Thursday 30 July 2009

MUSAC Shares vision with Ministry

MUSAC was given the opportunity to share our vision with a cross section of Ministry staff in Wellington on Tuesday. They were a tough audience (I even suggested as such!) but there was time for questions and further discussion about the ramifications and impact of our approach.

This meeting marks a significant milestone for MUSAC. It wasn't too many years ago that there were rather public tensions between MUSAC and the Ministry. And while any Ministry must always maintain an even hand with the commercial sector we are heartened that the conversations and discussions have been and continue to be productive with many common goals.

While a long way from a public-private partnership, the respect and trust being built is very positive.

Thank you to the Ministry people for taking the time out of your day for us.

Catholic Schools Convention

MUSAC has had the privilege of exhibiting at the Catholic Schools Convention at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington this week. A big occasion for the Catholic schools of New Zealand with over 1000 people in attendance.

It has been particularly well organised with the programme out to all well in advance.

As is often the case in educational conferences and conventions, politicians are invited to address the attendees. What was noticeable was the positive way the Minister of Education was welcomed, questioned and thanked. It is so easy to identify issues to divide when there are so many issues that unite. Well done to the Minister, the Catholic Education Office (led by Br Pat) and the convention attendees for taking such a positive and productive approach to build an enduring relationship with so many important and common goals.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Beta Schools

As we venture down the path to full release, MUSAC has been meeting with a number of schools about the possibility of taking on the software as a beta school.

It has been a fun process of working through the various factors that would make the "ideal" candidate. The ideal candidate in this case hasn't been difficult to find. There are some functionality criteria - all the practical stuff - including internet bandwidth and connectivity in classrooms. Thereafter, I've continued the voyage of discovery that I am on understanding the special individual character of many schools. The two schools we'll be inviting to join in our pilot/beta programme have some similarities, but also have major differences to do with their special characters.

Significantly, is that both schools don't see themselves as leading edge in technology and in some ways want to take steps forward. Not all the admin and teaching staff are computer whizzes. These are the attributes which make them ideal. Real schools, real people providing real feedback about MUSAC's new software. Ideal.

Monday 20 July 2009

MUSAC at the SEO Conference

SEO conferences are always great conferences. Well organised, attended ... and they have fun.

Hosted by the Cantab's this year, 2009 was another great conference. Held at the Convention Centre in Christchurch the fun included a visit to the Antarctica Centre and somewhat surprisingly - speed knitting. This is not an event I'd expect to see in the Olympics in the short term, but it did result in a number of protests, inquiries and a lot of laughs.

As we've found in all other conferences this year, the "green theme" is working well and the t-shirt supply wiped out again. MUSAC was well supported by Solutions and Services with Ann, Sandy, Brian, Christine and Cheryl all helping out and catching up with MUSAC and SolServ customers.

The Conference Dinner was exceptional - well catered and Mister Mena (a band with a number of members of the police) kept us dancing until midnight.

Living in the Manawatu, I took the opportunity to stay the weekend, visiting the Art gallery, museum, botanical gardens, Akaroa and a punt down the Avon. Continuing the quantum theme from Nelson, couldn't help but visit Rutherford's Den.

Thank you SEO's for a great week - already looking forward to next year's event in Auckland at the Langham Hotel.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

101 ways to use an Apple

Being non-conformists and creative types, the MUSAC team took advantage of the apples we had for the NZPF conference and did a bake-off. Apple pi was the winner on the day!

The winning entry (on a fair and un-biased judging system) 'Apple Pi'. See more photos on our Flickr

Monday 6 July 2009

Another Successful NZPF Conference

The annual NZPF conference finished in absolute style with the best conference dinner I've been to. Pre-dinner drinks, a great singer over entrees and mains with the band firing up as we all got into desserts. Wife and I sat with an Australian group who were typical of NZ Principal's we meet throughout the week - friendly and engaging.

I listened to the Minister address the conference Friday morning during which she reiterated overall Government aims - including the topical National Standards policy. My take on the latter re-asserts my frustration of the SMS vendors being left on the sideline while Ministry officials discuss how National Standards are to be implemented. It is very clear to me that a number of the NZPF concerns can be alleviated by leveraging the schools Student Management System rather than some central collection point in Wellington - of which the latter concept generates concerns over how the data will be used. By engaging the vendors early on to understand what deficiencies and possibilities there are we could feasible have the back of this thing broken (from an administration perspective) for the start of 2010. It is going to be a big job for some schools to implement the changes without the problem of potentially not have the administrative side ready. Despite the frustration, MUSAC and Agents have already mocked up a number of documents in ClassRoom Manager based on the material released for consultation.

Back to food. I was most heartened that the conference dinner was so very good so as to leave the visitors with a positive Palmy experience - particularly after a couple of below par experiences earlier in the week. On the Thursday evening the MUSAC green shirts joined a group of Principal's on a cafe crawl. I mentioned in a previous post that Palmy has good cafes - well on Thursday night we were not up to the mark in 2 out of 3 that we visited. The organisers had pre-booked and there were really no excuses. Thankfully we got it right in the last. Well done Bethany's!

Already looking forward to NZPF in Queenstown 2010.

Friday 3 July 2009

MUSAC to my ears

Friday night saw the staff from MUSAC take over the local Karaoke bar, hidden talents were found, while other hidden talents thankfully stayed hidden

And the winner is.....

Thanks everyone for your awesome ideas. We drew the winner for the MUSAC naming competition randomly from a hat, and the winner was...

Reefton Area School.

We are now working with a marketing company to finalize the final name of our new web based product, using inspiration and ideas from all the entries that were sent in.