Saturday, 27 June 2009

Where reality gets in the way

So, let me begin with an apology.

This last month or so has been exam time for me, when students get ready to flee the nest by sitting their final year secondary school exams and move on to university, or in the case of my year 12s, get the first part of their A levels sorted, ready to move into their final year.

What this means is that I get overloaded with coursework portfolios and the attendant administration that accompanies them. Allowing for revisions I estimate I read and marked over 100,000 words. I've also had the joys of assessing Year 12 work that's now submitte in the form of blogs and DVDs with extras. Managing all that data has been unexpectedly complicated, in terms of tracking and collating information. We'd thought paperless would be swifter, but making the adjustment has been trickier than we'd anticipated; which goes to show that deploying new technology in learning environments never progresses as you imagined it might.

In amongst all of that I also took 30 eleven year olds to Italy for a week on a Classics tour. Using a Samsung NC10 laptop and a nifty mobile broadband USB stick from 3 Mobile I kept a daily blog. I managed to blog from within the Colosseum and the top of Mt Vesuvius. Interestingly, this year the parents wrote back to me, leaving messages for their kids and questions about where we were. 

In that time we've had Lord Carter's Digital Britain report, looking at ways to expand digital take up in the UK, and suggesting that possibly the BBC should be top-sliced and share its licence fee with commercial competitors, in order to maintain regional news, for example. Not surprisingly, the BBC responded negatively to the suggestion, as did the Liberal Democrats, who struck a chord for all who believe in an independent public service broadcaster. At the same time the Corporation has disclosed the size of its senior staff's salaries and their expense claims. All I can say is that there seems to be a lot of people claiming over £200,000 a year, which is surprising for what is effectively a public sector employer. 

Elsewhere in the world Iran has tried free speech and Twitter was there to keep the lines of communication open. The usual rules apply - be wary of the unfiltered and unverifiable information that Twitter can spew out. Nonetheless, it still makes for fascinating reading. 

Meanwhile, the Head of the BPI, the British music industry body has said Napster should have been engaged with, rather than taken to court. It's a good example of new tech and alternative practices being feared because they were unknown. Lots of similar attitudes exist within education, with staff fearing what hasn't been explained properly.

And finally, the tragic and premature death of Michael Jackson at 50 saw the internet grind to a halt, and BBC soap East Enders show speed and agility when it rapidly added a scene that included reference to this major cultural event, ready for broadcast on Friday night.

All in all it's been a busy six weeks and I've been busy too working on plans for our school's VLE, testing new kit (digital SLR upgrade, audio recording kit, HD camcorders that record to 16gig SD cards) and a whole lot more.

Now that the students have finished I hope to get back to writing and sharing.

All the best, 



Don said...

Welcome back friend. Your activity level makes me feel like a sluggard, but I know "those that compare themselves among themselves are not wise." On the other hand, better you than me. I like my activity level. You must be a bit tired?

I'm writing more myself these days, after the action packed end-of-the-year marathon. (That was no dash! That was a marathon.)

The Napster comment you made reminds me of a comment a leading edge programmer once noted: "Pioneers often get shot." I have learned that although that is true, most of the shots miss and seldom is the wound fatal. Flesh wounds may hurt, but they heal.

On the leading (or bleeding) edge of improving education, shots will be fired, so occasionally... duck!


Sacha van Straten said...

Hi Don,

I'm a week and a half away from the end of the year, followed by a week's summer school for the city academy we sponsor. I'm not how it's happened by I seem to be busier now than I was back in September!

After that I'm off with my partner and her kids for a week involving no lesson planning, policy reviewing, Twitter, or MA study. Heat, beach, sea. Nice.

Yes, I have over committed this year, although it's been an exhilarating and eye-opening journey.

I've dropped a number of activities and consolidated others. Elsewhere I've delegated and I am learning the art of saying no.

Still, I am one of those people who aims to live every minute as if it might be their last. Life holds so many opportunities and so little time to seize them, that it seems a waste not to grab as much as one can.

Here's to a slower year!