Friday, June 24, 2011

Islay High School

Islay High School came on to my radar about six years ago. We were working with Adobe to build capacity in to the Scottish Education system to improve the delivery of the fundamentals of web design . We were working  well with Colleges from across Scotland but we were struggling to engage with schools. In the end @islayian turned up for the free weeks training from Anuja Darkhar  Head of Adobe's world education team. 

Interested in our soul teaching representative I was immediately impressed by what I learned about his reasonably remote island school.

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at their annual celebration of achievement and finally getting a tour of the school.

This is now not a new story - but I am still really surprised at how few schools have taken Islay's lead. Here is what makes them different.

  • Pupils all are provided with their own ultra mobile PC. They use these in class and at home.
  • The devices have been paid for by removing the school photocopiers and introducing the machines year by year - Islay High is now a paperless school at least on the learning side.
  • Teachers have their own Toshiba laptops with touchscreen functionality.
  • Classrooms have wireless projectors and a white painted wall - rather than whiteboards. As the teachers and learners all have their own devices they can interact through the wireless projector.
  • Beyond the technology they timetable 3rd to 6th year together - which leads to a great community feel in the senior school. This allows for personalised timetables over 3 or 4 years - this gives learners a large range of academic and vocational options and allows some to really stretch themselves - a few 5th years have achieved Advanced Highers.
At the end of yesterday's awards ceremony I met with learners , their parents and local employers . They were all content that sthe chool provided a platform for learners to follow academic careers and/or move into the local employment market.  I was impressed too by this year's school trip. The Headteacher is taking a group of 5th Years on an expedition to Madagascar for four weeks.

All this delivered cheerfully from a school stitched together from buildings from the 30's , 50's and 1970's

I know lots of schools are finding their own way towards a curriculum for excellence,  Islay High is a useful beacon.  Or can it be that island folks are just that liitle bit more resourceful ?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Piracy , Internet Safety and Identity Theft

On way into work the other morning a well known Glasgow businessman told me that he was having problems with his home Internet account  following a phone call he had from Microsoft.  He believed them as they knew he had a Microsoft operating system and knew he was an AOL Customer -so  he even confirmed his password. By this point he noticed my jaw had dropped.

The Microsoft caller  told him that they were experiencing some problems with AOL Accounts and that he should leave his computer on but not access his AOL account for the next three days.

All bits of his story alarmed me -  I am guessing that his identity had been pinched , computer hijacked and a range of dreadful things were  being perpetrated in his name.

I told him to go home and switch his computer and router off - and use his office  computer to change passwords to banking or other sensitive accounts and then go to the authorities.

Highlights need for everyone to be aware of their on-line security.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

LIfe in A Day

YouTube’s Life in a Day arrived in major cities in the U.K. and the U.S. yesterday.
A great advert for humanity and our ever shrinking world

The film was directed by Oscar-winning Kevin Macdonald, who took over 80,000 submissions and 4,500 hours of footage from 192 countries and created a feature-length documentary reflecting people’s lives on the 24th of July, 2010.

Produced from 70,000 hours of user-submitted uploaded video , the team sent 400 cameras out to the developing world to capture 20-30% of the final film.

I can see lots of uses for this in classroom - even the trailer makes me smile.

Hype or Not to Hype

I agree with most of Steve Wheeler's ideas - and there is a lot to be inspired by in this presentation.But it also raises more questions -  I hope learning becomes open , social , personal and mobile too But it is not inevitable and there is some danger that we can be guilty of over hyping the affordances that technology could bring us New Technologies and the Future of Learning
View more presentations from Steve Wheeler

Thursday, June 09, 2011

#showcase2011 Scottish Technology Showcase

All the new things you might imagine -green forms of energy generation and storage, Telehealthcare, Cloud Computing , Data Centres , Innovative uses and users of social software , Web Analytic services, Digital Marketing Agencies,  lean manufacturing techniques and precision engineering ..were all on display at this excellent event. A  great place to see what the workplace of the future will be like and where the skills gaps are in the new economy.   Few ideas too around some qualifications new economy will need.

Great mainly to see a host of thriving innovators , entrepreneurs and exporters driving the Scottish economy onwards .

Would have been good to see some more press coverage of this excellent event.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Lest We Forget

As America starts to build an appropriate national education and skills system . We should reflect on what we take too much for granted in UK and in Scotland.

The aim

for example, a welder would be able to leave a community college with a standard certificate that employers in shipbuilding, computer building or car manufacturing could recognize as a proof of the welder's skill set.
Is one that our system addressed a long tme ago.

There is always room for improvement , we do have a system that encourages transferable skills and life long learning and  export this with a high level of success to both the developed and developing world.
We should do a bit more to celebrate this.