Things I learned this week #3

1. Technology and happiness are linked – in a good way

According to a BBC article, there are positive links between access to technology and feelings of well-being, a BCS survey of 35,000 people worldwide found

It found that women in developing countries, and people of both sexes with low incomes or poor education, were most influenced emotionally by their access to technology. Access to communication devices was found to be the most valued. You can read the original BCS publications here 

A bonus thing I learned this week is that the director of the Research Centre for Internet Psychology at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications in Israel is a psychologist called Yair Amichai-Hamburger (as quoted in the BBC article)


2. There are more words in the Facebook Privacy Policy than the US Constitution, which I learnt from this New York Times article

About a year ago I deleted my Facebook profile. And I was pretty happy with that. But last week I wanted to take a look at the online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on, which is designed to allow users on Facebook to collaborate. So I created a new Facebook account, and immediately set all of my privacy settings so that only my ‘Friends’ could see them – and as I didn’t have any friends yet, that meant that everything was private. Or at least, that’s what I thought. Until I got a message within two minutes from an acquaintance inviting me to make them my friend saying “So, you’re back on Facebook”. How’s that possible, when I’d set my privacy settings so rigorously? Well, turns out that when you create a new account, it sets everything public by default, and in the three minutes it took me to change that to private, it had pinged a bunch of people to say “Hey, Ray’s got an account again”. Although I don’t mind living a part of my online life in public, I do at least want some control over it. So I read Wednesday’s New York Times article about Facebook’s privacy options more carefully. No wonder it took me three minutes to set my privacy options – there are 50 settings to change. And the NY Times drew a handy diagram of them all.

It’s time for me to sit down with my teenage daughter and go through these all again, as they’ve grown hugely since we last did it.


3. Why you should check your backup disks

I like Mike Kent’s column on the back page of the TES. It’s one of the pages I read every week, because it makes me smile, and it gives me a little bit of insight into head teachers' daily lives. But reading last week’s column was close to home for me, as he described how he thought he’d lost all his schools MIS data. Gulp. I have three computers, and two external hard disks solely dedicated to backing them up weekly. And I do back them up, religiously. But I have never checked that I can restore my backup if I need to.


4. The World Bank have an interest in ICT in Education

As well as dedicated ICT in Education section on their website, with an interesting Education and ICT data section, including country-level data on ICT and Education for some regions. And they even run a seminar series on ICT in Education that you can attend at the World Bank headquarters. The next one, on One Mouse Per Child, is on 24th May (might be handy to know if you’re stuck waiting for a flight home!).

Most interesting to me is their blog “EduTech”, in which Michael Trucano describes his Worst practice list for ICT use in education, of which the Top 5 are:

  1. Dump hardware in schools, hope for magic to happen
  2. Design for OECD learning environments, implement elsewhere
  3. Think about educational content only after you have rolled out your hardware
  4. Assume you can just import content from somewhere else
  5. Don't monitor, don't evaluate
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