Create your ‘ownCloud’

Posted: June 28, 2012 in Tech

Occasionally there is a piece software that comes along which astonishes me that I can download it for free. We have been recently investigating the ability for our users to sync their docs with a cloud service, primarily for backup.

We have looked at Google Drive, DropBox and SkyDrive and there are many others. All have advantages / disadvantages however there is one thing that none of them seem to do – local storage. We simply can’t have 1,500 users all trying to sync to the Internet and expect it to work across our 50 meg pipe.  We need it to be stored locally, on one of our servers. Sure we’ll need tons of storage and won’t have intercontinental redundancy and failover, but let’s be honest we are not backing up nuclear launch codes here. One large RAID 5 storage should do the trick.

So a little research and we came across VMWare’s Project Octopus. The video looks good but it’s still closed beta and once released who knows how much it’ll cost. Then a colleague found ownCloud – basically DropBox for your network. Best of all it’s open source!! So we first of all downloaded the VMWare image from the downloads page and tried it out with the Mac sync client. Worked like a charm! So we continued and tried to set it up on a Mac. Here’s the steps:

  1. Take your Mac with Lion (10.7.4 was used) and open the System Preferences and click ‘Sharing’
  2. Make sure Web sharing is NOT clicked.
  3. Drive into the Terminal and you need to edit the Apache Web server config file – vi /etc/apache2/httpd.conf
  4. Find the following line
  5. #LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/
  6. Remove the #
  7. Go back to the system prefs and tick ‘Web Sharing’
  8. Now download the server code from
  9. Copy the uncompressed owncloud directory to /Library/WebServer/Documents/
  10. Point your browser to
  11. Enter an admin user/pass
  12. Done.

Now grab the sync client, available for Mac, Linux and if you are unlucky enough Windows too.

Enter the server IP and your username / password and your done. A folder in your home folder is created called ownCloud. Anything you throw in there is synchronised, with version support, to the server on your LAN. Cool.

There is commercial support available if you need too, see

So how have we found it? So far so good, the sync works well and the web interface is simple with heaps of options. It connected to our LDAP with minimal fuss and we currently have 10 people syncing and testing. All good so far. I’ll keep you posted as we add more load, hopefully it’s a winner!


What to do…

Posted: June 20, 2012 in Random

Alan November’s video sample – Bob’s prime factorization.

It’s getting to the end of the term and there are assessments due, reports to write and general busyness is in full swing. My students have an assessment due tomorrow, then another week of school before holidays. So, what to do?

Recently I have been lucky enough to hear Alan November speak at two different conferences. He, amongst many other things, discussed the concept of students creating videos which demonstrate a concept. These videos were then made available to the world. Authentic audience, task and real world feedback. Great stuff. 

Guess what my students will be doing next week 🙂

PS. A friend of mine has a good post on more of Alan’s ideas here.

Creative or wrong?

Posted: June 13, 2012 in Thought provoking

Do we kill creativity in search of the correct answer? Can you still be right but have a little creativity thrown in to mix things up? This has been the subject of many blog posts, articles and videos, notably @SirKenRobinson ‘s TED Talk from 2006.

Recently  my daughter was asked at Kinder to stick the numbers 1 through 5 on a piece of paper then stick 1 yellow dot on the 1, 2 yellow dots on the two, etc. This is what she created

I asked her why did you put yellow dots everywhere. “Why not, it looks pretty and I really like it.” I was told. “What happened to the 1 and 5?” “They are laying down because they are at the ends and nobody is holding them up”. Ok. So it’s not 100% correct but the right number of dots are on the numbers and they are in order (albeit reverse).

Fast forward a couple of days and she brings home this

Order still wrong but where is the creative dots, the imagination to think that the end ones can’t stand up. Yes it is important to understand the correct way numbers look and associate the number with a value but she was nowhere near as proud of this one and didn’t really want to talk about it. Now I’m not blaming the Kinder or the teacher for anything, they had a task which had to be completed in a certain way. In fact my reaction was to ask why all the extra dots were there and what is happening with the 1 and 5.

How often do we strive for the right answer and not allow a little creativity to sneak in?


ICTEV 2012

Posted: May 26, 2012 in eLearning, Tech, Thought provoking

It’s that time again, ICTEV2012! Here are my presentations.

Software used for video conference : Cisco WebEX –


What a great day, check out #ictev12 on twitter !

Image by Sean MacEntee – Used under Creative Commons Licence.

I’ve been asked a bit recently – ‘So how many iPads do you have at your school?’ or ‘Are you going with iPads?’ Some people look in amazement when the answer is ‘3’ or ‘No’. Even Apple seem to be pushing the point with us. Maybe there is more profit margin in an iPad than a MacBook, maybe I’m a cynic.

The intimation seems to be if your not going iPad your being left behind. Maybe we are, but I’m not so sure. Apple are great at marketing, I’m certainly guilty of lining up for the first iPhone at 6am out the front of the Optus shop, but are we getting caught in the hype?

Before we go too far, the iPad is an excellent device. Apps allow Teachers to integrate technology in a natural way and the learning which can happen is truly rich. Yes, the iPad has a genuine place in education and schools could do much worse. One day all the students at my school may have one. Who knows.

BUT! My point is, as a school with MacBooks we also create rich learning experiences for our students. I’m sure schools with Windows NetBooks or Android Tablets do the same. The iPad is NOT the magic solution as some clever marketers may want us to believe. Teachers who can integrate, see opportunities and make the most of the technology are. Let’s not forget that. People, not the device, are the difference.

1 Infinite Loop

Posted: October 6, 2011 in Random

Today was a special day. I fulfilled a life long ambition to visit 1 Infinite Loop. A quick trip to the Company Store, a few photos and I was off, tote bag in tow full of t-shirts and Apple ‘stuff’. Little did I know what was really going on behind those glass doors.

Shortly after I left the flags had been lowered to half mast.

As I sat on the CalTrain back to San Francisco a student was commenting to a friend on a text she had just received. Steve Jobs had died. No, it’s just my friend spamming me, she suggested. Her friend quickly Facebooked and found out it was true.

One person does not make the team, however it takes someone different to lead in the way he did. Someone I know once quipped at a farwell speech that the person they we farewelling could ‘see around corners’ and knew what was coming. Steve seemed to have that quality multiplied by a million.

RIP Steve, you certainly changed my life for the better.


Posted: September 26, 2011 in eLearning, Tech

The PVUSD building.

Well here I am in Phoenix, Arizona as part of the ‘In conversation‘ study tour. After three flights and more uncomfortable seats than I’d like to recount we have hit the Arizona Biltmore and had a tour of Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Tempe and Scotsdale. Phoenix is a beautiful city, very clean and seemingly well organised and progressive. I’ve never seen so many solar panels before and getting around town was quite easy (although I’m glad I wasn’t driving!). It’s 40 odd degrees but it doesn’t feel overly hot, quite strange really. Everything is big, from my 30cm tall coffee this morning to the Arizona State University which seems like it’s own city. I can’t wait to see more and blog about the next things I learn about.

Our host is Jeff Billings, the Director of ICT for the Paradise Valley Unified Schools District. Amazing place and an amazing man. Jeff is in charge of all things ICT and eLearning for (from memory) 34,000 students across 52 schools and took us to their technology hub including Data Centre, staff and training facility. From what I have seen already the next week or so is going to be incredible. I’m sure I am going to come back with TONS of ideas!!

One of the most painful things about the flight from Sydney to San Francisco, apart from the seat, was the fact that my favourite football team was playing a Preliminary Final, one step away from the Grand Final. There was no way to know how they were going for 14 hours. Hell on earth! We landed and I scrambled to get onto wireless to check the scores. Luckily SFO has good wireless and I could get the scores quickly and find out my team won. From there I had so wait another 5 hours before getting to the Biltmore for access the wireless here. When I heard  Mark Pesce talk about hyperconnectedness I knew I was like this but wasn’t truly aware of how much.

I now have an AT&T mobile but only calls and text. How am I going to survive? An interesting experiment, try turning your phone data capability off for a few days and join me in hyperdisconnectedness….. Thank god for the Biltmore wireless!