10 Teaching Days

December 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

At present we have 3 projects launched, but in their infancy, 2 projects were are working on and 2 in the planning stage. Keeping these 7 projects up to date and on schedule or in development is a real challenge.

We have been communicating and directing these projects through traditional meetings and conversation but keeping each project on track and all parties informed soon became overwhelming, so we added Collonas Workplace to our project management. It take a little while to get the settings right and proxy set up, but since then, its been a really useful tool.

Collanos allows unlimited number of members to work, communicate in real time or asynchronously reducing the need for constant email updates and permitting fewer meetings.

Projects and related projects are stored in a single, consolidated workspace. From now on we all access the same project-related activity / task / comments / documents without the need of going back and forth between multiple tools / channels. Meetings, now less frequent, are also more productive due to our shared understanding.

Instant notification is possible, but a little annoying when teaching so I have turned my off, the IT team however find it useful. Collanos Workplace also allows you to send instant messages to team members (all with set permissions) and alerts you when updates have been made. The usual, ‘Im busy’ or ‘Im available’ is useful but its a feature we have come to expect.

Did I mention Collanos Workplace is free! The service is backed by premium services or bespoke solutions, but as yet, its done all I need and more. We have set up a Collonas to help support and encourage communication between the network managers in the county. I am keen to see how it is adopted.

AUP, Network (ISA), Intranet, AB Tutor and Full-Cirlce

January 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

In September, one of my first requests was the implementation of an AUP. This was posted on every PC in College. It was an automated service, staff and students only able to proceed after they accepted the guidelines? Did any of the students read it in full, I doubt it but it has certainly proven a valuable exercise? (The AUP will also go up in print as soon as I get the time!)

We continue to improve our Network, security is a growing concern and the not so distant future we will be displaying and sharing more data than schools have ever done before in the past. As you may know, as I am form a PE teacher I dont have a computer science background or knowledge base. I therefore primarily relying the advice and guidance from our Network Support consultants (CTS) and their employee in situ, our Network Manager. Since their involvement we have improved our infrastructure, included  an ISA server, tighten our security, opened the students user areas for remote access and remote email. To supplement my personal knowledge,  reading and the Microsoft UK School Network blog and LIVE meetings have proven a very good starting point.

We have start to make much better use of our intranet page. Nathan throw up a very clean, basic page which has organically grown. The staff pages shares staff links the students pages sharing predominantly learning links. Its a positive way to speed up the start of lessons and share information.

AB Tutor (now on V6) has transformed our student output and focus. Our students need that level of directed learning. Just a few ways we use AB Tutor;

to quickly launch a webpage (probably the most common)

to get the students attention by locking their screen

demoing a skill so that the students can follow along (a huge plus for OCR Nationals which is competency, not mastery based)

Scanning the class ICT activity, which we do less and less with the introduction of a range of preset policies.

We are now looking to use AB Tutor to promote interactive learn, sharing students screen, student demos, backchanneling, messaging, surveying and to potentially monitor a college wide Netbook policy. We are still looking into the new features of V6 but I hope to use the polling features in staff CPD.

So with all this security, technology in place you would like to think the AUP was obsolete. So did we, but this week a spate of SPAM emails, poorly directed student learning meant that we had to impose a range of sanctions. With the improvements to the network we were able to adapt the INTRANET homepage of individual students concerned to notify them (and their teachers) of the restrictions imposed; restricted or blocked internet access and/or disabled email accounts and. These sanctions were shared with all staff as a document via the staff intranet as a list. Finally parents were informed via a letter with a copy of the AUP. Unlike last year, we have not yet received a single complaint from staff or parents. I truly believe that the AUP unwrites any our the actions we have taken as an IT and ICT team.

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