There is at once a sensibility and futility of Bring Your Own Technology for schools.

The practical sensibility is that it would end the increasingly difficult situation of supporting the costs of maintaining organisation sized collections of technology. Particularly within the rapidly changing computing world, maintaining it, keeping it trouble free and doing so while most users have possibly more powerful equipment at home or certainly more personalised and learner oriented.

The futility is that we can’t use them properly. Schools simply use computers are replacements for text books, school worksheets, library or encyclopedias. That doesn’t need personalisation, it certainly doesn’t need the most powerful. What it does need is to keep the status quo of schools who are under the demands of external assessment systems, which have no way of recogising or allocating a number grade to student work.

If we were to start allowing students to be creative in their responses to assignments and projects, if we were to give creative options to students in how they approached their learning, then the traditional way of recognising achievement of syllabus content would be next to impossible. Teachers are not trained or experienced in this area, they haven’t encountered the capacities of technology when applied to learning.

How would they allocate a grade to student work? How would they condense an entire semester’s work into a pithy sentence or two in the end of term report? How would they be able to successfully designate dux through a mark with an accuracy of 2 or 3 decimal places?

The pipe dream of students bringing and being responsible for their own technology would be extraordinary. We’d have to change assessment schemes. We’d have to find some way of recognising individuality. We’d have to find some way of coping with students who learn differently from the ‘norm’. We’d have to make provision for teaching them applications skills on programs that class teachers may not have even seen. We’d have to hand over some power and not assume teachers have all the answers.  Ludicrous!

BYOT, pftttt!

Moving away from printed books

Disregarding all the usual issues with publishers dragging the chain on making their school text books available in various soft copies…

We often find introducing a different option is a slow process – a bit like introducing Broccoli to kids.  This article reifies for me some of the issues I bump into.

It explains a little why kids think the way they do.‎ The myth of digital native is long proven to be nonsense.‎ Their outlook is determined directly by those who show them the possibilities.‎ Our influence as teachers – even as supposed digital migrants is huge.‎ They will take their lead (sometimes unconsciously) from how we model things.‎ Our reliance on text books will influence them.‎ Our limited use of ICT will limit them.‎ Our extensive use and ‘have a try’ approach gives them a belief that there are alternative ways, new ‎ways options and even if we try and fail, it’s a good thing.

We are where they find things out.‎ I wonder if the idea that alpha males taking to e-book formats more readily than girls is because ‎teachers consciously or otherwise treat them differently.‎ There’s a PhD in there somewhere…‎

Too narrow a focus

Because I’m trying hard to develop a course that truly is Digital Citizenship, I avidly follow all links that purport to be something even vaguely connected to the topic.
It seems that in the majority of the cases DC is equated to learning how to deal with cyberbullying.

This is annoying on at least two fronts.

First because DC is so much more than this. The bullying issue is a sub set, but itself only part of online behavior.
Second because the term cyberbullying should be banned. It is just bullying and would happen even had technology not made it more pervasive. The whole bully thing is a pastoral issue and is constantly lumped in with technology as if technology caused the problem. Admittedly technology exacerbates the issue because it puts bigger weapons in the hands of bullies. But the bully being a little s### is a behavioral thing not a technical thing.

I like that we are pioneers in this field, but occasionally the lack of commonly understood terms can be a bit of a pain.

Things don’t always go to plan

We have tried to shoehorn Windows 7 onto the Mac Book Air laptops. This hasn’t been successful.  On an individual basis, it works successfully enough, both parallels or Boot-Camp do an excellent job. In fact initially it all loaded smoothly enough. Our biggest problem was the lack of a PXE boot to connect to our software controlling system.  However; in an environment where regular updates are pushed out, it is less stable.  Screen drivers in particular have been a problem. The boot-camp drivers work well, but the automatically pushed drivers and updates caused screen size issues, leaving the screens stretched and in a non-native resolution and hence a little fuzzy.

What’s come out of the exercise is the willingness of the students to deal with this. It was explained to them that it was a little bit experimental, and things might not always be trouble-free and flawless. They took to this notion like ducks to water, they were patient in waiting for upgrades, tolerant of screen sizes that were not perfect, found work arounds for printing when they couldn’t connect directly.And much more.

It is this willingness to tolerate technology’s shortcomings that will set them apart as a generation.  In a sweeping generalisation, teaching staff are flustered and frustrated if things are not 100% completely smooth, error free and if computers are not tolerant of keyboard thumping in place of rational alternative finding. But the students are.

Classes have continued smoothly with students finding their own work arounds, or partnering up with a working system, all without having to be told anything beyond the initial “this will be experimental”.

We sometime forget to give them the credit they are due in unusual circumstances.

It also suggests that teachers willing to ‘have a go’ even if they are on unfamiliar ground might find unexpected allies in their students when things are not so perfect, and ICT support thin on the ground.

Digital Thingamabob course

Work continues on the Yr 6 (Et. Al.) Digital Thingamabob course.  Still no resolution on quite what to call it. But that’s less important than making sure the coverage is appropriate.

The focus remains on producing students who can use a laptop to support their learning; to be creative; to produce responses to assignments and homework in a broader manner than those with only the three Rs. And almost as importantly to make nettizens of them so that they, A) don’t make fools of themselves on-line and B) conversely make themselves look good on-line.

Here’s the outline so far; Digital literacy or here for the non-pictorials;

The support material is also underway and as yet I’ve not found anything (Creative Commons or otherwise) that would be a suitable option simply to insert into the course structure, without almost as much modification as starting from scratch. Perhaps I’m being too picky or contrary.

So? What is a domain name?

When you surf to a website, you can get there two ways.  In your browser (Firefox or Internet Explorer) you can type in the real address:  This looks like  Or, you can use the name attached to that address, something like This is the domain name.

We have ownership of the domain name this means that if anyone surfs to that address they will see content that we put there. Names on the internet are only leased (you pay for them for a time period and if you stop paying then they are available to someone else to purchase.

What might this mean to you?

Have you ever tried ego surfing? That’s where you type your name into Google and see if you turn up. Or just type in your name in the browser and see if there’s a web site on you. Not surprisingly there is unlikely to be a web site about you unless you make it. Yet, this is what a potential employer is going to do. When you apply for a job, your potential employer is likely to look for you on the web to see if they can find some information about you. This is an opportunity for you to improve your chances of reaching the interview stage. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if they found a web site about you – listing all your achievements, your skills, your suitability to the job, your value to the organisation and with links to your hobbies or sporting interests?  Remember though this should be balancing the fine line of introducing you without publishing personal data like your address or other details you wouldn’t want to make public. This also shows an employer how responsible you can be and smart in managing your won information.

If this sounds like a smart move – purchasing your own domain name before someone else gets it is a good thing; populating it with your research papers from Uni, listing achievements and so on, you might give yourself a head start when looking for a job.

Go to one of the web sites that let you purchase domain names, search to see if your name is available and maybe ask someone for the name as a birthday present.