Monthly Archives: January 2012

Is the keyboard dead?

Interesting discussion on on whether or not the keyboard is dead and just debated on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour… Check out

Mind The Gap!

Interesting point made on BBC’s The Big Question about a fundamental flaw in our education system.  We generate competition between children in the classroom through the use of SATs.  The incumbent Government is now pushing schools away from collaboration and into competition with the Academy and Free School agenda.  Does this ingraining of competition at such a young age and the consequent social gap go some way to explain how our British society is so accepting of such a wide social and economic gap?  What do you think?

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Have a play with Tagxedo and create some stunning word clouds from your blog, tweets, search phrase and so much more!  Here’s one I made earlier…

F2MKE Tagxedo Word Cloud

Chromebook Charging Cart

Wow! I’ve just stumbled across news that a Chromebook Charging Cart exists and if you live in the States is free together with a Cloud printer for purchases of 30 Chromebooks!  What’s the deal for us in Blighty?

Chromebook Charging Cart

Chromebook Charging Cart

Learn to Code

Gove announced at BETT 2012 that the Department for Education (DfE) is launching a consultation with a proposal to withdraw the existing National Curriculum programme of study for ICT.

Instead, teachers will be given the choice over what and how to teach.

So what will this really mean for our children of today and competitors for global jobs of tomorrow?  I absolutely agree that ICT as a subject should fast shift from lessons devoted to the frankly uninspiring teaching of spreadsheets and word processing (this should be embedded use of ICT across the curriculum anyway) and towards the exciting and essential skills that will tool up the Google and Facebook developers of the future – how else will we compete in a global knowledge economy?  But I fear that, given the choice of what ICT to teach and how to teach it, our children will be exposed to an education lottery. Now more than ever is not the time to devalue the need for brilliant ICT skills.

Hmmm… I’ve rather gone off on a tangent as I was going to talk about the brilliance that is – perfect for the classroom and the home.  Coding should start at primary school alongside the Times Table and Spellings 😉

Here’s what Michael Gove said at BETT 2012…

Google Chrome OS

Google’s Chrome Cloud focussed OS and Chromebooks combined with a Google Apps for Business or Education deployment, have the potential to revolutionise the business and education IT world by significantly reducing support and maintenance costs, improving availability – ergo productivity, bettering Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and sustainability and delivering greener IT.

Here’s a great video that illustrates why a move to the Cloud makes sense…

What is Shibboleth and the UK Access Management Federation (UKAMF)?

Shibboleth is an open source and standards based software package for web Single Sign-on (SSo). It allows software services and applications to make informed authorisation decisions for individual access of online resources in a privacy-preserving manner.

In the United Kingdom, the UK Access Management Federation (UKAMF) provides a single solution to accessing online resources and services for education and research using the Shibboleth software.  Identity Providers (IdP) and Service Providers (SP) can register with the UKAMF by following a set of procedures and implementing agreed to policies.

The best explanation I have found so far about how Shibboleth and the UKAMF works is in the following video…

Reaching for the Cloud

BETT Show Michael PickettOn Thursday 12th January 2012 I had the nerve-racking pleasure of presenting Norfolk’s deployment of Google Apps for Education and Chromebook pilot from the Google stand at the BETT Show 2012.

This was Google’s first presence at the BETT Show and wow were they continuously packed! The stand was brilliant – an outdoor classroom theme with an awesome Google Science Fair smoothie bar – drinks served in test tubes!

Despite my nerves, enhanced by the packed audience and pointed video camera, I think that my presentation was well received – judging by the staying put of the crowd and queue of questioners afterwards. Well, the video evidence will either confirm or dispel this notion!

The expressions of intensified interest when I talked about Norfolk having the largest single domain UK public sector implementation of Google Apps – 148,000 registered users – were welcomed. Further err Googling suggests that this may well be the largest single domain deployment in the World!  More on this to come (hopefully) courtesy of a write-up by

Interest seemed to further swell as I talked about how Google’s open standards enabled us to sit Apps for Education over our standards based Cloud infrastructure with its core components including Identity Management, Shibboleth for Single Sign-on (SSo) and the Systems Interoperability Framework (SIF) for the secure and automated movement of data around the system.

If you are still interested then the following slides accompanied my presentation…