Sunday, 29 March 2020

#BeingPartoftheSolution 2

Additional comments after a couple weeks into remote schooling.

File sharing: I got familiar with nextcloud, which offers a great amount of functionality such as typical file sharing services like Google Drive and MS OneDrive. Whatever system you use, I would separate communication in two flows:
- One direction, from teacher to students (release tasks and announcements), i.e. a public folder, most likely with subfolders for each subject as per the picture above.
- Private comms between each student and the teacher. This requires a password protected folder for each student.

Students and parents use different email providers, a 5MB file may be a problem for some, a 10MB may be a problem for many, a 100MB video will probably not work with most. Just sync a local folder with a cloud one and store there whatever is required for the students to pick it up.

Videocommunications: In these two weeks I have tried zoom a lot, discord, Jitsi, whatsapp and heard about MS Teams and Zoom has many pros but one big con, privacy issues.
I have the feeling that the others have shortcomings when it comes to getting other people join (think elderly people, as my parents) and whatsapp is easy but it limits participants to just 4 people, plus many teachers may not want to disclose their private phone number for obvious reasons.
I am not clear that video conferences are strictly required or that they would even work for most classrooms. To much hassle to set up and still difficult to extract value from time invested. Maybe best to record a video and follow up with one to one sessions as required?

Photo app: I know, not new item, but please, do yourself a favour and use MS Office Lens or equivalent. Why send 4 separate photos instead of a single pdf? Or spend time cropping and aligning photos?

Sunday, 15 March 2020


This post was first published as LinkedIn article

1-minute summary: if you are a tech savvy parent, reach out to your children´s school and enquire if they need support to work remotely. This is a great opportunity to improve the digital literacy and skills of students, teachers and parents. Things which are obvious to you may not be obvious to everyone. See below some of my ideas, which are easy to implement.

For the longer version, read on.

I am actually not sure how well prepared most schools are for remote learning. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them are lagging on this aspect relative to many companies. While a lot may depend on available infrastructure, typically people skills and attitudes have a much bigger impact. So I was thinking how I can be of help and decided to provide a few basic tips which may help smooth the next few weeks with some specific easily actionable items.

If you share this, depending on your digital skills or those of your network and the teachers in your area, you may find this article plain obvious. If that´s the case, you are a good candidate to offer help to others which need to work remotely and may need IT support.

Communication: a lot of remote communication takes place through email. My experience with schools is that typically someone takes the last message on a recent thread and replies to all with new information. If a mother (or more typically a father) is not included in the initial message, it is always difficult to bring them back into the list. Even if added, they cannot see previous conversations and others may reply to another thread starting the loop again of missed communication.
Recommendation: set up a distribution list for each class, for example with

Remote access: many teachers will have to work from home using a variety of personal computers with Windows, macOS and Linux. If something does not work out, it is typically difficult to troubleshoot remotely their issue unless you can see the screen and take control.
Recommendation: Identify a couple of tech savvy parents per class as extra IT support for teachers. Consider discussing with teachers installation of a remote desk solution, such as which offers a free option for private users.

Security: This is a great opportunity to discuss digital literacy with teachers, students and parents, so probably appropriate to raise awareness of some of the items discussed in in the next months.
Recommendation: As a minimum, everyone should install a password manager, such as KeePassXC which is open source, cross platform and actively being developed. Two factor authentication should be enabled in all services which allow it.

Photo app: some teachers may have printed material already available which they now need to distribute to students. Not all teachers will have scanners at home, and things like books require a long time to scan (if at all possible). Manually cropping and warping photos is time consuming. Reworking material into a digital format even more so.
Recommendation: Consider installing Microsoft Office Lens app on mobile phones. It automatically frames pages and warps resulting image to make it easier for distribution.

Friday, 27 December 2019


Yo, que me figuraba el Paraíso
Bajo la especie de una biblioteca.

I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library.

"Poema de los Dones" / "Poem of the Gifts"