Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

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!


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.


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!


But it’s on my phone….

Posted: May 27, 2011 in eLearning, Tech

But Daddy, I can tether to Grandpa's iPhone and bypass your filters....

Had an interesting discussion today with a student who asked about why Facebook was blocked at school.

“Why do you bother?”

Insert standard ‘because we have to’, ‘to keep you on task’ response.

“But it’s on my phone…”

How true. Why do we bother?

It brings me to a recent discussion on a mailing list I read about tethering and iPhones. One student enables ‘Personal Hotspot’ on their iPhone, invites 5 mates and they are facebooking to their heart content. Does blocking get to the real issue? No.

Digital literacy is the key. The time is now. We need to deliver these skills to students as the Information Age swamps us. What could be more important?

Remember Google was named after Googol – a 1 with a hundred  zeros. I’m sure they are nearly there……

ICTEV Presentation Resources

Posted: May 20, 2011 in eLearning, Tech

The natives are here…

Posted: February 10, 2011 in eLearning, Tech, Thought provoking

Had the most amazing experience today, a colleague and I are team teaching a Year 9 class for first term and today was the first lesson. Having been involved in my schools 1:1 program implementation from the start this was the first time I had full control (well almost) of a class where every student had a MacBook in front of them. I have done plenty of guest roles, Mark can you come in a show the students how to x,y or z, but now we are in charge.

Well. Where do I start? We began with a little chalk-n-talk, when my colleague, who is much more organised than me thank god, introduced a group task. Cool, the students were recording their ideas on paper when it dawned on me. Google Doc time, share with the class, time to share all our ideas together. Then over to Apple Remote Desktop, add all the students to a list and rotate their screens on the projector. Wait a minute won’t they cheat and copy each other? No. It’s celebration time, look what ‘insert student name here’ has done with this, conversation time again. Cool.

Hmmm it’s a bit quiet, “Who has iTunes sharing on?”. Connect to their iTunes from my MacBook, plug in the speakers and hit play. The student’s music is pumping while they are working.

The Google Doc is flying, students are typing over the top of each other, someone deletes all the text, thanks to the revision history it doesn’t matter. They “get it” and create a new line for their entry and all it good.

The end of the lesson is nigh, students time to upload your work to the dropbox we just created on the Intranet.

1 student submitted – refresh
7 students submitted – refresh
18 students submitted – refresh
23 students submitted – done

Students exit – stage left.

Well, what just happened… We created some pretty cool experiences for our students, who seemed to be engaged and interested in what they we doing and their learning. After having experience with the tools it is great to be able to use them ‘in the field’. Our greatest challenge is not only to give our teachers the tools but help them to see the opportunities to use them. We spent a total of about 1 minute explaining how to use the tools, it’s amazing how they just get it. Connectedness for them is the norm.

Bring on next Thursday!