Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Update on the Open Data project

Our Open Data Projects Survey
can be filled our here: http://goo.gl/yY5zt
We've had a mild response to the Open Data Projects Survey. So far 5 responses:

  1. Linked Data for Open Government 
  2. data.cnr.it 
  3. OpenGeoscience 
  4. PROD 
  5. AusGOAL - DATA.SA
We'll now move into a phase of collecting information manually ourselves, by ringing and emailing around other known projects, as well as giving a few more prods to people we know could help us gain more responses.

Also, on the advise of a critical friend with Wikimedia, we've moved the wiki that documents our progress on the research side of this project to Wikiversity, leaving the Wikibook solely for the creation of the finished product.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Two New Videos

Yesterday we were visited by Adam Voigt, an ex-school Principal & local consultant who is leading the Dynamic Teacher Seminar Series at CSLLD, and Professor James Dalziel from the Macquarie E-Learning Centre of Excellence and a specialist in ICT systems development supporting Learning Design.

Both videos now uploaded  to the CSLLD YouTube channel:

Adam Voigt - Dynamic Teacher Seminar Series
James Dalziel - Using Learning Design for Innovative eTeaching

Monday, 23 July 2012

Bridge Meeting

Just crossed the bridge walkway & spent some time checking out the Office of Learning & Teaching meeting a few people -- Gemma Izod has just been appointed as Admin Support for the HEPPP project so we will be working together a little more in the coming months. Also spent some time with Helen Rysavy, who is Manager of Innovative Learning Resources - doing a lot in the multimedia space. It seems that there's probably a lot of upside in us getting to know each other better & we agreed that we should have more "bridge meetings".

Friday, 20 July 2012

Project tages

I realised the other day, we aren't using project tags on our posts. The ones we agreed on on the Projects page. So I've gone through all the posts and added the project tags.. Felt that project 'oDev' (Online Development) doubled up with project 'clouds' quite a bit, and we have barely anything up for project 'oDat' (Open Data).. so these project lists and names might need revisiting at some stage.

Outlook now running GMail

We have a breakthrough thanks to James Vreeling at the Computer Support Group at DET.  As indicated in an earlier post on this issue, proxy problems needed to be sorted to fix this. But unlike the earlier post which linked to guidance on how to configure Outlook, Google now provides a Google Apps & Outlook Sync Tool which downloads a configuration script into Outlook & migrates email, contacts, & calendar info.

Before running this tool it is important to check that the new proxy settings are first set up. They should be:

This proxy setting should be automatically set up within a few weeks. The initial setup can take up to an hour but once running seems to perform quite well. A new window appears within Outlook that monitors sync progress:

I am now testing this out but it looks like it will satisfy the needs of those people who prefer to manage their email from within Outlook.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Wikipedia and our Programs

Liz recently posted to Google+ her general approval of the Wikipedia article on Mentorship. I took the opportunity to suggest we think about using Wikipedia a lot more in our work.
I'm hoping our programs can start using Wikipedia on may levels
Such as in assignments:
  • Instead of essays, the challenge is to edit Wikipedia articles to status of Good Article, or Featured (Masters level assignment that!)
  • Start or join discussion threads on any of the Wikipedia article discussion pages. The Mentorship article has lots open to talk about.
Or Using the range of WP articles that relate to the topics in our programs, to list and manage course materials like papers, videos and the like.
Two good starting links for people interested in such ideas:
  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:FAQ/Schools 
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:School_and_University_projects
This is something we hope to suggest and talk more about in October this year, when the initial work of getting more of us working web based is underway, and some of our earlier adopters are thirsty for more...

Monday, 9 July 2012

A benefit of being browser based

USB in the bottom right, Ubuntu the rest
Despite the increasing concerns over Google's browser competition and interoperability, right now, being browser based is for me a real productivity concern.

Last week, and the week before, I've been having troubles signing in to my work computer. It's not me, each time they have to come to my computer and make adjustments with their admin rights. I'm still waiting for the 3rd visit, and if I hadn't figured out another way, I wouldn't be typing here. (Probably better I hear you say!)

It just so happens I have the Ubuntu Operating System sitting on a little USB stick in my draw. Hitting F12 in the early stages of the computer start-up, gives me access to the boot sequence, where I boot Ubuntu from the USB and so avoid the Windows login where I keep getting locked out.

Ubuntu runs well from the USB, and Firefox comes installed, as does a range of Office and Graphics productivity software. Because all my work is "in the cloud" so to speak, all I need is Firefox to get me through to a day's work online and in Google Docs.

So far I've been keeping up with email, working on a service level agreement (just finished it actually), and about to do more on the Online Development Plan, the 2012/23 Budget, and the Centre wide Professional Learning Plan, just after I post this note to Blogger and yer-all. All these documents are due this week, so while I wait for the fella with admin rights to find his way to me, I'm happy progressing work through Ubuntu-on-a-stick, Firefox and Google Docs. Hell, I think I might just install it hard, and be done with it! But then I'd lose my access to that Shared Drive others keep wanting to use...

Working browser based has given me a lot of freedom and flexibility in my work, to the point where I can swap out the operating system, including running one from a USB!, and I can use my phone if I have to.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Testing the Canon XA10

We purchased a Canon XA10 with a Sennheiser wireless lapel microphone recently, and today we gave it a little test. Unfortunately we've discovered  that the battery has broken, so we can only run it on power. Also, using it for web streaming will require another bit of hardware.. here are a few suggestions.

Use caution with Google Forms

Carli and Donna have discovered an issue with Google Forms that is pretty critical. A question cannot have the same text or choices as another. It will only generate once in the corresponding spreadsheet, and collate all results into that one column.

Carli and Donna are trying to use Forms to create a group booking form, but where they ask for the titles (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Dr etc) for one person, if they ask that again for the next person, it creates only one column in the spreadsheet.

To work around this issue, they created a question "Participant 1 title, Participant 2 title, Participant 3 title" and that is enough to generate different columns for the different entries.

It's great to have more people testing out the Google Apps with us, finding issues and developing work arounds. The awareness and methods we develop here will have great value to all the other people trying to use Google Apps, such as some of the NT schools.

Browser no longer supported by Blogger!

It is a constant worry to us, the creeping issues operating Google services in browsers other than Chrome. We are watching for signs of lock in as we gradually use applications outside the Windows lock-in we are presently in. We have contigencies in place to manage this risk, but it is very dissapointing to see Google allowing concerns like this grow.

This recently appeared in Blogger for example:

"You browser is no longer supported by Blogger... try Google Chrome"
Blogger has been managing an update to their interface for months now, and we've noticed issues with this new interface all along. While we're happy using Chrome, we're not happy that Blogger has been unable to at least support Firefox and IE!

A bit of looking around reveals this forum thread starting up: Not Supporting Firefox! with what I think is a pretty fair complaint. In that discussion is a link to this blog post that offers an explanation for the loss of support. It basically says that Blogger developers are not able to keep up with the developments of the other browsers, and older versions of those browsers, but they are working to make their system usable on all browsers. That's some reassurance I suppose.. let's look for an official statement along that line.

I dunno, you'd think with months of transitioning to a new interface, Blogger would be working fine on at least the most recent versions of IE, FF, Saf and Chrome.. I could accept it not working on older versions of those brands, but it should be working on the up-to-date versions.

We are noticing similar issues with Google Docs as well. Working fine in Chrome, but not in IE or Safari. It seems Google's priority is to achieve seamlessness across all its services, rather than across the mix of services in and outside Google that people actually use. I smell lock-in.

But on balance, the exact same issue is prevalent in government, schools and universities who are way down the Windows route. They use systems that only work within a Windows environment, and have done for far too long now. Being public servants we should be keeping a principle of interoperability at the forefront of what we do. Which is why we're watching this space with Google, and keeping escape routes in place.

We backup XML files of our Blogger sites monthly, and those files give us the ability to move to Wordpress if need be. For Google Docs, we store stable versions of our documents on a local shared drive, and are slowly working toward formating those documents in open standard formats so documents can be reasonably interoperable with any office document software.

Logo going external

Hey guys,

So after all that, it looks like we are going external for our new logo. I'm just going to pop up some documentation on what I've done so far in the style guide, but it wont be finished :(

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

CSLLD at the Reconciliation Action Plan walk

The Northern Territory Department of Education and Training become the first NT Government agency to formulate and sign a Reconciliation Action Plan. This RAP It is part of a nation wide action for reconciliation with Indigenous Australians. 

NT DET held a walk in the park to mark the occasion, and CSLLD attended in support.

Gary Fry (centre) and Suzie Peckham (Gary's head left)
Emma. Carli and Jon
Leigh and Karen

Donna and Jon
Yum food

The day the boss hung out

Today is a big day. The boss signed in to her Google Apps account, answered and sent email, connected people on Google+, created and shared a document on Drive, and then joined a 4 person Hangout! Pretty good for an afternoon's worth of skills development.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Battle of the Blue and Orange

So as the logo battles draws close the finish line, we seemed to have tripped and caught our shorts on colour. Here is what we have narrowed it down to:

Who will be the victor in this desperate race against the clock?!?! Results will be in at 2pm...

To put this into better perspective, here is two tests sites I prepared earlier

Updating and Formatting commonly used forms

Hey Guys,

The last few days I have been re-creating commonly used forms and templates into Google Docs. I did notice a few of the documents we use where a bit all over the shop, design wise, so I have done my best to tidy those up, without changing the style, and hopefully not stepping on too many toes! (I just couldn't stand it if there was a space for a name not big enough to write ones name!) So anyway, you'll find said documents under the CSLLD folder, in Forms.