RBC (or NEN) Conference 2007

My last post will make it obvious that I have been at a conference for the last three days. Here is slide which was used as the main banner for the conference.

It is interesting that on this slide we have the title of the conference which is “RBC National Conference” but also there is also on it the National Education Network (NEN) logo. This is understandable because the main focus of this group was originally the Regional Broadband Consortia (RBC) which are all English bodies. However there is now ( I believe) a need to adopt the NEN brand which I think now more appropriately describes the scope of this group.

I am pleased to say that during the course of this conference I have had the pleasure to interact with people from all parts of the UK. It is great to see how England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland can come together despite the fact that each has its own education system which is being served by the NEN. We are all relatively small countries – the implications of this are powerfully illustrated in video ShiftHappens – see my last post. So I feel that it is imporant that we combine together to get the best outcome for out future generations – I feel that the NEN as concept is a good example of how we can do this.

The following photo shows colleagues engrossed in one of the many interesting sessions.

One pleasurable consequence of this event was its location which is on the shore of Lake Windermere. Here is the view of the front of the hotel and conference center.

And this is the view across the lake from the hotel.

The content of most of the sessions have been English centric – which is slight source of disappointment. But as a Scot, I have found it very interesting to see how current curriculum developments in England share some similarity to the developments which are taking place in Scotland. This serves to re-enforce my view that we should continue to work in a joined up manner across the four countries to get the best possible outcomes for tomorrows generation of children and adults. There is no doubt in my view that ICT has a key role to play in the delivery and support of learning experiences – it is important to realize that ICT cannot and never will replace the classroom teacher. However, we might want to challenge our traditional views about what it means to be a learner or teacher – perhaps the boundary between these are now very much more blurred than they might have been in the past.

Yes there is quite a lot of food for thought here!


I am currently at the Regional Broadband Consortia (RBC) Annual Conference which is taking place at a hotel on the shores of Lake Windermere. Two of the key presentations so far have referenced a very thought provoking video which is available for viewing below. I suggest that you take some time to what the video and consider some of the messages that are implied in its content.

To see oursels as ithers see us!

To day I am on leave. Its a bank holiday in Glasgow I have taken the day’s leave and am spending it at home. Mary is working this morning (unfortunately) so we can’t spend the time together. This has left me with some time chill! So far I have watched an episode of Ironside and The Rockford Files and now watching a episode of Due South, after this I will be able to watch Gagney and Lacey – all great blasts from the past. As I have indulged in this relaxation I have also had the laptop to hand and have done a bit of idle browsing.

The laptop is a key part of my work routine so interesting that I should pick it up when on leave. Truth is that as well as being an important part of my work life it is also part of my leisure life too. So I don’t feel like I am working when I am using it this morning 😉

I had a read of John Connells blog to see what he has been writing about – I do find many of his writings interesting, entertaining and sometimes thought provoking too. The following post attracted my attention – click on the link to read it ( its very short)

Know Thyself

It’s a short post but caused me to pause and reflect. This saying has its roots in an Ancient Greek amporphism you can read about it on WikiPedia. My thinking took me through a series of notions including the fact that to “Know Thyself” requires us individually first to reflect on our own thoughts and views to understand what the influences there are that cause us to hold the views we do. Seems to me that we also need to be honest with ourselves in doing this! I think we can sometimes find that we hold come views that if we saw then in other people would might detest!

This then took my thinking process to the words of Robert Burns from the poem

To a Louse which has the following in the last verse

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An foolish notion:
What airs in dress an gait wad lea’es us,
An ev’n devotion!

I have highlighted the words I want to emphasis in italic font! Seems to me that this is real wisdom and and often overlooked concept. If we aspire to “Know Thyself” without taking consideration of how others see use and interpret our words and actions we may continue to act in ways that do not convey effectively our noble intentions.

I am also drawn to quote another writer – from the New Testament this time

Matthew Chapter 7

Judging Others

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Which seems to emphasis the need to “Know Thyself” but in the context of a wider social context. Seems to me that this advice is to examine our own thoughts and motives first before we turn our critical attention towards others. We are, non of us perfect, we all fall short in one way and another. Of course this is only one aspect of knowing ourselves but I do consider this to be good advice regardless of our religious persuasion – this last quotation does come from the Bible.

Well Cagney and Lacey are now fully engaged in solving their latest crime so I should give that some attention now!

From Projection to Reality

This week I presented a Technical Brief about the Glow project at the Scottish Learning Festival. Part of the presentation included a few slides about the amount of network traffic that Scottish Local Authorities have generated since the introduction of the SSDN Interconnect some three and a half years ago. There is an often quoted trend which is that Internet Traffic level double every 1 – 1.5 years. So having collected data about traffic level since the start of the 2004, it seemed like a good time to see what the underlying trends are.

But First, what is the SSDN Interconnect – it is a wide area data network which connects each of the 32 local authorities and national organizations like the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Learning and Teaching Scotland to each other and to the Internet via the JANET network. The management and development of this network has been one of the main aspects of my work since it was installed. There are current 49 actual circuits which connect the participating bodies. This infrastructure provides the primary means for deliver of the Glow service – another project that I have been working on of late.

OK – back to the real business of this post.

The following Graphs show the traffic trends for the SSDN Interconnect as a whole since the start of 2004 up till the and of July 2007.

Click on the diagram to see it in more detail.

The fine detail is not too important, the blue lines represent the actual traffic levels which are plotted on a monthly basis (horizontal axes) and the black line which indicate the overall trend. The top diagram provides the detail for all the traffic leaving the connected sites and heading for the Internet and the bottom graph shows the detail of the traffic coming from the Internet to the connected sites. As you can see more traffic enters the connected orgaizations then leave them. The data plotted are the aggregate figures for all the connected sites. The lower graph shows that the traffic level at the start of the study was approximately 5,000,000 Mb per month whilst the traffic level at the end of the study was approximately 40,000,000 Mb per month – this is the total through put in the months in questions. So this shows that during the 3.5 year period that the network has been operating we have seen traffic level more or less double in each 12 month period.

Of course there are some seasonal dips and peaks which we might expect. Note that in the periods labeled 7, 19, 31, 43 there is a notable dip – this relates to the fact that schools will be on holiday between July and August each year – month 7 was July 2004 etc….. So the needs of education as clearly quite considerable and represent the main use of the Interconnect.

But the overall trend is always upward. I expect that this trend will continue in the future and for me it is good to find some empirical evidence that confirms the often quoted predictions that traffic levels will increase at the rates confirmed here.

For the future, I predict that, as Glow becomes embedded into the Scottish Education system, as an every day tool for teachers and learners that we will see an increase in the amount of rich media network based resources which are use in the classroom – that can only service to maintain the traffic trends shown here. But then there is another prediction, I wonder if we will be able to confirm this one in another 3 years or so?