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Dr John Spencer began his teaching career in 1981 armed with a Sinclair ZX81, thereby demonstrating two things at once: Firstly he was in at the very start of ICT in the classroom and secondly he is a sucker for duff technology. Thereafter he taught joining a start-up open source company as their Head of Education in 2002. Now John is bringing his iconoclastic disposition and tendency to throw a spanner in the works to blogging.

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Problem Solving: Solutions by RM, Capita and Ubuntu

Education, known unknowns and unknown unknowns....

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Over Christmas I stimulated my brain, specifically my left brain’s inferior frontal gyrus, para-hippocampal gyrus, and parietal lobe as well as my dorsal rostral anterior cingulate, amygdala, the left and right parietal lobe, the thalamus and right cerebellum.

I other words I was solving problems. Unfortunately I was not solving real problems but wasting my time doing puzzles you find in newspapers and even more pointlessly... puzzles you get in computer games. Why do people so like solving artificial problems? it’s not as if there are not enough real problems to solve; so speaking of which, here are a few notable ‘solutions’ that have cropped up to start 2013.

Solutions divide Rumsfeldian-like into those that solve problems you have, those that solve problems you did not know you had and those that solve problems you didn’t have. In reverse order:

1) Ubuntu is now to be available on Android Samsung Nexus smartphones. Yes that problem you had that you could not run your Linux OS on your phone has been solved. This non-problem has been solved before. I remember one of my co-workers at Sirius did get it working a few years ago on something or another and spookily it wouldn’t make calls or install ‘apps’ either.
The problem should have been persuading a Pi running Ubuntu ( really quite well) to make calls.

2) Capita continue to solve education’s problems we did not know we had by buying everyone within reach. Having bought SIMS ( the leading school management software) years ago, then Ramesys (a network/integrating software school supplier) in 2010, then Synetrix broadband and finally OPENHIVE’s VLE they have come up with the ultimate pile of poo called the CapitaOPENHIVE mle. This is the final solution...a MIS-VLE to solve all school problems. The biggest problem though if you are a school is being mixed up with them in the first place by all accounts.

3) Finally some good news. RM Plc is back on song. Not only are they offering an easy route to exploiting cloud services for schools but I think, I really think they have solved the e-book problem. I signed up to the RM bookshop where a) all the offerings are browser based but b) actually had the books we buy into schools.

If that was not a good start they are going for an annual rent model. So £3.00 rents one of my students his/her A level text book for a year. I asked all my students, who have forked out already for a text book, if this attracted them...a resounding YES from 80%+ was the answer. Given how rapidly text books change this is brilliant. So...RM, I may have said a few harsh thing about you in the past but well played folks now go and dominate the market again by solving real problems.

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