The theme of the conference was ‘Excellence for All’, and I have to say that the SSAT delivered , each aspect of the conference itself was excellent.
Wednesday started for me with Dylan Wiliam extolling the importance of assessment being the key to good teaching. He was as inspiring a speaker as ever, as those of you who watched his recent TV program would know. In particular I was impressed with Dylan’s ability to demonstrate his techniques within a ‘classroom’ of 400 educators, and also his incredible use of research evidence to support his teachings.
Wednesday Keynotes came from David Hemery, former 400m Hurdles Gold medal winning Olympian, he was telling his story and promoting www.21stcenturylegacy.com , part of London 2012′s legacy programme for schools. He was followed by Sugata Mitra, telling his engaging tale of children teaching themselves using the Internet, from his hole-in-the-wall Mumbai slums experiment to his recent work in Gateshead. This was an engaging tale that at first seemed to question the need for teachers at all! As with all the speakers, more to follow in a future blog-post. I would add that I was fortunate enough to chat to Sugata over coffee following his talk, a charming man. Continue reading →
Facebook recently updated their Groups feature. Allowing finer control over groups which you set up, who can join, who can post, who can share etc.. Their are also improvements to how you are notified about group updates and a new feature called ‘docs’ that provides a Google Docs-esque shared notepad / document. Group chat is also built in allowing you to talk to everyone in that group at once. For a demonstration head over to Mashable or watch this video:
So, the million dollar question… Could this be used in education? Could it be part of a VLEesque home-school link? Continue reading →
I have been in post at my new school as Director of E-Learning for 4 weeks now, and it’s been a heck of a ride! A completely new IT Support team for the school has meant that it has been a trying start to the year for all concerned. The new team has pulled together well though and I am really pleased with their dedication and good humour in the face of a few near disasters.
I have been beavering away in what little free time I have had, developing something of a strategy for the coming years. This job is made a little harder as there is a strong, but unconfirmed possibility that our school may merge with another in the next year or two and become an Academy.
Well, first off, Doug beat me to it with his 3 year Director of E-Learning Development plan! If mine looks similar, it’s mainly because I stole his layout. The content was already prepared and I’m really pleased to see that there are a number of similarities. I hope this means we are both headed in the right direction, I think it also shows the shared wisdom of the blogging community that we draw from. The Digital Leaders / E-Learning Champions ideas coming from Kristian Still’s work and reflections for example.
When I compared the two, I worried that I was being a little optimistic in the amount I plan to get done, however I have 100 staff & 750 pupils to work with, Doug has 3000+ students! We have a lot of hardware in school, but it is not used as effectively as it could be, that’s one of my first aims.
I’ve not actually shared this with senior staff at school yet, so any feedback would be appreciated.
There has been much debate of late about whether Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), particularly in their British state sponsored variations are dead. For some of the thoughts check out Lindsay Jordan, James Clay, Matt Lingard and Steve Wheeler.
One week today I finally start my new job as Director of E-Learning at a high school in Manchester. One of my key priorities is to run the school’s VLE. My current understanding is that they played with their own Moodle a few years ago which was then replaced with Trafford LA’s Fronter based system. I’ve not heard a good word said about Fronter whenever I have come across it, and have had poor experiences of it myself whilst using the NCSL’s VLE. As with most of the UK, this VLE is the only one fully supported by the LA, and it is heavily subsidised for at least a few years.
I am yet to be impressed by any of the commercially available, BECTA approved VLE solutions. The only one I have heard numerous positive remarks about is Frog, but I’ve yet to see it in action myself. I agree with a number of comments made in the discussions linked above, particularly that these commercial systems appear ‘clunky’ at best. That there is almost always a better solution for each part of the system available on-line and often for free.
So many tools! (CC Attribution by Felipe Ibáñez Guzmán)
So today Google announced that they will be introducing their very own Google Chrome OS.
This follows in the wake of excellent the Google Chrome web browser which was released last year. Designed initially for netbooks, it appears that the OS will effectively be little more than a web browser. The beauty of this is that it will be incredibly quick and run on relatively underpowered/old hardware.
You can sign up to be informed about Wave, and hopefully get involved with the beta at the Google Wave website: http://wave.google.com. If you’re lucky the video might be working on that site too, it was temperamental at the time of writing.
This looks very exciting for school use. Many seem to have dubbed it the ‘new email’ already. The collaboration possibilities in and between classrooms look fantastic. I’ve been a big fan of using wikis as collaborative documents and this looks like it will take the concept of a wiki to a new level. The ability to drag and drop files into a collaborative document in a browser for instance lowers the technical skills required for working with these kinds of technologies considerably.
I have to present for 10 mins and also teach for 30.
My presentation is on “Your Vision for E-Learning and Strategy to Embed it In & Out of School”, I will particularly be involved in managing the VLE and developing E-Learning across the curriculum. I have attached the presentation below (speaking notes on click through), any feedback would be appreciated… Continue reading →