Friday, 22 April 2011

The 'Super Systems' are coming. Are we ready?

The Future

Super System Functional Requirements
Everything is shifting to the ‘cloud’. The Australian Curriculum is delivered entirely on-line. You no longer purchase large servers and massive storage. You pay for “hardware as a service” hosted in the cloud.  The need to purchase and install software locally has been replaced with “software as a service” and Web 2.0.  Soon, users will bring their own devices to school, get a connection to the internet and then have all the tools they need for creativity, communication, collaboration and inquiry. Catholic Dioceses around Australia have completed a project to deliver high speed broadband to their schools. Now they are exploring ‘cloud based’ super systems with components such as: parent portal; on-line planning and reporting; mail; personal space; learner profile and student analytics, to potentially change the way we do business. In that mix, we need to remember our 21st Century Learner, who comes to us connected, empowered, and free to create and distribute to a global audience. From the time the 3pm bell goes to signal the end of school to the time a parent says “So what did you do at school today”, a student with nothing more than a mobile phone could have: created a website online; uploaded video to You Tube; contributed to some global conversations; downloaded music (legally or illegally) and accessed anything they desired on the web. This would be without filters, editorial guidance or any fear of being held accountable for their actions.
Our commitment to create life-long learners is also a commitment to create responsible digital citizens and part of that has to be providing the facilities where students exercise creativity on-line and (possibly) make all the mistakes and errors of judgement that young people make.
Whilst we wait for these super systems to unfold, our strategy is to ensure our LANs are ready for ‘connected students’ and our workforce is preparing  for the shift to the ‘cloud’. We are inviting our teachers to “play” in the “student as on-line creator” space, our technicians to explore the implications of “cloud” services that shift core infrastructure away from our Schools and Diocesan Offices,  and our leaders to engage in dialogue about the policies and guidelines required to support this unchartered territory. MyInternet will continue for as long as we can because it serves the needs of our P-5 cohorts. Google Apps has been rolled out to target Years 6-12 and to encourage staff to give power and control to their students so they can be creators and publishers on-line. (It is no more power and control than any student with access to a connected device would have when they are not at school.). BUT when students use our systems in response to our agendas, we get to guide their behaviours, shape their attitudes and advise them on issues such as safety and acceptable use. We also have the power to capture, close down, or delete their work and hold students accountable for their actions. A student has no anonymity when they use the systems we provide but we want them to be anonymous when they are on the ‘open web’ as part of the strategy for keeping them safe.  

Google Apps was selected because it is a $0 cost option that provides us flexibility and insurance at a time of great change and uncertainty. It not only lets us explore changes to pedagogy, but also changes to ICT delivery. Neither TCEO office nor a school builds it, hosts it or monitors space usage. It gives the user a lot of power to protect their work or determine who has access. And it gives us a lot of information should we have to audit a student’s activities within the suite. When a super system eventually rolls out, any work done by staff or students in Google can be added or linked to from within sites or documents created in the new system. Finally, if the super systems prove to be less than their “marketing hype”, we have all the tools we need to get on with our core business (creating, communicating, collaborating, and inquiring).

Friday, 1 April 2011

2011 School Visit Checklist for the Tech Team

Our schools have Technicians and ICT Reps.
Technician Duties for all the schools we support
Let's call these baseline because if these things are not working, then anything we add over the top will have issues.  
  1. The Domain Bot is working correctly
    • New users are created on the domain, on MyInternet and on DataJug;
    • the change password, change group1  and change forwarding address2 features work properly from DataJug. These can no longer be carried out from MyInternet once the LDAP transformation is complete.


Note: Ryan, SMMC, BCHS, St Anthony's are now on LDAP like the primary schools. That means there is auto account generation on the school curriculum domain, MyInternet and Google.

  1.  All staff can connect to the school network from their classroom :
    • by detecting the wireless access point and autoconnecting;
    • by plugging in a blue RJ45 cable and using a live port on the wall;

  2. All staff have a laptop 3   and it is configured according to the "Getting Started Begining of Year" document on Sharepoint. That means
    • they have local admin rights;
    • their username/password match their datajug and network login credentials;
    • their printers are installed;
    • their drives are mapped;
    • they can print, access the internet, access network shares
    • and can leave files for students and collect files from students.

  1. When a staff account logs into a school machine, the login script functions correctly and they end up with the right permissions, the right mapped drives, internet access and printer access.
  2. When a student account logs into a domain machine, the login script functions correctly and they end up with the right permissions, the right mapped drives, internet access and printer access. They do not have local admin or the permission to install software.
  3. Student machines in labs and classrooms are working, being repaired on Warranty or being disposed of. (We will continue to phase out ex-defense machines and phase in laptops, netbooks and other portable devices for use in classrooms by KLA teachers.)
  4. The TCEO image is used for all staff and student devices OR the school has its own image available so new computers can be imaged prior to deployment to the school.  

What Does The School ICT Rep Need To do?

The school IT Rep is the first port of call to ensure the BASICS are in place and working as they should. The TCEO Tech Support team member relies on your ongoing feedback to know the system is working as it should. But your role is not just infrastructure. You have to bring infrastructure to the attention of teachers and learners and challenge both to make best use of it for teaching, learning and administration. 

  1. Ensure staff can connect via their laptops in their classroom. This includes knowing how to switch to blue cable in the event wireless is not working.
  2. Ensure all staff are marking their rolls online (using DataJug);
  3. Show staff how to register IT requests on HelpDesk. These requests come to you the IT rep first and foremost. (You can configure DataJug so it sends you an email each time a request is logged). Any request that can't be fixed by you the IT Rep needs to be "Forwarded To TCEO". This is a function on DataJug available to all ICT reps.
  4. Periodically check that the dataJug updates are happening regularly. A rep can check the last time DataJug pulled data from Maze and copied to DataJug by going to Admin, Account Management, Update Information.

  5. Make sure staff have the know-how and the access to achieve the "Expected Proficiencies for 2011"  particularly meeting the call to engage in 'Contemporary Learning'.  Some of the skills required to achieve these 2011 objectives include:
    • creating their own Google Sites page/site and using it to:
      • distribute resources;
      • engage students and others in discussion (using forums);
      • communicate dates and other information to students and class community.
    • sharing their units and assessment tasks with the diocese via the CTJ processes4 or with their classes and communities via Google Apps
    • using the Tandberg Movi Client for Video Conferencing OR Google Video Chat that comes bundled with their Google Apps mail account.
    • access to Scootle5 and embedding Learning Federation objects and Learning Journeys in units of work.
    • challenging staff to use Contemporary Tools. MyInternet is one such tool. 
  6. The Google Apps Rollout For the rest of 2011, Staff and students will be given instructions so they can move their mail, documents and sites stored on-line from MyInternet to Google.  
Click here then do modules 1 and 2 to set yourself up and gain 6 hours towards QCOT.

Google Apps is a suite of tools which combines all the functions mentioned in 5 above into one integrated suite. That means the same account (ie your datajug username and password) gets you into:
  • mail;
  • calendar;
  • documents;
  • sites (including blogs and wikis)
  • chat
  • Video or voice chat.
All staff and students have accounts NOW to the Google Apps suite.


1 This is the MyInternet group eg. Teacher, Student, Admin etc. "Teacher" is the group with most privilege on MyInternet-Robie Jayawardhana 25/01/2010 13:54

2 The Forwarding Address change is particularly important for staff using the accounts. Their MyMail needs to be forwarded to outlook. Also Outlook needs to be configured as RPC over HTTP so these staff have access to shared calendars.

3 We supply laptops for teachers at the school for 15 Hours or more. The school needs to supply laptops for other part-time staff.

4 Staff have been asked to upload units via Curriculum Developers so there is a layer of quality control.

5 Scootle access is achieved by sending all members of 1 school a particular link. Each staff member "self registers" using that link. Please see school librarian for this link.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Reflections On Catholic Leadership

Picture from

I just spent two days on Magnetic Island with the Executive Leadership team from Townsville Catholic Education. What have I learned about leadership and how will it influence my role?

Catholic leaders have two responsibilities. Firstly, they are called to discover the voice of Jesus working from inside them. Secondly, they have a responsibility to create the conditions, provide the resources and deliver the support to those they lead so they too can discover their personal Christ and march to the beating of his drum. Your vision and passion emanates from a sense that you are doing God's work, and becomes the way in which those you lead discover the living Christ.

So where is God's call and the voice of Jesus in the Information Communication Technology dimension of school life? How much of what schools are doing in ICT emanate from Compliance rather than passion or some commitment to a greater cause?

Most challenging for me was the realisation that I may in fact be creating conditions where people are adding bricks to walls rather than building Cathedrals. When we are left to do God's work, even the mundane and day-to-day feel as though it is contributing to something extraordinary. But if your life is about living out someone else's agenda or ticking the right boxes for them, then your actions are being fuelled by fear and power rather than a burning passion or commitment.

Leaders instil passion and commitment. They influence through respect rather than position. .

Monday, 17 January 2011

Delivering Safe Systems

In the 21st Century, much of community life takes place in virtual environments. FacebookTwitterMSNText messaging are some examples. Within our mission to ‘build the kingdom’, we have an opportunity (or arguably a responsibility) to embrace these virtual communities and provide a Catholic vision for engaging in these communities 

Fig. 1

Townsville Diocese provides a closed learning environment for students. ‘Closed’ means:
  1. the services provided can be reset or removed from the student (or teacher) if inappropriate use is suspected or detected. Teachers have power to reset student passwords and DataJug admin at each school have the power to reset staff passwords;
  2. once a user is created in Maze, overnight they get their Datajug account and accounts to all 'closed' services. This means users do not have to self-register to 3rd party providers. Instead, the ‘system’ registers all staff and students and provides a single sign on to all supported services;
  3. access to Web-based communities and content is via a proxy and filter. This provides auditability and some level of filtering to services accessed at school.

The use of 'Open' Communities

In fig. 1 above, Facebook, Open Google and Flickr have a red cross because they represent ‘open’ communities on the web. That means we have no administrative control over these spaces. Google Apps, Blogger, AtomicLearning and MySuite have no cross because they are ‘closed’. They are deployed and managed by the ‘system’ and TCEO is responsible for setting up users, determining the features that are “on” or “off” by default, and the features students or staff can manipulate. Once set up centrally, students have their account and control over their space.  Using the DataJug interface, teachers and schools have the power to reset passwords or capture student accounts if inappropriate usage is detected. 

Google Apps
This suite means students have a rich set of tools to create, communicate and collaborate online within a ‘real world’ community space. But because this is a 'closed' deployment, if a student makes an error in judgement and uses their power to create inappropriately, the 'system' can go some way to protecting students from the consequences that come with being on the open web. Making the Google Apps suite available is therefore a conscious first step in our commitment to educating staff and students about being ‘Catholic’ in online communities.

Policy Implications
Following from this notion of 'open' and ‘closed’:
    1. Schools should not be asking students to give their details online or to register with open systems. That means teachers should not be expecting students to use Open Google, Facebook or other open, unmanaged web suites, nor should they be using these communities to engage with students.
    2. No school should be providing internet access that does not pass through the CENet filter. The filter is coupled with a proxy service that allows us to audit (down to IP address or user id) activity on the internet.
    3. No school should be providing internet access that masks the user from the proxy. We want to be able to audit usage by user. More importantly we want users to take responsibility for their actions on-line.
    4. No school should be providing internet access that supports the use of generic internet accounts (eg. Username: prep; password:prep). Anonymity in on-line communities is a recipe for disaster.
    5. It must be as easy as possible for a student to "change their own password". Why? When a student says, "But that wasn't me.... jsmith knows my password", we need to be able to say "Why didn't you change it?". If we are expecting students to manage their own identity,  then changing passwords quickly as soon as one suspects it has been compromised, is an essential capability for the user. 
Efficiencies for managing connected systems.

TCEO aims is to offer a range of systems which use the same username and password for access. Once CENet completes its identity store and integration service, the user will only need to log in once and they will be allowed automatic pass through to any of the systems offered as part of the ‘closed’ suite. Identities cannot simply be generated at a school any longer. The uniqueness has to be at a diocesan, CEnet or even CNA level. As we look to collaborate with others further and further afield, carrying our identity into their portals becomes so much easier if we have uniqueness at the highest levels.

Policy Implications
    1. Student and staff identities will be aligned with a standard for defining identities.
    2. If schools wish to deploy their own ‘closed’ systems, (eg. A deployment, Google Apps, Moodle etc) this needs to be done in consultation with TCEO so that issues of identity and automation can be considered. If you are an independent secondary school, this may all seem unnecessary... But the diocesan strategic vision is about positioning ourselves to contribute, collaborate and participate in National conversations. National Policy directions like the "E-Learning Business model" (still  in draft consultation), speak loudly to the creation of systems that support innovation at the edge. The paradox however, is that innovation at the edge will only be useful further up the chain, if it has been approached with some knowledge of the 'standards' and compliance requirements that govern a broader audience. 
    3. At this stage, using the data-jug identities when you requisition accounts, is the first requirement. That guarantees you uniqueness at the highest level we have to date (ie the Diocese).. 
    4. If you apply this thinking to teacher work and teacher sharing, we need to do a lot more to provide the necessary check-lists so teachers can feel confident that what they are creating can be moved to wider audiences without issues like "copyright" placing the organisation at risk.

ICTs as part of the Mission of TCE

“The overarching focus of curriculum in Catholic schools is to empower learners to enrich the quality of life in the community by living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ”
Qld Catholic Schools and Curriculum

Identity and Community 

Catholic schools seek to nurture individuals who:
  • are aware of their humanity but open to hearing the living voice of Christ from within (Formation = identity);
  • communicate Christ to others by their commitment to core values such as love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, service, humility, courage, hope, quality and appreciation (Formation = living in community);
  • contribute to their communities by being ….

Searcher and Learner IQ Focus (intelligence)

Listener and communicator
EQ Focus (perceptions emotions)

Self-directed, insightful
Investigators and learners

Open, responsive
Communicators and facilitators

Discerning, resourceful
Problem solvers and implementers

Principled, resilient
Collaborators and leaders

Adept, creative
Producers and contributors

Caring, steadfast
Supporters and advocates
(Formation = giving in community)

ICT as a means to build the Kingdom
“A Catholic school is not simply a place where lessons are taught; it is a centre that has an operative educational philosophy, attentive to the needs of today’s youth and illuminated by the gospel message.”
The religious dimension of Education in a Catholic School. 
The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1988 n.22.

In the 21st Century, much of community life takes place in virtual environments. Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Text messaging are some examples. Within our mission to ‘build the kingdom’, we have an opportunity (or arguably a responsibility) to embrace these virtual communities and provide a Catholic vision for engaging in these communities.

Toward this end, TCEO aims to provide:
  1. “safe” virtual environments where students can learn the rules and expectations for appropriate ‘Catholic’ engagement;
  2. Instruction for learners so they can manage and secure their on-line spaces;
  3. anytime/anywhere access to these communities;
  4. students and staff with opportunities to utilise these virtual communities and on-line spaces for:
  • Reflecting and planning;
  • Communicating and collaborating;
  • Exploring, experimenting and creating new knowledge;
  • Engaging with diverse perspectives;
  • Understanding social, cultural and religious perspectives;
  • Building relationships within and beyond the classroom;
  • Accessing, interacting with and contributing to the community
Catholic Network Australia (CNA) ‘Contemporary Learning Framework’

The points above from the CNA Contemporary learning framework redefine the notion of ICTs in school. There seems to be a shift away from introducing students to applications to introducing students to collaborative spaces where they engage with others.

Do you agree?
If you agree, what do schools need to provide to facilitate these interactions?

Google Apps now has Blogger integrated.

Yippee.... Google has added Blogger to its Google Apps Suite. That means the one username/password gets you into: MyInternet; Google Apps; Blogger; School Server; SharePoint; DataJug.... If you haven't done so already, here are some links that all staff should add to their desktop or your techs should add to your Intranet. Please click each link to see you gain access with the one set of credentials.

This diagram shows how the integration is activated (Enter the user into Maze/PCSchools). The rest is automatic. But to keep things integrated, you need to do the following:
1. Staff password change can only happen from this interface.
2. Student password change can only happen from here.

All this is outlined on the Getting Started 2011 page.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

What is 21st Century Teaching?

Microsoft has just released its Innovative Teaching Learning (ITL) research tool (10th Jan 2011) and made it available to all schools. See The software giant can see that providing devices and applications is only part of the equation. Teacher practice has to change.

I have cut and paste some of the questions from their research tool into this document because it goes a long way to defining what 21st Century teaching looks like. It also throws up questions and challenges about leadership, infrastructure and professional development. I would love to see what you think.