Hello 2016…it has been a while

It has been a while since my last post.  It has been 105 days since my last post but who is counting?  It has been a crazy 105 days.
I started a new job in July 2015 and now work from home.  Going from working in an office or school setting to working from home has been an experience.
I’m working on different ideas, reading more and working to learn new skills.  I want to refocus my energy in learning a programming languange.  I am trying out mediation along with getting healthy.  I try to record a daily thought.
In short I don’t know the direction this blog will take but that is part of the fun.

Backup and Recovery Plan – 2015

A good practice is to always review your backup plan and make changes as necessary.  There were a few unfortunate events in the last few months at my workplace that put our backup plan into action.  This caused me to reevaluate my plan for the home.  My plan also focuses around device security as I have a mobile work platform.
Device Security:
My Macbook Air has the disk encrypted using File Vault which is part of Mac OS X.  You can learn more about File Vault here.
I have also installed Prey on my Macbook Air.  Prey is a piece of software (free for up to 3 devices) that allows you to track your devices and set them to modes that would help in the recovery of a lost/stolen device.  You can read more about Prey here.
Additionally I make sure to use a strong password on the machine and for any services that will support it use two factor authentication in order to access the service.
Backup Plan:
My onsite backup plan consists of an Apple Time Capsule and Time Machine from the Mac.  This creates hourly backups to the Time Capsule.  This will allow me to quickly restore a file should I need to perform a restore.  A good backup plan doesn’t keep the data in a single place thus creating a single point of failure.  That is where Amazon S3 factors into the equation.
Just even a few years ago, the idea of a home consumer being able to afford or perform a backup to a service in the cloud was new.  Popular services such as Carbonite, Back Blaze and others accomplished this for the home consumer in a simplified manner.  I have used both of these programs in the past but they didn’t necessarily play well if at all with my Time Capsule.  It left me in the situation of having this data backed up into a single location.  I then started exploring Amazon Web Services and the S3/Glacier combination.
I did some research and came across a program called Arq from Haystack Software.  Arq allows you to backup to multiple cloud storages and even a SFTP server (this factors into another part of the backup plan).  I created an account on Amazon Web Services, purchased Arq ($39.99 or $59.98 with lifetime upgrades) and started the upload process.  Amazon S3 operates on three levels of service including Standard, Reduced Redundancy and Glacier.  You can learn more about the different options here.  The backups I have created with Arq are stored at the Glacier level.  Glacier storage costs .0100/GB/Month for the data stored and has a restore time of 3-5 hours then the time to download.  I have roughly 300 GB of data that I am backing up currently which would cost me $3.00/month to store.  A cool feature of Arq and S3 is that it does versioning of your data so if I need the truly original file I could restore that file versus only having the most recent version.  It also only uploads any new files or updated files to Amazon so it is not performing a full backup every time it runs.
I went with the Glacier option because I have access to my Time Capsule if I need a file quickly.  I also figure that if I am restoring from Glacier then there was a bigger problem.  An example of a bigger problem could be my device was stolen, a hard drive failure etc.  I am paranoid so having the files just stored in Amazon didn’t set well with me so I said what else can I do to make sure I have access to my data?  I have a computer that I built a few years ago that is currently not being used.  My plan for this device includes setting it up as a SFTP server and having Arq backup to this server.  After the initial backup has been completed, this device will be transported to my parent’s house and setup there.  It will receive a copy of any changes each night.  This is incase there is an issue with accessing the data from Amazon or the unthinkable happens and Amazon closes up shops.
There is one other issue at hand and that was how do I quickly get backup and running should I have a hard drive failure in my machine or I need a new machine?  I did some more research and came across two products which allow you to create a bootable image of your machine at that point in time.  One product is called SuperDuper! and the other is Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC).  They appear to do the same thing the only thing I am seeing that is different between the two programs is that CCC is able to copy the 650 MB recovery partition that is part of OS X and allows you to download from the Internet if you have to restore the operating system.  I am going to test both of these out and figure out which one I will include in my backup plan.

Using the Tools Around Us

I enjoy tinkering with systems.  I enjoy building a computer from the ground up.  I enjoy exploring and asking the question of “What If…”.  I enjoy making a system or systems do something that it wasn’t originally intended to do.  That is where this blog post starts.  It starts with taking a system (Illuminate Data and Assessment) and using it to fit a need we had at work.  It starts with asking that age old question of “What If…”.
Illuminate Data and Assessment is a powerful application that allows schools to track data and assessment results about their students.  You are able to tie standards to questions within a quiz and subsequently you can design instruction around the areas which need improvement and more.  The preceding two sentences does not do the system the justice it deserves.  I really enjoy this product and when I enjoy a product, I get overly excited about it and wordy trying to explain just how awesome it is!  We have supported the application and it’s implementation in 19 charter schools in Ohio over the last three years with close to 5,500 students.  The work we are doing was submitted as part of a Straight A Innovation Grant and was awarded almost $2 Million dollars as we work to bring 17 charter schools together to collaborate and use the system.
Illuminate has a feature within the Data and Assessment application called OnTrack.  The idea behind OnTrack is to combine multiple areas that you measure into a single report and set boundaries to determine if a student is on track to meet the desired goal.  The idea for using On Track outside of the box came via a conversation we had with a school leader who had a desire for the students to own their data and work.  As I was reading books on rubrics for a presentation I am giving in June, the idea to use OnTrack came together so we could assess how the 19 schools we work with in Illuminate are progressing in their implementation of Illuminate other items.  We want the schools to become owners of the implementation process and become owners of the system.  We have tracked this data previously using a simple Google Spreadsheet but we had two major flaws with this approach.  The first flaw was that our scoring of these areas was subjective.  The second flaw was that we allowed our selves to starting awarding half points.
In response to these identified flaws, I built two OnTrack configurations after discussion with my team.  We identified that in the first semester of the year, we evaluate different items than we do in the second semester which was our driving factor in creating two configurations.  We also developed a rubric so our scores could become objective instead of subjective. Our rubric goes from 0 – 4 which are then translated within On Track to a point value.  We set the On Track scale for each of the configurations to be a total of 1,000 points possible.  One of the metrics within our grant was that we would have 80% or higher of teachers at the school using Illuminate on a monthly basis.  We assigned this 300 (30%) of the 1,000 points.  The idea behind this thought process was that if the teachers are using the system, the other 700 points would come together.  We also assigned lesser point values to other areas that we deemed were important but not necessarily 100 points important.
1st Semester:
  1. Illuminate Site Setup/SFTP
  2. ITC/SIS Configuration
  3. Data Cleanup
  4. Nightly Data Loads
  5. Implementation Meeting
  6. Illuminate Training
  7. Data Team Schedule
  8. Data Teams Training
  9. Communication
  10. Admin Check-In Schedule
  11. Logins
2nd Semester:
  1. Data Cleanup
  2. Training
  3. Data Teams Schedule
  4. Admin Checkin
  5. Next Year
  6. Communication
  7. Data Binders
  8. Logins
  9. Online Testing
As we developed the summary assessments and reports that would become our OnTrack configuration, we started asking the question of how powerful of a resource would this be if we had our schools evaluate themselves on the same rubric that we evaluate them on?  Illuminate has a feature that allows you to compare two or more OnTrack configurations next to each other in a single report thus the school response configuration was born.
We selected three schools as part of the pilot for this idea.  On May 13th 2015 one of the schools provided their scores to me and the values were thrown into the reports and the configurations ran.  In quickly observing the data, we found that the school awarded themselves 775 total points out of 1,000 while we had awarded the school 725 total points out of 1,000.  The difference in 50 points though came in different areas which is interesting to us.  The score though while different places the school into the same performance band.  I personally can’t wait until next week when we have our check-in meeting with the school leader so we can really get down to the details and talk about the differences in scoring.  At this point the school hasn’t seen yet how we have ranked them so I am sure there will be discussion.
We hope to generate discussion between us and the school leader after they assess themselves on the same rubric we use.  When you start out with a project, goals and ideas which were not thought of previously come about through the work.  This is what happened in this project with adding the school assessment piece but we also had another goal that we hadn’t thought of it when we started this project.  We are now able to take this OnTrack system and show it off to a school leader which is a starting point for discussion with the school leader on how they could possibly use the OnTrack system within their school.
We plan to submit this work as a presentation topic at the Illuminate Users Conference in 2015/2016.

I Built a Desk

I recently graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Master’s of Education in Classroom Technology along with a K-12 Online Teaching and Learning Certificate.  There will be a post later summarizing this experience as I did it all online.  As a graduation gift for myself, it was decided I needed a desk and would turn my spare bedroom into a home office.  I didn’t want the regular run of the mill desk and went out searching for a standing desk.  The price points for entry into a standing desk were a bit high until I found a site that gave directions and a kit for building a standing desk that was under $200.
The materials were bought and I started building the desk.  The desk was from Ikea built with directions found via DIYStandingDeskKit.com.  The directions from IKEA are similar to the directions you would find in a Lego kit.  The directions are all in pictures with no words.  This style of learning is great for those who can process a visual but for the rest of us it is a challenge.  I am the type of learner who needs words and pictures.  I cobbled my learning style together for this project by utilizing the Internet and finding others who had done this project.  It was a reminder for me as an educator to create projects that utilize aspects of both styles.
While I enjoyed the design from DIYStandingDeskKit.com, I wasn’t satisfied with my desk at that point.  While browsing the Internet I found the site IKEAHackers.net.  The site is a great resource and led me to the hardware store so I could purchase a piece of white tile board.  I had the tile board cut so it fit the desk surface and then was left over with two additional pieces.  The white tile board has allowed for me to create a desk with a writable surface!  I can scribble down notes, ideas and more on the desk and then take a picture of the creation.  I can then take the picture and throw it into Evernote and it will become searchable.  The two pieces of white tile board that were left over after cutting the desk surface have also been put in use.  One piece is hung just off to my left and can be another surface for writing or anything else that comes to mind.  The other piece has been divided into five sections, one for each day of the week.  It is hanging on the wall across from my desk and will be used to track major projects or milestones that are do that week.
The white tile board cost a whopping $14.00 and comes in 96″ x 32″.  If I was in the classroom or had influence in a school over the design of a classroom, I would strongly recommend that the white tile board be adhered to the desk surface and a pack of dry erase markers be required.  You will also want multiple bottles of expo white board care cleaner on hand.  The ability to quickly take a note, draw an idea or diagram and capture it with a phone or camera is beyond valuable.  I quickly drew the water cycle on my desk and threw it into Evernote.
Pictures of the setup are below:

Education 3.0 – @teskeci and @halleykimberly

Edcamp for Kids –  Two staffs came together to build the board.  Created the course catalog for students based on the board.
Why can’t we do this everyday?  The vision is for Fall 15 would be a 6 week offering of these sessions.
Liberty Benton has a program called STRIDES which is 100% student led.  Seniors are the team leaders but the groups are random.
The teams organize around doing academic things but also charity things within the community.  Students are driven by competition to become leaders of the group each year.
GPA’s are factored into this competition and pushes the students to help each other academically.
In another situation, the students were tired because they weren’t being told what to do and they had to think without direction.
Science Learning Academy said it takes 6-8 weeks to get the students settled into this new mindset.
Garth Holman is another example of where it takes time to build trust with students but then they can be self directed learners.
Parent of a Hilliard student said that her daughter likes the 20% time that the students are given to explore ideas that interest them.  The thought and process that the student goes through is an example of the student teaching themselves.
We teach the process of point A to point B but forget to teach the fun within a topic.
Many of the buildings in Hilliard and Dublin do 20% time.
<a href=” http://www.amazon.com/Non-Designers-Design-Book-4th/dp/0133966151/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426342784&sr=1-5&keywords=Robin+williams”> The non designer handbook</a>
The actual experience of learning is what the student will remember.  If we can get them to engage in that experience and make it meaniful…that is when we win.
Jobs didn’t patient the hardware but he patented the user experience.

It’s The End of the World

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0GFRcFm-aY” width=“100%” height=“400”]
This is a song released by R.E.M. almost a year after I was born on November 16, 1987 but the title fits well into what I am talking about today.  The first line of the song is “That’s great, it starts with an earthquake.”  That is exactly what Sling a service from Dish Networks did when it announced this product at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2015.  The concept behind Sling is they will offer a base package of channels at an affordable price that can be streamed over the Internet.  Their market for this new product was people like me who cut the cable cord.  While this announcement was an earthquake, the aftershock of realizing that I could have access to ESPN as part of the base package was certainly not a small aftershock.
Sling had just done something that previously was unheard of in the television industry.  They offered an attractive package of channels (at least for me with ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, TNT, Food Network and Adult Swim) at an affordable price.  This is exactly what we as cable/cord cutters had been craving for years.  It is not truly the end all goal of having an al a carte channel selection but there was enough there for me to justify the $20 a month expense.
I always try to bring my posts on this blog back to education.  As I thought more and more about the disruption Dish Networks had just caused with this new service it got me thinking about education.  If we have now reached a point where we can have our television streaming over the Internet, at an affordable price with channels that we actually watch…how can we do this in education?
Could we create a curriculum where the students get to choose a field or multiple fields of study?  Could we incorporate into the curriculum and the field of study the same skills that we are teaching today?  Could we disrupt education in a way that doesn’t look like any thing we know today?
I think the answer is yes but it will take time but more importantly it will take people to stand up and demand that we look for new ways to educate our children that may look drastically different from the way we learned as students.  We recognize that for some the current system is an acceptable means of education but we are not addressing the students who are dropping out of school, why they are dropping out of school, those that may be bored with the curriculum or those that may be different from what we determine as the “standard”.  We all learn differently and have different interests so why do we insist on teaching everyone in the same manner?
Food for thought.

The School and The Community

These are random thoughts that I am trying to organize into a bigger idea.  I apologize if they appear disorganized but the idea behind this post is to get the ideas down and try to figure out what this process and project could look like.
This post came out of a discussion one evening at the 2015 Ohio Education Technology Conference.  I had heard Sean Wheeler (www.teachinghumans.com) discuss previously how the school should be seen as the center of the town.  The success of the school translates into the success of the community and vice versa.  I think Bobby Dodd when he was at New Lexington schools had done something similiar to this but the program was dependent upon the business providing the wireless access point and any resources that were exclusive on the network were not accessible.  I don’t remember for sure though if this was the case.  Schools are exploring the adoption of 1:1 programs of various forms (school supplied devices or a bring your own device) but these create challenges.  Once we have the devices though how do we take full advantage of these devices when the students are not in the school?
Could these devices be used by parents to create a resume?  Could these devices be used by parents to search for jobs?  Could these devices be used by the parents to further their education?  Could these devices be used to enhance health offerings in the community or track a users health?
The one item that I don’t see being addressed in 1:1 programs is access to the Internet when the devices are not in the school.  The thought is that there is Internet in the home but many of the schools I work with have a high povery population where the reality is the Internet may be seen as a luxury item and not on the same level of importance as say heat, electric or water.  How do we address this issue?
My thought process here is to involve the community in a partnership with the school to provide access.  The idea would be a partnership where the cost of a wireless access point and license would be split amongst the school and business.  The school would be able to extend their network and resources to the students outside of the school walls.  The business would benefit by providing a place in which the student and family can come to access the Internet where it may not be accessible in the home.  It would bring customers into the business while creating a relationship amongst those in the community.
I am attending Edcamp Columbus ( https://edcampcolumbus.wordpress.com/) on March 14th and Edcamp Cleveland ( https://edcampcle.wordpress.com/) on March 21st 2015 where I hope to add this topic to the board and discuss it further.

OETC Keynote 2/12/15

These are my notes from the keynote session:
are you trying to invent a new education system or adding new features to a system that doesn’t work
what kind of problems would disappear with a driverless car that we face on an everyday base?
when one problem disappears new problems appear
change creates a chain of reaction that solves one problem but can create new problems
what kind of new jobs would arise out of change while others would be replaced?
what can we imagine the implications would be for education when we embrace change?
technology redfines the value of knowledge and talents.
Out of basement readiness instead of college and career ready
A good education no matter what it is should help keep children out of their parents basement.
Boomerrang generation
53% of college graduates in recent years are either under employed or not employed at all
Youth unemployment is a global issue
We have a talent mismatch.  Students may have been educated for the wrong economy.
We have students accquiring skills and knoweldge that have lost value in our society and economy today.  Our schools are following something that is outdated.
Traditional education is a sausage making process
We use the standards to prescribe what is valuable in our students.
If you are good at something you would be bad at something else.  No one can be talented in everything and no one can be bad at everything.
Time is a constant.  If you want to be good at something you still need to spend time practicing that skill.  This requires you to take time away from something else so you can become good at that something.
The education system was designed to make sure that our students were not different from the description we wanted.
The test scores in this system reflect how well we measure compared to the prescribed system.
The Second Machine Age by Brynjolksson and McAfee – Book.
Cogntive skills are being replaced by machines in todays society.
How many tax accountants have been replaced by software such as TurboTax or Tax Act?
The World is Flat – Thomas Friedman

Managing Wifi Deployment

These are my notes from the Managing HiStakes WiFi session.  This was a 3 hr workshop on the first day of #oetc15
marc.e2p.org/portfolio – Slides
#oetc15 #HiStWiFi
J. Marc Hopkins – [email protected]
OETC 15 High Stakes Wifi.pptx
SWOCA Mnaaged Wireless Standards
Bluetooth and Wifi White Paper
Twitter: @jmarchopkins
High Stakes WiFi because of 1:1, BYOD, Blended Learning and Online Testing are now mission critical services in the education community.
3 Different models above require 3 different approaches to Wifi Management.  One size fits all DOES NOT FIT!
Review the SWOCA Wireless Standards document.  Looks at Traditional Classrooms, BYOD/Blended and Other Areas and the number of Access Points for each situation.
About 30 nodes per Access Point is idea.
Switches alleviated collissions (smarter than hubs)
###CD on Wifi###
802.11 is Half duplex with Tx and Rx using the same space
A radio can not transmit and receive at the same time.
This results in collission detechtion not being an option.
In Wifi we have Collission Avoidance where we wait for each frame to be ACKd.  No ACKd then collission assumed.
Simply put:  More devices > More Collisions > More Wait Time reducing throughput on the network
###RF Engineering###
LSM is unlicensed band and is the Wild West of RF.  Agreeing to accept any and all interference from any one in this band.
RF does not know any boundaries (i.e. Wall)
Distance Sensitive – Law of Inverse Square
It is regulated differently in each country
You are working in 3D space.  Review Power Output Levels Slide
The farther you move from the source…the same energy is now being spread further across a greater distance and assuming that you are loosing no energy in the air (interference etc.)
2.4 Ghz has lots of interference.  Various devices running in this range (microwave, bluetooth etc.).  Only 11 channels in the US for 2.4 GHz.
Channels overlap in use on the 2.4 Ghz spectrum.  No overlap between channels 1,6 and 11.
INSSIDER – Wifi Band Anaylzer
We are steeping over each other when using Wifi even on different networks because the spectrum is there for everyone.
Viusalwave, Air Magnet – Heat Mapping program.
5 Ghz is relatively unused currently and has less interference with more channels available for use.
Shorter wave length in 5 Ghz means there is about 1/2 the theoretical coverage.
5 Ghz bounces but does not go through things as well as 2.4 Ghz.
5 Ghz has 24 channels in the United States compared to 3 in the 2.4 Ghz band.
2.4 Ghz is absorbed by water, reflected by metal and refracted by glass.
5 Ghz is reflected by water, metal and glass. – It will bounce off of almost any thing.
Overlap can be 50% because of channel spearation but the minimum should be 15%
The most common mistake in Wifi deisgn:  Floors stack on top of each other and Wifi Doesn’t Care.
VisualWave Sight Survey Software.  Heatmapper.
5 Ghz allows us the ability to do channel bonding.  Instead of using 20 Mhz channel…you could combine two channels to make 40 Mhz.  You could do a 80 and 160 Mhz bond but you start running out of channels.  We reach the N standard by bonding multiple channels together to get 300 MB.
5 Ghz allows for more bandwidth, more channels, less interference and bonded channels.
The downside is that we have less coverage area and lower penetration.  These drawbacks though actually help K-12.
Check to see if you can replace the WiFi card in a device to take advantage of dual band or 5 Ghz versus using a device with a single band card.
802.11 Modes use different frequency hopping to pack more of the RF space.
The faster the network the more “attack surface” for interference it has.  The faster you go the more likely you are to have issues.
802.11a up to 54 Mbps in 5 Ghz Band
802.11b up to 11 Mbps in 2.4 Ghz Band
802.11g up to 54 Mbps in 2.4 Ghz Band – Gold Standard of Wifi Today.  Half of bandwidth at B and G gone to overhead.
802.11n up to 600 Mbps via MIMO
802.11ac up to MultiGbps via MU-MIMO supported in 5 Ghz Band
MIMO takes advantage of spatial multiplexing – Plays with time and space.
Multi0user MIMO – Multiple downlink Tx at same time.  More done in the same amount of time with 802.11 AC.
The sender/receiver currently must both be 802.11 AC devices.
*20 Mhz Channels x 3 Streams = 300 MB
*40 Mhz Channels x 3 Streams = 300 MB
*80 Mhz Channels x 3 Streams = 1.3 GB
160 Mhz Channels x 8 Streams = 6.9 GB
The numbers above are all theoretical bandwidth amounts.
600 MB is probably going to be the ceiling in the current version of AC.
A standard coming fom California has schools saying 2 AP per classroom.  Watch this.
Would it be cheaper to put in 2 AP then 1 higher grade AP?  Run the numbers!
Any where a physical cable is feasable we should be using a hardwired connection.
Disable lower association rates which forces the client to pick the stronger AP.  Increase roaming aggressiveness on clients.
Strive fro uniform device radio types whenever possible.
In Wifi it is the clients decesion which AP ito select.
Bluetooth is the rudest of the rude house guests.  Can cause issues every where!
***Design Consideration in Wireless***
*Interference – What is already there?
*Building Construction – Brick Walls?
*Area to Cover
*Type of Service (VOIP/WIFI)
*Number of potential clients
*Total bandwidth required
District Supplied 1:1 is a good idea because it allows the techs to control the items we talked about.
In BYOD state preferred devices with abgn support.  Encourage ac standard.
Cacti for Management.