Sunday, October 26, 2014

Problems vs. Questions: different epistemic objects?

When I first started using FLE3 several years ago I saw no important distinction between questions and problems. As a matter fact, it seems in much of the literature that questions were considered simply one possible expression of a problem. So it was natural or actually unavoidable that when I taught my students to participate in knowledge building discussions that I focused on questions. I taught them to ask questions of each other and of nature--an essential part of the Interrogative Model of Inquiry, a foundational element of progressive inquiry.

However, in my last three years of study I've gained a tremendous appreciation for the role of "problems" in the processes of science. Carl Bereiter extensively develops the idea of problems of understanding, and I had read a lot of his work, so I don't know why it took me so long to understand their unique role in knowledge building. Whereas questions serve as analytic tools for gaining understanding, problems are themselves objects of inquiry.

Being educated in the US science education research community, we don't use this term, "problems of understanding" but refer to the closely related "discrepant event." A discrepant event is an event that not only can not be explained by our current understandings, but one where our understanding trips in its effort to explain the event and that is cognitively disturbing! When this happens, Piaget describes our mind as being in a state of disequilibrium, and able to commence the arduous task of altering an established schema. Personally, I like Festinger's development of the idea of cognitive dissonance to explain the state of disequilibrium that results from a problem of understanding.

Bereiter might describe knowledge building as the discovering or creating of these problems of understanding and the subsequent, long-term, creative and collaborative process of solving them. Progressive inquiry then is a pedagogical approach describing and explaining how a class may be led--or grow--through cycles of activities as they discover, develop and solve these problems of understanding based on internal, external, and very importantly, distributed knowledge resources.

FLE4 is the 4th iteration of open source software designed to support a classroom's knowledge building efforts. It scaffolds a class' KB discourse in a threaded online discussion by requiring a student to choose the purpose of his/her comment before posting, and only 5 purposes (knowledge types) are allowed: Problem, My Explanation, Scientific Explanation, Process Observation and Summary.

I propose that these 5 knowledge types be expanded to 6 and that, as per a discussion with Minna Lakkala, "Scientific Explanation" be changed to "Source-based Explanation". The 6th knowledge type would be "Question", thus no longer conflating questions and problems. There are important metacognitive benefits, I believe, for students being able to distinguish between these distinct knowledge types, but won't argue that, here. However, briefly I'll distinguish these two KT's, here.

A problem is...

...centered around an experience, a perception, that defies adaquate explanation. A famous example would be Einstein's imagined event where he is traveling at the speed of light and looks ahead to a mirror he is holding. Another example familiar to the US science education community might be placing a current (amp) meter at 2 points in a simple battery/bulb circuit and noting the direction of current flow through the wires. Doing this test, one notes that, in one wire the direction of flow is away from the battery (as a student may expect) but that the direction of flow in the other wire is back towards the other end of the battery (which many students would NOT expected). This brings up a property of problems--they are referenced to not only the event but the understanding of the person perceiving: to one who understood electric current to be like water current, these results would be totally expected, no surprise, no conflict, no problem.

A question is...

...an analytic tool we use to solve a problem. Looking at the second problem listed above, we might ask: "What is electric current made of?" "What is a battery made of and how does it work?" "How does a light bulb work?" and probably, "Does this meter really show the direction of current?" and "How is it possible that current flows into the battery?" Of course these questions can be too big and so they probably need to be analyzed themselves, breaking them into smaller constituent parts, or dividing them into different types of some general category, or organized into some sequence, or looking for causal relationships between parts. In the end, through this interrogation, a problem can be resolved and a new, more useful theory (and its connected body of facts and problems and ideas) are constituted.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Uniting blog and knowledge site in one domain name-space, finally!

I've not written much at all in this blog for 3 years. These 3 years--2 of which I dedicated almost full time to my dissertation research--have resulted in huge development of my ideas and understandings. Subsequently, this post marks an abrupt transition to my current understandings of knowledge building, progressive inquiry and much more. I aim to publicly post weekly.

Until now my blog was at groosd.blogspot.com and my knowledge base was on my plone growingcos.org site. I'm excited to have finally consolidated them in a single domain namespace: growingCOS.org. And now back to blogging!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Ubuntu 12.04 LTSP-pnp Fat Clients--add menu item for all users (not yet solved)

I'm using a fresh setup of Ubuntu 12.04 LTSP-pnp with gnome-panel serving 18 Fat Client computers with a 2-NIC server setup. Students authenticate through the district's Active Directory servers via Likewise Open. I have a concept mapping application, CmapTools, that I want all users to be able to access easily through a menu. I've used: http://tuxtweaks.com/2009/07/how-to-add-item-gnome-menu/ in years past to successfully add menu items for all users, but not sure if it works with this version of Ubuntu. Doesn't work yet. This is what I did.
  1. Using the built-in menu editor I added the application to my menu (added it to the Internet menu).
  2. Make a desktop launcher by dragging the menu item to the desktop as per https://askubuntu.com/questions/155579/how-do-i-create-program-launcher-on-gnome-classic-desktop/173064#173064
  3. to open in gedit: sudo gedit '/home/my-user-name/Desktop/alacarte-made.desktop' then add "Categories=Utility" (Utility category makes it show up in the "Accessories" menu) to end of launcher so it looks like this:
  4. Move to a place where these launchers work (again, check this page for this info: http://tuxtweaks.com/2009/07/how-to-add-item-gnome-menu/) sudo cp '/home/my-user-name/Desktop/alacarte-made.desktop' /usr/local/share/
  5. Backup the file I'm going to edit: sudo cp /etc/xdg/menus/applications.menu /etc/xdg/menus/applications.menu.bak
  6. gedit didn't work to edit the menu file so had to use nano: sudo nano /etc/xdg/menus/applications.menu
  7. Then added this as per the directions referenced above (.../how-to-add...) in the Utility section:
  8. At this point it appeared for me in my menu on the server. To get it to appear in everyone's menus on the fat clients I updated the image: sudo ltsp-update-image --cleanup
  9. Then rebooted the client, logged in as a test client, checked the Accessories menu and it wasn't there!
  10. Logged out and then logged back in as my own user on the fat client and CmapTools was in the menu! So, works in my account but not in a student account on a client computer. What's going on?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Knowledge Building tools

I've done some more reading on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) literature today and need to do a brain-dump (with the help of my notes).

What is a tool
  1. A tool is something to help us solve a problem.
  2. Scaffolding is a tool or assembly of tools designed to decrease the cog. load required to do an activity.
  3. Procedure vs. Principles: Procedures and routines help students learn how to do something new/complex and can help transition activities.  However, as those introductory things are mastered, it becomes urgent to develop new, more flexible scaffolding (is this like the gradual release of responsibility?).  The community needs to reference itself and its operations to the principles of KB, not to procedures simplifying KB.  As they say, "The challenge is to ensure that idea improvement rather than the completion of a specific task or routine is at the centre of the educational enterprise."
  4. Innovative learning environments need to support individual as well as collaborative learning, yeah, and KB as well.
Kinds of tools
  1. Wow! lots out there.  The Chinese have created something called Learning Village (LV) which I believe is a MP game and specially scaffolds KB.
  2. Molecule Workshop is somewhat similar to PhET but some differences: It is a series of 'slides', each one can have interactivity to it, also can have questions/answer space embedded into it.  it can do more things, is more involved, not so easy/appealing.  BUT, there's a tool you can use to create your own 'slide-show' simulations of whatever you want!!!  Also, the tool is open source and you can save your simulations on line!  http://mw.concord.org/modeler/index.html
  3. An
Use of tools
  1. One group of researchers compared a group of students making concept maps on evolution with another that collaboratively corrected a few, pre-created concept maps with specially designed errors in them--these errors relate to common student misconceptions of evolution.  They require less time to gain somewhat superior gains in dealing with the misconceptions, supposedly.
  2. With respect to using computer interfaces, it also is known that as cognitive load increases with task difficulty, users spontaneously shift to interacting more multimodally.  Thus the need for cmaptools-like apps.
  3. The affordances of tools are not always appropriated the way one expects.  And that affects how KB interact.
  4. The concept of ‘affordance’ asserts that learner and tool are mutually constitutive and inseparable (Gibson, 1979).
  5. It's helpful to think separately (also) about the interaction of learners with the tool and interaction of learners with each other via the tool.
Random but interesting thoughts
  1. Some roles in a KB dialogue are more productive of KO and of learning.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What is the difference between Religion and Science?

As a science teacher, and a teacher of biology where we of course educate students about evolution, it is important to consider the difference between religion and science.  Some might say, science is just a myth--a story that explains how things work, just as is religion, and I would in part agree.  But if that is so, some ask, why should we give science special authority in our lives?

Well, I wouldn't say one is intrinsically more important than another, importance depends on values, goals, and beliefs.  There are, nonetheless essential differences between the two.  One thing that sets science apart from most all religions is the fact that scientists are constantly trying to improve the content of science.  Religious leaders and practitioners however do not attempt the same type of improvement--that isn't their goal.  Their goal is instead to strive to understand and interpret and follow the teachings/beliefs of their religion.

Thus, the scientific idea of how species developed (the theory of evolution) is qualitatively different than a creation story -- a religious idea of how species developed.  In science we are constantly examining evidence around us, all kinds of evidence, to see if our ideas of evolution should be improved to be more consistent with that diverse body of evidence.  I think in religion it would be considered blaphsmous to try to improve on it's creation story.  However, it would be very appropriate to improve ones answer to the question, "What does that story mean to me in my life?"

Therein lies the power of science: it's drive to constantly improve its knowledge, to make them more consistent with what we see around us, to make the explanations better at solving more and broader problems.  And, that's why it's important to not equate religion and science--each domain is designed to answer different kinds of questions, solve different kinds of problems.  In short, if you want to know where the huge diversity of species has come from, look to science for an answer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Managing menus in Edubuntu for LTSP fatclients

While one might imagine it would be a simple thing to delete a few games from the computer menu, such was not the case.  One solution that was great but is currently full of bugs is Sabayon--it needs constant update and it doesn't get it.  A solution that was more efficient but just designed for menu management is Edubuntu menu-editor is working in Lucid, but appears to not work well with the Games menu for specific reason.  The approach I used successfully and document below is a combination of edubuntu menu-editor and deleting applications.  Thanks to Hyperbyte for a great link, mgariepy for help with menueditor and alkisg for help deleting files (not as easy as it sounds).

Using Edubuntu menu-editor with fatclients
This is difficult because one has to use the menu editor while sitting at the fatclient, create the profile, associate it with the group you want it associated with, and finally unpack the tarred profile into the chroot in the right place and more the .listing file to the correct place as well. [arg! the following is white background because it was copied from my googledoc I use as my tech log--oh well.]
  1. At the fatclient opened Applications/system/Edubuntu menu editor and made a profile where no games were active, called the profile mrgg.
  2. Went to System>Administration>Edubuntu menu editor--Profile manager
  3. Imported the mrgg profile and associated it with the group: testg1.
  4. I edited the /etc/desktop-profiles/testg1-mrgg.listing and removed the group name from the top and bottom (XDG_DATA and XDG_CONFIG) lines.  I did this since I wanted it applied to ALL users, irrespective of their group.  just left the semi-colons delineating the fields of info.  Looks like this (note the ;; this had the group name testg1)
    1. XDG_DATA-testg1-mrgg;XDG_DATA;/etc/edubuntu-menueditor/mrgg/share;10;;#This file is managed by ProfileManager, Do not edit by hand
      XDG_CONFIG-testg1-mrgg;XDG_CONFIG;/etc/edubuntu-menueditor/mrgg/xdg;10;;#This file is managed by ProfileManager, Do not edit by hand
  5. Still on the fatclient I cd’ed to the chroot with cd /opt/ltsp/i386/etc/edubuntu-menueditor/ and made a folder in which to untar the profile: sudo mkdir mrgg
  6. Then I cp the mrgg tar to /opt/ltsp/i386/etc/edubuntu-menueditor/mrgg and extracted it while in the .../edubuntu-menueditor directory with: sudo tar -xzvf mrgg/
  7. I cp the profile.listing file (testg1-mrgg.listing) to the chroot: sudo cp /etc/desktop-profiles/testg1-mrgg.listing /opt/ltsp/i386/etc/desktop-profiles/
  8. updated the image, rebooted and the education and internet menus were as I had configured, presenting a simple list of necessary apps and nothing more--very nice!...
  9. but the games menu was untouched!  Next to get rid of the unwanted games...
Deleting the games
  1. To remove the games I got this command: "sudo apt-get remove gnome-games-common gbrainy" from here.  It worked great, however...
  2. that still left 2 games “Potato Guy” and Ri-Li so I tried entered the chroot with: sudo ltsp-chroot -c -p and typed: sudo apt-get remove ktuberling (the package name of potato guy) BUT, this also wanted to remove ubuntu-edu-secondary.  Not good.  I knew there were a lot of apps I liked in that package.
Removing individual applications that are part of a package
  1. Instead of removing the apps I could have made them non-executable with chmod -x $(which ktuberling) 
  2. Another approach is to find out what the package ubuntu-edu-secondary contains, then by “installing” all these apps separately will mark them all as “manually installed” so removing  the package ubuntu-edu-secondary will not remove any of the apps.  Finally, I just need to remove the 2 games, leaving everything else.  This is what I did:
    1. apt-cache show ubuntu-edu-secondary | egrep '^Depends|^Recommends'
    2. and it will show: Depends: dia-gnome, inkscape, kalgebra, kalzium, kbruch, kig, kmplot, kstars, ktouch, ktuberling, kturtle, kwordquiz, marble, parley, qcad, ri-li, step, vym
    3. apt-get install dia-gnome inkscape kalgebra kalzium kbruch kig kmplot kstars ktouch ktuberling kturtle kwordquiz marble parley qcad ri-li step vym Marks them as manually installed.
    4. Now I can sudo apt-remove ktubering, and even though it also removes the package ubuntu-edu-secondary, it removes none of the included apps.
    5. And finally I also sudo apt-remove ri-li and I am done!  All menus are as they need to be!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Using sch-scripts (Classroom Administrator) on a fatclient

sch-scripts was designed to be run on the ltsp server, but can also be run on its thin clients as well.  So, to make it work on fatclients one may use the 'new' ltsp command: ltsp-remoteapps.  But, it needs to be used as a superuser and the ltsp-remoteapps doesn't forward back the authentication prompt i.e. you can't say: ltsp-remoteapps sudo sch-scripts.  Here is the corresponding part of the #edubuntu dialog:

: dgroos: I want to install sch-scripts into the new fat client on which I'm working.
: dgroos: The image is on the server I used last year though I did delete the thin client image.
: dgroos: I already installed the client and am wondering about the server sch-scripts app.
: dgroos: How can I launch it if I can't gain super-user permissions?
: dgroos: (I saw you say on a forum that you can't sudo with fat clients).
: alkisg: dgroos: the sch-scripts client connects to the sch-daemon network service through a server socket in /var/...
: alkisg: A fat client doesn't have access to that socket
: alkisg: So, even if you could sudo, you wouldn't access the sch-daemon, so sch-scripts wouldn't work
: alkisg: So the teacher needs to either sit on the server, or on a thin client
: alkisg: The sch-scripts GUI won't work if it's ran from a fat client
: alkisg: So, the best you can do, is to ssh -X or vnc to the server, and run sch-scripts from there. Or to use a thin client for the teacher. Or something similar.
: dgroos: That was it--I thought you were running it from a fat client but it was from the server...
: alkisg: Or to use remoteapps
: alkisg: Maybe that last is the best option
: dgroos: hmmm remoteapps--I'll look it up.  Thanks!  I'll come back with a question, perhaps
: alkisg: dgroos: markit wants to sponsor an i18n sch-scripts version, we may have a new i18n sch-scripts version soon
: dgroos:  congrats and great and thanks!
: dgroos: alkisg: and, if I can help with the translation en_us let me know, I'd like to help.
: alkisg: dgroos: very nice, I'll tell the other dev doing the i18n to send you the translations for proof-reading
: alkisg: As our english of course are not good enough for main language
: dgroos: also, I could help during the end of Dec with Spanish as I'll be with my Guatemalan-inlaws who could help.
: dgroos: I say again yer English is good very! than mine.
: alkisg: Sounds good too, but it might be better for the first spanish teacher that actually uses the program, to do the translation too
: dgroos: sure.
: alkisg: (translations need maintanance over time, as anything else in the software world)
: dgroos: (as I experienced!  Just let me know)
: dgroos: I've had no luck finding any info on how to use ltsp-remoteapps.  Do I just type: "ltsp-remoteapps sch-scripts"?
: alkisg: You also need some lts.conf setting about remoteapps
: alkisg: Let me find the exact name...
: alkisg: REMOTE_APPS=True
: alkisg: And you'll need to do something about the sudo part
: alkisg: (sudo sch-scripts, might not work with remote apps and need to edit sudoers instead)
: dgroos: In some list-server e-mails Todd O' wrote the following about using fat clients: "I was able to get root access by doing:"
: dgroos: $ sudo chroot /opt/ltsp/amd64 passwd -u root
: dgroos: $ sudo chroot /opt/ltsp/amd64 passwd
: dgroos: and setting the password.
: dgroos: does that relate?
: alkisg: dgroos: the clue here is "you almost never need sudo on fat clients"
: alkisg: Let's start there. WHY do you need sudo?
: dgroos: Quoted from above: "alkisg: (sudo sch-scripts, might not work with remote apps and need to edit sudoers instead)"
: alkisg: On the server
: dgroos: just trying to make sense of that statement...
: alkisg: Ah ok let me explain more
: alkisg: If you were sitting on the server and tried: sudo sch-scripts, what would happen?
: alkisg: You'd get a password prompt
: alkisg: Remoteapps unfortunately won't allow a text-based prompt etc
: alkisg: So you'll need a way around that problem
: alkisg: With sudoers, you can configure certain users or groups to be able to run "sudo sch-scripts" without the need of a password
: alkisg: All this on the server
: alkisg: So, when you try "ltsp-remoteapps sudo sch-scripts", you won't get a password prompt from the server, and it'll just run
: alkisg: Makes a bit more sense now?
: dgroos: got it.  So how might I find a how to about setting this up?
: dgroos:
: alkisg: Let me give you my greek page, I think google translate will be enough...
: dgroos:
: alkisg: http://alkisg.mysch.gr/steki/index.php?topic=3211.0
: dgroos: Thanks!  (of course our district has a filter on that page because of 'proxy avoidance' but I'll find a work around!)
:alkisg: Basically it's this:
:alkisg: sudo VISUAL=gedit visudo
:dgroos: interesting--I put it into google translate and it went through
:alkisg: And in the end of the file:
:alkisg: teacher ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/sch-scripts
: alkisg: Haha google rocks
: dgroos: so I can put this line several times: teacher ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/sch-scripts  but just using a different name for the different teachers?  Do you think there will be issues if  teachers are using this concurrently?
: alkisg: You can use a group there instead if you prefer, but yeah of course you can put it several times
: alkisg: I think groups need a % in their name (syntax-wise)
: alkisg: The sch-scripts daemon is designed to have as many GUI connections as you like
: alkisg: So not a problem for concurrrent users
: dgroos: I'll put this dialog on my blog for future reference, thanks
: alkisg: So it would be:
: alkisg: %teachers ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/sch-scripts

Monday, September 12, 2011

Making Lucid authenticate via district LDAP/Active Directory servers and make home folders

Success!  After years of effort (semi-literally), students now authenticate while sitting at their LTSP fatclients to our district LDAP!  The first time they log in, it also creates a home directory for them on the local server.  Here's what I did (but don't follow these directions blindly--it would be a bummer if your system was different and somehow you got locked out of your system and you had to open things up with a live disk and then troubleshoot).

I spent several days reading up and testing on a test setup at my house.  I did try winbind and I did try webmin and though the latter was very good, it wouldn't take me all the way, therefore I finally ended up using likewise-open which worked great.  Of course the following description doesn't tell the few-day long side journeys I made.  So, based on my long-journey success (thanks go out to Doug Roberts with the MPS!) I then set out to make this work on my other server.  As you can see in the following notes it didn't go via simple recipe but it wasn't too hard, just long.
  1. I started by following the CLI directions on this page: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LDAPClientAuthentication.  It was very easy for me to follow, though it didn't include directions on how to make the file (just use the command sudo touch) nor that most all of the commands should be done with sudo.  I also added a few notes to give more details as needed...
    1. While installing the files mentioned in the first directions on the page referenced above, a package configuration screen--"ldap-auth-config" showed up, this is how I answered each screen:
      1. (As recommended on various web pages, I deleted the default ldapi:/// set value on the first page to ldap://
      2. Next I set the search base to the tree containing the students: OU=Buildings,DC=education,DC=mpls,DC=k12,DC=mn,DC=us
      3. I guessed at the LDAP version as 2... (later changed to 1)
      4. I said "No" to make local root Database admin
      5. I said "No" to 'does the LDAP database require login'
      6. There was no 6... but I did get a warning which I ignored: update-rc.d: warning: libnss-ldap start runlevel arguments (2 3 4 5) do not match LSB Default-Start values (none)
    2. Oops, recognized I made a typo and had to redo the ldap-auth-config 5 steps above with: sudo dpkg-reconfigure ldap-auth-config
    3. To make the home folders I continued on the instructions on the above mentioned page...
      1. After making the page/script and running sudo pam-auth-update it took me to another package configuration page and I made sure that every item had an asterisk  before it, EXCEPT: "Winbind NT/Active Directory authentication".  The AD authentication will be done soon with likewise-open.  This step makes sure that all of these methods would be used in the authentication process.
    4. For local groups I checked what a non-privledged user had on my server and made sure to include them all on the last line of the /etc/security/group.conf file, suchly: *;*;*;Al0000-2400;adm,fax,tape,dip,video,plugdev,fuse,audio,cdrom,dialout,floppy
    5.  That is all the further I needed to go on that page, skipping everything after "LDAP Host Access Authorization".
  2.  To get the most correct likewise open I added the likewise key with: sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys AAFDD5DB, the sudo apt-get update the sudo apt-get install (arg! I found later that I should have done: 
    1. sudo aptitude update
      sudo aptitude safe-upgrade
  3. I followed the very good directions on this page: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LikewiseOpen
    1. did sudo apt-get-install likewise-open
      1. again it went into the package configuration screen and...
      2. I just left the screen blank as I don't need kerberos...
      3. It went through a verbos process that didn't mean any errors, no worries...
    2. then did sudo apt-get install likewise-open-gui
    3. I double checked that /etc/ldap.conf had the correct base (about 10 lines down) and it did.
    4. The main command to interact with the likewise software is: /usr/bin/domainjoin-cli
    5. So, to join the district's domain I: 
      1. sudo domainjoin-cli join education.mpls.k12.mn.us FLEetc@business.mpls.k12.mn.us (that's all on 1 line...)
      2. When asked I typed in the user's password.
    6. I got the message: SUCCESS (you should reboot before going on...) so I did...
  4. Now I did some likewise-open configs to make it so that:
    1. students can log in with just their username and not DOMAIN\username
    2. Change the automatic location where the home directories will be created.
  5. Follow the directions here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=9320266&postcount=16.  This explains a bit the process of updating the .reg (aka registry) file (skip the install--we already did it).  It uses .reg files instead of .conf files like the previous versions of likewise-open.  Thus, the .reg files have to be checked out, edited, then checked back in. 
    1. in the post the person describes how to make it so that a person can log in with just their username, not needing DOMAIN\username (with setting, in two places: "AssumeDefaultDomain"=dword:00000001)  But before saving this and doing the 2 commands after that, instead...
    2. Change the line from: from likewise's default location....  "HomeDirTemplate"="%H/likewise-open/%D/%U"     to: "HomeDirTemplate"="%H/ad/%U"  (I had to change this in 3 or 4 places.)  The %D means the domain name.
  6. And... logging in with just username didn't work.  So, I checked out the /etc/ldap.conf file with the working machine, found discrepancies, and changed them to the good setting:
    1. current had: uri ldap://10.99.1.42 and the good had uri ldap://10.99.1.42:3268/
    2. current had: ldap_version 2 and the good had ldap_version 1
  7. Current didn't have values for so change to good values: nss_initgroups_ignoreusers avahi,avahi-autoipd,backup,bin,couchdb,daemon$
    binddn FLEetc@business.mpls.k12.mn.us
    bindpw [my ldap password here]
    scope one
    tls_checkpeer no
  8. Still didn't work so then I purged winbind via NX and synaptic... then restarted, still didn't work, then...
  9. check step 2 above--didn't do the upgrade thing! figured that after adding the new ppa, then updating then upgrade it would get me the new likewise-open but had to follow directions as shown in parens in step 2! but that didn't work.  next...
  10. I went to webmin, clicked on unused modules, then clicked on "LDAP_Client", clicked on configure, set the file to /etc/ldap.conf and saved it.
  11. Then, clicked on the last icon, the LDAP Browser and it said: The LDAP browser cannot be used : The Net::LDAP Perl module needed for talking to the LDAP server is not installed. Click here to have Webmin download and install it now
  12. yes I did this, (and in webmin changed the tree depth to entire tree but don't think that was it since the other setup doesn't require it... 
  13. AND IT WORKS!

Monday, September 05, 2011

The new 4-computers per table design...

Ideally, the tables support 4 students with independent access to computers, ie, 1 computer per student.  Therefore, this shows the idea on how to place all the hardware in the space of the table.  This is a top view showing the SFF computers (those are the smaller 'squares').  

The next larger square, the one centered in the middle, is a piece of masonite, 2 ft square.  This hides all the cables in the middle, and also supports the flat panel displays.  The 5 inch diameter hole in the middle serves as an escape route for the heat generated--it will probably need a fan built into it to let sufficient heat escape.  

The flat panel monitors rest exactly above the computers.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

dell optiplex gx270 pxe boot does not work with LTSP on Lucid.

Many hours were wasted by me and others because I didn't know this about the optiplex gx270 sff computers.  I went on many sites, some by Dell, trying to make them pxe boot into ubuntu 10.04 via LTSP, but while I could follow the directions easily and rechecked many times, they didn't boot often and only by going the F12 in the BIOS.  So anyway, FYI, dell optiplex gx270 pxe boot does not work.  This is the first Pentium 4 I've found to not work.

Here's the bios info:
phoenix rom bios plus version 1.10 A03
Dell System OptiPlex GX270 Series
Bios version a03
www.dell.com

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Other mapping tool ideas

  1. Here's a cool site: paste in a page of text or so and it makes a 'tag cloud' of it. http://www.wordsift.com/ is also will give a vocab/meaning map of any selected (or typed in) vocab word.  Very cool.
  2. http://www.visuwords.com/ is the page I had been looking for.  This tool has 2 biggies-- it is has the cool 'wiggle-factor' and it gives more info by the color of the word (green is verb for example) and the links are also coded by shape/color to show part of/kind of relationships. Looks like the software that powers the site is related to this: http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html however that site is referenced here: http://www.linux.com/archive/feature/114337 though that is an older page.
  3. This looks like #2 above but isn't so open/free: http://www.visualthesaurus.com/ though it seems to use the same wiggle-engine.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

backing up wordpress database with phpMyAdmin 2.10.3

To backup the fle4 WordPress sites requires 2 steps, first is the backup of the database of comments etc.  The second is the back up of all of the files on the server which are inside the database folder, in my case, "blog".

Backing up the database with phpMyAdmin 2.10.3
  1. Go to the dashboard of the base site, go to Tools menu on the side and select phpMyAdmin.
  2. Scroll to the top, click on the "export" button.
  3. On the next page in the "Structure" section check the 2 boxes: "Add DROP TABLE" and "Add IF NOT EXISTS"
  4. At the bottom make sure the "Save as File" box is checked.
  5. If the database is very large use some kind of compression method otherwise simply click, "Go" and the backup file will be downloaded and saved onto your local computer.  
  6. The name of the backup is "database name.sql"  since my database name is "blog" the backup was called, "blog.sql".  The name of the database is perhaps the name of the directory that holds all of the files for the instance.
Step 2: Scroll to the top and select the "Export" tab.
Steps 3 and 4: Check the additional boxes as described and shown above.


Backing up the files in the database:
  1. Find the location of the directory that holds all of the database files on the server--my were in: /var/www/html/blog/.
  2. So then I downloaded them: scp -r username@ipaddressofserver:/var/www/html/blog ~/Desktop
  3. And 1,802 files later they were in the folder "blog" on my desktop!
I got the base of this info from: http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Backups#Simple_Backup

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    WordPress 3.1--uncommon tasks

    1. When a student changes periods/class, one must change his/her FLE4 site.  There are (at least) two ways to change a student's class/site.  (UPDATE! ONLY 1 WORKS, THE OTHER MESSES UP THE SITE ADDRESS! "Solution 2" below does NOT work!) The easy way to do this is to go to the site dashboard to which you want to move the student.  Then, click on the dropdown on "users" and select "add new".  Then, in the "Add existing user", type their username into the box, click in the "Skip Confirmation email" box and click save. 
    2. Solution 2 (bad--don't do--this changes the url of the site, it doesn't change which site a student belongs to): go to the "Network Admin" button at top right, then click on "users" and find the user and the link on the far right of that interface to sites.  If the user belongs to a site in addition to the base site, then there will be a link to that site as well.  Hover over that edit link, click on it and edit the line that says "path" so that it shows the route to the correct site.  
    3. The easiest way to restart wordpress (so to say) is to restart the server.  I should have done that after the update I did on the server last night since in P1 today the fle server became unresponsive and I couldn't even reboot it--had to have Doug restart the VM.
    4. Make sure that you go to each site's dashboard, go to settings, then privacy.  Select, "I would like to block search engines but allow normal visitors".
    5. Then make "Blog Public" = 0.  Also, comments per page = 100.  Also, allow for 8-deep comments.

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Giving away computers to my students

    The district is big.  It's always updating computers somewhere and thus getting rid of others as well.  Currently they are pulling out Pentium 4, 2.4--2.8 GHz machines, refurbishing them and distribute them to students who are most in need.  I have jumped in and participate in this by offering the computers to MY students, but instead of offering these refurbished computers with Windows XP, with the help of Logan, an 11th grade student, we install Edubuntu on them.  Here Logan explains a bit of the process with clonezilla:
    video
    Together we've given away Edubuntu-bearing computers to 35 or so student, with maybe 20 more to give before the end of the year.  I thought I would wait till after Natty came out to give them the brand new system!

    I've been using bit torrent to download the 2.3 GB iso since it was released this morning, and it should be done in less than an hour!  Can't wait to load it on a computer, set it up, create the image, blast it onto the waiting student computers and get them to the kids.  They really love it.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    FLE4-- how do you create the "Big Questions" that initiate the knowledge building?

    This post is not about setting up the FLE4 server software. This addresses the much more difficult task of creating the initial questions, AKA "Big Questions".  These big questions need to inspire students to engage in a progressive inquiry, building knowledge objects and motivating them to learn important science knowledge and skills. There are several criteria these Big Questions must meet:
    1. Ideally, the Big Question must require the standards-mandated concepts and skills to solve them.
    2. These Big Questions must engage students.  Bereiter says that we need to give problems that are of authentic interest to our students. Knowledge objects need then be marshaled and created as needed to solve these problems/answer these questions.   Students learn to value knowledge objects as tools, and gains skill in the use of these tools in solving problems in their lives.
    3. The Big Question can't be to general or too specific.  As I have found from experience, if the question/problem is too overarching, to general, I as a teacher have a hard time managing the long and complex spiraling inquiry that is required to build a series of knowledge objects needed to adequately answer the Big Question.  Likewise, if the Big Question is too specific, little inquiry is inspired/required.
    State mandated concepts and skills
    The current unit of study is Evolution. The over arching, "sub standards" provided by the state for evolution are:
    1. Genetic information found in the cell provides information for assembling proteins, which dictate the expression of traits in an individual.
    2. Variation within a species is the natural result of new inheritable characteristics occurring from new combinations of existing genes or from mutations of genes in reproductive cells.
    3. Evolution by natural selection is a scientific explanation for the history and diversity of life on Earth.
    (You can see in the third big idea above where it says, "... is a scientific explanation..." is a nod by our ex-governor, Pawlenty to part of his constituency the anti-evolution lobby, here in Minnesota.)  At the bottom of the post I've listed the, "benchmark standards" that tells what students must be able "to know and do".

    Big Question must engage students
    I've used various strategies to create student buy-in to the KB process as well as find questions which students truly want to answer. I'm still searching for an ideal method though there might be none. Several years back I created 5 Big Questions that addressed the range of knowledge required by my students. For example, "What causes earthquakes?",  "How do humans decrease the destruction caused by earthquakes?" and more. This was easier and turned out to be fairly effective and was a good way for me to start to use KB in my classroom.  However, it's often good to have students do this hard, ambiguous collaborative work.  Therefore...

    I've also presented students engaging material, such as eyewitness accounts and videos, of the phenomenon and had them record questions that came to their mind as they viewed this engaging material.  Students then wrote these questions on sticky notes and then organized them into groups. From there I've gone in 2 different directions:
    1. I've looked at these groups of student-created questions and created that initiating question for each group.
    2. I've had students create the overarching question for each group of questions.
    And in either case I've used the student-generated questions in 2 ways.  First, I just told students to start engaging in the KB and they could add their specific question under the appropriate Big Question if they wanted.  They ususally didn't and their initial questions were usually lost.  The other way I've advanced is, upon engaging in FLE4 KB, I've directed students to type in their own, initial questions under the corresponding Big Question.  This was not good, however, that while it was logical, it was too circuitous and disconnected and did not lead to a good discussion. 
      This time, I'm not creating an overarching question (which often is not a student's question but is instead a synthesis of their question), but instead choosing one student question to represent each group.  I then type all the rest of the questions in that group in the description for the post.  I'm careful to attribute the questions to specific students by including their first names next to their questions.

      Big Question can't be too general or too specific
      While I've created many appropriately-leveled Big Questions, I erred on the side of 'too general' last year with the question, "Where do Humans and the other about 1.8 million described species on Earth come from?"  One class had over 200 posts to this question--it became too ungainly for most students to really get a grip on it.  We'll see how students deal with the questions I've selected in the current round of knowledge building to serve as the Big Questions.  For my period 6 class they include:
      1. Ben -- how are new organisms created?
      2. Thalia -- how do they know when a skull comes from a female or male?
      3. Marilu -- how do we know that evolution has happened?
      4. Xavier -- when they say, "2 million species" do they mean like a regular cockroach and a Madagascar hissing cockroach being 2?
      5. Somsanith -- why did Darwin choose to study nature?
      Normally I would have carefully crafted the wording, but what I loose in precision by quoting student questions I more than make up on student buy-in, I believe.

      Saturday, April 09, 2011

      starting and stopping plone instance and enable color

      If I have it installed as a root install I would have to use sudo, otherwise don't!

      To start it...
      • cd /home/dgroos/plone-3.2.3/
      • ./bin/plonectl start
      • to stop or restart or check status use bolded word instead of "start".
      To enable color as per the bottom of this page:
      • To the Style Whitelist box, add color & background-color.
      • Click Save.

        Monday, April 04, 2011

        Starting to Concept Map

        Eddie and Christen are coming today for an hour to prepare to launch into using CmapTools.  While neither of them have used it yet with their classes, in addition, Christen's students are also just learning how to use the computers today. 
        1. Go to the http://concept-maps.blogspot, log in and make a new post.
        2. Thoughts worth noting include...teacher first-use in class, glitches, uncertainties, questions...
        3. Open CmapTools and do setup with sheet.
        4. Setup online structure of folders.
        5. Instructional suggestions:
        6. First use of CmapTools: students open CmapTools (Applications-->Graphics-->CmapTools) and the splash screen will open and the registration screen opens behind it!  You then grab the top bar of that window and move it out from under the splash screen.  Students fill in the registration info as shown here log in just do user account setup (use school username and their new district password).  The second video down shows the process on this page: https://wiki.mpls.k12.mn.us/groups/gcos/wiki/b43f4/install_CmapTools_.html.  Once everyone has that done, then log off and do a non-related activity.  That will be enough!  NOTE: CMAPTOOLS HAS A "WINDOW MANAGEMENT BUG" as can be seen that that the registration window appears under the splash screen.  Another manifestation of the bug is that students might not be able to click into any fields in the registration window!  Simply hit the space bar and this will allow you to click into the fields in the registration window.  Silly, I know.
        7. Second time Students use cmaptools have them do some fun, 'follow the path' assignment.  This is a core skill they need.  For example, "What is the name of the 3rd folder (not file!) located at: Teachers/Mr. Groos/aaRHS/bbRHS09/P2/Individual student folders/?"  After they have been introduced to this, give them to directions to the specific folder in which they make their own Personal folders.  Then give them a copy of this flowmap for detailed directions. See below for copy.
        8. Third time students use CmapTools, make first cmap file: Possible task: "Make a bubble map on science in one of the partner's student folder".  Their learning objectives would be to learn/get better at: a) navigating views window; b) connecting bubbles with lines; c) make un-broken connecting lines; d) make broken connecting lines; e) make arrow heads always appear; f) create a bubble map.  May want to skip objectives d and e as these can be a bit too much for the first time.
        9. Fourth time use of CmapTools, students in partners make a double-bubble map comparing themselves and partner.  This requires additional skill/knowledge: on how to make a double bubble map.  If students are fairly familiar with the double bubble thinking map then you may want them to work directly in their cmap file.  Otherwise, you may want students to plan out their map first in the notes, then copy it into their cmap file.
        10. A further activity (for another day) might be to change the look of this file to show additional knowledge, like each person has a different color of bubbles but the bubbles showing what they have in common could be a blended color.  Show student bubbles on the overhead when people are done!
        Notes about using Edubuntu first times...
        1. Add the blue logout button to the panel--easier for students to logout and makes Classroom Admin close more gracefully.
        2. About Classroom Admin--may have to quit it and restart at the end of each class.
         http://cmap.mpls.k12.mn.us/rid=1GL6M26Q4-15VNFM-HM/FM--Make%20your%20own%20Cmap%20Folder--on%20ubuntu.cmap?rid=1GL6M26Q4-15VNFM-HM&partName=htmljpeg

          Sunday, April 03, 2011

          Example lts.conf file for Ubuntu 10.04 LTSP system

          I just set up a new server that is running localapps.  The following is the start of the /var/lib/tftpboot/ltsp/i386/lts.conf file I used.
          [Default]
          SCREEN_02=shell
          SCREEN_07=ldm
          LDM_DIRECTX=True
          LOCALDEV = True
          LOCAL_APPS=True
          LOCAL_APPS_MENU=True
          LOCAL_APPS_MENU_ITEMS = firefox,CmapTools,/usr/lib/IHMC_CmapTools/bin/CmapTools,totem,vlc,gstreamer
          [00:02:A5:8F:6D:D4]
          HOSTNAME=g-1a
          [00:02:A5:90:59:98]
          HOSTNAME=g-1b
          [00:02:A5:90:56:FB]
          HOSTNAME=g-2a
          [00:02:A5:90:95:ED]
          HOSTNAME=g-2b
          [00:02:A5:16:66:5B]
          HOSTNAME=g-3a
          [00:02:A5:90:59:B1]
          HOSTNAME=g-3b
          [00:02:A5:90:96:18]
          HOSTNAME=g-4a

          [00:11:85:82:06:C1]
          HOSTNAME=g-teacher
          etc.
          By declaring the hostname of each client I was told they boot or login more quickly AND it identifies them relative to the seating of the classroom when I use the Great Greek sch-scripts.

          Tuesday, March 29, 2011

          Cloning 10.04 server with clonezilla fails unless...

          There seems to be an issue with cloning my Ubuntu 10.04 server and clonezilla.  When I tried to create a backup image of the disk I get the: "Something went wrong" message.  On line I found that the problem is probably with the i-nodes and the easiest way to solve this is to use clonezilla with the fsck option.
          1. Start like one normally does when cloning, but don't choose 'beginner mode' instead choose 'expert mode'.  Then you'll go though some similar screens but then you'll get to the advanced screens.  Always choose whatever option it defaults to, but one of the screens will have lots of options, one of which is "-fsck-src-part", select that and continue on and... things invariably work.
          I wish I had recorded this on my blog the last time I had to solve it, but got it now!

          Saturday, March 26, 2011

          Developing alkisg's idea of synching table-servers, and no network cables...

          I just got off of #ltsp with alkisg.  I needed further details on the hoped-for solution for next year set-up which wouldn't require using network cables but would require using at least 1 fast wireless access point and...  The following is a slight bit abridged (to remove extraneous content).

          [3:44PM] dgroos: I'm wondering if you've had further thoughts about your idea on clustering over wifi.
          [3:47PM] dgroos: Having 8 recycled P4's as elements of a cluster, connected via wifi, then each of these elements would be connected via ethernet to a few computers at the table.
          [3:50PM] dgroos: Thus, the fat clients would be able to boot via cable as they are designed to do, but they wouldn't need network cables leaving the tables.
          [4:09PM] alkisg:  Took a bit more :) reading...
          [4:10PM] alkisg: dgroos: sounds reasonable
          [4:10PM] alkisg: And you would have 1 authentication server and a common nfs home for everyone?
          [4:10PM] alkisg: Or local nfs homes on those clusters?
          [4:12PM] dgroos:  I wasn't sure if one would want 1 powerful server as the backbone so to say of all of the low-power servers in the cluster, and...
          [4:12PM] dgroos: if there would be memory limits since the p4 elements are 32 b arch.
          [4:13PM] alkisg:  The fat client servers don't need CPU. A bit of RAM, to cache parts of the fat nbd image, and a fast network
          [4:13PM] dgroos:  or, if there would be compatability issues with a 64b machine along with several 32 b machines.
          [4:13PM] alkisg:  No, it doesn't matter at all, the fat client servers are only serving an nbd image etc
          [4:14PM] alkisg: They could even be... mac or arm
          [4:14PM] dgroos:  Wow--so I could get some very small hardware to do the job--fits in the table better.
          [4:16PM] dgroos: Would I even need a strong server in the cluster?  I'm thinking of storing the home folders there--is that how you would recommend it?
          [4:16PM] alkisg:  Do the kids change places? If you can force them to use the same cluster each time, then yes, I'd recomment putting both authentication + homes there
          [4:17PM] alkisg: And only use wifi for internet access
          [4:17PM] alkisg: I.e. 1 cluster == 1 independed fat ltsp setup
          [4:17PM] alkisg: Of course you can clone the servers for installation
          [4:19PM] dgroos:  Kids would definitely change places several times throughout the year--practice in working with new teams etc.
          [4:19PM] alkisg:  Then you'd need /home over wifi
          [4:20PM] alkisg: Or some clever way of moving /home/username every time a student moves to a different cluster
          [4:20PM] dgroos:  OK that doesn't sound like it would generally be an issue.  Would it get loaded locally on the fat client when a student logs in?
          [4:20PM] alkisg:  The fat client would access /home/username with sshfs by default, or if you prefer with nfs
          [4:21PM] alkisg: That's over wifi
          [4:21PM] alkisg: So for 10 students trying to access /home over wifi the bandwidth would drop a lot
          [4:21PM] dgroos:  'k
          [4:21PM] alkisg:  How many students using a single wifi access point? And what speed? 50 mbps?
          [4:21PM] alkisg: (seats, not students)
          [4:22PM] dgroos:  I suppose we would use n networking standard, not sure where it's at...
          [4:23PM] alkisg:  That would suffice for a lot of seats
          [4:24PM] dgroos:  And, I wonder if I could put a couple of access points, at least 15 (for 2-1 ration) or better yet 30 separate users at any time in a classroom.
          [4:25PM] alkisg:  I think I'd implement the other option, the "syncing /home/username locally when the student logs on"
          [4:26PM] alkisg: locally == in the cluster server
          [4:26PM] dgroos:  Would I need a regular (dual-core xeon) server if I had all home folders on it and was using pentium 4 fat clients?
          [4:26PM] alkisg:  No, you wouldn't need a big server at all
          [4:26PM] dgroos:  OK, I wonder how difficult some script like that would be?
          [4:27PM] alkisg:  Not very much, writing such a script + debugging it should take less than a day
          [4:27PM] dgroos:  would this work with sch-scripts, that fancy program coming of that famous app-shop? ;)
          [4:27PM] alkisg:  (it would be best if it only synced when the student actually changed cluster, not every time)
          [4:28PM] alkisg: Hehe
          [4:28PM] dgroos:  sure.
          [4:28PM] alkisg:  Each cluster could have its own versions of sch-scripts, you'd need a master one?
          [4:29PM] dgroos:  When you say each cluster, you mean each element of a cluster?
          [4:29PM] alkisg:  Would be possible too, but it would need some tweaking with the different servers
          [4:29PM] alkisg: With cluster I mean a table consisting of 1 fat-client-server and 4-8 fat clients
          [4:29PM] alkisg: Maybe not the right word, I can call it "table" from now on :)
          [4:30PM] dgroos:  OK I was thinking that each of the 'servers' at the table would unite and be part of a single 'cluster'--I didn't have the under-the-hood visualized, however.
          [4:31PM] alkisg:  Maybe you want to have a look at ltsp-cluster? Never looked at it, don't know if it'll suit you
          [4:32PM] alkisg: I'd just use 1 master server for central authentication and for nfs homes, which would be rsynced locally when needed
          [4:32PM] dgroos:  That's what I was imagining when you said cluster!
          [4:33PM] alkisg:  I.e. the fat servers on the tables wouldn't have any user accounts at all
          [4:33PM] dgroos:  And the fat client images would be at the table-servers...
          [4:34PM] alkisg:  Right, just for speed
          [4:34PM] alkisg: You wouldn't need to maintain those, you could maintain the fat image on the master server, and copy it to the table servers when updated
          [4:36PM] dgroos:  Right, so as you say, the entire master server (master server? sounds paradoxical!) would have all the table servers rsync to it for everything BUT the home folders...
          [4:37PM] alkisg:  No, not for everything. They wouldn't need /opt/ltsp/i386
          [4:37PM] alkisg: They'd only need /opt/ltsp/images/i386.img
          [4:37PM] alkisg: They wouldn't need ubuntu-desktop or even X
          [4:37PM] alkisg: But they'd need some gigabytes for /home, for the students that connected there
          [4:39PM] alkisg: So, ltsp-update-image on the server should also rsync /opt/ltsp/images/i386.img to the client,
          [4:39PM] dgroos:  OK, right, each night or whenever, I could rsync the master home directories with the home directories on the table-server (for just the students who sit at that table).
          [4:39PM] alkisg:  and a login script should rsync /home/username to the table server
          [4:39PM] alkisg: *sorry I said client above, I meant table server
          [4:41PM] dgroos:  This is almost sounding like a done deal (ignorance is bliss :D ).
          [4:41PM] alkisg:  The syncing part is a bit more complicated than that
          [4:42PM] alkisg: I.e. when logging off, the local copy is more recent than the "master" on
          [4:42PM] alkisg:  So I'd prefer to use a login syncing script, which would sync from the last logon server
          [4:43PM] dgroos:  Isn't there an option with rsync to take the most recent version?
          [4:43PM] dgroos: "last logon server"?
          [4:43PM] alkisg:  Kid sits on table A
          [4:43PM] alkisg: The next hour he sits on table B
          [4:44PM] alkisg: Describe to me how you got his documents transfered to table B :)
          [4:45PM] dgroos:  At this point in the project that senario wouldn't happen (they've only got this in their science class) but I see your point.  So,
          [4:47PM] dgroos: are you envisioning when a user logs out the changes get exported from the table server to the home folders on the master server, then when that student logs in the next day or at a different table they get updated back at the table server?
          [4:48PM] alkisg:  (1) how often would kids change tables? and (2) do you keep daily backups for /home?
          [4:50PM] dgroos:  1) every couple of weeks in my class but in come teachers classes it could be almost every day and in others 1 time a month.  2) I haven't kept daily backups but I could I guess.
          [4:51PM] alkisg:  Based on your answers, I'd use the "last logon server" solution I described above,
          [4:51PM] dgroos:  I didn't really get that solution...
          [4:52PM] alkisg:  In that solution, there is no /home on the "master server". All /home/usernames are local to the tables
          [4:52PM] alkisg: So the kid logs on to table A, and gets his /home/username folder there
          [4:52PM] alkisg: The next day he logs on again to table A. No syncing happens at all. Very very fast.
          [4:53PM] alkisg: The next day he logs on to table B.
          [4:53PM] alkisg: The script sees that the last logon location was on table A.
          [4:53PM] alkisg: So it rsyncs directly from table A to table B, and updates the entry about the most recent login, which is now on table B.
          [4:53PM] NeonLicht:  And what happens if tablet A is off/broken/lost?
          [4:54PM] alkisg:  Then a clean folder is used, or, if an old one is available, the old one. But the user should be prompted on that case.
          [4:55PM] alkisg: The same would happen with the "master server" /home too, it's not something specific to this solution
          [4:55PM] alkisg: And it's even better with /home over wifi/nfs, because now there's at least the option for the kids to work in case the "master /home" would be down
          [4:56PM] alkisg: (and faster too)
          [4:56PM] alkisg: *better than, not better with
          [4:56PM] dgroos:  So, there would be a complete set of home folders at each table-server, however, the only ones up-to-date would be the home folders of the students who last logged in at that table,
          [4:56PM] alkisg:  Exactly
          [4:56PM] NeonLicht:  The master can use a NAS, with RAID, or ZFS. 
          [4:57PM] NeonLicht: A sync back to the server after use could be a good idea, I think.
          [4:57PM] dgroos:  and when a student moved from one table to the next there would be updating of the student's new table-server home folder.  Slick!
          [4:58PM] alkisg:  dgroos: are you planning on frequently moving the tables, i.e. is the possibility of the "last logon table missing" high?
          [4:58PM]
          dgroos:  NeonLicht: The NAS would be for backup purposes then? 
          [5:02PM] alkisg:  Being a teacher that also doesn't backup every day... It would be enough for me to have a backup from last week in table "A", even in the case where the hard disk in the most recent logon  table "B" was destroyed

          Monday, February 21, 2011

          Overview of the Growing Communities of Scientists system of tools

          Joe Purvis just sent me an e-mail looking for further information with which to educate his administrator on GCoS.  He, along with James W. and Andrea E. from Anwatin Middle School are planning on building their own set of computer-embedded tables this summer.  As I was responding to his request for information, I realized that I ought to do it right and put it out here in the public domain.  So here goes.

          THE BIG PICTURE
          Embedding computers into students' normal workspace--a shared workspace--is the key innovation.  It is this that brings all the other tools to the table.  Under the leadership of a skilled science teacher, these tools enable a classroom of students to grow as a community of scientists.  Here are some pictures of the 4-person, computer-embedded tables in action.

          The computer tables function as simple science tables
          The computers supply clear (teacher-created) instructions
          TOOLS FOR STUDENT WORK
          Here are some of the tools that I use with my students.  Am I using them systematically to their maximum capability--for sure not.  Nonetheless, many exciting and important things are happening already including increases in student metacognition, science conceptual learning, learning scientific inquiry, closing of the 'digital divide' and ownership of their own scientific pursuit.  It also transforms student-student and student-teacher relationships, allowing for authentic student discussion of science ideas--and in their own words, with their own questions.  For an example of this last point, note the FLE4 in the link in number 4, below.
          1. Access searchable knowledge objects such as static web pages, instructional videos, Simulations, Flash content.
          2. Individual Creation of shareable resources such as Vee Maps, Thinking Maps, Blogs, Concept maps.
          3. Collaboratively create and improve Knowledge Objects such as a wiki, web page, Vee, Jigsaw project, thinking maps, concept maps.
          4. Scaffold communication around objects of inquiry such as FLE4, voice thread.
          5. Digital Resource centers such as a scanner station and printer station.
          TOOLS FOR TEACHER-WORK
          These are just a few of the tools a teacher will use in the GCoS classroom.  Below are a few examples of these tools.  These tools are used within larger frameworks such as knowledge building and progressive inquiry.   This link provides a solid introduction from some brilliant researchers in Finland who have been working on this for years. They are also the creators of one of our tools, FLE4.

          1. Find online learning objects such as... (see links above in "access searchable knowledge objects")
          2. Create and organize curriculum such as this flow map I'm currently working on.  To go to a link on the flow map, click on the icon, then click on the words that drop down.  This concept map show the conceptual organization of the unit I'm currently planning.  It is based on the district supplied list of required vocabulary words for the topic.
          3. Create and organize and present daily lessons such as this one and this one.  Note that by clicking on the, "Also available in presentation mode..." at the top of the page, the web page becomes a 'powerpoint' presentation.  They are accessible from home.
          4. Create and share learning objects with students and other teachers such as these ones that were used for the activity pictured above to the right.
          5. Create and share and improve lessons such as at the LeMill site.
          Logan checking connections.
          Making a team concept map with cmaptools
          Example of a graded concept map.  Green=Good; Yellow=Partly Good; Pink=Bad.
          Another good concept map albeit with less visual organization

            Thursday, February 17, 2011

            Adjusting iptables

            Here's some info on how to make sure the web service can get out of the server.  The server might well have iptables setup by default so to change the default settings...

            Here's the location of the config file:
            • /etc/sysconfig/iptables


            Here are commands to turn on and off the filter do:
            • sudo /sbin/service iptables start
            • sudo /sbin/service iptables stop
            • sudo /sbin/service iptables restart
            • sudo /sbin/service iptables status