Virtualisation is the Future

There has been a bit of traffic on the technical/infrastructure end of IT and education, regarding virtualization, lately. THE Journal has had a few articles dealing with this lately. Do a quick search of the net for more on virtualization and why you should consider it. My own reasons for choosing virtualization are:

  • faster data
  • faster services
  • a flexible, scalable, cost effective and high performance storage area network
  • a better disaster recovery solution
  • an integrated and well managed infrastructure platform
  • virtualisation of applications (more on this latter)

I have to admit, all my information comes from Marco Luske (Marco_Luske@dell.com), SYSTEMS CONSULTANT and  

Mark Heilbronn (MarK_Heilbronn@dell.com), ACCOUNT MANAGER at Dell. Unfortunately, the information they gave me has ‘confidential and proprietary’ written all over it. Please contact him for a copy of DET Metropolitan Region Server Virtualisation for State Schools.

The solution they are providing is comprised of DELL Powervault and EqualLogic storage, Dell’s PowerEdge servers, DELL iSCSI switches for storage connection, software components from VMWare and Veeam, as well as Services and Support for the solution provided. The virtualisation software is comprised of VMWare vSphere, the latest offering from VMWare.

The designed solutions present us with a highly scalable server, storage, backup and VMWare solution, which has been spec’ed to provide storage and compute resource growth over the next 5 years. The solution can easily be further customised, if required, to fit tighter than expected budgets or change of requirements.

The Price

It will not been cheap, but much of the cost canl be carried over 5 years; not good when we have cyclical budgets, I know. The solution we would choose can be matched to the server infrastructure we already have and we would  need to spend an additional $35,000. Then the software cost are  the following:

QTY Description  

 Price
Ex GST

 Price
Inc GST

 Subtotal
Inc GST

VSPHERE ESSENTIALS BUNDLE

 

1

ACADEMIC VMWARE VSPHERE 4 ESSENTIALS PLUS BUNDLE FOR 3 HOSTS (MAX 2 PROCESSORS PER HOST AND 6 CORES PER PROCESSOR) SNS IS REQUIRED. VMWARE VSPHERE ESSENTIALS PLUS INCLUDES VCENTERSERVER ESSENTIALS AND ESX OR ESXI FOR 3 HOSTS – PLUS THE FOLLOWING FEATURES: VCENTER AGENTS – 4-WAY VSMP – UPDATE MANAGER – DATA RECOVERY AND HIGH AVAILABILITY. VSPHERE ESSENTIALS IS LIMITED FOR USE ON UP TO 3 HOSTS AND ON 2-SOCKET SERVERS ONLY (MAX 6 CORES PER CPU). USE OF ANOTHER VCENTER SERVER EDITION TO MANAGE VSPHERE

 

 $2,831.42  $3,114.56  $3,114.56

1

ACADEMIC BASIC SUPPORT/SUBSCRIPTION VMWARE VSPHERE ESSENTIALS PLUS BUNDLE FOR 1 YEAR TECHNICAL SUPPORT – 12 HOURS/DAY – PER PUBLISHED BUSINESS HOURS – MON. THRU FRI

 

 $664.99  $731.49  $731.49

THINAPP

 

1

ACADEMIC VMWARE THINAPP 4 SUITE ENGLISH ONLY. INCLUDES 1 VIRTUALIZATION STE – 1 WS – 50 CLIENT LICENSES. REQUIRES SNS. LIMIT 1 PER CUSTOMER

 

 $3,334.57  $3,668.03  $3,668.03

1

ACADEMIC BASIC SUPPORT/SUBSCRIPTION THINAPP 4 SUITE TECHNICAL SUPPORT – 12 HOURS/DAY – PER PUBLISHED BUSINESS HOURS – MON.THRU FRI

 

 $789.48  $868.43  $868.43

900

VMWARE THINAPP 4.6 CLIENT LICENSE PROMO 4.6 ENGLISH ONLY. REQUIRES PURCHASE OF STARTER KIT OR THINAPP SUITE AND SNS IF CUSTOMER DOES NOT ALREADY HAVETHINAPP. UNLIMITED APPLICATIONS PER ENDPOINT (USB – PC – LAPTOP). PROMO DATE GOOD FROM 04/01/2010 THROUGH 03/15/2011. MINIMUM PURCHASE OF 500 THINAPP CLIENT LICENSES PER ORDER BY CUSTOMERS. NO LIMIT ON NUMBER OF ORDERS – COST IS EACH

 

 $11.12  $12.23  $11,008.80

900

ACADEMIC BASIC SUPPORT/SUBSCRIPTION THINAPP 4 CLIENT TECHNICAL SUPPORT – 12 HOURS/DAY – PERPUBLISHED BUSINESS HOURS – MON. THRU FRI – COST IS EACH

 

 $6.15  $6.77  $6,088.50
     

 TOTAL inc GST

 $25,479.81

 

NOTE: VMWare is having a special at the moment, so the VMWARE THINAPP 4.6 CLIENT LICENSE is closer to $40.

Virtualization of Applications

This is the real reason I need virtualization. For an overview of this, and a comparison of the various products available, you can’t go past this report (you need to register to download).

In short, virtualization:

  • reduces application conflicts
  • enables legacy applications (old apps from old OSs)
  • application ‘installs’ are no longer required
  • reduced regression testing
  • reduced deployment and application management

The main big plus is that we no longer have to build huge images that have conflicts network security issues; this is a tireless and ongoing problem. Now we can personalise the users experience of using applications; only those they need get installed. For those of us implementing a 1:1 laptop program, this is the only answer.

 Hopefully, I find the funds to implement this. I will update you on my progress.

Digital Futures Learning Program Professional Development Strategy

Introduction
In 2011, we are embarking on the first phase of our Digital Futures Learning Program. This will entail rolling out laptops to our entire year 9 cohort in a take-home program. The next phase, 2012, will include all students 9-12. A key ingredient in the success or failure of this program will be meeting the PD needs of teachers involved in the program.

After school PD does not work. Not only are teachers tired, but the instructional activity usually does not tie into the context of the curriculum unit teachers are involved in. Likewise, event driven PD sessions that takes a teacher out for the day (at great expense) shows little spread into the classroom or even to the rest of the faculty/ teaching group. 

There is a great dearth of information/ policies on this within Queensland and around Australia (see Aussie Educator ). The most useful is Professional Learning Effective Schools from NSW.

A search of the net reveals that the most effective PD for teachers and ICT is anything relevant and in-context. The other feature touted was the presence of Peer Coaches, Mentors or eBuddies. However, these require funding that is usually lacking. I have used a Mentoring approach previously that was hugely successful; then priorities and funding shifted.

So, what to do with little funding? The only answer is to develop a community of practice based on adult learning; or professional learning community. For this, I have adapted some of the ideas from Jamie McKenzie (Creating Learning Cultures with Just-in-Time Support, http://staffdevelop.org/adult.html). I have also incorporated some ideas around learning circles, drawn from Rudi Aksim and the Learning Circles Teachers’ Guide.

The Strategy

 

Strategy 1 – Outlining the Journey
Each teacher is to plan a Professional eLearning Journey, based on the indicators of the Smart Classrooms Professional Development Framework. This is based on ISTE NETS.

A template to use to plot your journey can be found in attached (My Professional eLearning Journey)

Operation
This will occur within the first learning circle meeting. These will be blogged within the online learning community that will be created to support this program.

Strategy 2 – Establish Learning Circles
A Learning Circle is a group of people who meet regularly to discuss, explore and learn about issues that concern them. Learning Circles are built on fundamental principles of adult learning. They include:

– Value and build on life experiences

– Put learners in control of their learning

– Encourage and support critical reflection

– Provide a relaxed and informal environment

– Cater for different learning styles

I recommend organising learning circles around faculty groupings. This way all learning will be in the context of the curriculum. These meetings should be held as often as other competing schedules allow.

NOTE: Learning Circles for processes and procedures associated with Learning Circles.

Operation

Learning circles will be organised along faculty lines. HODS will manage these and incorporate them into their regular meetings. Opportunities will also be sought during SFDs.

All outcomes from these meetings will be recorded online as a blog within the online community created to support this program.

Strategy 3 – eLearning Champions

Every teacher is good at something and having the nature of teachers, is willing to nurture that in others. This strategy is about sharing responsibility broadly. The model of having an expert who trains teachers can lead to resistance and resentment for technology. This is more of a “more the merrier” model where everyone can make a contribution.

I have created an excel spread sheet (eLearning champions list) for this purpose. The way it works is that teachers place a tick in the intersection of the column and row that matches their name and the skill they are willing to help others with. This table is displayed in the staff common room and is also available online for quick reference. Then when a teacher needs help or would like to try something new, they know who to go to for help. This is a vital tool in developing a community of learners.

Operation

Spread sheet to be posted in common areas so that teachers can indicate which areas they wish to help with. This will be made electronic and available online.

Strategy 4 – eBuddies

I have read a lot about Mentor and Peer Coaching programs and have used a Mentor program in the past. Since then, my funding for a Mentor program has vanished, so I am now turning towards an eBuddies model. These ideas are taken from Lessons learned by the ICT cluster Education & Training 2010 programme.

“The eBuddy concept, in particular, may provide a lasting effect on teacher development due to its low threshold approach. eBuddies are teachers who are experienced in the use of ICT in the classroom and who are willing to share their experience with colleagues, who might not feel competent enough to cope with difficult situations. eBuddies offer a personal training focused on the trainee that is based on two important aspects: participation in each other’s lessons (trainees may get inspiration by attending the eBuddy’s lessons and eBuddies on the other hand may help trainees with their first steps in technology supported teaching) and the creation of a learning sequence together.

This one-to-one training concept creates a comfortable atmosphere in which teachers may learn and develop further by directly trying out new ideas in the classroom instead of discussing them in seminars far away from their schools. eBuddy training may extend over the period of eight weeks, then a standardised report has to be submitted by the eBuddy, which provides the basis for further scientific studies. The eBuddy concept provides an opportunity to reduce anxieties, to introduce teamwork at schools, to make teachers familiar with sitting in on classes and giving and receiving feedback. The key to success is an approach based on many small steps that give teachers the chance to gradually adapt their methods and teaching style.”

I would like to run this in parallel with the Learning Circle. Here, buddies can be drawn from the same group as they are working on the same issues. They can also feedback their progress to the group and this can always be on the groups agenda.

Operation

eBuddies to be chosen from learning circle. eBddies are to report on their activities during each learning circle, to ensure that the relationship remains established.

Strategy 5 – Professional Learning Networks

Teachers need to be able to learn and organise the learning “just in time”. One of the best way to do this is by developing/nurturing Professional Learning Networks. This is not only a transformative way of working for teachers, but is also an essential skill that students need to learn for their digital futures; so why not model this and work this way.

The three dominant social networking tools are:

Social bookmarking (Delicious)

Blogging (RSS)

Twitter

There are also secure groups such as those found on edna (http://www.groups.edna.edu.au ) and email groups such as:

These should be accessed according to the following hierarchy (developed by Jesseca Oram: Jessica.oram@deta.qld.gov.au):

Discover

Collect

Organise

Share

Discuss

Reflect

Lead/advocate

Use of these should form some of the goals set by learning circles. Then each group can reflect/act as appropriate to their learning needs.

Operation

Small chunks of these new skills are to be presented at whole-staff meetings. These then become an agenda item in learning circles and actioned according to the needs of the learning circle.

Strategy 6 – Tutorials

Adult learners should be able to make choices from a rich and varied menu of learning experiences and possibilities. Any tutorials offered should be short and sweet (no more than 15 mins).

I propose that a tutorial roster be drawn up, with all staff delivering a short tutorial based on their identified area of expertise. With all teachers involved, this should support a culture of the shared responsibility for learning.

Operation

HODs to determine who will present a short tutorial/presentations. These will occur in whole-staff meetings. There may also be opportunities during SFDs. These then become an agenda item in learning circles and actioned according to the needs of the learning circle.

Strategy 7 – Invention Sessions

Teachers must have scheduled time away from the classroom to translate new ideas and strategies into unit and lesson plans. A large proportion of Student Free Days must be dedicated to this. Teachers need the equivalent of one week a year.

Operation

These will occur when possible.

Strategy 8 – Master Classes

There are also several conferences and events throughout the year. A major one is the eLearning Expo during August each year. A delegate teacher should be sent to this each year and then bring back their findings to the learning circles.

Another source of new ideas is the Learning Innovation Centre on the Sunshine Coast. They regularly communicate their offering. Again, a delegate should be sent to relevant sessions and then bring back their findings to the learning circles.

It is vital that there is sharing with the learning circles. This way, the circle can reflect and act on the new knowledge as appropriate.

Operation

Those that have attended master classes are to present a short report of their findings and make any resources available online in the learning community. These then become an agenda item in learning circles and actioned according to the needs of the learning circle.

Digital Bloom’s Taxonomy

Recently, on the professional learning networks I am involved with,  there has been a bit of buzz around Bloom’s Taxonomy and how this works with digital tools.

I have previously spruiked the great work of Andrew Churches (http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/); he has really analysed the relationship between Blooms’ Taxonomy and digital technologies. I note that he has added some great starter sheets recently which look great.

I have just learned of the work by Kelly Tenkely (http://ilearntechnology.com/ ) and her Bloomin’ Digital Peacock. This is a fabulous resource for teachers, both novice and expert. Any discussion around web 2.0 tools and their use in teaching and learning should include this.

Another interesting source for something similar is the work by Michael Fisher (www.digigogy.com) and his Digital Bloom’s Visual. I don’t know whether digigogy is his own term or some new jargon I need to incorporate?