Smokey and the teacher

I got a speeding ticket recently. Fair enough and I should have no cause for complaint except it had nothing to do with safety… in fact, it was a traditional speed trap designed to capture drivers accelerating as they exist Hunterville. No intersections, flat terrain, 100km speed sign in sight… The Police Officer was classic, actually looked the part and told me with a little glee how many teachers and health care workers he had caught that day. Now speeding through the center of town is one thing, accelerating on existing a town is quite another. Mildly annoyed me I have to say.

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Music On The Chain: A Story of Blockchain, The New Frontier of Creativity

This book is a very interesting and accessible read by New Zealand author Anthony McGuire. It is the first book I have read explaining the practical and transformational opportunities of blockchain technologies.  I plan to use some of the content to explain the relevance and opportunities of new technologies to my Digital Technology students particularly those studying music and arts. Now all I have to find are some illustrative examples to demonstrate the technical concepts using Python…

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The Problem With Software: Why Smart Engineers Write Bad Code

I don’t usually read serious books during the summer holidays but in the case, I made an exception. Some quite useful material from a teaching perspective and also if you have been in IT as long as I have, a bit of nostalgia. Recall the debates over goto statements? Tabs versus spaces etc…

On a similar note the video “Turing’s Curse” is also very interesting. It looks back on 30 + years of programming: apparently, there’s nothing new since 1983. 

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Computers making decisions that impact you and your children

This report about the use of computer algorithms by Government agencies is worthy of a wider audience.  I will be using aspects of this report to explain the societal impact of computer technology and automated decision making to my students.

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Blind, deaf and crippled by 25

I have been using a new work allocated laptop with stylus capability over the last few weeks.  Very nice. Of course, at work, I have attached a Bluetooth mouse, keyboard and have a separate monitor. This makes it usable.

Using the laptop at home without the extras reminds me of some of the challenges students must face using laptops or in most cases Chromebooks. These devices have limited screen real estate, small keyboards, and alternative mouse functionality. Without power (ie using battery), they often reduce screen brightness making it hard to see. Yet we expect students to use them each day for significant chunks of the day. Indeed NCEA examinations will require students to use these devices for an increasing number of 3-hour examinations… We also expect students to use earphones to access video content (usually YouTube (frequently these can be heard at the front of the classroom so the volume must be very high!)

All good BUT what about the ergonomics? Once upon a time employees were checked at their workplaces to ensure appropriate health and safety concerns were addressed regarding seating, lighting, posture etc… (And still done in some organisations.) No such concerns for teachers or more importantly students. Hence the title of this blog…

To raise student awareness of risks associated with using their devices I plan to get them to place cotton wool in their ears, apply blindfolds in pairs and sellotape their fingers into a fist shape. And in doing so emulate some of the risks they face if they don’t pay attention to the basics of using devices taking into consideration ergonomics. This will likely be quite a lot of fun and hopefully get the message across. However, on a more serious note how culpable are we (MoE, School Boards) by requiring students use these devices daily without adequate management of ergonomic risks?

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2m up a tree in Aro Valley…

Seen in Wellington. Bit of a climb to retrieve but cleaned up OK.

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Message from student

It is always nice to get messages from departing students…

Of course, both these students were good-natured, capable and engaged (Taking Year 13 Digital Technologies as an elective means you have to be.) Students like these make teaching enjoyable…

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