Where do you find the time for you?

I read an article in an education leadership journal today that talked about the need for teachers, and especially those who hold demanding leadership positions, to take time out of each day to step away from the job and do something just for you.

It brought back to me a moment recently that really did make an impact.

The family had been bugging me – nagging me quite frankly – to sign up to Netflix. So after 90 minutes on the phone one evening renegotiating a contract with Telstra and extricating us from some pretty banal Foxtel content, out came the computer and Netflix entered our lives.

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(And yes, I have shamelessly grabbed this image off Google image search – link here –  because it is perfect for this post and none of the CC pics for my search ‘Netflix monster’ pulled in anything worth using. And yes, it is 10.49pm at night, and I’m too tired to spend hours finding a CC image that’s worthy. Sorry Lawrence Lessig.)

You would have thought the Messiah had entered the room, such was their delight when the realisation struck that I had signed up for the four screens deal and everyone could be viewing different content at the same time. Yes, it was that kind of moment – open mouths, devices switched on and the hunt for the perfect program was on.

Now, I’m no longer a television watcher – there’s no time for that. I’m present, but my mind is elsewhere, either tackling work for school or watching the twitter stream with it’s endless links to interesting content roll by. I can keep my head around some reality television offerings, because you can dip in and out and there’s a part of me that likes prying. But for the most part, television represents too big a commitment. I’m too busy to invest in a space that requires me to tune in at specific times and stay the course.

But I did wonder about this Netflix thing, so into the world I entered.

I could feel the pull as soon as the personalised suggestions started scrolling across the screen. There was ‘Rainman’ a film I haven’t seen for more than 20 years, but one I’d really enjoyed and have wanted to see again. In the next view, a bunch of series I’ve heard people talk about were tempting me, drawing me in, promising me hours of quality immersion into worlds far removed from mine. I succumbed.

I watched the first episode of ‘Call the Midwife’, and I knew this was a relationship I needed to sever. I had to cut the umbilical cord connecting me to Netflix and the temptations within. You see, I really don’t think I can let myself loose in a space like that, where entertainment flows at the command of your fingertips. It comes at a cost, and the cost to me is time spent learning, time spent feeding the information junkie part of me that is sustained on a diet of content that feeds my mind and sets the synapses into overdrive. ‘Call the Midwife’ would entertain me, but would it feed my soul and set the synapses spinning?

Somehow, I think maybe I need to find the nice middle ground in all of this, and the article I referred to earlier made that pretty clear. Netflix isn’t the answer, as I discovered when my husband tuned into ‘The Killing’ and I lost four hours one afternoon before I threw my hands in the air and declared that I really couldn’t do this. He could, and devoted large swathes of his life over the next week to unravelling plot twists until he finally declared freedom from Netflix’s tangled web when all four seasons had been consumed.

Maybe it’s walking, maybe it’s reading novels, maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s none of this, and maybe I need to come to terms with the fact that maybe it doesn’t matter, because I enjoy immersion in spaces that other people think replicate work.

Maybe I just need to be at peace with me.

 

School’s out Friday

I saw this last week on Facebook and thought it was something to share here as a School’s out Friday post. I find it really interesting when you meet people who bear an uncanny resemblance to people you know, or they remind you of characters you’ve seen in movies. The idea that there is someone in the world who is your ‘doppelganger’ is an intriguing one.

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I’ve always wondered what it would be like to meet your ‘doppelganger’. I remember being at a market when my son was little, and he’d grabbed the pants of a woman he was sure was me. Was I delighted when I saw the woman he’d thought was his mother? Not particularly. It seems our perception of what we look like might not fit with reality!

Have a great weekend. Scan the crowds. They’re out there!

 

The Evolution of the Employee – do schools understand this?

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If there’s something I’m pretty sure of, it’s that the structure of school is difficult to change. Hopefully we will see some shifts in how we organise the day for our students, providing opportunities for our older students to learn in anytime, anywhere, virtual scenarios and giving them greater autonomy over their learning to prepare them well for university and working life. But for our younger students, I don’t see the organisational framework of school changing anytime soon. Let’s face it, people need to send their children somewhere during the day, and schools are the best fit and will continue to be that for some time to come.

What’s different is the kind of workplaces the students we teach will find themselves in at the end of their school or university lives. This is happening already, and the infographic above* outlines the changing scenario well. Just because the environment we work in as teachers is one that finds it more difficult to morph to this model, doesn’t mean that it is an unlikely notion for the students sitting in our classrooms right now.

We need to understand this. We need to comprehend the workplace of the future (in some cases, the workplace of the now) and help our students develop skills that will enable them to adjust to this when they branch out and try to make a living for themselves. I see people on Twitter question whether or not it is our responsibility to help our students become ‘job ready’. I contend that it is. While we may not be priming them for specific careers, we do need to be thinking seriously about the skills we can be fostering in classrooms today that will be beneficial for a working life scenario like that proposed above for the future employee.

* Infographic from Jacob Morgan’s book, ” The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization.

School’s out Friday

Here’s a great discussion starter for class next week.

What door would you walk through? What does it say about our society that people (and let’s qualify that – people of the female persuasion) are put in positions where they are confronted with doorways like this and filmed making decisions based on their perceptions of themselves?

Here’s the behind the scenes video.

What door would I walk through?

Beautiful. Damn right.

Have a great weekend. Choose beautiful.

Google Apps for Education Canberra Summit 2015

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I returned last night after spending the weekend in Canberra, attending the Ed Tech teams GAFE (Google Apps for Education) Summit at Gungahlin College. It was a wonderful weekend. The people who present are knowledgeable and so keen to share what they know, freely making their resources available and allowing teachers new to Google Apps to encounter the sharing nature of the community that surrounds GAFE.

The truly interesting part of this weekend was discovering that the ACT Government Education and Training Directorate (the body who runs public education) have provided all public schools with access to Google Apps for Education. In fact, they have provided what they are calling a ‘Digital Backpack’ for schools that includes access to Office 365 as well as other browser based digital offerings. It’s a very progressive move – I was very impressed with the thinking that has gone into this and the opportunities it is presenting to children in the ACT Government system of Education.

I tweet a lot at conferences like this – it’s my form of notetaking, with the benefit that I’m sharing these notes with the people following me on Twitter. I’ve collated them into a Storify – click this link if you’d like to see inside my head over the last two days!

I presented about deploying Google Apps in your school. Toorak College has been a Google Apps school for over a year now and the experience has been transformative for many of us. Slides are below if you want to take a look.

Thanks to everyone who worked hard to make the weekend work – it was well worth the trip!

Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2015

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Last week I was fortunate to attend the Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit that was located on the Gold Coast – a very nice location for a very serious conference! The conference focus was about, yes, you guessed it, Data Centres, and the decisions businesses are making when it comes to hosting their infrastructure in the ‘cloud’. The reality of any ‘cloud’ service is that these are bricks and mortar data centres, located in physical locations both in Australia and overseas. For an organisation, you are making decisions to have infrastructure hosted elsewhere and your employees/students will be pulling data down from these data centres to your physical location. Think Google Apps for Education. Similar concept, but that is software as a service (SAAS) whereas infrastructure hosted in a data centre is infrastructure as a service (IAAS).

I do feel a need to point out that I was one of five female attendees (I was counting, and it wasn’t difficult to spot the women in the room). C’mon girls – we need your presence at IT conferences, and as participants rather than as organisers of the event. There were quite a few pretty young things handing out materials, but I did almost cheer when I saw Australia Post’s general manager for service integration and operations Claire Bourke enter the room. She delivered a presentation about Australia Post’s switch to active-active data centres using the Melbourne Next DC facility and Fujitsu’s Noble Park facility. If you’re interested, you can read about their motivation for this transition here. 

There were only two schools present. Toorak College, and St. Luke’s Anglican School in Bundaberg, ably represented by Mitch Miller, their IT Manager who has done some groundbreaking work in his school to move infrastructure to Amazon Web Services. The school’s approach has been the subject of an Amazon Web Services case study and I’d encourage IT Managers in schools to take a read.

You can access my Storify of all of my tweets from the conference here. 

Some highlights for me (other than Mitch’s presentation, which was specific to school environments, but more than applicable to business operations too).

Mark Thiele’s presentation about the impact of the Internet of Things on the Data Centre. Mark made some really salient points about the need to seek out talent for IT in your organisation to enable innovation to flourish. His article about Innovation vs Cost Center in relation to IT is a must read for anyone heading up IT, as is another written by Mark exploring the ‘IT Hero and Firefighter Mentality‘ that can pervade organisations. Really worthwhile reads that give you much to contemplate and work with.

Chris Taylor, CTO at Qantas, delivered a fantastic presentation that I wasn’t permitted to tweet. However, their cloud strategy has been explored in an IT News article that is well worth reading. I did take notes, and I think there are aspects of it that I can share as a lot of it is spelled out in the IT News article. Chris stated, “Cloud is the best thing to happen to IT systems”.  Some great points he made regarding a shift to utilising the benefits of the computational processing power of cloud services were:

Innovation and agility

Simplification

Speed to value and business outcomes

Cultural transformation

Speed is life – to get speed you need to take complexity out

Respect your customers – they want better service

Fail fast. Cloud allows you to do this

Test – learn -pivot – redo

Glenn Gore is Senior Manager, Technology Solutions at Amazon Web Services and he ran a workshop outlining AWS and their security, something I was keen to explore. This was very interesting, especially considering this was an ‘I am the only woman in this room’ session, and the fact that Glenn asked participants to say who they were and why they were there. I was ever so slightly intimidated as I realised I was surrounded by CIOs from major corporations and Government agencies, and I had to say that I was from an Independent Girl’s School in Victoria! Nonetheless, I was not deterred and asked quite a few questions. Some key takeaways from Glenn’s session (for me, anyway):

There is cooperation between tier one telcos to try and combat attacks that are becoming more frequent.

People are moving to encryption of data when it rests in data centres (and as it travels there). Key management becomes critical – rolling keys updating every hour etc to secure the management layer you are responsible for when storing in what is considered the ‘public cloud’.

AWS will encrypt on a vendor’s behalf if you want that.

Businesses/corporations should be using 2 factor authentication to secure data.

AWS use real time security frameworks – they use algorithms that flag when patterns of activity change allowing them to identify suspicious activity. They often flag sites and check with owners of data to see if there may be reasons for changes in activity level.

AWS have a shared responsibility model – AWS manages infrastructure. Hacks are happening at apps level. No attacks coming through infrastructure level. Here’s some info from their security page:

Because you’re building systems on top of the AWS cloud infrastructure, the security responsibilities will be shared: AWS has secured the underlying infrastructure and you must secure anything you put on the infrastructure or connect to the infrastructure. The amount of security configuration work you have to do varies depending on how sensitive your data is and which services you select.

 

AWS does not publicly display roadmaps and dates -this is part of their security profile. They don’t care about delays to their roadmap because security is the main priority.

AWS security engineering team- develop their own patents to deal with protecting their infrastructure

Duty of care – will note suspicious traffic vectors and send out calls to check.

AWS will Scan for open ports.

You as the user of the system, have to protect your encryption keys and access to systems – don’t lose sight of this.

AWS are the first cloud provider to meet IRAP in Australia. Now this impressed me. Here’s what that means:

Amazon Web Services was audited by an independent assessor from the Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP). The assessment examined the security controls of Amazon’s people, process and technology to ensure that they met the needs of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD)Information Security Manual (ISM).

One of my questions to Glenn was, “Who do you see as your closest competitor”, because, quite frankly, after all of my reading I can’t see anyone who gets close to what AWS can do in terms of understanding data centre cloud storage and the security necessary to run it. Here’s where they sit in Gartner’s magic quadrant:

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Glenn’s answer: he sees their competitors as the people thinking they can build their own data centres and protect it adequately. I think he was referring to people with the mindset that is fearful of the ‘public cloud’ who have limited understanding of the security offerings a company like AWS can provide. (If anyone reads this who was in the room and who thinks I misinterpreted this, feel free to correct me).

All in all, a really worthwhile event for a woman from an Independent School in Melbourne to attend. ;)

Here’s a few links to information regarding security and AWS for those of you interested in reading a bit more.

http://www.asd.gov.au/infosec/irap/irap_assessments.htm

http://aws.amazon.com/compliance/aws-irap-information-security-registered-assessors-program-australia/

http://d0.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/compliance/AWS_Australian_Signals_Directorate_Cloud_Computing_Security_Considerations_Oct14.pdf

http://d0.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/compliance/Using_AWS_in_the_context_of_Australian_Privacy_Considerations.pdf

http://aws.amazon.com/compliance/