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School’s out Friday

I admit it. I’m a Spiderman fan from way back. I remember being so desperate to see the Toby Maguire film version when it was released that I took my then three year old son along with me, thinking it would be reminiscent of the cartoon version I watched religiously as a child. Not a good idea in hindsight. There are moments of your life when you fall into the category of #badparent, and that was one of mine.

Your three year old will be fine with Improv Everywhere’s latest ‘Movies in real life’ version of Spiderman. I love the crowd reaction when he jumps off that building. Even better, read what really happened as this was their annual April Fool’s day hoax video. I admit, they got me on that one – I replayed that jump a few times trying to work out how they pulled it off so effectively!

Enjoy the weekend ahead. Soak up the days before the return to school next week. (if you’re a Victorian, that is!).

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Moving to the Cloud? What should you consider?

This year our school has adopted Google Apps for Education. Sounds simple, huh?

Not so. Decisions to move your staff and students into Cloud Computing solutions are complex and in my view, require thoughtful planning and consideration. When I became Director of ICT and eLearning at the start of 2013, my first job was to implement a new Learning Management System. That was pretty big and was the main focus for much of 2013, but the early stages of that project coincided with planning starting around the possibility of a move into the Google Apps space.

Why Google Apps? Plenty of reasons, but here are just a few.

The collaborative nature of the docs – the way students can work together and co-create. The visibility of works in progress when shared with teachers. The ability to provide feedback and formative assessment easily at point of need, when students are in the process of writing. The cloud storage provided to users – 30GB for each user when you’re a Google Apps for Education school. Providing staff with a cloud storage option that sits within your domain, instead of having staff opening their own cloud storage accounts eg: Dropbox, and sharing school docs outside of a school domain. I’ll elaborate further on my reasoning in another post (and I promise I’ll get to it!!).

But before any decisions could be made, I needed to familiarise myself with issues surrounding Cloud Computing so that I could evaluate whether or not a move in this direction was right for my school. What did this involve? Reading, and plenty of it. I looked at Gartner and Forrester research and followed links shared on Twitter to business blogs like Harvard Business Review and Forbes. I needed to see where business was heading and explore speculation about the future of work and what might be required. I read countless articles about cloud storage and privacy concerns. And through all this, I was linking what I was reading to the education system and analysing how what applies in business translates to school environments.

Coming across Data Sovereignty and the Cloud: A Board and Executive Officer’s Guide , published by the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, UNSW Faculty of Law was fortuitous. The report was sponsored by  NEXTDCBaker & McKenzie and Aon. NEXTDC is a data centre company, looking to become the biggest cloud data centre storage service in Australia. I have visited their Port Melbourne location, taking a tour through what is an impressive facility. Baker and McKenzie are a law firm and Aon is a global provider of risk management services. When you look at recent changes to Australian Privacy Laws you can see why organisations like this are interested in supporting research and policy reports of this nature. Australian Privacy Principle 8 deals with cross border disclosure of personal information – an area affecting schools and businesses if you use a cloud computing solution where the data is stored in overseas data centres.

The report raised many questions for me, and led to a 90 minute phone conversation with David Vaile, one of the authors of the report. Even at the end of that, I was no closer to firm resolve around the issues surrounding cloud computing and privacy. Within the report is reference to the Australian Signals Directorate’s (Defence Force) Cloud Computing considerations. Their discussion paper provides the following:

“…assists agencies to perform a risk assessment and make an informed decision as to whether cloud computing is currently suitable to meet their business goals with an acceptable level of risk.”

Contained within it is an overview of Cloud Computing considerations you can apply to whatever platform you are looking at implementing. In my case, this was Google Apps for Education. What I did was take this list (as follows) and then read Google Security Whitepapers and information about GAFE and found the information that addressed the following considerations.

  1. Cloud computing security considerations include:
    • My data or functionality to be moved to the cloud is not business critical (19a).
    • I have reviewed the vendor’s business continuity and disaster recovery plan (19b).
    • I will maintain an up to date backup copy of my data (19c).
    • My data or business functionality will be replicated with a second vendor (19d).
    • The network connection between me and the vendor’s network is adequate (19e).
    • The Service Level Agreement (SLA) guarantees adequate system availability (19f).
    • Scheduled outages are acceptable both in duration and time of day (19g).
    • Scheduled outages affect the guaranteed percentage of system availability (19h).
    • I would receive adequate compensation for a breach of the SLA or contract (19i).
    • Redundancy mechanisms and offsite backups prevent data corruption or loss (19j).
    • If I accidentally delete a file or other data, the vendor can quickly restore it (19k).
    • I can increase my use of the vendor’s computing resources at short notice (19l).
    • I can easily move my data to another vendor or in-house (19m).
    • I can easily move my standardised application to another vendor or in-house (19m).
    • My choice of cloud sharing model aligns with my risk tolerance (20a).
    • My data is not too sensitive to store or process in the cloud (20b).
    • I can meet the legislative obligations to protect and manage my data (20c).
    • I know and accept the privacy laws of countries that have access to my data (20d).
    • Strong encryption approved by DSD protects my sensitive data at all times (20e).
    • The vendor suitably sanitises storage media storing my data at its end of life (20f).
    • The vendor securely monitors the computers that store or process my data (20g).
    • I can use my existing tools to monitor my use of the vendor’s services (20h).
    • I retain legal ownership of my data (20i).
    • The vendor has a secure gateway environment (20j).
    • The vendor’s gateway is certified by an authoritative third party (20k).
    • The vendor provides a suitable email content filtering capability (20l).
    • The vendor’s security posture is supported by policies and processes (20m).
    • The vendor’s security posture is supported by direct technical controls (20n).
    • I can audit the vendor’s security or access reputable third-party audit reports (20o).
    • The vendor supports the identity and access management system that I use (20p).
    • Users access and store sensitive data only via trusted operating environments (20q).
    • The vendor uses endorsed physical security products and devices (20r).
    • The vendor’s procurement process for software and hardware is trustworthy (20s).
    • The vendor adequately separates me and my data from other customers (21a).
    • Using the vendor’s cloud does not weaken my network security posture (21b).
    • I have the option of using computers that are dedicated to my exclusive use (21c).
    • When I delete my data, the storage media is sanitised before being reused (21d).
    • The vendor does not know the password or key used to decrypt my data (22a).
    • The vendor performs appropriate personnel vetting and employment checks (22b).
    • Actions performed by the vendor’s employees are logged and reviewed (22c).
    • Visitors to the vendor’s data centres are positively identified and escorted (22d).
    • Vendor data centres have cable management practices to identify tampering (22e).
    • Vendor security considerations apply equally to the vendor’s subcontractors (22f).
    • The vendor is contactable and provides timely responses and support (23a).
    • I have reviewed the vendor’s security incident response plan (23b).
    • The vendor’s employees are trained to detect and handle security incidents (23c).
    • The vendor will notify me of security incidents (23d).
    • The vendor will assist me with security investigations and legal discovery (23e).
    • I can access audit logs and other evidence to perform a forensic investigation (23f).
    • I receive adequate compensation for a security breach caused by the vendor (23g).
    • Storage media storing sensitive data can be adequately sanitised (23h).
    • ( Cloud Computing Security Considerations )

This took some time. There were weeks out of my life in 2103 where I was living and breathing information regarding privacy, security and cloud computing. Believe you me, if you encountered me during this time, my conversation topics were limited and suitable only for a specific audience!

But, it was worth it. I had a document I could present to my Executive that helped us come to the decision that Google Apps for Education was suitable for our school environment. What I gained from this exercise was a thorough understanding of issues surrounding Cloud Computing and the information I needed to be able to speak confidently with my school community about the move we were making.

If you’re a school looking to move into the Cloud Computing space, then measures like this are necessary. If you’re an Australian school looking for links to assist you with the process, then take a look at the following.

Defence Signals Directorate – Cloud Computing Considerations

http://www.dsd.gov.au/publications/csocprotect/cloud_computing_security_considerations.htm

 

Data Sovereignty and the Cloud  - a Board and Executive Officer’s Guide

http://cyberlawcentre.org/data_sovereignty/CLOUD_DataSovReport_Full.pdf

And if you’re looking to go Google, the following will help.

Google’s approach to IT Security – A Google Whitepaper

https://cloud.google.com/files/Google-CommonSecurity-WhitePaper-v1.4.pdf

 

Google Apps Service Level Agreement

http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/terms/sla.html

Google Apps Documentation and Support – Security and Privacy Overview

http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60762

Google Apps for Education

http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/education/benefits.html

 

Security Whitepaper: Google Apps Messaging and Collaboration Products

http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/a/help/intl/en-GB/admins/pdf/ds_gsa_apps_whitepaper_0207.pdf

It’s not over for me. The next thing to consider is replication of data to cloud storage. Off I am to the Amazon Web Summit next week in Sydney to explore that one a little further. ;)

 

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School’s out Friday

OK. I am prepared to admit right here, right now, that I was 19 years old in 1984 when the original Footloose movie was released, and that might have something to do with why I find this Jimmy Fallon segment so appealing. If you’re from my era, I’m sure you’ll find it appealing too, and if you’re not from my era, I’m laying odds that you’re going to enjoy it even if you don’t know the context it is derived from.

And to help you with the context, here was something that was prepared a little earlier, in 1984 to be exact. The final scene from the original Footloose movie, where Kevin Bacon  shakes up the dance floor with his smooth moves. Compare it to the Jimmy Fallon segment, and you’ll see that Kevin hasn’t let 30 years affect him too greatly. I’d like to say that I can still shake up the dance floor like I did 30 years ago, but I don’t get all that many opportunities to test that theory out. Unless, of course,  you count dancing in my kitchen without an audience as proof of concept. I can lay testament to the fact that I’ve kept up with the times and could give Beyonce a run for her money, but I think my kids (who sometimes are my unwilling audience) would contest this.

Enjoy your weekend. Find a dance floor and shake your booty – even if it’s in your kitchen. The world needs dancers. ;)

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School’s out Friday

If Google was a guy‘ was a video I shared a while back. Here’s the follow up vid – it’s worth watching for the last 20 seconds. You’ll understand why when you get there. :)

End of a big week and I can feel my throat swelling. What’s the bet I’ll be laying low over the weekend then find myself feeling good on Monday morning! Always the way.

Enjoy your weekend. Hope it’s a good one for you. :)

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Is your school missing the future?

“The main thing that has caused companies to fail, in my view, is that they missed the future.”

Larry Page at #TED2014

Screenshot 2014-03-20 20.47.08

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/larry-page-at-ted-2014-3

Apply this statement to schools.

Is your school missing the future?

Are your students being exposed to the notion of cloud technologies and anywhere, anytime access? Or is that reserved for their personal life?

If it is, then maybe you should be asking questions of your school administration, IT Directors and Teacher Librarians.

We can’t afford to let our students find the future outside of the school experience. There’s a fair bit of guidance necessary to help them navigate this future and our schools should be leading the way, not impeding access.

If you’re not giving this some thought, then you should be.

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School’s out Friday

Are you one of the 46,089,523 (as at 9.45pm Melbourne time March 14th) who has seen ‘First Kiss‘? I saw it for the first time today when my students said I should watch it after we’d watched ‘Good looking couple sing Frozen’ as a bit of fun and exploration of a viral video at the end of class.

Did I take it at face value and think it was an interesting concept that held mass appeal?

Yes, I did.

Was I surprised when I discovered tonight it was clothing advert starring actors for the brand Wren Studio?

No, not really.

I’m getting used to clever videos that appear to be genuine turning out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They aren’t insidious, but they do leave you feeling a bit cheated especially when you’ve made an emotional investment while viewing them and have perhaps then gone on to share them with others in good faith. The lesson in all this is to not take things at face value and to investigate further.

I’ve spent a little (not a lot!) of time tonight looking into ‘Good looking parents sing Disney’s Frozen‘, and I can’t detect anything insidious behind this one, other than wondering who on earth would include ‘Good looking parents’ in the title of their uploaded video. It seems that Samuel and Nia Rader of Terell, Texas are just the kind of people who do that. Here’s a bit more about them from the description accompanying the video on the Youtube page.

Just a little about us. We’re high school sweet hearts, been together for the past 10 years, married for the past 4.5 years. We have TWO children, our five month old baby man is sitting behind me. My wife is a stay at home mom/wife, and an amazing one at that.She creates decorative wreaths in what little free time she has. I’m a full time ER nurse and do wedding photography on the side…

Lovely. But would I be at all surprised if in two days time something surfaced that demonstrated an underlying intent behind the posting of this video? No, I wouldn’t. I’ve come to expect it, especially considering that YouTube is to teenagers today what television was to me as a child.

Anyway, enough of the speculation. Enjoy it as you contemplate the weekend ahead. I’m thinking about buying a Go Pro and taping it my windscreen so I can record myself singing Pharrel Willliam’s ‘Happy’. I’ll upload it to YouTube and call it ‘Middle Aged Woman kidding herself’. :)

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School’s out Friday

Ahhh… something from Improv Everywhere to make me smile after a busy week at work. I love the look on the volunteer runner’s faces as they round that corner and see the waiting crowd. We need more levity in this world – moments where we come together, even in the spirit of playful pranking, to make people smile and feel connected.

Enjoy your weekend. Open Day at my school tomorrow, so it won’t officially start for me until after 3.00pm tomorrow. I’ll be looking forward to it! :)

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School’s out Friday

Sir Fedora, you’ve won my heart. How does a young kid post a video hoping to get one like, and then end up amassing close to one million views in the space of a few days? Well, making it to the front page of Reddit and having that community vote your video up is one way to do it. The video above is the follow up to this young boy’s initial posting, where he thanks the YouTube community for giving one like to that initial offering.

His reaction reminds me of the morning after I’d made my first post on this blog. I woke up to find two comments had been left by people whose blogs I read. If I’d had a video recording my amazement, you would have seen a similar reaction to that of Sir Fedora.

Perhaps we as educators need to take note of the power of publishing in public spaces. I’m betting Sir Fedora is motivated beyond measure to continue to grow his audience and develop content. The challenge he will face is realising that it’s going to be incredibly tough trumping the explosive first week he has just experienced launching his YouTube channel. Let’s face it, not many people find themselves remixed to honour their efforts!

Off to bed for me. It’s been beyond huge at school this week. I’ll try and tell you all about it in a post this weekend. Enjoy your two days off. Sleep in, seek out friends, soak it all up.  :)

 

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School’s out Friday

Yes, I’m sure this wasn’t a spontaneous act, especially given that it’s promoting the Grammys that are being held this Sunday, but I like it anyway. It’s a nice follow up to my previous post about Macklemore. I’d encourage you to read it if you haven’t already; he really is a fascinating person whose journey to fame can teach our young people much about the importance of persistence and self belief.

It’s been a big week. A new phone system has been installed and we’re launching Google Apps and Hapara Teacher Dashboard with our staff and students next week. The IT Staff who work with me have been absolutely unbelievable in their commitment to seeing these projects through. I’m very lucky to work with such dedicated staff who are willing to work above and beyond, especially when holiday periods are supposed to be the ‘quiet’ time.

Enjoy your weekend. I’m thankful for the Australia Day public holiday on Monday. Sleeping in will be a priority!

 

 

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Macklemore’s 10,000 hours

A couple of years ago, I gave a presentation to a group of Commerce/Business Studies teachers about the impact of Social Media on Business today. In the opening slides, I referred to Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers‘ and the 10,000 hour rule discussed in that book (inspired by a scientific study in American Scientist by Herbert Simon and William Chase). It’s a contentious idea, one that suggests that you need at least 10,000 hours to become proficient in your field. (Read this article from Malcolm Gladwell that discusses his thinking in some detail) I was trying to make the point that I was capable of delivering my presentation because I had invested near on 10,000 hours in social networks and had read plenty about business and their changing approaches. I’m not sure I convinced all of those present, but I firmly believed (and continue to believe) that the 10,000 hour rule rings true.

It seems Macklemore does too. I’ve been listening to ‘The Heist‘ for over 12 months now and find it an inspiring album. I’ve used ‘Same Love‘ and ‘Wings‘ as examples of what I consider contemporary poetry of today in my ‘Language of our Times’ class. When my students were working on a Spoken Word poetry task, dissecting the lyrics of Wings and the imagery utilised within those lyrics was one of the most powerful lessons of our year.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 11.57.29 PM

 

http://macklemore-mania.tumblr.com/

I’ve never really paid attention to the lyrics of the opening track, 10,000 hours, until just recently. It was when I heard reference to Gladwell in the lyrics that my ears pricked up and I began to listen more intently. What I discovered was his story, his commitment to his craft and his ability to rise above a school system where he didn’t find himself ‘top of the class’. Take a read of these lyrics to see what I mean;

Now, now, now
This is my world, this is my arena
The TV told me something different I didn’t believe it
I stand here in front of you today all because of an idea
I could be who I wanted if I could see my potential
And I know that one day I’mma be him
Put the gloves on, sparring with my ego
Everyone’s greatest obstacle, I beat ‘em
Celebrate that achievement
Got some attachments, some baggage I’m actually working on leaving
See, I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I study art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot
I will not be a statistic
Just let me be
No child left behind, that’s the American scheme
I make my living off of words
And do what I love for work
And got around 980 on my SATs
Take that system, what did you expect?
Generation of kids choosing love over a desk
Put those hours in and look at what you get
Nothing that you can hold, but everything that it is
Ten thousand

Not being American, I had to look up what a 980 SAT score meant. It means that you’ve ranked in the 6th percentile of all students who sat the exam. Ninety four percent of students scored better. When I look at the success of Macklemore , then it’s obvious that this is a person who does not let an exam result define him. Instead, he saw his potential.

Take that, system.

I’m starting my ‘Language of our Times’ class this year with 10,000 hours. This is a class that explores how we communicate in today’s world. Macklemore and Lewis independently produced ‘The Heist’ and it rose to number one on the iTunes charts within days of release. No record company made that happen. Their sheer hard work in the preceding years and a core army of supporters who shared and promoted this album through the social networks we inhabit made that happen. The world is different. Some people, those with talent, but perhaps even more importantly, with persistence and determination, know it.

Is our education system helping our students understand that there might be different pathways to success? How many young people passionate about something never get an opportunity to pursue this through the curriculum offerings in traditional school? What are we doing to help these students understand what they may need to do to fulfil their dreams? How many teachers even have any concept of what can be done using the networks of today? Sure, not everyone will succeed, but our students do deserve to hear the stories of people who have taken the non-traditional route.

Read Macklemore’s story. Share it around. Open eyes.

* and if you happen to read this Macklemore, I’ve got a group of students in Australia who’d love a virtual visitor to their class. I’m dreaming big. You taught me that. ;)

 

 

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