2017 AIS ICT Leadership Conference

AIS Storify pic

Full disclosure first up. I’m on the organising committee for the AIS ICT Leadership Conference and have been for the last four years. I’m going to talk about this conference in glowing terms in the next few paragraphs, so you can decide to take my words on board or take them with a grain of salt. Your choice. ūüôā

This a conference designed for IT Managers and their support staff to come together, share knowledge, and be inspired by carefully selected keynote speakers. Now, you might note that I’m not in the role of IT Manager any more in the school I teach at. I’m now occupying the eLearning space as Head of Digital Learning and Practice. But that’s what is truly great about this conference. It recognises the intersection between making the back end of IT at a school work seamlessly with the front end – how it impacts on the possibilities for teaching and learning within said schools.

And that’s a very important thing to note. If an IT team has lost sight of what their purpose is in an organisation like a school, then there’s the possibility that the direction an IT team takes may not be in tune with the primary purpose of a school – the education of young people. In today’s world, as it becomes increasingly important that our students gain digital literacy skills that will assist them to navigate a world dominated by technology, then having IT teams closely integrated and cognisant with the educational direction a school is taking is critical.

What was pretty clear last week was that there are plenty of IT Managers and staff working in IT Teams who are fully across what their purpose is in a school. You can see for yourself if you take a look at the Storify of tweets I compiled from the three days the conference ran last week. ¬†Conference participants were lucky enough to listen to Dr. Jordan Nguyen talk about the work he is doing with assistive technologies that are changing the lives of people affected with severe disabilities. At 32, Jordan is one of those exceptionally impressive human beings who makes you feel like you’ve been frittering away your time. Take a look at this TEDx Sydney talk where Jordan discusses how technology is reinventing humanity.

They also got to hear from Michael Carr Gregg, an Australian psychologist who would be very well known to many of you reading this. Michael talked about student mental health and technology. What was refreshing about this talk was the fact that Michael wasn’t proposing that our young people ditch the technology they use ¬†– he acknowledged it’s pervasive influence on their lives, but pointed out both the negative and positive influence it can have. Michael delivered a rapid fire presentation where he shared many website links and apps that young people with mental health issues can access to help them deal with anxiety and depression. I tweeted furiously during this session, trying to capture as much as I could. The Storify has collated my tweets and those of others who were also tweeting at lightning speed. I’d recommend you take a look. I really need to find time to look at websites like ‘The Brave Program’ and see what they are doing to support our young people and their parents.

The Brave Program

Students from Northern Beaches Christian School have been in attendance over the last couple of years filming sessions as the Conference Media Team. They are very ably led by Chris Woldhuis, Deputy Principal, 2016 NSW ICT Educator of the Year¬†and all round very nice guy. It’s fantastic to see these students take the reins, do a magnificent job, and bring what is a very important student presence to the conference.

I’d encourage IT teams from across Australia, NZ and our counterparts in International schools in SE Asia to make their way to Canberra in 2018 for the next conference (dates still to be determined). It’s a community conference – social events are part of the costs and the all in nature of them foster collegiate networking opportunities for both conference participants and vendors. This year we all ventured to the National Portrait Gallery for drinks and substantial canapes, and the next evening the conference dinner was hosted in the Great Hall at Parliament House. John Clear, who works at the AIS, and Graeme Kachel, the conference chair, worked tirelessly to ensure everything ran smoothly and they deserve much credit for the success of the conference.

Most importantly, we took away a lot of learning that will help all of us do our work better in the schools we inhabit. And that’s a good thing. ūüôā

ACSA Symposium – STEM, STEAM or HASS? Interrogating models of curriculum integration

The Australian Curriculum Studies Association (ACSA) held its symposium in Sydney on the 13th and 14th of October. It’s title was ‘STEM, STEAM or HASS? Interrogating models of curriculum integration‘. It seems that educators everywhere, particularly those in Secondary Schools, continue to grapple with a system that has taught subjects in silos for as long as formal education has been on offer. As we face the challenges of changing workplace scenarios and expectations, and endeavour to develop in our students what the Foundation for Young Australians terms ‘Enterprise skills’, many schools are looking to find ways to use models like Project Based Learning to bring disciplines together to work in tandem to develop skills and address knowledge acquisition.

enterprise-skills                                Foundation for Young Australians: The New Basics

I was very keen to attend as there were a number of people within my network who were presenting and I’ve been following what they have been doing for some time. Case in point, Gavin Hays, now Assistant Principal at Parramatta Marist High in New South Wales. I’ve been watching the Project Based Learning journey of Parramatta Marist since 2008. Gavin’s presentation shared the commitment this school has made to PBL and provided concrete examples demonstrating the effect this kind of curriculum structure has made to their community of learners. Impressive work indeed.

Other notable presentations were from Jane Hunter, Bianca Hewes, Lee Hewes, Jake Plaskett, Nicole Mockler and Steve Collis. There would have been others I’m sure, but you can only be in one place at a time at a conference!

As is my custom at conferences, I try to tweet as much as I can so that I can share what I am learning with those who aren’t able to attend. I’ve put together a Storify of the tweets I posted over the two days and where possible, I’ve added photos and links that will take you to resources mentioned within the sessions. Click here to take a read.

What I think was apparent from the schools who had successfully developed integrated curriculum models was that a whole school approach had been taken and programs had been developed over successive years. This is no easy task. To be successful requires the development of a school culture that can embrace change and place value on collaborative learning. It requires shared vision, strong school management, leadership from many facets of the school, trust in your teachers, a willingness to rethink the structure of the timetable, respectful relationships and close communication with your parent and student body. No easy task, but without a doubt, worth it.

ACE 2015 National Conference: Educators on the Edge

Last week I attended the ACE (Australian College of Educators) National Conference in Brisbane. The conference theme was ‘Educators on the Edge: Big ideas for change and innovation’. I created a Storify of my tweets that you can find by following this link.

screenshot-storify.com 2015-09-27 23-34-45

I’d encourage you to take a look. As I’ve said before, my tweets are the notes I take at conferences, and I try to source links to what presenters are referring to. I took quite a few photos of presenter’s slides and they are attached to these tweets so it’s quite a rich source of information about what was being shared in the presentations I attended. Some of the presenters included John Hattie, talking about¬†‘What is the role of students in the learning and teaching equation?’, Dr. Stanley¬†Rabinowitz who discussed ‘Moving Naplan online’, and¬†Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission discussing ‘Innovative technologies and human rights education’,

I’d like to spend some time here mentioning the presentation that I thought was worth the visit to Brisbane.¬†Dr Paul Browning from ¬†St. Paul’s School in Queensland delivered a presentation entitled, ‘Future¬†planning: The school of 2028’. Here’s the conference abstract:

Futures Planning: The school of 2028

In the words of Al Gore: ‘the future that is emerging will be extremely different from anything we have ever known in the past‚Ķ There is no period of change that remotely resembles what humanity is about to experience’ (p. xv). Two critical uncertainties are converging right now, both of which will significantly disrupt education and schools as we know them now: technology and employment.

St Paul’s School has just completed a scenario planning project, imagining the world of 2028 when its youngest students reach their final year of school. 30 global leaders participated in the development of four scenarios, or stories that describe that world including: Professor Pasi Sahlberg, Professor Yong Zhao, Professor Andy Hargreaves, Saul Eslake, Tim Costello, David Price, Mark McCrindle and Andrew Fuller.

This interactive workshop will present the process of scenario planning and share with the participants the four scenarios. Participants will be asked the question: ‚Äúif these scenarios are true, then what are the implications for education; for their school?‚ÄĚ

Gore, A. (2013). The Future. NY: Random House.

Paul shared this video that explains the process followed with scenario planning.

And here is the video their students produced as a result of the process.

What a wonderful way to involve your current school population and engage the wider community with your school’s thinking about the directions you will be taking into the future. Paul is an enigmatic presenter – I’m sure he is an inspiration to his school community. To find out more about St. Paul’s and the thinking that drives their community, visit the Centre Online, the site where they explore research innovation and future development. While in Brisbane, I also had the good fortune to meet Jon Andrews, who I discovered is Executive Director of Teaching and Learning at St. Paul’s. Jon is one of my ‘go to’ people on Twitter- he shares wonderful resources and challenges my thinking. What a think tank at St. Pauls – a school to watch.

Side note. My very good friend, Cameron Paterson, from Shore School in Sydney, was awarded a Fellowship of the Australian College of Educators at the conference dinner. It was wonderful to see a teacher who is an inspiration to many educators be acknowledged. I was very pleased that I was able to be there to take some pics. Very well deserved Cameron. ūüôā

Google Apps for Education Canberra Summit 2015

Screenshot 2015-03-30 22.13.10

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

Screenshot 2015-03-16 19.32.29

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:

Screenshot 2015-03-16 22.48.53

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. ūüėČ

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/

 

 

Improving STEM Education and Skills Conference – Day one

Well, I earned my keep as a network node today. I attended the ‘Improving STEM Education and Skills Conference‘ in Melbourne and tweeted myself silly for near on 8 hours. Tweets become my form of note taking at most conferences I attend, and they serve the dual purpose of providing a virtual presence for those people in my network who can’t attend.

Screenshot 2015-02-11 22.21.40

(Thanks Stuart Palmer for this image)

Conference organisers these days must be pretty happy when someone who tweets for purposes like this appear in their crowd. Most conferences I attend advertise the hashtag being used (in this case, #stemeduau) and the amplification of the ideas being shared bode them well, especially if the conference is one that operates annually.

Our school is committed to improving the STEM skills of our students and a team of teachers are exploring ways of making this happen. If you’re interested in STEM education and what was shared at this conference today, then click on this link and you’ll arrive at my Storify of collected tweets from today’s proceedings. Day two of the conference is tomorrow, but I won’t be there. I’ll be following the hashtag though!

Screenshot 2015-02-11 22.14.43

Creative Innovation 2012 – a conference that got me thinking

I felt very fortunate last week to have the opportunity to attend Creative Innovation 2012,a two day conference organised by Tania De Jong, a pint sized marvel with a resume that makes me wonder how she has time to breathe, let alone pull together a conference like this. This was a conference attended largely by people from business with its focus being, “Wicked problems, great opportunities! Leadership and courage for volatile times.” I met only one other teacher over the course of two days. I’d like to see the organisers consider providing more incentive for schools to send teams along by offering discounted rates to educational institutions, who can benefit greatly from the ideas being shared, but might be hard pressed to send more than one person along.

I’ve put together a Storify that contains a chronological view of my tweet stream over the course of the two days. I take my notes via Twitter. I figure it’s beneficial to not just me, but to others who get a view of what is going on at an event they are not attending. The feedback from Twitter was that it was beneficial – take a look at the Storify and judge for yourself.

It was a conference that surprised me. Every session was worthwhile, providing takeaways that I could apply to my experience. Even when I thought I wasn’t going to gain much from a session, a speaker would blow me away. Dr Megan¬†Clark, CEO of the CSIRO was amazing – her identification of what she described as megatrends confirmed a lot of my thinking.¬†See the Storify¬†where they are outlined. Jason Drew, an Eco-entrepreneur had a really interesting story to share. Take a look at the following TEDx talk he delivered in 2011 to see what I mean.

I would have liked to hear Thomas Frey, futurist speaker from the Da Vinci Institute speak for longer about his vision of what the future holds, and thanks to the wonders of YouTube I can, with the following 49 minute video filmed at The Getty Images Inspiration Session in September of this year. His topic, the future of content.


Michael Rennie spoke beautifully about the importance of loving what it is you do. He asked us to think of a moment when we we were truly energised in our work. For many of us there, we could recognise his recipe for a high performing environment. Have an almost impossible but meaningful goal. Be aware that failure sits alongside it (there is a risk factor involved), as does a caring trusting environment (and this will support you through all the hard work). Michael has a very interesting background – he contracted cancer at 30 and it changed his approach to work, life and leadership. You can read about his experience and insights in this article. Here’s Michael speaking at last year’s Creative Innovation conference.

Li Cunxin spoke about his experiences and had me transfixed. I know his story well, but his delivery is impeccable; you can’t help but be moved. Wade Davis, the man with the best job title in the world, Explorer in Residence at National Geographic, put things in perspective with his tales of tribal communities in many lands who have much to teach those of us who think the Western world has all the answers. Here he is delivering a TED talk in 2008.

Who impacted on me the most? Unexpectedly, Steve Vamos. Steve is¬†President of Society for Knowledge Economics and is a Non Executive Director of Telstra, David Jones and Medibank Private. He spoke in a no nonsense fashion about the need for us to participate in the difficult conversations with people we work with, but to do it with humanity, to treat people respectfully. It’s his belief that people need feedback, they need to have clear purpose in their work and know what they need to be doing. Here he is speaking about similar things at last year’s Creative Innovation conference. Sensible man speaking. Listen.

It was a wonderful conference that will be running again in 2013. If you get an opportunity to go, I’d highly recommend it. In the meantime, read the Storify and look at the conference program. Google the speakers and do what I’ve done -check out what you can find on YouTube. There’s much to learn when you find the right kind of people to listen to.