a really interesting series of videos from Qwiki providing useful background to the internet, its development, scope, potential etc. that I came across this morning.
1969 was indeed a very memorable year in world history! Aside from the internet being ‘born’ we also witnessed the first manned moon landing and Woodstock!
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Today we were allowed back into our building at 151 Kilmore Street to collect essential files and items. Our building is in the middle of the “Red Zone” in the CBD and was much less damaged than many of those around it. Our visit was a controlled access visit for up to three hours, requiring our small team to be cleared by the army at the cordon entry and then to wear hard hats and flouro vests at all times while within the cordon. Tash, our exec officer, did a wonderful job of organising before-hand, creating a list of priority items to be located and brought down to the waiting trailer.
Again, the whole thing reinforced for me the value of team-work and working to an agreed plan.The whole exercise went very smoothly, although the numerous trips up and down the seven flights of stairs to our top-floor office severely tested my fitness levels
The scene inside our office wasn’t as chaotic as some might have expected – things had certainly been thrown around a bit – but most items were easy enough to locate and transport downstairs in packs on our backs and/or boxes we carried. Financial and admin files were a top priority, followed by any of the IT gear that we could manage.
The scene outside our office wasn’t so wonderful – opposite there was a gap where the PGC building once stood, and the remains of what was a car-parking building now just rubble on the ground. Along a bit, the Repertory Theatre, damaged in the September 4 quake is now almost certainly not going to survive. The liquefaction has been removed from the car-park behind our building, leaving a very ‘lumpy’ surface covered in water from leaky pipes underground, and some large cracks which make it difficult to navigate around. A large crack has also opened up at the front entrance of the building – demonstrating the power of the earth’s movement during the Feb 22 quake.
At least now we can have a bit of business continuity with the things we’ve retrieved. It may be months (if ever?) before we are allowed back to empty the office of all the furniture and other items that remain there. But at least we’re more fortunate than some.
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There’s been a lot going on here in Christchurch over the past couple of weeks since the 6.3 earthquake wreaked havoc in our city. Our schools are now gradually opening up again, but many face difficulty in gaining access to resources that are no longer accessible in buildings that are out of bounds, or exist on servers or laptops that still lie in ruined buildings. In addition, we have a large number of students who must be catered for during times they are not physically at school, including students who are sharing schools for half days, or others who are not being sent back by their parents yet because the local school is still closed or they have travelled out of the city temporarily to escape the aftershocks.
Some of my colleagues in the GCSN have been working hard to assist by accumulating links to online resources that other teachers have found useful and can recommend. Spreading the word via lists, twitter and other social networks, this group has ‘crowd-sourced‘ a wealth of resources that are now available on the GCSN teaching and learning resources page, complete with the ability to rate the resource and provide feedback on its usefulness as a recommendation to other teachers.
This is just one of the initiatives that our team is undertaking to work alongside the Ministry of Education endeavours in the post-earthquake recovery phase. Next week we have Wayne Mackintosh and Jim Tittsler from WikiEducator coming to CHCH for a couple of days to work with local teachers on using WikiEducator to create and share teaching and learning resources that can be added to this repertoire.
In addition, a team are also working on populating a locally-hosted version of Moodle 2 with courses and course materials – some created locally and some being shared by schools and teachers in other parts of the country. The aim is to take advantage of the new community hub feature in Moodle 2 to enable this sort of sharing to take place.
I’m impressed. Out of adversity comes innovation, and I’m sure these initiatives will provide much more than a ‘quick-fix’ solution to the immediate need. If done properly, we may well provide a platform for a completely different way of thinking about the use and sharing of resources for teaching and learning within the education community.
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