Why are phone lines closed?


“Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency, our phone lines are currently closed. You can still view answers to frequently asked questions on this page or send us a message, though responses may take longer than usual. Thank you for your patience.”


I have seen/heard this a lot recently – get your employees to work from home???

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Redundant power sockets in the ceiling

I find it quite amusing that we have a significant number of unused power sockets in the ceiling of our new main block – when there is a dearth of power sockets for use by students to charge their BYOD devices (and phones)… These were designed for audio/video projectors, ceiling mounted but no longer required when the decision to use large TV screens and Chromecast was made. Sadly despite this being known quite early in the process the cost of changing the design (so I am told) was too much – so they were just left there…

I wonder if we can hang power cords from the ceiling for students to use?

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BYOD disconnects

Assuming it is Ministry of Education supported policy to use digital devices for learning and increasingly for NZQA assessments/ exams then it follows that:

  1. All students need to access a device at school.
  2. All students need to access a device at home, either to do homework and/or to learn from home if either sick or “locked down”. This implies broadband also is available.

There are obvious equity issues at play here – made all the more clear in recent lockdown.

Students at WEGC in theory each have a device now – either their own or a school-issued one. They are expected to bring them to school each day. However, even if all students bring their working devices to school (a courageous assumption ) there is still a set of students that for legitimate reasons will need a loan device. This number can vary from 10 to 50 on any given day.

Some issues:

  1. Schools provision of devices and the Internet at home at no cost to the student is not sustainable. Is the Ministry of Education developing policy in this regard?
  2. Schools provision of daily loans to students needs resourcing – both time and money. Is there a self-issue system that can be used to save time (a bit like e scooters)? Can someone develop and market a solution, please… Hopefully resources to fund these loaners can be provided?
  3. Devices start to fail after 3 years and/or get broken/lost etc. This means an ongoing program for fixing/replacing devices will be needed. More cost…
  4. Devices, depending on how used will not last a full day – this means that charging facilities must be available at school. This has implications for new building design. Guess what! our new building has very few areas for charging devices. It seems that Ministry of Education building services are not up with the play here
  5. Can we provide Windows laptops to students doing specialized courses? While not required in all instances they are required for some courses. Or do we try and go 100% online?

The lockdown has been useful insofar as it has highlighted quite a few issues including equity with regard to digital devices. What now?

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Vultures – Only a monopoly such as the Teachers Council can increase fees by 115%

Selected extracts from PPTA communication today. Got to say this annoys me. Why don’t we insist on a car warrant of fitness 3 times each year and charge $38 each time? Shame on the Teachers Council.

“By now you will have received the notification from the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand that they are increasing fees by 115 percent and requiring annual certification from 2021.”

“They claim to have listened to our feedback that teachers want to be able to pay annually – twisting it to mean annual certification.”

“The teaching council is now set to receive $11 million in 2020/21 and a further $5.5 million in 2021/22 for the specific purpose of transitioning from triennial to annual certification and fees. This does nothing to alleviate costs for teachers – it simply allows funding for the teaching council to increase its own workload and the workload of principals and teachers.”

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Can we insist students have video on?

Source chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-meet-grid-view

It is quite disconcerting having 24 students online using Google Meet (or Zoom) and half the students (at least) have their video off. This makes interaction and engagement quite challenging. Unless there are good reasons I also consider it rude. I asked the Privacy Commissioner if teachers could insist on students having their videos on unless explicit permission was granted to have it off (some students have poor wifi for example). Their answer is detailed below including a suggestion that we should do a Privacy Impact Assessment.

Surely the Ministry can do this for all schools and issue some guidelines? (albeit that timeframe did not allow this luxury – it could possibly be done at some stage in the next couple of months?)

“I understand you would like some guidance as to whether making it mandatory for student’s to use the video function of Google Meet during live time class, raises any issues under the Privacy Act.

It would not be possible for us to provide you with a definitive answer to that question as we do not provide legal advice, just general information about where the Privacy Act may or may not apply.

Typically, schools are entitled to put in place rules and regulations about how students engage in the classroom. However, as a general rule, before rolling out a new piece of technology that may have privacy implications, schools should complete a Privacy Impact Assessment (“PIA”). While Wellington East Girl’s College may not collect information about its students through Google Meet, it’s also important for the School to understand how Google Meet may collect, use or store its student’s information.

The collection principles (principles 1-4 of the Privacy Act) may be helpful when considering whether making it mandatory for students to use the video function of Google Meet. Other principles may also be relevant in this case and I have attached a link to them here. I have also attached our Privacy in Schools guidance here, which may be helpful.”

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I was probably destined to teach

Old photo of me teaching adults about the New Zealand Forest Service new computer network and facilities. This course was run at the Forestry Training Institute (adjacent to Forest Research Institute) in Rotorua. I was probably destined to teach but back then would never have thought I would end up as a secondary teacher of computer science and economics.

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Jamboard graffiti.

So, I may need to limit edit rights to Jamboard when I want to use it for actual teaching… A passing resemblance to street graffiti.

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