Outclassed Podcast: Episode 3: Balancing Policy, Security and Innovation

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In this Episode:

In this week’s OutClassed Podcast, Mike and Blake dig into how schools can strategically prepare for an unknown future.

The look at balancing policy, security, innovation in schools and how we can support teachers and technical staff through the process.

To see all the Outclassed episodes go to utb.fyi/outclassed

 

Podcast Episode Highlights:

2:00 – What we have been working on this week
3:55 – Our biggest takeaway from working with schools to date
8:20 – Teacher Workloads, are we making this harder than it needs to be?
12:12 – How to strategise for the future when we are not sure what the future holds
27:05 – Zoom bombing and issues regarding security and how to mitigate the risks
48:10 – Wins and fails

Links to Resources Mentioned:

Team meeting with Simon Sinek 

New York education officials ban Zoom 

Lawyers issue warning re Zoom use and security

Snapchat camera 

Transcript:

Mike
Welcome back to the outclassed podcast I’m Mike, and we’ve got Blake with us, as well and looking forward to digging into some interesting topics this week. Things that are in the news, some things that we’re seeing in the tech space and got a couple of updates about what we’ve been up to training we’ve been running the projects we’ve been working on. I’m looking forward to it. So, like, how are you, buddy?

Blake
I’m good. I’m very good. I’m still here, locked down, basically looking after my beautiful Children and I just trying to some work on the side. But it’s been really good getting some things done, being actually quite busy lately, the last few days, you know, taking some projects over thinking about next term and heading back so lots on, as always And of course, in my business as well. That’s what keeps me busy but plenty to cover today. I know, I know, Mike, you seem you seem to be getting slammed with very busy.

Mike
Yeah, it’s just one of those seasons at the moment, just we have all the stuff that’s been going on with covid and schools needs up their game around, remote teaching and learning and everyone panicking. So we’re just scrambling at the moment. To help teachers. I kind of feel the pressure of it, to be honest, a little bit the pressure of like, how much work there is, but just talking a lot with teachers who are struggling. And you get e mails in your inbox on a daily like a daily, more than probably 5 to 10 hours a day across the team. We’ve teachers saying, you know, I used to feel like I was in charge or in commanded by teaching like I knew what I was doing. I felt good about my teaching, and now I’m thrown in the deep end on I don’t even know how to find Google classroom, and I don’t know what a Google doc you like just out of my depth and I’m struggling and so you know, we’re doing our best trying help those teachers just so feel like doing what we can to make a difference. So, yeah, it’s scrambling. It’s not one of those things that we just like, we’ll get to that next week or everything just seems to be a priority at the moment.

Blake
On what What sort of things are you you’re talking them through things like, how does that look if you fair panicking? What are you kind of doing to remedy that.

Mike
That? Yeah, well, there’s a couple things obviously being a training company, were pointing them to our online courses. So we’ve got Google deep dive courses and courses on Microsoft teams and
OneNote, and apple and a few different tools. So if we can point them towards an undermanned course that’s being helpful, we’re also training all the South Australian independent schools that kicked off today. So they’ve got 10 or 12 hours of training across their school’s just as a high level here’s what you need to know about Google and about Microsoft, about seesaw, about Apple. And then I’m doing a session on the things that we’ve learned from the last eight weeks of dealing with schools in Asia, just helping principles, think through shifting their training and then pedagogy and what that means for teachers. They’ve got that going on, we’ve got 56 schools I think or 59 schools in the Canberra catholic diocese. Canberra and Melbourne catholic diocese, that are all switching, well not switching, their adding Microsoft teams and so they’ve got all staff need to be trained. And that’s been an amazing project, and I guess a bit of a case study of what you can do when there is no excuses and a deadline to get stuff done. they have basically in a week and a half rolled out teams across the whole diocese to every teacher and will be trained in it in 2 weeks. So if you think about that in terms of the scale of the project and the magnitude of what’s going on. and obviously a massive number of moving pieces to bring that training component together, champions training, help desks, all teacher training, all of that stuff.

Blake
Sounds good. So if there’s one kind of theme you’re seeing and one thing that the teachers and administrators could could take away from this, what do you think the biggest thing.

Mike
I think the biggest thing is like Don’t panic. So we’re seeing teachers who were trying to teach the way they’ve always talked. We talked about this a couple of weeks ago, I think, and, you know, they just want to a live stream their classes and we’re getting questions like so many questions today. Can I stop my kids from chatting? Can they stop them video calling? like How do I control everything? And so I think that’s like a natural response of people want to bring as much control to a situation, in a situation where they’re feeling out of control. But I feel like you just got to go with the flow. Hey, it’s not like your students aren’t chatting behind the scenes on some other app or programme. You know, we’ve seen, Students have figured out if they’re using Zoom had a record, a video of them sitting in front of the the computer, and then they put that in a background, and it looks like they’re in the call and they’re not there at all. So you know you can get a sense of you feel like you’re in control, but really and not so you’ve just got to find ways to go with it and provide the best you know, options to your students that you possibly can.

Blake
It’s kind of shocked me when I saw a lot of the U. S states and district’s going full remote, whether I would literally everyone signs it and we mark the role. You know, we go through the literal class process. It seems to me like this is an opportunity to two years more of a hybrid approach where you can do a bit of self-directed learning come in and check in, by all means mark the role of, if that’s what’s required for your district’s you’re governing bodies. But I think to me what makes more sense is check in get that out of the way and then let the kids be a bit self-directing for those who can and those who are struggling. You’ll see that in the submissions of work, things like that, you can go and follow that up. And that’s the beauty of these technologies we can see and differentiate. You know, something like Google Classroom. We can push those five kids that are struggling something a bit easier. We can extend the kids at the top of the class and we can also see are these five kids continuously aren’t handing working for the last two weeks, so I can just tap a call with them. So that would be that sort of my thing like that what you’re thinking or what do you sort of telling people to do?

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Mike
Yes. We’re definitely finding schools that just like teachers, got to find their own groove what works for them. The type of students they have. I mean, like, if I think Sydney for where I used to teach. If you’re in Western Sydney and you know your students are disengaged the best of times when they’re at home maybe not so supportive in their home environment, you’re not going to get the same as if you were at McKinnon, right? So where you do so you’ve just got to tailor their teaching to the students and to the needs and the particular environment, we find ourselves in. But even, you know, with the schools in Asia that we have been working with initially, you know the parents are like I’m paying 30 grand a year or something proved to me that what you’re doing right now is as valuable as if the students were in the class. And so the schools feel this enormous pressure to perform to make sure their teachers are onto it, and eventually, even in with those schools, we find that everybody just starts to relax and then we work in an asynchronous way. I think is another underlying problem that schools, teachers are taught, that you get paid for your time, not necessarily results. And that’s not necessarily a discussion around performance of pay or anything like that. But what it is you come to work and you you’re expected the onsite at a certain time. The bell tells you when your teacher, when you don’t and then the bell, tells you when you can go home. So the teachers, who are very structured in their time in the way they think are also struggling because now you may be starting at seven AM and finishing at nine PM but you’re having time out in the middle of the day and just working that’s so there’s a takes a lot to think through this, and we feel like you’re still doing a good job and be comfortable with it. And you feel like you’re not letting the students down. There’s a there’s a lot in behind what needs to make this a successful thing

Blake
Yeah, I agree. It’s a change of culture, but also, you know, I think I was brought up in the news around workload for teachers as well. And I think this kind of two, it’s going to ways with that. Some people who are comfortable with putting, having all their resources online already be already doing their tests through platforms like, you know, one note classroom and Google Classroom that this isn’t so much of a problem. Everything’s there is just like a couple. We just keep pushing it out, not check in with the kids and that that process changes a bit. Then you got the other end of the spectrum that have nothing online that are really caught in the cross hairs of this. And I think that, like you are saying that non not to panic, 100% agree with that. Let’s to do what you can and Start there and then look to these best practices and look to people having success. But the biggest thing with schools and having working you would work in hundreds of schools and seeing the same thing over and over again, repeating itself where you can’t just take what works at one school and put it in another and It’s unfortunate because it’s frustrating to hear that when you say, Well, what’s the answer? You know there is there is no right answer on these things depend on the tools. Use your demographics, efficacy of your staff. So I think there’s a myriad of things that are playing into this kind of situation. We’re finding ourselves in because this really is like I sort of think of it as a bit of an experiment in a way to see who’s going to survive a new isn’t It was unfortunate for some schools and very fortunate for others.

Mike
And it’s interesting, too, because you look to the U. S. Like I’ve seen some school district’s now have just announced that they’re shutting schools until summer, and you think OK, so that’s, you know, some of for them really is where we end. We are just the beginning of April right now, so they’re essentially got four weeks and you know what it’s like at the end of school. And in the end of the years, things start to slide towards holidays anyway, so you could argue that it’s not that much of an impact on the education system. I mean, obviously they’ve been shut for a bit. But, you know, we’re in Australian, New Zealand. We’re moving into the school year. Really, We’re just We’re in the busy part where it’s just kicking off So I guess we’ve got that extra pressure where we can’t just say Okay, well, it’s just wipe the slate clean of the next three or four weeks and we’ll just pick up next year and everything will be good, like we’ve got to make this work. But at the same time, I see all these tweets flying around of teachers exhausted and they’re building all these resources and so on. And I’d be saying to them like just take a step back, take a breath for a second. You don’t even know what you need yet, like, just, you know, figure it out, then just build as you fly in a sense because you’re working yourself to the ground for a whole lot of resource is that you’ll probably discover that you’re not going to need.

Blake
Like you said that pressure is real. You’re feeling it. You know, our school systems are feeling it and then our system leaders of feeling it. And that’s this is kind of what happens in the panic issues. I hope that we can sort of ground ourselves a little bit with what we’re seeing now in terms of things slowing down. And, you know Dubai have said Okay, that’s it. No, it’s distance learning for the rest of the year, and it’s like I wouldn’t be jumping that gun or, you know, we have our prime minister here saying that it’s, you know, it’s going to be if you close schools, you know, you better be careful what you wish for because they’ll be closed for a significant amount of time. You know, 6 -12 months, and I’m just not sure about that like we can open and close schools as we need to, as we move forward. So I think it is more flexible than people think. I think people sort of see it. Is this really hard end like Okay, we’re going the distance for this long. We need to have everything on distance. We just don’t know you don’t have plan too far ahead. You don’t go down the next three months of curriculum or line if you staff aren’t ready for that. So yeah, I think there’s a balance. They’re

Mike
Interesting. I was in a strategy meeting a couple of days ago with International School Network and their whole thing is we don’t know what the future is. So all of our plans for our IT infrastructure, for our teaching and learning for our communications, that everything now is going to be written for the fact that we may need to close our schools at the drop of that and then reopen them and then close them and then reopen it like who knows what the future holds. So nothing is permanent and there They’re just getting ready to gear up. And they’re even because they’ve got international teachers they’re looking at. OK, so what does it look like if you have 15 kids in a school, but the rest are all overseas and they can’t get in because immigration shut, and the teachers can’t get visas. And, like, what does that look like? So, you know, I think this whole uncertainty I think you just have to get comfortable with that. I think for the next foreseeable future anyway.

Blake
Yeah, well, and that’s change, right? I mean, in the business world, uncertainty is breakfast. I mean, that’s what everyone does every day. But education has been this kind of same old, you know, we’re doing the same things we’ve got to process. We slowly iterating very, very slow steps. And This is a big shake up, kind of like the, you know, in Australia, the Rud money. I don’t remember that the National Secondary Schools Computer Fund, which pushed 1 to 1 devices at year nine, I think in year 10 I don’t remember the exact details of it. But putting a device in every kid of the hands of every kid created this sort of same sort of panic with this rush, how we’re going to do this? And what does it look like? And we still feel the ripple effects from that now, years and years later. And so I think the challenge here is trying to balance those two opposing forces in a way. But also just look at, you know, like I was saying the other day, like Look at what your plans like that learn anywhere. Slogan that Rudd had I think it was like anywhere, any time learning, which is 24 7 Access to what you need so that people can self-direct. People could go ahead. They can catch up. They could do all that stuff themselves. Obviously, that’s we know we well, I hope we agree that’s better. But it’s only now that we’re sort of feeling the effect of Okay, well, schools that have done that are in a good spot because you’re kind of inoculated. To any market forces, whether it’s recessions, whether it’s, you know, outbreaks like this, or in any other party of things that could be happening. But the schools that have done the right thing that have kind of pushed that agenda and said, OK, let’s make it anywhere, any time. Let’s give kids the power. Let’s not manage the students. Let’s empower the students. I think that’s different. They’re in a different place because of that, So I think it’s a good lesson there is try and move as much as you can to that anywhere, anytime model.

Mike
Yeah, and I mean, it’s a challenge for leadership, right? Because if you if you can’t move to that model because you’re seeing resistance or you can’t manage change or a za leader, you’re struggling to make that happen. Well, maybe in one case you’ve got a blessing in disguise here because at least you can blame the virus than things are pushing teachers. And you can push your pedagogy. But you know, at the same time it’s going to take courageous leadership to be something that’s going to come out of this that’s better than when you went into it, all right, so I guess there’s an opportunity and a challenge there for school leaders to really step up and lead and not just look at being reactive but looking at being transformative. And what can they do to transform the way their students of learning looking into the future? And that’s certainly one of the things we’re looking at as our own company, like we don’t want to go back to how we were always doing things like we’re looking for opportunities to improve and move forward. In fact, one of our trainers sent us a great little video from Simon Cynic of him talking to his team about how they need to reinvent themselves like their job is never going to be the same. It’s up to them to reinvent themselves and take the opportunity. And I think there’s a really challenge for teachers to be starting to think. Okay, if I had to reinvent my role as a teacher, what would that look like? How would that work? Yes, I’m interesting days ahead, that’s for sure.

Blake
Yeah, that’s interesting. A lot of the dash and I have with teachers around this is, Well, I want to reinvent myself and, well, we can all agree there are parts of the current sort of direct instruction model that isn’t great. But until the system changes, I can’t change. And I think that’s a hard one to get your head around because you see it in primary schools and up in the lower secondaries where people can innovate whether we can do interesting things where we can take chunks of the curriculum and rework them and have experiences that we’ve never had before. And then it slowly, slowly moves towards that ATAR and as you get closer to that ATAR it gets more instructional, more direct teaching, more rote, learning all those kinds of things. So how do you balance that? If that’s the question you’re asking staff to do? What should they be thinking about?

Mike
It’s interesting. We worked with a school in Auckland around this. That was a really high performance school, and they wanted To completely deconstruct their curriculum so you wouldn’t go to science, and then you’d go to math, you would Go to, English, they looked at how do we bring the subjects together and teach you some real holistic sort of subjects and work the work the students through. And so in New Zealand High School starts in year nine, and so they brought the students in at year nine. And then they taught them that way. And then they offered to into your 10 with some of those students and continue to teach that way and then try and slip them back into a model of year 11, 12, 13, where was back to that more instructional. And the students were saying that they’d forgotten how to learn that way because it was very much hands on, and it was project based and it was interdisciplinary and so on. And so they actually found that when they tried to go back, that it was quite hard to put it back into that model. And so quite an interesting high performing school needed to keep their numbers. Obviously, you know, got to keep your reputation in the market. Parents are sending the kids to that school because they’re expecting an outcome, and so it becomes quite a juggle. It was interesting to watch the transition over two years where the parents then started to demand more of the project-based learning because they saw the results are getting out of that. Initially, when they put it in as an elective initially, no, hardly any of the students were allowed to picket by their parents, because it had a reputation. So it was interesting that what’s that transition. But I do again, like you do wonder about that direct instruction versus project based more disciplinary and what does that work in terms of you, then needing to prepare for a test? It’s about Memorization and rote learning. In a sense,

Blake
And it’s funny we see that echoed it out you nine group. Who are the immersion groups that a programme in Year nine where everyone kind of gets to choose their own adventure and we can run various modules. And, like more Project based, inquiry-based learning, and the students report they feel as though they’re not learning anything. But it is plain to see from observing that they’re learning heaps about the realities of the world. Had to negotiate out of work in teams how to get things done like actually move, move the needle. But they just say it is like that. That’s all secondary. That’s all the kind of busy work that I thought I was here, to figure out what one plus one equals. Not the collaboration around that result. So it’s so fascinating, like the students found themselves not really understanding what the focus was and what they were actually picking up out of these classes. That was hard for them to reflect on that. And, of course, that’s echoed in the parents as well. That’s always the tension between these two things. We’re probably way off topic here Mike

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Mike
Well, this is all part of it, right? Because you can’t. You can’t run your direct instruction model in a remote learning school. You just can’t do it. It won’t work. You could maybe do it for a couple of weeks, and then kid’s going to stop showing up. They’re going to be disengaged. They’re going to have issues with Internet Wi-Fi.

Blake
We can do it. The US are doing it, but it’s not, it’s not exactly successful.

Mike
Yeah, well, then you got all these teachers on Twitter freaking out because it’s not working, so they might be trying to do it. But the students are doing whatever they can to disrupt it.

Blake
Fighting the tide, isn’t it?

Mike
Yeah, yeah. I mean, you can blame the Internet and blame all sorts of things, but I always say, you know, what can we do to make this better?

Blake
So, like the advent of computing, you know, there’s a lot of push back around quite on quite traditional forms of traditional forms of schooling and people saying, you know, being offended by someone saying that a computer is a better way to do something or not better way to do something, it’s like that’s sort of missing the point. In a way, the technology is coming. It has in her benefits, and it has inherent deficits. We need to figure out which ones are going to play well in our environment in which wants to throw out.

Mike
So here’s a challenge. Everyone listening is to really look at their role and just go. OK, what can I do in this moment, to, Make it better? Be willing to try something and fail. I know one of our trainers today tried something in a live training and it didn’t work and she’s feeling like a bit of a failure. And I was just like, Well, it’s just a learning experience like we tried something. It didn’t work. What can we learn from it? Leave it on. You know there’s always risk involved. So I want to encourage teachers and school leaders that push their thinking around this and just see how far they can go and what they can do with it.

Blake
They take risks, always said that to my staff, I’ll never punish you for making a mistake. If you try something and doesn’t work out, power, To you. We’ll support it. But the critical part is I don’t want you to make that mistake twice because then you’re not learning from it, and that’s when I have a problem. People’s responsibility inside of a team is to is to learn from their mistakes not just, you know, execute on the process. You need to figure out how to improve the process, and sometimes that’s going to mean degrading the process. And that is going to mean, you know, improving it. So I think I think you’ve got a balance that as well. But I think it’s important. People know that inside of school hierarchies, that isn’t very clear, that I can actually take a little bit of, you know, initiative and go on, try something in some schools, they don’t want that. I mean, we’re talking about schools. What works in schools is direct instruction because it lets you pass tests really well. If we’re talking about what parents want, parents want the absolute best opportunities for their kids, and it’s our duty to do that in a school, in my opinion, to give them those best opportunities, which most of the time looks like a placement in university. That’s what’s going to give you the best opportunity to earn a good wage, to have a good life, to be independent and happy. But fortunately, that means during school that you have to turn into a bit of a robot. You have to kind of regurgitate information on command rather than thinking critically and trying to redefine what it is that you do. And so, of course, that flows back onto the teachers in the way they teach. And you see these things, like most schools these days of putting together kind of slide decks and resource is for each subject in each class that they follow, You know, and privates have been doing this for quite some time. This is sort of coming into the state systems now, and that’s then creating a situation where the teachers feel like Okay, that’s fine. I’ll just turn up. Where’s my slide deck? I use my brain was my slide deck. We’ll use my brain when I’m in class, and you know, there’s the odd bit of fishing around. I have to do with students and troubleshooting and stuff and figuring out bridging some knowledge gaps. But I think it’s taking away agency from teachers. And one of the things I’m about is re professionalizing teachers. You know, we got these absolute passionate professionals in schools and we’re taking away their ability to innovate. They’re taking away their ability to move things forward by saying, you know, here’s the status quo is the culture you just come in here just lay back you go execute. And also on the flip side that I totally understand why they’re doing that, which is to raise that bottom up. And I think it’s important that we not leaving people behind because your teacher didn’t cover the right material. We didn’t really know the subject matter and look at it. So these things, they’re good to be there. They should be there more of a crutch rather than is the main pillar, the mainstay of the class.

Mike
Yeah, I think that’s this is like the dichotomy, right, because you’ve got teachers a mailing us freaking out because they don’t know how to use Google Classroom to put their instruction in and keep things rolling. But they know they’re not emailing us because they don’t care and they’re checked out and they’re like, well that did not work ill just take a holiday. Like they want to do better. And they want to you know, they want to succeed, and they want to do well by their students. But I think what you and I are both saying is that sometimes you need you just think outside the box a little bit. About what well, actually means like you want to do well by your students. But what, maybe that doesn’t mean putting another document in Google classroom. Maybe that means something completely different.

Blake
You see it, you see it everywhere, even in the design of software in the software world as well. And you see it in something like Google Classroom, where they amalgamate all of the tasks that had to be done in one view so you can see your work. Is it to do view. I can see them all. Great, fantastic, like that’s a really good tool. It means that students only have one place to go to. But you know, the counter argument. So that is why we’re making it too easy. Is that just another version of spoon feeding them and taking away their agency?

Blake
These are the kind of philosophical battles. Schools are going to have to toe work out over the next few years. We’re sort of in this phase now where it’s all about how do we balance this need for differentiation? There’s need for student driven learning. Where we don’t want to hold kids back. We need them to be able to extend themselves, and we need to bring that bottom up. But how do we do it in a way that actually empowers the rather than taking away there, you know, agency. So it’s a critical question at the moment. And I think the role of technology and even this working from home stuff is really going to compound that to the point where I’m excited to see what happens when schools come back because they can’t go back to How Things Were Now Where do you want to or not people have new skill sets. They know how to use video meetings now, so there’s going to be times where they’ll fall back onto that video meeting skill that they will have times without fall back on that recording a video of a topic. So this is an exciting time to see what happens when, when schools do go back, To instruction. Do we just fall straight back into that instruction or is it a hybrid approach now? I’m not sure it will be the same, I’m not sure it can be the same if this goes on for a significant amount of time.

Mike
Yeah, totally agree. Just thinking about you know, all the stuff I’m just seeing on the Internet right now memes about parents strapping kids to the floor and all sorts of things. You know, people are trying to find their way, To, keep everything going and moving and so on. I was just thinking about a meme, that was being floated around where it said, Welcome to my Google classroom, where the due dates are made up and the points don’t matter. I saw that one flying around a lot on Twitter. I think students and teachers are figuring out that everything is not as hardliners they think it is. But you would have seen a lot of stuff in the news to Blake, about zoom bombing or video called bombing. Kind of secretly hoping we get someone bombed this video we’re recording on Zoom right now. We’ve been joking about it in our team. I How could it be that actually have that happen. Totally get it, that it would not be cool if you’re teaching a class and that happens to you. But geez It would be funny.

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Blake
Lots out there joining Zoom’s looking for these unique URL’s, joining them and just posting inappropriate content like pornography and stuff into the streams. It’s a significant problem. And on the surface of it you think, someone going to zoom bomb. I mean, even my mother’s group here, the wife’s mother’s group. They’re all zooming each other, and they’re saying I should be worried about our privacy and zoom bombing is like, Well, you know, horses for courses, isn’t it? I mean, it depends on what you’re doing in there and whether you’re, you know, in charge of the zoom session or not. And then looking at those locks and things you put in place as always, the devil’s in the detail with this stuff, isn’t it? Because if you set it up correctly, it’s pretty almost impossible for someone to actually join it. But if it’s just set up a quick call peer to peer, then someone can guess that ID and join it completely open. So Zoom bombing an interesting one. For those you don’t know. It’s just when someone can just start typing in random IDs and try and join you. And it happens on Zoom’s videoconferencing platform. But hangouts meet obviously is inside the domain, the same with the team’s chat in on their products all inside the domain. So you have to kind of be a member of that domain. You can still probably still bomb in those things, but has from your school community, which is good because you know who it is. It also has been pretty nasty one where people are guessing the recordings URL structure. So if you’ve got a recording, URL. You can just see that big long string in. They’re going to start typing round of numbers in and every now and again find a recording, which is a potentially a bit of a problem for privacy of kids were saying that they’re safe, and they’re going to be. The recordings are inside of our control when they’re not really, I think this highlights a larger issue around privacy and around Internet security, and that way gives so much trust. These big tech companies. For some reason, we’re happy to trust them with everything. Yet we scrutinized over other things, like bank banks and this kind of things. But with tech companies, even something like that, I was laughed as an IT Professional is, people say on their website SSL encrypted. What does that mean? You know what, what encryption algorithm and you’re running. Is it encrypted on the server in your data centre? Is it encrypted end to end over SSL? Like when people put these words that everything’s encrypted and then school leaders go great tick, tick the box, it’s encrypted, but actually what does that mean? So it might be encrypted, but do the governments have access to it if they subpoena them in in Taiwan? Do, Where’s the data being stored? What what’s the SSL encryption like is that something could be broken? Is it one of the encryptions that has a pretty easy to attack fault in it? So these were all kind of the devil in the detail questions, and I think it’s funny when they just say we’re all encrypted and start asking questions about that, and people aren’t sure that means because ultimately it comes down to trust. And that’s what business is air trying to do is build. That’s not branding is, isn’t it? It’s trying to build trust that you’ll say all I tried, like people would say, I trust Google with my stuff or I trust stuff with my with my work So those companies are incentive’s to not mess that up, and that’s kind of how I think of it is this is their livelihood. But when you have a company like Zoom, it’s a bit different. They have one product. They have probably a sprawling mess of technology going on underneath because they’re having to innovate and be scrappy and move a lot of pieces around the board. So the whole security thing can come undone I think with these smaller apps, which is a shame, because I want to be an advocate for the smaller guys, helping the market get better and more robust. But at the same time, how do we No, we can trust them. And what are our school systems doing to help us with that?

Mike
Yeah, so I don’t know. Is there anything that we can do to make us all more secure. I mean, you’re the guy you’re talking SSL and whatever, and I get board start to think about other things, like maybe like a cure, like give it to me in simple speaks so long as I put a password on the zoom account on my good

Blake
Well, like from a macro perspective, if you’re thinking about okay, what kind of organisation do all those things like the Victorian government have a thing called Conditions of Connection, where they’ll actually go in vet and white list a whole lot of vendors and say these guys are okay. The problem is, I don’t know what they’re actually doing in that vetting process that it might be a simple as taking a box if it’s his SSL.

Mike
So is zoom part of that have they been, like.

Blake
I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe some of our audience could tell us that. But if your diocese has a contract, I’d hope they have done some kind of privacy impact assessment and looked at what’s going on. But if you’re having to make that call is an individual like if you want to use a particular product. How do you do that safely? What its tricky So encryption can happen in in transit, so it can be from my computer to the data centre. You know, say, let’s say in Singapore, so that anything that I’m sending it’s like it’s like Think of it a snail mail. Like if I’m putting it in the post box, I’m using an encrypted letter so that you can’t is open it and read it in plain English. You’d have to have the decipher to read it. You know, like the Enigma Machine. If you’re in that movie, great movie, that way, as it’s in transit, if anyone intercepts that they can’t read, that’s really great. We definitely want that. But the other thing that the company’s do as well is encrypt data on their hard drives. So that means that if some examples if they get broken into someone actually has physical access onto that server, they can’t just read the files off that have everyone’s information, You know, a lot of the time schools will have spreadsheets on Google docks with kids, names, addresses, medical, you know, encumbrances, all sorts of things, whether they should or shouldn’t. That’s what’s happening. So if someone was to go into a smaller platform and break into the data centre, they could pull this stuff out, and it may seem like Oh, that’s a bit unrealistic. But this is what corporate espionage is its Gaining information like the biggest product we have in First World countries now is ourselves is our data, and we’re giving a lot of that away for free. But the stuff that we do sit on these servers in documents that can be indexing, and they look through, we’d hope that those things are stored in an encrypted way as well. So that way, if it does get stolen and there’s been examples of old equipment being given away and companies buying this stuff up and, yeah, the hard drives might have been wiped. But they go on, run these tools on them to go and pull back information off them. There’s all these things that can happen. So you want to make sure that you know when people say it’s encrypted well is encrypted end to end number one, and then is that. You can see that in your browser you can click on the little SSL thing. Make sure that it’s valid that’s a really good way to start and great thing with chrome is they’ve have led the way with this and stopped websites from actually appearing without a warning. Now if they’re not SSL, which is a big step if you think about that, but a necessary one. But the encrypted on there on the other end is a bit harder. Most of the time, it’s just the password that’s like your passwords encrypted. So if you have a call of a help desk and they say I don’t I can’t see your password, you have to reset it. You’d be familiar with that because only you can know your password. They could just reset a new one administratively. But like you never read what your password was, because that would be dangerous, right? You probably share that passed without the services and things like that. Yeah, that is a terrible thing to do, and I would say a good percentage of the population do it, and I don’t blame them because password suck really hard to manage well, especially if you work in it like we do around technology. You have thousands of them.

Mike
So do you use last pass or one password? Or have you got what do you use that little black book you can carry around with you?

Blake
Definitely don’t carry them in a book that would not be that secure, I think I use a thing called bit Warden, which is like a last past extension, and that lets me share it with my team but also have my personal one there as well. So I have personal one sitting on top. And then, as new members of the team join, we add them into our organisation. When they leave, we take them out. So it’s working. Works quite well for us. Last pass, similar thing we used to use last pass. We only moved because it was cheaper and a little bit easier for a few of things we needed to

Mike
Do. Okay, we’re still using last pass and liking it, and I’ve got there’s no two accounts that I have that have the same password I had. I put my hand up. I had to go through and unpick a lot of that stuff because, you know, but over time you just keep, you know, improving your system.

Blake
I think the best thing is you can see it all like you don’t even know how many passwords you have, and you look into a service. You think oh gee that’s still that old password four years ago that have been logged in here for four years because it remembers me every time.

Mike
That’s crazy. So in terms of video calls like Google meet, for instance, how can we make sure if we are a teacher or a tech person, how can we make sure that our video calls in meet are and nice and secure?

Blake
Well, the thing to do there is looking your admin console. Make sure that your settings enabled to block external people coming in without preauthorisation, I think meets pretty good because it actually will do that by default. So if someone tries to join externally, it will say so and so is trying to join your call. And if you got to call creator, which 99% of the time you are, will you just say no? So that immediately removes the need for a lot of the issues around it because you just say I know that is and you cancel them, and so the good thing with that is, it provides flexibility, so it’s always this thing. Security is always a trade-off between liberty and security. And ease of use and how secure things are. Zoom have been great because people just join a code in they go. But with meet, you kind of have to log into your Google account. So that’s your one sort of factor of security, and then you’ve got to know the code to get in. So it’s pretty unlikely, even in a large school like ours at 2200 students, that someone at the time of my meeting know my code was it was pre shared, or there’s something else going on. And if they did, I know they are their self-identified. But what can happen, especially when kids are at home, is their logging in with their personal Gmail accounts. And so they’re hitting, hitting up against that. They’re not part of the domain that says, do you want to let in Mike reading at Gmail dot com? And you say, Yes, I do. I’ll let Mike because I know who he is. So that’s what I’d be suggesting. Looking at your admin console, make sure that external people I can’t just be added into calls. Meet kind of works like that by default. If you’re really worried, like if it’s a primary school environment or something like that way, a duty of care is a bit higher than I would be. I would be just blocking any external access coming in.

Mike
Yeah, it’s actually it’s kind of amazing. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been having a lot of security discussions with schools around, you know, video, one video off and chat. You know, if you got vault turned on you can Archive all the chat. And you can always bring that back if something happens and different. Like I never knew these features were in the admin console, so definitely is well worth your time and a little bit of money to, get yourself trained properly on how to use the admin console. I know Glen on our team. Our technical trainer has been run off his feet, doing like, I guess, system checks and doing health reports. google admin consoles are just making sure Chromebooks are set up to be able to work at home, not just on the school network and a range of different things. You need to be thinking off. And I mean, you can’t blame people there. It’s quite often, especially New Zealand schools are run almost autonomy autonomously. And so you might just have a passionate teacher who has just been given the job. And there’s 200 something settings for them to work their way through. They don’t even know what they are. So you know, you’re not blaming anybody, but definitely worth making sure that you’ve got your security setting set right whether you’re at school or not.

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Blake
Just think about that as well as something will touch on in this podcast. Don’t just about don’t jump to locking things down because once you close the door very hard to reopen it. Whereas if you take the approach of wait, we can wait and see a little bit. Here we can be a little bit more inclusive about some of our settings. I think you’ll find you’ll get a much better result because teachers will actually use your platform is not go around them like you said earlier, people going to go on to other platforms. Almost everyone has Facebook groups in association with the Google classroom because they want that space somewhere else. But as much as possible, you want to bring them in. You want to bring them into your environment, which means making coming in and going very easy. You know, you don’t want to make that a difficult process for them. So you know that I know some of the government systems in Australia really lock things down heavy where you can’t get anywhere. You know, half the Google services don’t work. I had to go and immediately turn things on like hangouts meet and make policy for it. My question is, if you can turn it on now, why didn’t why wasn’t available before? And then you say, Well, we didn’t see this coming, and that’s a fair enough remark, but it’s again. It’s coming back to this point of give people that freedom to innovate, give them that opportunity to make something interesting and to give kids access and to try something new rather than you is the administrator having to make like, overarching decisions for everybody that you know, It’s a very difficult, like one person or two people making decisions for 200 staff. I just don’t know how that’s even possible to make good decisions.

Mike
And I think that’s something that you and I talk about a lot like. You’re a technical person and I’m a teacher person. And I think you and I both agree that it shouldn’t be the IT guy telling the teacher what they can and can’t do in the classroom. Because the IT person sees their job is to keep everything secure and safe, and not necessarily to enable good teaching and learning to take place. And I get it. There’s a balance in that They do have to balance security and policy and making sure things work, and they’re up to date and so on. But at the same time, you can’t be throttling your teachers and holding them back from being out of teaching innovative ways.

Blake
Absolutely. I touched in the last week. Is that whether you’re the cleaner, You’re the finance manager, the IT guy you’re a classroom teacher, you are there. You exist in service to teaching and learning. So, the point of you being there isn’t to say you can and can’t do something because it’s not in policy or it gives me a heart attack to think about all the ways it could go wrong. It’s just say, Well, okay, we know the constraints. We understand them, we understand the risks. So, what are we going to do to mitigate them? And how do we move forward? Because too often it’s just shut straight down at the door. And I have a real problem with that because I see it all the time. And you know, Mike, I mean, I used to go into schools with you years ago, and I’ve been probably over 100 schools seeing IT guys working with staff, and a lot of the time it’s just blanket nose all the time on there’s no real rhyme or reason. They just use jargon. There is misinformation that create fear around it, and it’s unfortunate because what it should be is a facilitation role. You’re both with the same goal. You’re there to figure out the teaching part. I’m here to figure out the tech facilitation part, but we’re both year trying to improve the teaching and learning. So how do we get there. So, it’s not just about providing access, it’s actually providing access. That’s to a really good standard access that has a great experience when you’re using an access, that simple access that’s approachable access as well supported and also access with the skill set. So, what are you doing about the people who can’t use it properly? The people who are making unsafe decisions? Let’s not just say well because someone can make an unsafe decision. We turn it off. Nothing would get done if we were like that. Unfortunately, in our schools, nothing is getting done. So that’s where I get a little passionate, and I apologise if I’m bit overbearing here. But I think it’s important that we understand what our roles are as IT professionals in schools and that we understand doesn’t stop it. Access also about the experience of that access. It was about the skills and the training that comes along with it and how we marry all of that together is how we create confidence with the technology.

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Mike
Yeah, so I was reading a good leadership book a few weeks ago, just a section out of it, and he was talking about how can’t remember which state in America? Well, that’s just Alabama. But there’s a rule in the state that says females aren’t allowed to gamble naked in a casino, and you’re like, Okay, so who’s the dumb idiot that did something that they felt like they had to put a law in place? The blanket says that you can’t do this, which is obvious that you shouldn’t be doing it anyway, right. And sometimes you walk into a school and there’s a policy or a rule around X, and you think, why Is that even there? Like what? Who is this serving on If you dig back 10 years ago, you got some boof head who did something or some student who did something inappropriate, and now everybody’s tarnished with that. Now there has to be a rule. I think you need to look at that and balance that security and policy thing we’ve like. Does this make sense?

Blake
That’s right. I don’t think you should ever make policy off of one incident. Something happens once. cool it. Give him a call, work through it. Okay, great. Let’s see if it happens again. What you see in schools, there’s immediate panic buttons. Something comes in what we’re doing with this? We’re doing this. We should probably write a policy. We have to have that now. Formal documentation. Well Hang on. If we needed to write a policy now, why didn’t we need to write it a month ago? Let’s start thinking about Was the cost benefit here trying to be so reactive, so reactive in schools. So they’re having vision, pushing forward and saying, Let’s be proactive, Let’s put these things in place and then, yeah, if it gets out of control, like you know, we have an issue in our school with the Year Sevens that can’t help themselves. When they use Google hangouts. They just can’t help themselves. They get on there and they sent us to each other, interrupt classes. And so in that case, we do have to limit it. We do have to shut particular areas down, but we’re not going to do that because one of two kids or one or two staff saying it’s a problem because for those one or two staff that is saying it’s a problem, there might be 150 quiet staff were quietly using it to great effect who don’t find out about till you make the policy and then still to get back. So again, you don’t close those doors unless you’re absolutely sure. In my opinion, I think keeping the doors open is the best thing you can do.

Mike
Yeah, and even worse than creating policy because one person did something. Sometimes it’s creating policy because you afraid something’s going to happen. So, you know, teachers asking me today, how do we turn off chat for students? And I’m like, Oh, is that a problem? Like trying to understand their need like, No, we just need to know how to turn it off. I’m like, why are you asking how to get into the admin panel and starts screwing around with this stuff? Because you’re afraid something will happen Way not wait for that moment. See, assess. If it’s a teachable moment and then if it’s not, then go and do something like nothings fully irreversible. Surely we can always get through this.

Blake
Absolutely, and it’s about making incremental innovation. So the Special forces do this when they when you land on the beach or you know your helicopter into the LZ, you want to know what you’re going to do for about 2 to 3 minutes

Blake
Well, I mean, it’s been a bit different from home. I think the biggest win for me is how quite it’s been. Usually and you might be out of here, an aeroplane flying over. I live right in the flight path of a light aircraft, little airport and no planes. You know, we’ve had, like, one or two a day. We’ve had hardly any traffic on the roads, so that space to decompress. I think the win is seeing around people messing me with ideas with things you know, able to step back of that breathing space that forced, almost enforced sabbatical, if you like on its inspiring great ideas that’s been my win for the week.

Mike
Yeah, that’s interesting, because I live in Queenstown and right near the lake, and we went for a walk along the lake yesterday, and it was just one of those picture-perfect days, not a breath of wind. The lake was just still. You never see the lake still, because there’s always boats on it and, you know, like the same line over and it’s quiet. Hey, that’s what I keep saying. We feel like we’re camping.

Blake
It has that feel like your little sort of mini holiday an incursion or something

Mike
Yeah, in the craziness of it all. Yeah, I think one of my wins that we found this week and maybe you’re going to slap me on the risk is maybe it’s insecure, but there’s a Snapchat camera you can download onto your computer, and it gives you a computer and extra camera. And then you’ve got all the Snapchat filters. So we’ve been using that as a team just to keep things light-hearted and fun. So we’ll be on a zoom call or a teams call, and you can just click To Snapchat camera. And you have all those funny things of toilet paper here, cuts and cats hanging off you and some fun things like that. So we’re just looking for different ways to spice things up, keep things interesting, keep things fun and funny. So that’s been a bit of a win for us.

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Blake
Yeah, great. That’s awesome. I want to see something. I think next episode you got to put one on for the whole show.

Mike
I think so. Yeah. I’m turned on at the moment. But, yeah, it’s a fun little tool. Have been any fails that you can think of this week, Blake.

Blake
I think that there are a lot of schools that is probably fail more of a kind of an institutional failure, I guess. But a lot of schools that haven’t yet got one to working in the hands of their kids, and you know, there’s a big debate. You know, I was around for the one to one revolution, if you like. There’s a big debate about whether it should be taking place, whether we should have more access to labs at schools or whether we should give kids access to all the software and services, and they can use their computers at home and at school and things like that. But I think one to one has really won. I think it’s by far the most you know, kind of widely accepted way to operate the school. But the problem where we’re faced with now is a lot of the schools that either we’re under funded by the government or have struggled with their enrolments or have a lot of school refuses or have a lot of kids that have no money struggle, getting of my laptops. And so what we’re left with is a situation where there’s an extreme. I guess divide emerging in these in these kind of times where most things are happening online is what happens to that that classmate of yours that doesn’t have the laptop but can’t get on, can’t get round to his mates house. They can’t socialise with other people and learn together. They have to do it at home somehow. What happens to those people and that’s a bit of a fail for me is that we’re not hearing much about that, and I know for a fact, especially in regional centres, this is a big problem. You know. 60% of the school often pay fees so that other 40% they can’t afford their $1000 fees how are they affording their $1200 computer. So I think that’s a big fail, and I’m not sure there’s been much talk about this really, apart from a few things that we hear inside the school and a little bit in the media. But if we’re moving online, everything’s remote. What about those schools that haven’t figured it out? yet their schools that haven’t funded laptops for every kid. What are we doing to support those schools?

Mike
I think I saw on Twitter. One of the schools was out like Burke, like western, west, west, West, New South Wales. Like really out there almost and the desert kind of thing. I feel like the principal. They’re just dropped, like tens of thousands of dollars on bought computers for every kid he’s just like, I’ll figure it out later. I just need access. Good on him. So I just dropped a tonne of cash on it, put a computer in the hands of every student and just went, well, figure the budget out later. So I think you’re starting to see some schools that are thinking that way. I know the New Zealand government right now we’re looking at. How do they put? Was it 70,000? It must have been 70,000 devices into hands of students over the next few weeks. So same as in Victoria, our schools are on holidays, but they will come back early. And then what are we going to do around access and equity? Ah, now I know the New Zealand government’s looking at how they broadcast shows on TV for kids. They don’t have the Internet or don’t have computers. Do they use the radio? So there’s, you know, they’re looking at some really inverted commas, innovative teaching methods, which really hard fact of the 19 sixties, I guess. 19 seventies. But way still don’t have that equity of Internet across all houses or students and so on. So, yeah, you’re right. It’s going to be interesting moving forward

Blake
It is. And like we’ve worked with schools in a WA around Broome where their connection at this school was, like basic 80 SL shared between, you know, almost 100 kids and staff. And now you know what’s what’s going to be like in their homes? it’s terrible. I don’t know what those regional centres are doing, but I hope there are supports there. And maybe there’s something we need to do to bring that together or to help those schools out if we can. The schools that have the systems that have more resources to kind of help out and shoulder the load a bit,

Mike
And I think that just comes down to advice and resourcing and so on. So again like if we can do anything, to help think that through. I mean Blake from a technical point of view and us from a teaching and learning point of view, you know, feel free to reach out. We’ll do what we can to sort of like walking through that I don’t really have a fail for this week. I’ve been too busy to, really stop and even reflect to be honest, so maybe that is the fail. It’s just been a blur, but really appreciated. Just been out of chat again this week like it’s been good to I guess, have the opportunity just to take some moments just to reflect on where things were at, know how things are going and hopefully challenge some thinking along the way, whether that be around security, whether that be around policy, Where would that be around that approach to teaching and learning. But hopefully something in here sparked a thought or an interest in you guys would go off and your action that not just leave it as a thought. A thought, Well, that sits there. There’s been anything that you found particularly interesting or anyone of pushing to leave us a comment. Would like to love to see that and look forward to catching up with you on the next outclassed podcast Thanks for listening for more episodes and show notes, visit utb.fyi/outclassed

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