LGfL Conference

It’s the LGfL conference on Monday, somewhere in central London. I’ve never been before but I hope it’s going to be a useful time, hearing where things are going for the whole London network. There’s even going to be a video presentation from Sir Richard Branson himself, as Virgin Media now provide the infrastructure for the new LGfL 2.0 connection.

One seminar I’m particularly interested in is about ‘Best Value Technology’. I’m pretty sure they won’t be saying to go out and kit your school out with Macs (much as I would recommend it!). But I wonder it they will mention the price-disruptive iPad (no doubt they won’t, to avoid being too ‘Apple-focused’). One would be hard-pressed to find a £270 laptop that is worth even turning on, let alone one that is pushing the boundaries of technology.

They are also addressing the question of ‘Where next for online learning?’. My hope is that online learning escapes from the arbitrary and frustrating limits of the web browser. We use 2Simple’s Purple Mash, which is in many ways great and quite remarkable considering it’s all just done in Flash in a browser. But it would be incomparably better if it was a native ‘app’, making use of web content and interactivity where appropriate, but also harnessing the power of the operating system to print and save stuff properly. It’s just too easy to accidentally close a web browser and lose everything. A gazillion iOS apps and counting may be trying to tell us something…

Atomwide Training

Today I had some training at Atomwide‘s headquarters in Orpington, having a reasonably technical look at the range of services they offer, such as USO, Staff Mail, London Mail, WebScreen filtering and remote access. It was really good to see some human faces instead of just interacting with a support site, but also to understand the bigger picture of how everything works.  With the demise of any sort of local authority level ICT stuff, it feels like very little is now communicated to schools about  what’s going on with LGfL.  And because of data-protection, Atomwide can’t just email everyone just because they’ve got all our email addresses, even though I wish they would.

It was a very organised day, with precise start and finish dates, and an individually wrapped and named sandwich at lunchtime, which had been previously ordered on their support site weeks earlier.  Atomwide certainly are very thorough in their approach to ICT, with a deep commitment to an audit trail, and it was helpful to talk through issues we had been having.

Some thoughts:

  • I didn’t know I had to create the aliases for our Staff Mail accounts, so they don’t end in @lgflmail.org but rather @myschool.com.  I was wondering why lots of the new staff’s email accounts weren’t working correctly, but now I know it was my fault.  Or rather I only found out today that it was my fault.
  • LGfL 2.0 doesn’t let things like logmein for remote access for security, but the new solutions actually seem quite powerful once you know how.  They also offer VNC support, which is good for remotely accessing Macs.
  • I also didn’t know anything about distribution lists, but do now.  Will be playing with that over the next few weeks, as some members of staff have been asking about how to easily send an email to all the teachers.
  • Despite being warned off AD-Sync by someone from LGfL, it does still seem like an attractive proposal.  I’m all for teachers only having to remember one login for everything and so I’m willing to sacrifice some local-level control over our Active Directory.
  • WebScreen 2.0 is the new web filtering service on LGfL 2.0 and apparently I need to go back at another time for a day’s training on how to use it!  But I think I’ve gleaned enough information to be able to make the WWW actually useful when we do the switch.

Hopefully I will now be in a better position to manage the switchover to LGfL 2.0 that is happening this weekend…we’ll see!