Recover an accidentally wiped hard drive

About 48 hours ago I would have been mystified how anyone could wipe their entire harddrive. On Saturday I attempted to upgrade my installation of Linux Mint from 17.3 to 18. The upgrade path failed so I opted for the recommended path of doing a clean install.

This need not be a big deal. My set up was quite simple:

1. A Solid State Drive (100GB) on which I keep Mint and the software running on Mint.
2. A 2TB hard disk where I keep everything else. (I set up Mint to write Documents, Pictures, Videos etc. to this drive.
(3. I also have a 3TB My Clould to which I save pictures, so I didn’t loose everything)
t2t2
For some reason when installing Mint I chose the option to wipe the 2TB hard drive clean instead of the 100GD SSD.

Fortunately, I had recently read Linux Format’s Round up of rescue distros (Issue 209, April 2016) so I was mildly aware there might be an opportunity to get my data back. I opted to install testdisk.

I’ll cut out some of the things I tried to do, but this is the short version

Open the Linux Terminal (CTRL+ ALT+ T)

sudo apt install testdisk

I then ran a utility inside testdisk called photorec typing into the terminal

photorec

See instructions at: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec_Step_By_Step

After selecting to recover the 2TB disk and choosing a location to save the recovered files then following is in process:

Terminal view (I’m hoping it will not take 24 hours to complete. It said 72 hours about an hour ago!)t5

The program saved the recovered files into these folders.

t7

The obvious issue here is that the recovered files don’t appear with their original file names and the folder structure is not maintained. However, there are some more important issues here:

  1. This has been surprising easy to do. On one hand that is a good thing as it means I’ve got my files back. On the other hand, the ease with which I recovered files demonstrates how insecure the process of wiping a hard drive is. Once anyone gets hold of the hard drive it is amazingly easy to recover anything that was on there.
  2. This process retrieves everything including files I had already deleted and pictures from websites I had visited. For example some of the folders contain pictures of the people I follow on twitter, I did not download these.
  3. When I say retrieves everything I mean everything. Most of the files retrieved are things like web buttons.

t6Anyway the main lessons here are as follows.

  1. Check very carefully before you delete.
  2. It is easierto recover files than I thought:
    a) This is a good thing if you made a mistake.
    b) This is a bad thing it you actually wanted to securely wipe a drive. If you want to wipe a drive so no one else can read it, some research is needed . Deleting your files and reformatting is not enough.

Photorec: Step by step (also works with Windows)

Using python coding to sort out the files afterwards (not tried yet!)

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'Louder voices for people in the middle of things': Reflections on the HEA 'Beyond Fellowship' conference

I spent yesterday at the HEA's 'Beyond Fellowship' Conference at Aston University. As well as catching up with old friends it was a chance to meet new people. Like me, most of those present support others in obtaining their HEA Fellowships and/ or teach on PGCert courses. I have shared here a summary of the key lessons I took away.

Going above and beyond
Claire McCullach, Eileen Hyder and Cherry Bennett, University of Reading

An occupational hazard of these conferences is that you meet like-minded people – in this case people who think teaching in higher education is important and that it is important for all staff to develop their teaching and gain recognition for the skills and knowledge they have. The tyranny of Key Performance Indicators can mean we are apt to measure success in terms of counting people who have a fellowship of the HEA rather than the process of becoming a fellow, and, perhaps more crucially, the responsibilities of being a fellow. Wouldn't it be great is every fellow took it upon her/ his self to mentor others through the fellowship process?

Digital portfolios for good standing
Chrissi Nerantzi and Kate Botham, Manchester Metropolitan University

We have recently submitted our re-accreditation documentation to the HEA and like many institutions we plan to offer a digital e-portfolio route alongside our 'written' route. I went into this session hoping for a sense of what an e-portfolio might look like, but I left with another challenge-- how do I document my own CPD? I need to record my own development more systematically and this was the challenge I left the session with. This blog is part of that process, but I am not always consistent in the way I record my reflections.

Beyond compulsion, KPIs and targets: an optimistic look at an alternative based on authenticity, prestige and expectation.
Martyn Kingsbury and Huw Rees, Imperial College London

The key lesson of this session was to build your practice on the 'prestige economy' of your institution. As Imperial is very very very research intensive, the speakers had developed an approach to their academic development which centres around valuing the research-based 'prestige economy' rather than fighting against it. Interestingly they found that motivation and demand for PGCert courses and other development increased when the programmes were no longer compulsory. Imperial is an outlier in terms of its research profile, even amongst research-intensive universities. I am still trying to think through the implications for my own situation.

Leading the Leaders and the Laggards: how Senior and Principal Fellows can support institutional and individual goals to enhance the learning experiences of students
Sue Eccles, Bournemouth University

In this session we had to do some group work. A collective sense of 'Why do we have to do this?' went around around the room for the few seconds it took for everybody to recognise their hypocrisy. We are always going on about the value of group work, working in teams, student as producer, student as knower etc. etc., but even we have a tendency to want to sit back passively and listen to someone talk about something or other for 40 or 50 minutes. Anyway –back to the session– as academic developers we are in the middle of things. We don't write and decide strategies (at least not directly), but we are expected to make them happen. In my notes I wrote 'Louder voices for people in the middle of things'. When senior mangers set targets for things like HEA Fellowships it often appears that meeting this target is the responsibility of a handful of people who are not senior managers. Teaching staff have all kinds of targets, aspirations, expectations and ambitions and we can often be frustrated when these conflict with our own targets, aspirations, expectations and ambitions, especially when it is our job to implement strategy. At a time when we are about to launch a new strategy at the University of Brighton, the question of who owns and is accountable for its contents is a crucial one.

A final plenary of the all the speakers (including those from the parallel sessions I didn't make) started with a discussion of 'ethical stealth'- terms which had emerged from one of the sessions. A sense of doing unseen work is very prevalent in my line of work, 'helping other people look good' as a colleague has put it. Ethical stealth is a problem though. One speaker noted that we need to be demonstrating our impact and we need to be confident that what we do has value. Doing good work which is unseen might please God, but not university senior managers.

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Discussion session for quantitative/ mixed methods

This is from a handout I developed for a discussion session on quantitative/ mixed methods.

Quantitative / qualitative approaches differences: Very crude representation of commonly thought differences. From Firestone (1987).

Quantitative

Qualitative

World view

Object facts independent of social world

Multiple realities socially defined.

Purpose

Explain through measurement

Understanding through actors' perspectives

Approach

Experiment: reduce randomness/ noise/ error which get in the way of explanation.

Ethnography. Explore definitions. Challenge assumptions

Researcher role

Detached

Immersed

Writing

Objective: facts speak for themselves

Interpretative

Conclusions

Explain reasons for phenomenon/ change in quantitative terms e.g. x% of variance explained by x,y,z,

Qualitative judgement e.g. 'strong leadership required...'

Discussion questions:

Does choice of method stem from our world view or does our world view stem from our choice of methods?

Is the primacy of qualitative methods in education studies a consequence of expediency/ ability or world view?

Does early specialisation in UK education mean social science and humanities reject quantitative approaches due to lack of sufficient mathematics skills?

To what extent is the table above an accurate representation of differences between quantitative and qualitative approaches?

References/ further reading:

British Academy. 2015. ‘Count Us in: Quantitative Skills for a New Generation’. London: British Academy. .

Firestone, William A. 1987. ‘Meaning in Method: The Rhetoric of Quantitative and Qualitative Research’. Educational Researcher 16 (7): 16–21. doi:10.3102/0013189X016007016.

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Michel Foucault and the pedagogy of learning to swim

Reading Foucault today the following passage struck me, although it was little to do with the reason I've been reading Foucault.

The organisation of serial space was one of the great technical mutations of elementary education. It made it possible to supersede the traditional system (a pupil working for a few minutes with the master, while the rest of the heterogeneous group group remained idle unattended). By assigning individual places it made possible the supervision of each individual and the simultaneous work of all.

(M. Foucault 1977, Discipline and Punish, London: Penguin p.147).

Every Saturday morning I take my son to his beginner swimming lessons. The approach taken by the swimming teachers at our local swimming pool is very different from the approach taken by my own swimming teacher at the same level. At my son's lessons the teacher is in the water and she spends a few minutes with each while the other groups members talk, splash each other or practice putting their faces in the water (the traditional method in Foucaultian terms). When I learnt to swim, the teacher did not come in the water at all. He stood at the side of pool giving instructions to the whole group then altogether, then we all did as as said (or at least tried). I never actually saw my swimming teacher swim-- he used the discipline approach.

I have no view on which approach might be better in terms of teaching someone to swim. Perhaps there is a debate in the swimming teaching community about which approach to group teaching is best. This post is pure observation and not an opinion!

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"Ellen and Justin, we are drowning" Sheila's letter

I first met Sheila Quinn in 2000 when I was undertaking fieldwork for my PhD in Quebec's Eastern Townships. As long as I've known Sheila she has been a strong advocate for young people in her region, both as a professional and as a volunteer. Her son Angus, now 13, is autistic and right now things are very tough for Sheila. The special school Angus attends says it is no longer able to cope with his behaviour.

Her letter, addressed to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Ellen DeGeneres (who is the voice behind Angus' favourite character in 'Finding Nemo') has been widely shared on Facebook and has been picked up by Montreal's CTV.

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Designing a questionnaire for school staff (UK Governors/ School leaders)

This post may interest:

  • School governors/ leaders planning a staff questionnaire
  • Any seeking a (very) brief introduction to the options of designing any pencil and paper questionnaire.
  • Anyone looking for a LaTeX template for questionnaire design (this questionnaire is based on my slight adaptation of the paperandpencil.sty by Miriam Dieter & Anja Zwingenberger)

First thing: the actual questionnaire I designed

In my capacity as a school governor I designed a staff questionnaire last summer. I've made this available for anyone to use or adapt as they see fit. (Some of these questions are based on ones OFSTED ask teachers).

A basic consideration of options

There are many ways to do a staff questionnaire. Naturally online is fairly straightforward using third party software such as surveymonkey (free basic service, then £), or if you are more technically minded using various polling software and plugins in your own website (e.g. for wordpress). However in terms of online security paper and pencil questionnaires remain useful, and in a small(ish) school where everyone is in one place the benefits of setting up, administering and analysing an online questionnaire are probably not as great as for a larger organisation.

You may or may not be particularly worried about the presentation of your questionnaire. However, using your regular word-processing package (e.g. MSWord (£), LibreOffice writer (free and open source) etc.) will usually turn out to be more hassle than it's worth. Every time you try to move a box to a different place it ends up moving a whole load of other text (you've probably have experienced this behaviour when trying to put a photograph into a Word document).

If you wish to stick with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) a publishing tool such as MSPublisher (£) or Scribus (free and open source) are likely to yield better results than word processing software. These will enable you to have more control over the page layout.

A bit more technical: using LaTeX

The questionnaire I designed is built in LaTeX and I've made the source code available in github. The key advantage of LaTeX (more about LaTeX here) is that you can have complete control over the layout with a combination of standard commands and some stylesheets. The .tex code can then be exported to .pdf leading to a document which can be printed off.

Link summary

.pdf version of the questionnaire we used at our school.  There are online services which can covert .pdf to Word (.doc/ .docx) though your mileage may vary.

Github access to the source code.

Further help

I'm happy to provide a small amount of free help (subject to my availability) to UK schools wishing to use the questionnaire (e.g. add school name/ logo, remove questions or make relatively minor amendments).

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Were the noughties the golden age of teaching in UK higher education?

I started my academic job search around the Autumn of 2001, just as the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) was taking place. Those on the market a year or two before me may have a different take, but to me I couldn't have entered the academic job market at a worse time. [I appreciate that anyone entering since has probably had it much worse.] I applied for and interviewed for various geography lectureships and research assistantships without success, but in Autumn 2002 I landed an interview at the University of Southampton in the Modern Languages department; I was offered the job and started in January 2003.

The job I actually got, was at the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies (LLAS), 1 which was itself part of a national network with 23 other subject centres collectively called the Learning and Teaching Support Network, which later become part of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). My job title was the Academic Coordinator for Area Studies and I was brought in to manage the Area Studies Project, which was collaboration of six subject centres. Despite the learning and teaching focus of the subject centres, I knew very little about teaching in higher education when I started off, and I knew I knew little about teaching in higher education. I thought I knew a bit about higher education policy, but it turns out I didn't know as much as I thought. Over time the job evolved and I led various projects on interdisciplinary teaching and learning, organised workshops for new academic staff in languages and related disciplines. I read lots of papers, I carried out a few research projects, published a few academic papers and reports, and met hundreds of people from all round the UK and beyond. No need to go on here-- I have a CV for all that stuff.

Fast forward to 2015 and, among other things I am teaching new lecturers at the University of Brighton aware they they have come into a greatly impoverished sector. In part I mean 'impoverished' in money terms, but also resource and support impoverished. In the 2000s there were 24 subject centres which provided workshops, research funds, subject specific expertise on a national level, a sense of community and, perhaps most importantly informative and up-to-date websites and publications. The HEA commissioned its own research, projects and reports into a range of matters. Separate from the subject centres was the Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL), the National Disability Team, Jisc (still around) and the later on the Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs – there was some disagreement about whether it should be pronounced 'settles' or 'kettles' (See David Kernohan's post on 'Ghosts of Teaching Excellence past' for his excellent analysis)).

Most of these are dead now. The subject centres are gone; the HEA is a rump of its former self trying to work out how to be self-funded, and known to many academics as a sort of DVLA for HE teaching). Many of these projects are mere memories to those involved in them, their websites and resources deleted, hacked, destroyed or if we are lucky, archived.

Some CETL's have a legacy, ironically because they funded buildings and refurbishments; our Creativity Centre at Brighton is still in use for its intended purpose. Now teaching excellence is all about a thing called the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

I didn't realise it at the time, but I was actually part of the golden age of teaching and learning in higher education. Its easy to get nostalgic, and not all was plain sailing, but here I really have to acknowledge my privilege.

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Notes:

  1. Still going as a separate centre at the University of Southampton