Monday, 21 June 2010

Wiki, Driving Licence, Paint and Electrics

Apart from the distraction of the snake, the week started with me setting up an Education Technology Wiki on Monday and Tuesday, kicking off a computer driving licence on Wednesday and Thursday, team meeting and group wall painting on Friday, and sweatily wiring in five power sockets on Saturday (seven more to go).  "Jack of all trades, master of none," springs to mind!

I'm going to use the Wiki partly for an ICT syllabus for kids that I'll work with in developing countries (if the syllabus isn't already prescribed).  So far it amounts to plagiarising the European Computer Driving Licence from BCS (formerly British Computer Society, now Chartered Institute for IT).  It will develop with time, and I'll add my own lesson plans and students' work, to make it a small learning resource for teachers doing what I'm doing, if that isn't too grand an aim. 

Originally using Google Documents but now the Wiki, I'm also developing my own Provisional Computer Driving Licence. If the teachers working with Adopt Sri Lanka can demonstrate ability and understanding of ICT fundamentals then they'll be granted the provisional licence and ASL will pay for the setup and the running costs of an Internet connection for their schools. This is ostensibly to reinforce ASL's Twinning schemes between Sri Lankan schools and English-speaking schools (mostly in the UK), but having an Internet connection will hopefully widen the schools' horizons in every subject, given net-savvy teachers.  Many of these schools have one or more computers but the teachers lack some skills in using them.  So, I've produced a list of the target abilities and understandings; now I have to develop learning and assessment materials.

If I had a PLN (a "Personal Learning Network") I'd be able to pick the brains of educators for the best materials. But I don't have a PLN, it's just little old me, so I need to do a spot of research.  First task is to find succint learning materials for this:

Basic Security
Demonstrate understanding of:

   1. Unsolicited Messages: spam, how spammers find email addresses, filtering.
   2. Malicious Programs: viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware, rogue diallers, and how they propagate. Anti-virus software, anti-spyware software.
   3. Infiltration: hacking and firewalls.
   4. Hoaxes: fraudulent hoaxes and how to deal with.
   5. Authentication: need for usernames, passwords, and PINs.
   6. Confidentiality and Privacy: need to protect children and adults.
   7. Identity Theft: Phishing. Recognize attempted phishing.
   8. Network Security: Securing networks with username/password.
   9. Wireless and Bluetooth Security: Securing Bluetooth with username/password.
  10. Data Security: loss, theft, accidental deletion, data corruption, computer malfunction.  Backup procedures. Start-up and shut down procedures.

We're setting up an area in the Tangalle office where teachers can come and receive training, or self-train.  This will amount to three multimedia-equipped computers, three chairs, two purpose-made (and damned heavy) tables, and a networked connection to our existing printer and Internet. Computer number three was bagged through the very generous funding of Blackfriars Overseas Aid Trust and my good contact there, Filomena Nave.  Thanks guys!

So, before we could install the power for the new computers we needed to paint the walls which were looking very shabby. Jude, one of ASL's four Field Officers, did a good job of matching the colour (Magnolia!) and Bec, ASL's manager, came up with the idea of a group paint activity.  I thought it was going to be a warm-up session before our team meeting but it was actually a warm-down.  It was fun but the quality left a lot to be desired!  Much paint got dripped on the floor and not so much cleaning-up-afterwards was done!  Regardless, it all helped, at least with the base coats.  Beats me why Sri Lankans thin their paint so much that you need four or more coats - it was like painting with skimmed milk! 

On Saturday I touched up the missing bits of paint and went over it all again.  Then it was time to start the electrics.  I'd decided we needed six double power sockets.  Unfortunately, while it was possible to find doubles, it was impossible to find matching boxes!  But bigger boxes for twin singles were available, so that's the way I went - twelve singles in six surface-mounting boxes.  Why not use a professional?  Well, our pet electrician gave us a quote based on a price per outlet but, with a compact, many-socketed installation, the price worked out too high, and he wouldn't compromise.  Turns out that's the way all electricians quote.

It was a hot day and the work was more physical than I'm used to, so by the end I was dripping.  Not a pleasant thought or sight!  I'd tackled five of the more tricky outlets (making the trunking look neat was surprisingly difficult) but it's well on the way.  And I fitted a breaker to the distribution board too so, fingers crossed, I should be able to finish it next weekend.

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