Don’t panic: Ask the gamers for help

Warning: This post contains important information about COVID-19 and online schools. Some teachers might find this distressing and choose to waste a few more days trying to get Adobe Connect to work. However, if you want a fast and easy online space up in less time it will take to read this rubbish … welcome to the server.


All this fuss about closing bricks and mortar schools is distressing. It’s also a timely reminder of how the billions (yes billions) which has flowed into the pockets of “EdTech” which is a long, drawn out crash site of experiments and failures.

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of how poorly prepared western schools are for working at arms length, let alone ‘online’ in a meaningful way.

Today, I was informed my students need to be 1.5m apart.  – This is of course impossible. The message was telegraphed and then ignored due to pragmatics. Kids carried on in exactly the same way – because the paraphernalia of school was unchanged.

Schools are not ready of ‘online’ in the sense that few are able to meet students at the intersection of youth communications and actual usage. This results in dull conversations as to whether Google Classrooms “will do” or “can I just email it in”. A direct result of Audrey’s shit show of edtech.

95% of teachers are perhaps familiar with, or using, Ista, Email and FB with their friends and family, re-sharing photos of dogs or inspirational quotes.

95% of kids are online in Discord because they know it’s a productive way to save time and improve your chances of success and enjoyment.

Yep, Discord: That means every kid in you class can (or knows someone who can) use it right now.

They can also show you. You don’t need to panic or waste more time and money on “edtech” just because you’re a special snowflake teacher who only uses ‘teacher’ apps.

Just get your kids to create a server and relax. It took mine less than a minute and they are all over it.

Digital Home and Contents Insurance

Cyber saftey has crossed into the “internet of things” already. Governments and law enforcement agencies are gradually implementing surveillance technologies that are more accurate, unnoticeable, cheap, pervasive, ubiquitous and searchable in real time. Don’t expect an announcement on this – it’s a dirty business behind closed doors.

To me $50 a year is a small price to pay for digital-home-insurance, and a great opportunity to engage my kids in discussions about freedom, privacy and liberty. It’s more essential than anti-virus or firewalls – although your Telco and government will make little mention of it – they value the collection principle over anonymity principle.

I’m doing the feds a favour. Along with fitting a smoke detector and locks to my windows, I’m securing my kids from enemy-agents too. I’m doing my bit to protect our way of life. It’s like not leaving tempting valuables in the car. For $50 a year, I can VPN up your iPhone, tablet and home computer.

Of course this doesn’t stop Telstra types selling you down the river, or accidental data-dumping – that’s just incompetence. But I still think fitting VPNs to you (and especially your kids devices) gives you a valuable buffer. It’s a deep dark hole when you start looking into privacy online. It’s hard to stand back and say “I don’t have time or that the issues are too complex”. This burn note will self-destruct in …

If you’ve got kids going online at home – playing video games, watching video and so on – and you don’t have a VPN then good luck to you.