Learning, changing and growing

For the past year I have been working outside the classroom, and hopefully I have been making some sort of [positive] difference to the way things have been operating within the faculty.

Of late I have been restless though.

I do miss the classroom, and not just in the fleeting “oh wow, this really sucks I wish I was back there doing that” but more in the “I wish I was doing some of these really cool things myself and not just designing them” but design them I do.

One of the greatest challenges I have had over recent months, has been the frustration of not being able to do it myself.

To know how cool the things are, what the potential of what we are building is, but to not be able to actually get in on the ground and teach is proving to be one of the biggest challenges of my job. I don’t want to lose that particular skill set – and yet, I don’t think that there is the potential for me to do what I want to do in the online space at the moment.

I am having to learn to live vicariously through others. I am having to change my thinking about how I feel about that. I am having to grow a new appreciation for the people who are able to actually do the things I design.

I need to sound less bitter about it all. But perhaps that is a thought for another day.

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Oh let me tell you a tale of woe…

(alternate title “One day my children will think of this as “The Dark Times”)

In December last year I moved house. I went from a very small house in one of the older areas of Canberra… known as “Old Bruce”, to one of the very new ones… Crace. One of the good points (well we thought) was that being one of the brand spanking new areas…we would have NBN. The National Broadband Network has been plagued with issues and has been one of the more politicised infrastructure projects in recent times. Everyone agreed that what we had wasn’t going to last or make the grade for the future, but nobody agreed how the changes should happen. But this is not a blog post about policy or politics (well it could be argued that it is), but for the moment this is all about me and my experiences of trying to get the internet connected.

Because moving house is something I have done once or twice before (read: lots), organising things to be connected and disconnected is something that I don’t find particularity challenging – you call the company, explain what you want and then hey presto… the magic works and you have phone, electricity and all the other things you need to operate in this world.

This time… not so much.

On December 10th 2014 I placed the order to have the NBN connected. The previous tenants had the internet, it would all be fine (I was assured by my would-be internet provider… Optus). It was a simple process requiring two appointments; the first by NBNCo, the second by Optus. Much to my annoyance the first appointment was going to be on January 9th about three weeks after we moved in… preparations were made, offline play organized for the Christmas period… it would be “fun” I assured the Offspring… just like the olden days (insert tales of “when I was your age”).

It wasn’t.

There was no appointment on January 9th. Well there was… I was home, but they didn’t show. Apparently that wasn’t their fault… because there was a need to do some “Network Augmentation” (please note that this phrase has caused a great many giggles… does this mean that my Internet is having a boob job?).

Come February 5th, I called NBNco and asked them what the issue was, I was getting nowhere with Optus, as they couldn’t tell me when I was going to be connected, or what the problem was. NBNCo told me that the people that lived in the house before me had put an NBN order in and that had to be resolved (or cancelled) in order to be able to connect my service. This proved to be wrong.

And then started the NBNCo/Optus blame game.

I will give NBNCo one thing; they kept telling me that Optus was the one that should be following this up… this is completely right. But in all of this, I have had to be my own advocate, so I have called them myself.

Come a week later, both the Optus and NBNCo were telling the same story, that there needed to be “Network Augmentation”, and then a new date was decided on… January 2020.

Now there are some people in this world that no internet until 2020 would be perfectly okay… but this is a house of “Power Users”… so not cool. Both of the Offspring are currently enrolled in online learning (really hard without the internet), my housemate has a photography business (really hard to run without reliable internet), and I am about to start my PhD (again… really hard without the internet).

The new resolution date of 2020 is not acceptable in any way shape or form. Keeping in mind that by virtue of this being an NBN only area, I have no home phone (which generally wouldn’t bother me, but if I had a home phone it would mean that I would also have copper wire and at the very least I could then have ADSL2).

So where are we now?

I have been calling Optus regularly pushing for updates to when they are going to connect. I have been calling NBNCo to see what the progress is on their side.

As of today (20/02/2015), the second date that NBNCo was to have completed the Network Augmentation by has come and gone. I have contacted them and they told me that they hadn’t done the work, but they also told me that there hasn’t been any pushing on my behalf by Optus that this issue be resolved on my behalf.

And here is the really frustrating bit… the people that were in the house before us had the internet connected… on TransACT. One of the good things about the move was getting to chat with the people that lived here before us – we know things about the house, that they had internet was one of the things we know.

But right at this moment I am currently on hold… I don’t think my time is valuable to them, they have already hung up on me once today… even if it was by accident… it isn’t like they don’t have my number.

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*before you say that I should put in a complaint (I have)

**and yes there is the ombudsman, but as part of the complaining to them part you need to provide a complaint number… which Optus have never provided me with (otherwise I would have used it by now).

Where is my toolbox?

At the moment I am at my desk waiting to take delivery of a toolbox, a specially built one.

It has been much anticipated and planned; it is late (which is a shock for an ICT project) and I already have a page of changes that will need to be made before we can go live. It has been an interesting process, watching the people who know, try and explain to the people who don’t, why things are like they are.

Back a few weeks ago now (seems longer), I was talking to someone about the things we needed to happen in this space, what the innovations are, where they are. People around us are talking about the “groundbreaking” changes that we are making in the delivery of education, how this is a “game changer” for post-graduate studies… and yet… the irony is that I am being held up by the need to have the right kind of log in to the system… in this moment, if I was a student, it would be all good.

Future learning and student voice – a ramble

I am coming to the end of my learning journey – well this particular formal learning journey. In the next few weeks I will complete my masters and then have a whole lot of time on my hands… or perhaps I will have time for that novel I have been meaning to write…

This week I am reading a lot about student voice in not only learning, but in learning environments (I am also writing about it a lot as well), and a question is really sticking with me…

Are we giving students an “authentic” voice in their learning?

The paper I was reading was talking about allowing students to have a real say in their learning environments, it wasn’t talking about Student Representative Councils or other representative bodies (which it viewed as “tokenistic” in many of the decisions they allow students to make).

I would like to think that I give students the opportunity to have a say in their learning (at a classroom teacher level I have managed to get some pretty cool things happening in partnership with my students), but at a whole school level, I don’t think I have been as successful as I would like.

A problem that I have with getting student input into whole school happenings within ICT, is that the students who have been identified as “student leaders” are not really those who are interested in what is happening, or could be happening with technology in the school.

I need to find a better way.

Teaching innocently means…

Quote

Teaching innocently means thinking that we’re always understanding exactly what it is that we’re doing and what effect we’re having. Teaching innocently means assuming that the meanings and significance we place on our actions are the ones that students take from them.

Stephen D Brookfield, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, p1