Notifications for new/changed stuff?

One of the usability issues that's been raised (thanks Ruth) is that currently you have to go actively looking to see if anything new has been added, e.g. if someone has left a comment on a blog.

Today explored the system's ability to do this. It turns out we can set up notification emails for changes to content, addition of new items… all sorts of stuff. Details
here . Have now done the set-up bit, as far as I can tell just now, so hopefully I'll get a notification when I post this blog…. Once it's working I'll post details of how to set it up.

Education Epidemic?

I've learned that the
DEMOS think-tank told UK education in 2003, in an 80-page pamphlet – they needed the Exc-el approach. Pamphlet title is Education Epidemic – Transforming secondary schools through innovation networks. It rejects top-down deployment of change initiatives and provides a strong, independent, validation of the bottom-up network approach. Just one of many possible quotes:

  • "The best way to spread new practices that people must choose voluntarily rather than conform to in response to central prescription is through peers. Innovations have to catch on, like best-selling books, because they seem to be what everybody is doing, or are caught from personal contact, like a virus."

It's noteable they didn't have any examples to point to. Perhaps Exc-el is the first?

I've posted the document to the Exc-el site. Its author is David H Hargreaves. (Source: , thanks to Demos for making it available subject to their
Demos Open access licence)


Avoiding Copyright Internet material?

Wouldn't it be good if you could search out internet resources that weren't fully copyrighted, and that you could re-use or build on for educational use? The
Creative Commons Search engine lets you do just that. This search engine will help you find photos, music, text, books, educational material, and more that is free to share or build upon.

Using it, then found This is a good pointer to some featured Creative Commons licensed education resources, and lets you search specifically for education resources.

Background: Just installed an update to the
Firefox browser, and noticed I could add a
Creative Commons Search engine to the Search Engines listed in the navigation toolbar. (
Creative Commons enables
copyright holders to grant some of their rights to the public while retaining others through a variety of licensing and contract schemes including dedication to the
public domain or
open content licensing terms. The intention is to avoid the problems current
copyright laws create for the sharing of
information. )

Exc-el site redesign: Weblog comments can now be created again…

Richard Wilson pointed out today that the ability to make comments on blogs had stopped working. It's now sorted, so he can look forward to comments on his
new baby picture .

I'd assumed that the tools used to move things dealt with more than they did, but have now learned from that experience. Sometimes it works, but not every time. No, I don't know why…

For the record, I'd to change the rights granted to anonymous users (people who're visiting the site, but not logged in) so that they had the ability to create new Comments in the new Weblogs content directory tree.

The content of the body element is displayed in your browser.

Minus one Maths teacher…

Disappointed today to find that an ex-industry student teacher of Maths who has been with us has decided the job is not for him. He was very conscientious, could have made a good teacher, and it is a pity to lose him. I wonder if those trying to increase the numbers of Maths teachers to follow up on cases like this, and learn what it might take to prevent such losses?


Best news of the day – we've now got toner in the department printer so can print again after a printer-free first week. Although we've a helpdesk for ICT faults, the replacement of toner cartridges requires that a budget-holding department head takes the time to track down the part and supplier, sit down at their PC, raise an electronic order and even – in this case – fit the cartridge once it arrives. My harassed PT fitted it incorrectly with the tape still on, and the first lot of prints were blank. Perhaps printer support is a topic for the
ICT strategy ?

I wonder if maybe we could have one or two large shared printers centrally maintained and available to all users, just as with copiers? Departments have to budget for their own printing costs, so when one department's printer dies it's not possible to connect to one elsewhere. Cost per print would be lower – IT departments usually push to centralise printing for that reason.

Science Strategy for Scotland

Just trying to find out more about
STEM partnerships , which I heard about this week. From the web site : "The Partnership is part of a national effort to attract greater numbers of young people to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics sectors. It is essential to the economic future of Scotland that these sectors are thriving and competitive in a regional as well as global context. Working together, the intention is that schools and the public across Tayside will have access to a wider range of activities to enable them to both consider STEM as an exciting and viable career path and to understand the role of STEM in society."

Incluses link to
A Science Strategy for Scotland (52 page, pdf), which I didn't know existed… must have a quick read through. Dates from 2001, presumably hasn't been superseded. Starts with good quote, new to me:

Louis Pasteur

There's a busy
calendar of events with many events each month this year. Looks like it's about a year old; archived calendars go back to Jan 2005.

Is there anything like this going on in East Lothian? Engagement with these subjects is an issue for us too. I've seen the
Science Fun Road Show from Edinburgh University in Preston Lodge last year, but not aware of anything extending into the Technology, Engineering and Maths areas.