IT staff have been busy over the holiday break installing 30 new computers in the Primary School and setting up a new computer laboratory in the Secondary School, containing 25 Apple iMac computers. The Apple computers have a dual boot option that means users can choose to use either the Macintosh operating system or Windows Vista. There are many more multimedia projectors available within the school, some are fixed while others are portable.
The school's previous Internet access speed of 2Mbps has now been doubled to 4Mbps and this should help address the constantly increasing need of staff and students for faster Internet access. The school's Portal site at www.globaljaya.net
continues to expand and I'm sure that more staff and students will make use of its potential over the coming academic year.
Our existing Moodle site (using version 1.6 of this free, open sourse software) at www.globaljaya.com/moodle
continues to function but a newer version of Moodle is also available to the school community. This newer 1.9 version can be found at moodle.globaljaya.com
and staff who wish to set up courses there should contact me via email@example.com
Finally, the school website has a new and more professional look thanks to the efforts of Pak Chairul who has been redesigning the site for a number of months now. Have a look at the results of his efforts by visiting www.globaljaya.com
is a free and interesting little program that allows children to paint on a electronic canvas using a variety of tools accompanied by entertaining and amusing sounds. I've road-tested it on my five year old grand-daughter recently and she certainly found it engrossing. It's available for download at http://www.tuxpaint.org/
There are versions available for the Mac OS and Linux. Don't forget to download the stamps as well (a separate file) which are images of animals, plants, planets etc. that can be stamped onto the page. There are in fact a whole range of Tux Software including Tux of Maths Command
and Tux Typing
. The former tests basic arithmetic skills while the latter develops keyboard skills. If you have small children or teach them, give these programs a trial.
Recently a number of teachers have had their laptops infected by viruses originating from USB stick drives that they have plugged in to their computers. Given that these stick drives, especially those belonging to students, commonly contain viruses, extreme caution is advised. Here are some tips to avoid infection.
Firstly, before opening any files on the USB stick drive, scan the drive using both McAfee (or equivalent) AND PCMAV (hopefully you have this program installed). Secondly, open an account on your own computer and assign this account limited rights (not administrator rights). Many viruses need full control of your computer if they are to successfully install and do any damage.
You can use this limited rights account most of the time because the administration account is only necessary some of the time, for example when installing software. It will be much safer to access the Internet or the contents of a USB stick drive if you have a limited rights account activated. For details on how to do this, visit this site
Most teachers who use their laptops at school have McAfee antivirus installed and it is automatically updated with the latest virus definitions whenever you connect to the Internet. Sometimes however, this is not enough. There are local viruses that McAfee cannot detect and for this you will need PCMAV, an antivirus program created here in Indonesia to help combat home-grown viruses.
It is designed to work with Windows XP (nearly all the local viruses target this operating system) and can be downloaded from the Intranet (General > Software Installer > Antivirus+Antispyware > pc-mav-anti-virus-1.1-update-build-3 > PCMAV-RTP) or from the Internet at http://pcmav.biz/
or Pak Joshua or Pak Chairul can install the program if you bring your laptop to them.
You should also have antispyware software installed and for this you can use Windows Defender, also available for download from the Intranet (General > Software Installer > Antivirus+Antispyware > Anti Spyware > WindowsDefender) or the Internet here
or again see Pak Joshua or Pak Chairul. Note that Windows Defender is automatically installed as part of the Vista operating system but not if you are using Windows XP.
If you are running Microsoft Windows XP, here are some tips on keeping your computer safe:
make sure that you have up-to-date antivirus software installed
make sure that you have local up-to-date antivirus software installed viz. PCMAV
make sure that you have up-to-date antispyware software installed
make sure that you have an active firewall (this should be automatically activated in Window XP SP2)
access the Internet using Firefox NOT Internet Explorer
install McAfee SiteAdvisor in your Firefox browser
never visit an Internet site that has been awarded a red cross by McAfee's SiteAdvisor
immediately delete emails whose origins are unknown
scan all storage media that you connect to your computer before opening files
Pak Richard has recently added an article
to the Staff page about integrating Web 2.0 into classroom teaching. I'd like to follow that up with an excellent series of two page vignettes (each less than 100 Kb in file size) describing a particular aspect of Web 2.0 in a teaching/learning context. After reading the following well-written and easy-to-understand essays, you will have a clearer understanding of each of these Web 2.0 tools. This information was taken from www.educause.edu/eli
The good news is that the bandwidth for our Internet connection is to be increased from 1 Mbps (Megabit per second) to 2 Mbps in the coming week. During the IB conference that the school hosted in January, the bandwidth was temporarily upgraded from 1 Mbps to 2 Mpbs but then reverted to the lower level once again. This bandwidth has proved insufficient for the school's needs due to the rapid expansion in the number of users.
In a way, we have become a victim of our own success. Over the past two years, the laptop loan scheme for teachers has added eighty laptops to the Local Area Network (LAN) and the school's extensive Wi-Fi coverage has encouraged more students to bring their laptops to school and connect to the both the LAN and Internet. All these laptops have access to the Internet via the LAN to which they are all connected. Let's hope the new 2 Mpbs bandwidth is sufficient for our needs, at least for the moment.
There's a simple way for students to improve their academic performance and that's by getting enough sleep. However, easy and uncontrolled access to the Internet means that many students are staying up way past their bedtime chatting online, playing interactive games and perusing social networking sites. Hours slip by unnoticed, midnight comes and goes and a new school day looms. Even after turning off the computer, their minds are still active from their recently terminated activities. Sleep comes slowly and waking up may be so difficult that some students opt to feign illness and remain in bed. The ones that do struggle awake and go to school are present physically but absent mentally.
SLEEP disorders should be made a national health priority alongside alcohol abuse and obesity, leading specialists have urged. Problems with sleep underlie up to 70% of GP visits and cost the economy more than $10 billion a year. Experts say the problem is being ignored, although fatigue is implicated in a high proportion of car accidents, workplace injuries and depression cases.
There is no reason to think that things should be any different here, especially among the secondary school students at Sekolah Global Jaya where the primary impact of sleep deprivation is on school attendance and concentration in class. Almost all our students have access to the Internet and an increasing number have their own laptops. This means that they can often sit in bed and be connected to the Internet if they have Wi-Fi in their homes.
There is an interesting article at Education World that suggests adolescents may get caught in a vicious circle from which it is difficult to escape:
Adults who do not get enough sleep generally yawn and feel sleepy all day. Like adults, sleep-deprived children are hard to rouse and exhibit sleepiness in the morning. Unlike adults, however, children generally become more active -- and less able to concentrate -- later in the day. Because they become increasingly more "wired" as the day progresses, sleep-deprived children often have trouble going to sleep at night. Parents may not realize that their children are not getting enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation problems among our students will likely worsen as more handphones and mobile computing devices incorporate wireless connectivity with the Internet and touch-screen user-interfaces. Even now cheap late calls on handphones and SMSing are eating into our students' sleep time.
There's not much that teachers can do about all of this. It's really up to parents and guardians to implement some house rules about the use (or abuse) of technology in the home. When the home provides 24 hour Wi-Fi Internet access to children, there must be some restraints and controls imposed on its use by parents and guardians.
Sleep deprivation is not the only issue however, even though it is the most important. The more time that students spend online, the more the opportunity for getting into mischief or becoming the victim of mischief e.g. cyberbullying. Students who engage in online games often form into guilds or clans that collaborate in achieving the games' goals and defeating rival clans. This game play can be time-consuming (leading to lack of sleep) but hostilities can sometimes spill out into the real world (when the clans are comprised of students in different year levels within the school). The single most important rule for parents and guardians of students at this school is to know what your children are doing online.
Social Networking Sites are always in the news lately and the news is sometimes not good. Teachers are naturally reluctant to make use of them for student-based activities because of the lack of control that they have over the content that is posted. This is why Ning
can be very useful to educators because it enables them to set up their very own social networking sites in which they are the administrators and thus in total control. Setting up such a site doesn't cost anything and educators can request to have their site free of advertisements.
Naturally, I thought I'd try it out and set up a site at www.voodooguru.ning.com
for my Year 11 ITGS class who are currently studying robots, robotics and artificial intelligence. Membership of the site was by email invitation and only members could contribute to the content of the site. Content could include blog post, contributions to forum discussions, upload or embedding of videos, upload of sound files and upload of photographs. I asked the members to contribute to all of these content types.
For each content type, they were given specific directions about what to do. For example, for video content they were required to embed a link to a robotics video that they had located on YouTube or some other site. While the links to such videos will not play at school because of blocked access to YouTube, student can view the contributions of other students at home and also rate them and add comments. I actually downloaded the most interesting videos at home and showed them to students at school.
For sound files, students used text to speech software to create a robotic voice reading of a review of a film that they had seen involving robots. They then uploaded these MP3 files to the site's music player. Not surprisingly, this has proved a very popular activity and it is still ongoing. Most of their work is being completed at home so you don't need to book a computer room for an activity like this to succeed. All you need to do is set up the site and direct them to it. Templates are provided that you and choose from and after that it's just point and click. All the work has been done for you.
Have a look at what the ITGS students have done and also visit the Ning site and see what other educators are doing in other subjects. The first Ning site that I visited was one that was set up by a History teacher who had his students investigating the 1970's. I was impressed and immediately set about creating my own site. Most students have experience with social networking and are positively disposed to getting involved and contributing. Give some thought to making use of Ning is your teaching.
Our new school Portal is up-and-running and the transfer of files and directories from the old Intranet is gathering pace. If you haven't already signed in to the Portal, please do so and have a look around. If you have responsibilities for transferring content, please start this process as soon as possible and contact me if you find you have any problems with access rights.
Currently active sites include the IB, CAS, MYP, SSS and IT sites under Secondary. A small start has been made in TOK and Secondary Mathematics and more content will be forthcoming I'm sure. The Daily Bulletin is accessible under Staff and the various booking sheets there should be active shortly. A variety of documents have been placed on the Community site. When you update or add content to your site, let staff know via internal email.
The most important IT news for 2008 is that SGJ's SharePoint Server Portal Site is up-and-running. It can be accessed via www.globaljaya.net
and most of the existing Intranet content will be moved to this site, meaning that the content will be accessible from both inside and outside the school. The site should facililate collaboration amongst teachers and open up new communication channels between teachers and students. I'm sure many uses will be made of this site and its facilities in the coming year.
The URL of SGJ's new IT blog is www.globaljaya.net/secondary/IT/blog
and it can be subscribed to using an RSS feed (available in Microsoft Outlook). Subscription via Outlook means that new posts will automatically appear in your RSS Inbox. The former blog site at www.globaljayait.blogspot.com
will remain open but no further posts will be made there. Please feel free to leave comments on the new site and let me know if there is any topic that you would like information on.