Wednesday, 30 September 2009

working things out

Busy working things out, We have been given server racks by a company and today was getting one of then setup and installed. In this rack we have a number of the ICT departments servers located.
Studentnet - file and print server, with web server running. Year 12 web design web server with ftp access.
h2 - decommisioned today, this was an old Pentium 120Mhz machine running a web server, the data on this machine has been moved to ict1.
ict1 - development machine that hosts a number of ebooks and various developments on the go. Mostly used as a web server.
playdoh - playdoh is a machine that I obtained a few years ago now, just a the apprentice was just starting out on tv. This was one of teh first machines we used for development with the year 13 web design class.
All of the above run linux systems.
house - no not the tv series, but the house server, this hosts a installation, or multiple installations of wordpress. This runs the school spirit website. Running on windows xp with wamp installed.
As with most of these things they are proof of concept and then keep on running, though we are looking currently at what to do with our school intranet development so one person does not have to keep doing everything. We are currently given more and more things to do with the ministry and this is just one part of what our current development is.

I have been looking at a number of moodle installations through school throughout the country, as well as wordpress and joomla. Though I see benefits with each one. I need to think more about a single solution and what will be best to put as a case through to our IT manager. As the final installation will have to be installed and setup on on intranet server, as the ones I have access to above would not be able to handle more than 30 concurrent connections.

The reason is that we haven't really done anything for the last seven years with our current intranet solution, apart from me changing the content on some of the pages. We need to do more to educate our students and provide them with greater opportunities, with web 2.0 being more of a feature in classrooms our internet connection cannot handle it. We are now doing over 200 Gig a month in traffic. We need to look at where this traffic is going and what can do to get this down to a more manageable connection.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Exam Room Cricket

So have to try this out next year

And so we come to the time of the year where we have to supervise exams. You can’t do marking, you can’t surf the internet on your phone, what’s left? Well being stuck in the hall again I have decided on cricket. The international rules are as follows:

•1 Run = Letting someone go to the toilet.
•2 Runs = Hushing students walking past the exam room
•3 Runs = Handing out extra paper.
•4 Runs = Helping a student with an error in a paper or clarifying an instruction
•6 Runs = Crossing off the board of time to go.

The guy who wrote this blog post claims that his personal best is 14 runs in a one hour session.

Now this game can be expanded to three or five day matches with a suitable prize to the victor at the end. It started off as a bit of a joke but it has made the time pass faster and we are all more alert to hands up.
Happy Examining

obtained from

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Office Web Apps

I’m really excited about the potential Office Web Apps have for education. We’ve seen schools, and students in particular, embrace a wide variety of collaborative and online environments to do work in an ad-hoc fashion and move beyond the classroom and even their PC as a core computing device. Office Web Apps will allow students to collaborate in real-time across a wide variety of experience types, whether it’s editing assignments in Word at a library computer or the ability to embrace a much more collaborative approach to sharing projects with teammates. Doing work anytime, anyplace without the restriction of the PC they’re using or the software that’s loaded on it will be a tremendous opportunity. With Office Web Apps, you can view, create, edit and share documents anyplace, on any device (phone, PC, MAC) and across popular browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox).

Office Webs Apps will be a great companion to Office, so students can take the documents they’ve worked on and open them up for feedback and collaboration with others whether or not they have Office software on their machines…and a student won’t have to worry about whether their friend has the same version of Office either. This will open up the world of computing across campus and across different learning modalities which certainly opens up collaboration opportunities.

I think Web Apps are great examples of Microsoft’s commitment to not only create new experiences that connect to the needs our educators and students and what they are asking for, but our commitment to software plus services.

Above is details of Office Web Apps, one of the questions we are going to have to ask ourselves in the future is do we stay with google apps, or jump ship? Or is Microsoft just catching up with where Google are at.

knowledgenet and year 13 web design

the students have asked me if I could do this,

thanks to the great staff at KnowledgeNET for providing me a way to find this out.
All I need to do is to look at the site and grab the form data, and can modify the parts that we need.

Now for the same with google apps.

Google Version
<span style="font-style:italic; font-weight:bold; ">Search Google:</span>
<form action="" method="GET" target="_top">
<input type="text" name="q" size="19" maxlength="255" value>
<input type="submit" name="sa" VALUE=" Google It! ">
<input type="hidden" name="cof" VALUE="AH:center;AWFID:xxxxxxxxxxxxx;">

Wikipedia Version
<span style="font-style:italic; font-weight:bold; ">Search Wikipedia:</span>
<form action="" method="get" target="_top">
<input type="hidden" name="language" value="en" />
<input type="text" name="search" size="20" />
<input type="submit" name="go" value=" Wikipedia It! " />

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Moodle-google apps integration

Starting to think about next year and the requirements of a Single Sign On, and Software as a Service.

What LMS to stay with or go with
We currently have knowledgeNET as our school LMS, moodle as a independent LMS for specific staff, Ultranet is now on the board as a possible alternative.

Syncing users and information
SMS to AD integration, AD to LMS, AD to google apps. Though I have now been looking at AD to LMS to google apps, through a simple block which will provide student access to moodle and google apps through the same login. This means we have to link in through moodle, though there is talk in the knowledgenet camp of hooking in moodle blocks which will also mean access to the google apps environment as well.

But then again, should be we paying for access to a LMS, when there is an open source solution, or are we paying for a domain name, hosting and support?

Username and passwords are also on the agenda,
Currently the format is Surname, First Initial of your first name, year the cohort started school and form class, say David Smith, Year 11 student and in P13 would be SmithD7P13, this has lead to a unstable and unmanageable Active Directory, with students leaving not being removed, students changing form class, yet I don't know how this has been allowed to happen, and mistyped names and details. Our SMS creates a login name and password which is where we are looking at, but I can see differences happening here as students change there prefered name or some details of their name have been entered incorrectly which will cause an issue later on as well. The other issue is the students who have exactly the same name.
Or should we be looking at a StudentID number login name, that links into an actual name in the LMS and google apps, but this will have the same issue with two names that are the same.
Another issue is logins for assessment, will these go through to the LMS and google apps. It would have to be managed in such a way that these accounts do not go through.
I will have to keep an eye on the mle-reference-group on how they suggest this works.

I am some amazed at what some schools have been doing, they have just created a moodle group and teh aim of that group is to share courses and developments with each other.
The three schools are
Eggstranet inaccessible...
Saint Cuthberts inaccessible...

There is a New Zealand schools group starting up

Just an update: I am starting to get more of an understanding of administrating moodle as I play with it more and more, working out that editing on and off gives you more choices and details, though it would be nice to get the External Search Module - DigitalNZ working.

Hot Potatoes, we have been using Hot Potatoes at school since 2005, it has been a download that you had to register after running with a code. as of the 1/9/2009 it is now been classed as freeware. This means that there is no longer a registration code that needs to be entered.
To download Hot potatoes goto - and download.

Some might ask what Hot Potatoes is?

The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is freeware, and you may use it for any purpose or project you like. It is not open-source.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Portable apps

I have been thinking about this for a while, I have been using portable apps on my netbook for a while now it has become my test environment with XMAPP running on it. It has provided me access to mysql and php with apache web sever. It also has openoffice on it. Though I am now starting to think, is this enough.

With the introduction of bigger USB sticks, I am starting to look at Operating Systems that could run on these. Ubuntu has released information that can boot off a usb stick, and now I see windows xp, though it does get me thinking what will happen when you change windows xp from one computer to another. The reason why I am thinking this, is that school cannot afford to buy microsoft expression web. Though with the dreamspark program students can install it on there own computer. So if the students have their own usb stick is it the same, can they install software on the stick that they own. I know this will have some issues around what operating system and how the license is used.


Turnkey - A turn-key or a turn-key project is a type of project that is constructed by a developer and sold or turned over to a buyer in a ready-to-use condition. source

I have been asked to get a solution going for my year 13 web design students that will be easy to use and run. It looks like turnkeylinux might be a good alternative. Using a mixture of vmware virtualisation with VMWare ESXi

WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. It is one of the worlds most popular blog publishing applications, includes tons of powerful core functionality, extendable via literally hundreds of plugins, and supports full theming.

VMWare ESXi - VMware ESXi is the easiest way to get started with virtualization—and it’s free. Consolidate your applications onto fewer servers and start saving money through reduced hardware, power, cooling and administration costs. VMware ESXi has been optimized and tested to run even your most resource intensive applications and databases with minimal performance overhead.

The best part is that I have a machine that is sitting currently idle and can be placed into my little wee server room with the machines, h2, studentnet, playdoh, house and ict1. All apart from one run linux, house is running windows xp with wamp, but if this is successful, I may be removing the database and wordpress and incorporating it onto the Dell machine and leaving the current house machine for an alternative installation.

But what to name the test intranet machine? The Irish translation for Intranet is inlĂ­on.
Then there is the welsh translation, fewnrwyd. Thought this could be somewhat difficult to key in and remember.

Intranet Survey - Students report

SURVEY REPORT - From one of the students
School Web Development Survey

In order to realize the opportunities and needs of the target audience, we were to carry out a survey. This survey was known to be the School Web Development Survey. Created through Survey Monkey, the electronic survey immediately collates data and sorts the information. In terms of the survey, there has been a response of 173 people. In terms of those who took part in the survey, 17.3% (30 participants) in year 9, 19.7% (34 participants) in year 10, 20.2% (35 participants) in year 11, 23.7% (41 participants) in year 12 and 19.1% (33 participants) in year 13. In terms of the responses we had, the largest amount of responses came from year 12 with 23.7% whereas in year 9, there was lowest response with 17.3%, a 6.4% difference. Out of the 173 people who have partaken in this survey, 86.5% had answered ‘Yes’ to using the Intranet.

General Closed Questions – Accessing the Intranet

In regards to the closed questions in the survey, the response rate was quite reasonable. In terms of the intranet, the response rate was sufficient, in comparison there had been 72 students who had missed the entire KnowledgeNet section.

The majority of the respondents use the intranet. 149 people, 86.1% use the intranet, whereas only 24 people do not use the intranet. In terms of this, the majority of people whom use the intranet only access it at least one to three times a week. Almost half of the respondents (47.4% - 82 responses) access it 1-3 times; where as 6.4% of the respondents, 11 people access it 8 – 10 times. 14 people do not access the intranet at all during the week, while 18 people access the intranet more than 10 times.

Through the statistics gained, via the electronic channels of this survey, we are able to see that the majority of people whom access the intranet, access it for the school notices. 89 respondents access the school notices, which is over 50% (actual figures 54.9%) of the total number surveyed. Google Apps is accessed just under 50% at 49.4% which is quite reasonable, whereas House Events and KnowledgeNet are accessed, but not by the majority.

Of those who had responded to the survey, 139 (80.3%) had stated that they would like to access the intranet at home. In correlation to the Internet use they have at home, the majority of the survey population have access to Broadband internet. 147 people (85%) can access internet via broadband. 7 of the surveyed respondents do not have internet access, while 11 have access to dialup. 4.6% or 8 respondents do not know what connection they have available to them at home.

In terms of accessing the intranet, the majority of surveyed students have accessed the intranet more than they have accessed the learning management resource KnowledgeNet.

General Closed Questions – Accessing KnowledgeNet

173 people were surveyed for the Web Development Survey, and only 101 people had answered the questions in regards to KnowledgeNet. In terms of the responses, the majority answered ‘No’ (49 out of 101, 48.5%), followed by ‘Sometimes’ with 34 respondents at 33.7%. In terms of those who use KnowledgeNet, it is quite minimal with only 18 respondents.

For those who access the learning management resource, the majorities do not access it. 46 of the 101, at 45.5% do not access it. While those who access it, access it at school or at school and at home, both at 23.8%, with 24 respondents. The respondents rarely access KnowledgeNet at home. Only six respondents access the system at home, and only at home.

In comparison with the intranet, there seem to be more usage in terms of those who access the intranet and those who use KnowledgeNet. It is apparent that 72 people have not taken this segment of the survey, and this could be due to the fact that they may not have knowledge of KnowledgeNet, or generally did not have time, or had system failure. We can see that there is more usage in terms of the intranet with 86.1% using the intranet, and only 51.5% of the respondents who took the segment of the survey, either access it sometimes or on a regular basis.

Accessing the Intranet - Year Nine

In response to the survey, 30 year nine students have taken the Web Development Survey. In regards to this, there are some figures based on their views and opinions, which can lead to the opportunities, and needs of the target audience. By the level of responses provided by the year nines, we are able to identify the needs of the entry-level student and what they require when accessing the online services. Not that much of KnowledgeNet, but that of the Intranet. 24 year nine students access the intranet, whereas the remaining 6 stated they do not use the intranet.

In terms of what the year nines access on the intranet, the majority access Google Apps with 11 year nines. This is followed by ‘other’ which 9 respondents have answered, stating that they use the intranet in terms of accessing either school related information, research information or third party email addresses e.g. Hotmail. 7 respondents access notices, while 6 access the House Events information. In terms of what is least used, two have answered to using KnowledgeNet. Six people did not respond to this question at all as they do not access the intranet.

It is clearly revealed that the year nines are obsolete with their knowledge of KnowledgeNet, and this was definitely assumed prior to the survey. This learning management system would definitely be a different system from those that they usually use prior to attending secondary school.

In terms of wanting to access the intranet at home, 5 people have stated that they do not want to access the intranet at home. The majority stated yes (25 respondents). In terms of the internet connection available at home, 3 of the 30 do not have internet at home. Ironically they also stated they would like to access the intranet at home. 3 of the 30 also said they would like to access the intranet at home, but do not know what internet connection they have at home. 2 of the 30 have dial up, while the remaining 22 have broadband. 5 of the broadband users have answered ‘No’ in terms of accessing the intranet at home.

12 of the 30 people would like to access school related material. This is in the form of house events, careers information, sport, school photos and even homework help. The 1 have stated so, or answered as ‘All’. In terms of multimedia, 6 people would like to access videos, photos, music, lyrics and comedy shows. 5 people have also mentioned that they would like to access social networking such as Bebo, Facebook etc. 9 people either said they do not care what is on there, or they did not answer properly.

Accessing the Intranet - Year Ten

34 year 10s have participated in this Web Development Survey. The data collected from the year 10s would be specific to the transition of intermediate to high school, as we are able to look at the data and see what the year 10s have gathered after being here for a year. This will allow us to open a door of which we can look at the data through the perspective of a year 10 so that we can create a design that would cater for their needs.

3 out of the 34 do not use the intranet. Although this is the minority, it is very dominant that the majority does access the intranet. In terms of accessing the intranet, 12 of the 34 respondents access the intranet for the notices. This is quite reasonable considering that 7 of 30 accessed the notices from year 9. There is a five respondent difference. Once again, in terms of Google Apps, 16 respondents access the intranet to use Google Apps. This is similar to that of the year 9s who had 11 out of 30 users accessing Google Apps. Unlike the Year 9 usage of House Events of 6 out of 30, year 10s have seem to have a much desired interest with 14 out of 34 accessing House Event information. This could be due to familiarization of the school and house system, whereas the year 9s are still quite new to the system. 9 students have stated they use KnowledgeNet, which shows that the figures between the junior school are low for the usage of KnowledgeNet.

The data reveals that the junior school surveyed has only 11 people who access KnowledgeNet.

4 of the 34 use the intranet for school related purposes. 4 people have answered miscellaneously. Claiming that they are either “trying to access other sites but it won’t allow us”, and “Just looking up cool pic’s of my fave cartoons =]”. One of them accesses the intranet in order to get quotes, though there is no specific quote typed that is accessed. Approximately 24 people claim either they do not access anything else, have entered random figures or have not answered the question.

29 of the 34 have answered ‘Yes’ to having want to access the intranet at home, whereas in 5 of the 34 do not. The majority for both year 9 and 10 have answered ‘Yes’ to accessing the intranet at home. In terms of the internet access at home, one respondent does not have access to internet at home. 2 of the 34 do not know what connection they have, while 4 of the 34 have access to dialup internet. 27 of the 34 have access to broadband internet.

The content that would like to be accessed from the intranet is particularly careers. 10 respondents have mentioned that they would like to see career information. 10 people stated they would like to see school related content, whether it is arts and culture, documents of work and information about the school. In terms of multimedia, 7 people have stated they would like to access video, whether this school relevant or in the means of online video function e.g. Youtube is unknown. Some have commented on whether it is Youtube or not, but it is still entirely unclear. 6 people have suggested photos. The photos mostly wanted are those of school events, e.g. Dreamgirls (school production), sport events, and even ball photos. 6 respondents have stated that they would like to have access to gaming and social networking. This is quite similar in terms of the figures for the year 9s who wanted to have access to the social networking network. 3 people have stated that they “do not know” what they want or they want “nothing”. One entry was empty.

Accessing the Intranet - Year Eleven

The year 11 students mostly use the intranet at least 4-8 times a week, and is the second largest respondent group, at 35 students of the 173. Out of the 35 students, 6 of them stated that they do not use the intranet. 29 students in year 11use the intranet at School. This is a sizeable amount to see how the entry-level senior student would use the intranet to benefit their learning at this educational facility.

In terms of the services accessed through the intranet, 21 of the 35 access Notices, which is a huge increased compared to the year 9s and 10s. This could mean that the year 11s may be more in demand of the events occurring around the school. This is followed by Google Apps that has 16 respondents accessing this service. 11 accesses House Event information while KnowledgeNet is positioned at the bottom again with only 8 respondents using the service. There is a gradual increase in the use of the intranet as the year levels increase from the data collected so far. In addition, there are other services of which is accessed through the school intranet, these are, house points (2 respondents), option choices or examinations (3 respondents), or 4 respondents for miscellaneous school based services e.g. site of the week, research, reading and events around the school. One respondent accesses games via the intranet.

In terms of wanting to access the intranet at home, 7 of the 35 stated that they would not like to access, whereas 28 have stated that they would. In terms of the Internet background at the residence of the year 11, 2 have stated that they do not have internet, where as only one participant does not know what internet connection that they have. In terms of dialup, 3 of the respondents stated they have dialup connection, while the remaining 29 have stated that they have a broadband connection.

In terms of the content that the year 11s would like to access, the majority would like to access photos. 14 of the 35 responses had mentioned that they would like to see photos. Coming up second was anything school related. Under this category information regarding exams, homework etc, has been applied to, and 8 respondents chose this option. Sports and arts and culture along with videos both had 4 mentions, while careers had 6. Games had 1 respondent, while anything or everything came in with 5 respondents. One comment though that has a valid point is that “it would be better if it was updated regularly because some of the stuff is pretty old.”

We can see that there is an obvious factor in terms of the intranet that it is out of date. Some people have noted this before arriving at the questions regarding the content of the intranet. It is also apparent that KnowledgeNet is a service that remains unused. We also see the pattern of more usage of the intranet as we progress through the year levels.

Accessing the Intranet - Year Twelve

In terms of the number of respondents, year 12 held the largest amount, with 41 students (23.7%). This large portion of responses will be able to assist in determining what the year 12s need in terms of their intranet, and what opportunities can come from the data collected. The number of people who do no access the intranet is quite small in comparison. 5 out of the 41 do not access the intranet, leaving the 36 students in year 12 who use the intranet.

The intranet, like for the year 11s is highly used for notices. 24 of the 41 mentioned they access the intranet for notices. This is followed by Google Apps who has a larger number of mentions at 22. Unlike the previous year levels, year 12 have a large number of users on KnowledgeNet. 16 people mentioned that they access the learning management resourced. This is a large number, which reveals to us that as the year levels increase, they may become more reliant on data on KnowledgeNet that could benefit their learning. House Events is in the bottom with 14 mentions, whereas other services accessed are school related. In terms of not answer the question, 2 students had not selected anything.

Accessing the intranet at home would be desirable for the year 12s. Only 7 of the 41 have stated they would not want to use the intranet at home. This is minimal, as like in the other year levels compared to the vast number of those who wish to access the intranet at home. 34 have stated that they would like to access the intranet at home. In terms of being able to access the intranet at home, the internet connection that is used largely is broadband. 39 respondents have broadband access, while one only has dial up. One also does not know what connection they have. Surprisingly all the year 12s who had participated in this survey have internet access, unlike the other years, where there were a minority of people who did not have access at home.

The majority of year 12s would like to access school related content, photos and career information. 30 respondents mentioned one of the above. 10 in each category. In terms of videos or music, 5 respondents mentioned this, while 3 mentioned that they would like to access social networking or games. This is by far the lowest amount. 5 people did not mention anything or said ‘Any’ in their answer. In terms of the intranet there should be “more subject help/resources. Also it would be helpful if you could see what books are in the library from any computer in school so you could find out books you could get without having to get time in the library.”

We can see from the data that the year 12s along with the other year levels would like to access more school related material, as well as careers. This may be due to the decision of a career that students will need to make before transitioning to further tertiary education. Either way, school material, careers and photo material seem to be very in demand in terms of what the year 12s would like to see on the intranet.

Accessing the Intranet - Year Thirteen

Year 13 being the last year of a High School Student we can see what the needs are in terms of the student. We can see how the intranet has catered for them in the duration of their study, and what is needed to make them use the intranet more so often. 33 or 19.1% of respondents completed the survey. 3 of the 33 said they do not use the intranet, whereas 30 of the year 13 population surveyed have stated that they do. For those who do not access the intranet, they did not answer what services they use in terms of the intranet channel.

8 of the 33 do not access the school notices on the intranet, meaning that the majority of 25 access the notices. 14 of the respondents access Google Apps, which is almost 50% of the respondents. 10 respondents access House events information while 6 of the 33 accesses KnowledgeNet, which is in comparison to the other year levels quite low. 3 of the 33 also mentioned that they use the intranet for other means. 2 have stated that they use the intranet for research, while one stated that they access it for timetables such as examinations.

10 of the respondents stated they would not want to access the intranet at home, which in reality is quite a large number in the likes of the 7 out of 41 who had chosen ‘No’ as their answer in year 12. 23 is still the majority that would want to access the intranet at home. Along with being able to access the intranet at home, 1 surveyed student said they do not have internet access at home. 1 do not know what internet connection they have at home, while one is on dialup. This makes the majority 30 of which have access to broadband internet at home.

In terms of the need to access material there is a slight decline compared to year 12 where the majority of options peak. Although this has occurred, a large number access the notices, which may mean more participation in the likes of school events.

With those who access the intranet they would like to access more of photos related to school. This may be “a range of things - Arts and Culture, Sports, Careers, and other interesting school related events - Bollywood Night, School Productions, International Day”. There was a mention of photos 14 times within the 33 year 13s that access the intranet. This is then followed by videos and school related material such as house events that are regularly updated, and better studying material. Both video and school related material had a mention by 12 surveyed students. It is also apparent that library was used frequently as a catalogue or such is wanted by the year 13s so they know what books are available, sports are also categorised as only 2 mentions came from this. Careers followed with 9 mentions, meaning that although there is not a larger number, careers is generally one of the most desired options when coming to access information in regards to the school intranet. Arts and culture came in with 5 mentions, as people tend to like the visual side rather than the informative side. It is also apparent that the year 13s would like to access more notices, this could possibly be of a wider scale than that that is already attainable via the school intranet. 6 mentions for the respondents claim they either do not know or have not specified what they would like to see.

The information collated via the year 13s show that there is quite a decline in terms of the access of the intranet services. Less use the KnowledgeNet, while the main focus is school notices, this reveals that the year 13s may have a strong desire for the events occurring around the school.

Usability of the Intranet

In terms of the intranet and the overall usability functions the response from the 173 students showed that the majority of students could ‘Sometimes’ find what they are looking for. 119 students had chosen this option, bringing the percentage to 68.8% more than half of the population surveyed. 43 (24.9%) of students said ‘Yes’ whereas 11 people said no. The 6.4% of the people that said ‘No’ is a reasonable amount to confirm that there is some difficulty in finding information, in fact the huge proportion of students who claim that they can ‘Sometimes’ find what they are looking for, is enough to show that the intranet is not friendly in terms of data content.

In terms of the content that the intranet holds, 88 students, which is just 50.9% has stated that the content is ok. This is followed by 28 students at 16.2% that say the content is good. 14 heads claim that the content is very good, bringing this percentage to 8.1%. Bad and awful have 15 people who agree with this, bring the two percentages to 8.7%. 13 surveyed students do not know what they would rate content, this is 7.5%. This data clearly shows that although there are different views on the content, there is a large number who find that this is ‘ok’, whereas 30 students from the school population surveyed find it awful or bad, which is quite a sizeable amount in terms of school wide scale.

As for the design of the intranet, it is rather apparent that at 43.4%, 75 surveyed students, the design was ‘Ok’. This is a reasonable amount, which shows that the design is mediocre. Although this is the majority, another large amount of students state that the design is ‘Good’ with 23.7%, 41 respondents. Even so, there is a large proportion of students who state that the design is either bad – 9.2%, 16 students, or it was awful with 21 students -12.1%. This clearly shows that there is a significant amount of students who find the design unattractive. It shows that there are students who may be happy with the layout, but overall large amounts do not find the design appealing. This is a sizeable amount to see that there is something wrong. In terms of ‘Very Good’ there were 11 respondents at 6.4%, and for those who ‘Do not know’ there were 9 respondents at 5.2%.


It is already apparent that there is a significant amount of students who do not use KnowledgeNet. Throughout the year levels it is clearly seen that the junior school would not use the learning resource system as much as those in year 11 and 12. Year 13 shows a slight decline in the usage of the KnowledgeNet. The majority of the school do not use KnowledgeNet, whereas more prefer to use it sometimes rather than all the time.

Students use KnowledgeNet, “only once in a while to check an event or to find subject resources. KnowledgeNet is overloaded, there is too much content and the majority is not used by anyone. The links are unintuitive. It should be less 'personalized', the links under Navigator are useless to most (web diary, to-do list etc, come on). I would rather have links to my subjects, or at least the most recently accessed pages. I would use KnowledgeNet more if I knew each subject page had proper and easily accessible content. For example, the accounting page only has text labels that don't even lead anywhere. Also, the design is quite unpleasing.”

We clearly see that those who use KnowledgeNet are put off by various factors such as layout, content and the out of date material, just as the intranet is out of date. This proves to be a topic to investigate as if there is minimal usage of a learning management resource, is there really any point in having so.

In terms of the knowledge of KnowledgeNet, it is apparent that the majority ‘don’t know what it is’.

The data gathered in terms of KnowledgeNet, feels as if there is not enough substance in the use, and rather the obsolete knowledge of it. It is shown that the intranet has much more interest than that of the system of KnowledgeNet. 72 did not fill this part of the survey, which leaves the data unjust.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Intranet survey

We have been using our current intranet structure and development platform for seven years now. It was developed by an ex student who was employed at the school to develop and bring it up to current ICT developments and in some cases future developments.

Though, it has been recognised that the current look and feel is getting rather old and dated and that there is a need for change. Using the Technology Achievement standards and the year 13 students who have studied web design at year 12 and doing the subject at year 13, and with a slightly changed course of web development, they have been entrusted with researching current trends of our school intranet and development of the future intranet.
They have noticed some interesting trends of development so far with the use of to handle the results and analayse the votes of some 184 students, which is 10% of the school.

85% of students use the school intranet, although a number don't know that it exists as it is not the first page that loads up when the students access the Internet browser. Normally this is a page as we have an issue with log ins not grabbing the right policy.
Almost 50% of students access the intranet between 1-3 times per week. With 11% of students accessing the intranet over 10 times per week.
This will create an interesting task in making sure that we keep students coming back, are we after changes every day or once a week.

Most students are looking at the school notices, this is a rather interesting point, as notices should be read out in form class each morning, they are mostly printed and given to form teachers at morning meeting. So something must be going wrong here. There has been mention by a couple of students that previous day or days notices would be appreciated to go online as well. For year 13 students with study in the morning, they would like to access notices at home to see what changes they have during the day, also various visits. Though this brings in another point that students would like to see included in the thought of the intranet. University visits to be made more public and informed, a calender to show when they are coming up. Thoughts point to using the schools LMS, KnowledgeNET, though various questioning of students through the survey show that almost 50% of students do not know what knowledgeNET is or how to access it. Students have pointed to the fact they they struggle to find information, it is not clear on where things are or what is available, as many of the pages have links that are not yet active. Which is causing some students to give up using such a valuable resource.

What would they like to see on the school intranet?
House events, career information, subject selections, access to the school library, access to google apps.
I myself see our school intranet being used as a portal for students.

Internet portals are virtually dead, but a portal approach can tame the unruly chaos on internal company networks. Intranet portals overcome many Internet portal limitations, and might be the best hope for productivity and a unified user experience.
This is where I see our future development going, though there is still a question, access. Should it be able to be access from home, or should it be an in school thing? Should we put all of our eggs in one basket. KnowledgeNET allows for a public area to be developed and changed, though I see the issue of Internet Traffic. Internet traffic and connectivity is still an issue at school and home. We still have students with dial up access, though this value is getting smaller as more parents see the value of the Internet as being a part of their daily lives. Then there is the apple ipod developments going on, with some thought possibly in the future of a mobile portal for school to be put on the cards in the development of the school intranet.

We then could put all of this on google sites,

Google offers templates, a rich-text editor, 10GB of storage for each Google Apps account and integration with other Google services so you can embed gadgets, calendars, spreadsheets, presentations, photo slideshows and videos. You can invite people to collaborate or just view a site and you can also publish the site so that anyone can view it.
This goes back to connectivity and traffic. One of the solutions that could be used is wordpress being hosted on a server at school. This provides us the solution to put up a media rich site with various gadgets being hosted inside the school, When future connectivity and traffic issues are sorted with the roll out of fibre connections to the gate, then we are ready to provide access outside of school.

Students are busily writing their report on the results from the survey, which will steer them in the development of the future portal/intranet.

One thing I would like to see is some google analytics on the site, to see where students go and what they are looking at,

If you can reach the above URL using your network's internet connection, you have satisfied the first requirement. Additionally, your intranet must be accessed using a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) such as The ga.js JavaScript will not work if your intranet is accessed using a non-FQDN (such as http://intranet). Copied from google
This seems that we would have a problem running it on our site, though I would like to see an alternative that was able to run on our system. It seems that would be a suitable alternative to run, and is simple enough to install on our own webservers.

KnowledgeNET Stats
We have been in contact with the management of the system at school for a copy of the login logs of students and staff on knowledgeNET, out of the 1850 students and 120 staff, only 546 have ever logged in successfully into knowledgeNET. 4281 successful logins have happened, so it shows that some students have accessed this multiple times, one student has accessed the site 262 times over this year, the top teacher has accessed the site 86 times.

Some of the student comments:
- A range of things - Arts and Culture, Sports, Careers, and other interesting school related events - Bollywood Night, School Productions, International Day - Information regarding these (permanent instructions to partake etc)

- Past notices (few days back maybe) - Upcoming events, possibly like the calendar available on knowledgenet which is quite useful occasionally. As a side note, syncing with google calendar would be useful. - Library catalogue These would probably be useful only if available at home

- Video access - Drama and Media Studies Recent books/movies- Hard to find any good ones these days (books especially)

- Arts and Culture, Careers, House Events (needs to be regularly updated), Videos/Presentations shown in assembly throughout the week

- Yes all of those but also it would be better if it was updated regularly because some of the stuff is pretty old.


Where to go to next?

Saturday, 5 September 2009

robocup junior - the day

We have been busy preparing for this day for the past five weeks, two teams have been meeting each Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7:30am at school constructing robots and programming them to meet the requirements for the robocup junior rescue. We have a year 13 team, and a year 11 team
Unfortunately the year 11 teams pulled out citing not enough time, however looking at today's challengers I believe that they would have managed to gain maximum points having seen what I am seeing today.

The year 13 students have been busy getting their programs ready for each round and challenging themselves to meet their own goals. Making there way through the field to the spill area.

Round One

- 44 points

Round Two

- Follow the line and hope for the best aka Operation Dad 34 points

Round Three

- back to basics (Where is the manual?) 12 points

Round Four -

Finding our way back, where is the program that we designed at school, oh yeah, its on the server that killed itself! - 10 points our worst one yet.

Round Five - Operation Turn right, earned us 48 points

One of our highest rounds, if only we had planned the speed bumps which caused us to get stuck, kind of like a boy racer on a Saturday night. Though had we got over this, we would have been caught at the water tower, the aim of this was just to get a far as possible for a suitable amount of points...
The water tank is behind the person on the floor.

A total of 148 points plus the interview points placed us second in the Auckland region, which is a great accomplishment. When we entered this we were just going for an experience and to see what it was about. It is a pity that the year 11 students did not join us, as it would have been nice to take home two trophies as I believe they would have accomplished some of the tasks better than the team.
look forward to 2010, though I hope it is in a bigger venue.
A couple of things, we will have to get some of our own tiles so we can do our own competition at school, a good thing to do if we go through with the suspend the timetable at the end of the year, this will provide an opportunity for the students to get involved in a team situation as I have seen today with problem solving, computer crashes and other issues. Second is the opportunity to enter another type of competition, I would like to enter the dancing comp, with something a bit different, where through the dance the robots draw a design on the floor, so at the end the operators can hold it up. We have two minutes max to do this, so it will have to be quick and crude, though this allows for the opportunity to run multiple robots, I think the most I saw today on the floor was 4, and that was a band.
the students have said they would like to have more time to do this, but talking with other students from other schools, it is normally a club environment at lunchtime where they have only been working on things for three weeks.
Thinking about the various types of dance today, there was no bollywood, how could we create our first robotic bollywood group.
Do we have enough equipment to handle future competitions?
Recording each round, we started off recording each round, but after the disaster of round 4 we thought we would not do any better on round 5, so we didn't record. This is likely to be an issue when we get to handing in the work required for the unit standard. That is why I have include photos on the blog here today, so we have a record of what has been done and what modifications were made.
twittering the event today also provided some information for people following me on what was happening, sorry for not including the fourth round results, I think it was more of the fact that it was a disappointing result that caused me not to put it up until after finding out that we had gained 2nd place.