ISANet Newsletter Monday 8 July 2014 – Quick heads-up for Saturday 12 July

July 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm (Uncategorized)

Google Apps – The Story Continues

9.30 am to 3.30 pm
For the very first time, Google have created an App specifically for the education market: Google Classroom. This is a really significant development and is looks set to be really useful organisational tool for teachers. We are giving you the chance to come and have a look at the inner working of the greta new App. As well as looking at this we are offering more:

Mind the GApps – The morning will be a fast paced taster of Google Apps in two groups,.One group for beginners and one more advanced users.

The beginners group will cover the basics of all tools and will have all the skills they need to be able to go back to school and start to add Google Apps into their curriculum for September.
The higher level course will look at some of the higher order functions of Google Apps and those parts of the Admin panel that a teacher may need to know about and will gain a lot of useful insight into news ways to use Google Apps to improve learning and teaching.

The afternoon will be a series of tasterscovering:

Google Classroom – a brand new organisational tool that has the potential to make the setting, collecting and markign of assignment and homeowork much simpler.

Coding in the Cloud – a look at all the coding tools available to schools that are could based. It will include sites such as Codecademy, W3Schools and some of the Editey tools. We will relate the use of these tools to the new Programme of Study for Computing.

Play for Education – Not yet launched yet in the UK, we will look at what is being said about it from the US and then give all delegates a taster of some of the apps that might be deployed through Play for Education once it is launched this side of the pond.

The day is delivered by Google certified teachers and trainers and is going to be fantastically useful way to catch up with all things Cloud, giving you time to get ready for September. A fantastic way to finish off the term.

Last minute booking is through this SMORE form…

Permalink Leave a Comment

ISANet Newsletter 1 July 2014 – A Short Farewell to the Ning Edition

July 1, 2014 at 6:13 am (Uncategorized) to the full picture edition


The ISANet Newsletter started as part of the ISA’s service to schools, something I felt would bring teachers and ideas together. The ISANet site shows me I have created some 238 Blog posts, of which the vast majority are newsletters such as this.

My editorial approach to creating the newsletter goes as follows. Most of the time, I have used POCKET as my bookmarking service, so that on a Sunday evening, I can review the week’s research and build the items into some kind of coherent (or otherwise you might say) content. In the early years, as the Ning network attracted people to its Facebook-style of social activity, plenty of other colleagues would blog and bounce ideas. But gladly, as more and more colleagues have become digitally savvy, the need to gather on the ISANet has disappeared, but your kind reactions to the Newsletter service has kept me going for some 5 years.

And today, this is the last of the Weekly newsletters from the ISANet.

I have downloaded the distribution list, and will email each member after the end of term to see whether they wish to be signed up for my WordPress blog, which will have both ‘A Principled View’ and ‘ISANet Blog section’ back up from next week..

Ian Nairn, Founder of the ISANet Ning, is shortly to close the site down, and save himself a few dollars each month into the process, and assist me in archiving the content.  I suspect there’s a Master research base in there somewhere – what 5+ years of Social Networking has achieved for a group of 563 Independent school  teachers and fellow travellers?

My grateful thanks to Ian, Dave Orchard, Chris Rowan, Eric Leuzinger, Rupert Fowke, Theresa Ward, Paul Robson and all that have taken and interest, written for me and promoted the cause of Digital Literacy and Innovation.  It’s been a pleasure working with you, and I hope all will consider adding to the ISANet Blog on its WordPress platform.

Newsbytes on ISANet stuff

Google Apps, the Story continues – event is now on the horizon, for Saturday 12 July, during which we host Beginner and more advanced GAFE training in the various core tools, as well as showcase the soon-to-arrive in the UK tools of

Google Classroom, Google Play for Edu and Google Glass:

  • My Google Glass arrived last week, and today make their first outing into the Classroom with 2 of our year 11 students, Will and Lisa, as they support Junior school children in their work in the Cloud. Hopefully in the hands of these two CC Google Mentors, Glass will show what it can do for Education.  My Colleague Paul Robson has also acquired a set, and we’ll try our best to share with you Hands-on what they might mean for Class.
  • Google Classroom arrived recently today, and last week I started a demo in school. It looks a useful free edition to the GAFE ecosystem, but it’s right at the start of its development and functionality will develop as Google Certified Teachers feedback to Mountain View what tweaks and extras are needed to make it a useful coherent service to schools.
  • Google Play for Education is almost here in the UK, and will be incredibly useful for the deployment and management of Tablets in schools. Claires Court is supporting the use of Tablets in Primary schools as part of a Samsung Project in the autumn, but I understand the Lawyers need to keep tweaking the contract to fit inside the EU, and Samsung need to make sure their Tablets will run the Service.  Stateside, they have just retro-fitted Play for Edu to Chromebooks, permitting some greater functionality to the Management console. As the advert syass With the revamped Google Play for Education, teachers can now give students access to Android apps and Chrome apps, books and videos from a single site. According to Google, about 10,000 schools currently use Chromebooks (and some of them use both Chromebooks and tablets).”  Techcrunch
  • Coding in Drive seeks to highlight some free to use tools, that sync with Google Drive, assisting young and old to get their hands and heads around computer programming, rolling out across the UK in Primary schools from September.

From my POCKET this week

  • A nice little cartoon by Ros Asquith from the Guardian, on the yet further decline on Music funding in schools.


  • Most graduates have switched careers by age of 24 – from the Daily Telegraph.  19 out of 20 of today’s graduates have changed jobs at least once within three years of finishing university, study by New College of the Humanities finds

  • Playing with Dr Doug Belshaw on Google+ on Sunday night, as he launched his book on The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, he reintroduced my to the whole stuff on Memes – by way of this site – and this Meme generator – .  I really can see some Fun can be had with these two, and if children by end of Year 6 can get the hang of generating Memes and using them, then they’ll be digitally literate for Secondary school, or that’s Doug’s contention.  You can view the 60 minute session led by Doug here – Google+ Live.
  • A Simple Coding sandboox for use in the Classroom – PENCIL
  • Axe A-levels for Bacc-style exam, say UK scientists.  Another week, another 10 or so Education Soundbytes to add to that incredible insecure feeling that we are now living in.  The UK scientists concerned are looking 10 or so years down the road – perhaps they’d like to take a Time Machine back to Curriculum 2000, the New A level curriculum that promised so much but was derailed by a combination of League Table frenzy and Universities lack of appetite for change.

And finally…

I have followed Ewan McIntosh and Tom Barrett from the NoTosh digital training consultancy for a number of years, exceptional practitioners in schools and the corporate world now plying their trade mainly down under it seems.  

Here’s Ewan’s blog, and a post on which he highlights what a year of school innovation around the world looks like. He reminds me to remember to be Agile, and I like that, for at my grand old age of 60, I’d like to think I have tried to be just that as your editor of weekly digital news.

My closing aphorism to make you think:


James Wilding



Permalink Leave a Comment

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times…

March 9, 2012 at 6:47 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

to quote the first dozen words of Charles Dickens’ great novel, A Tale of Two Cities, though moved to the present rather than the past. The actual paragraph reads:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

I’ll return to Dickens shortly, but I must say I am enjoying the discomfort many modern pedagogues must be feeling at the moment, as their adjustment of what is taught in schools to bring examination advantage at the expense of actual education is shown up to be the folly it always was by published research.  For example, OfSTED have just pointed out the main problem with national music lessons is that their just isn’t enough music in them! A recent survey by Opinion research highlights that secondary school pupils are so scared of looking stupid in maths lessons they will not tell their teachers if they do not understand, suggests research. And it’s not just about progress in schools in Maths – the pressure group ‘National Numeracy’ quotes from research suggesting weak maths skills are linked with an array of poor life outcomes such as prison, unemployment, exclusion from school, poverty and long-term illness.  The National Trust has also reported that children are being denied the enjoyment of the outdoors and nature with obvious consequences for their health. 

I say enjoy because in my own school we really come to work each day to teach the whole child, academically, socially, spiritually, morally, athletically, culturally and then some. This last seven days or so have seen us involved in ‘world everything days’, from Maths, Books, Science, Blogging, Doodling and then some. Our sailors came third in the national two boat sailing championships, (and the second best school behind Magdalen College Oxford), our Under 16s won the national ISA Under 16 7s title up in Leamington Spa, our Year 7s have been romping in the fields with the Sheep and their Lambs and so it goes on.  Today (Friday) we are building our BBC school report activities for next Thursday by interviewing the Home Secretary, Theresa May at the senior boys school.  Apparently we are informal this year in our approach to TM; a ‘conversation with’ rather than ‘stilted questions’ of!

And to see the support of our parent teacher association at work this week has been the highlight – it is all about play with their outdoor castle installation at Ridgeway, both a physical construction that provides for new play space, but also with effective use of shape and colour, allowance for the child’s imagination to run riot. When schools get it right, the whole community is enhanced; children have their wildest dreams realised, teachers have their dedication rewarded by outstanding learning and parents have their own concerns for the present and future supported by the most amazing network of like-minded individuals – a Dickens story of success without the dark side!

So back to Dickens; what he was amazing at was creating an atmosphere that felt real in a story that gripped from beginning to end.  As one critic writes “Dickens’s novels combine brutality with fairy-tale fantasy; sharp, realistic, concrete detail with romance, farce, and melodrama.; the ordinary with the strange. They range through the comic, tender, dramatic, sentimental, grotesque, melodramatic, horrible, eccentric, mysterious, violent, romantic, and morally earnest”. Now Dickens was all about writing for money, he was the most famous author in the world of his time, and he benefited too from touring the States as well as the UK.  But he also write for moral purpose, to critic current policy and through his moral tales show his adoring public how the best could be achieved, even by the dissolute. The Tale of Two cities ends when the dubious Sydney Carton sacrifices himself for the honourable Charles Darnay, and ends his life on the guillotine with the words “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.


Permalink 1 Comment

How building self-worth in school happens…

November 25, 2011 at 6:55 am (Uncategorized)

This week, a media agency from one of the  major universities visited Claires Court to engage our Sixth Formers in some evaluative activities; research is vital to understand young adults views for their future, for University and for future employment.  The agency made a particular call back to the head of Sixth Form to report that their experience with us and of our Sixth Formers was extraordinary.  The openness and willingness of the students to engage second to none.


Well that’s all fine and dandy, but how’s it done, this building of ‘confidence’.  In this bog that will develop a bit for a few days, I thought I would have a go at showing you some of our tools in action.

So have a good watch of the presentation I am using this morning Friday 25 November with the Sixth Form, which is about building self-worth.  It’s also of course about building resilience, anger and shame; raising political awareness and teaching too about the Armour our society through parliament creates to protect civilians who genuinely care.

Permalink Leave a Comment

5 ways of improving ICT provision for pupils

January 24, 2010 at 5:35 pm (Headlines)

Here’s 5 possible ways (for no cost) schools could improve their provision in terms of ICT for their pupils and staff.
1. Check that their architecture fits the ISA model – and if it doesn’t, contact James or Ian for support – schools simply can’t provide basic pupil provision without this in place – we have two Independent school savvy consultants/practitioners just an email away! Let’s call this stage 1! Most of our schools are not at this level – oops – and where can you find these 2 likely lads, plus a whole load more ICT savvy people within ISA? – just a mouse click away.

2. Engage your staff as members of the ISANet for regular breaking news of what cool and happening in ICT for schools. Learn about the other Nings(etc) that exist for teaching staff, such as the, , and (for school librarians) to name but 4. What is of particular interest is that the Librarians site has fewer members than the ISANet site but is far more active, indicative of their strong desire to find new solutions to school needs for research and resource.
3. takes you to the resources provide by google for schools and their communities. Given that they are free, why would schools without email etc. not make use of these – after all the Open University has decided to go this route for all of their student body! – carries the story, and make no bones about this, google offers educators this remarkable gift to their schools for free! And if you sort of know about google, but want to know what you can do – have a look here:
4. Sign up as teachers for the Taecanet Springboard – not only will it take them to a vast array of web-scrubbed resources for use with their classes, but interactive white board stuff too. No cost remember – unless the schools want to make use of the managed service for pupils – and with 20+ ISA schools now involved with this lowest of costs subscription service, perhaps some encouragement to spend a small amount of budget that will go a long way to providing snow-day resources when school is shut. With both Bridgewater and Claires Court working with the Taecanet people and Nokia to use handheld phone devices to create new teaching resources, this work is pretty close to the new digital frontiers!
5. Find some teachers who blog and start following them, and get your staff room doing so too – obviously the ISANet is such a thing, as are the other networks, but it is amazing just how following teachers’ blogs or on Twitter can transform what we know and can do. I got the #movemeon Twitter book ( – by following one such blogger, and here’s another –… that can point teachers in the right direction. And if you have views you would like to give broader audience too, remember – – a place where it seems sensible for me to publish for a wider audience the best ISANet blog posts.

James Wilding

Permalink Leave a Comment

Dropbox is amazing…

January 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Dropbox is amazing for on-line storage. 2gb, it sits as a folder on your desktop (or anywhere else) You just drag and drop files and folders in there and they’re auto uploaded. You can put a folder on any other machine which will auto sync with it, and you can invite others to view your content via links. Works in windows, linux and mac. Here are some photos of mine: Very simple and intuitive. Thoroughly recommended!

Chris Rowan

Permalink Leave a Comment

Movemeon – a Twitter Book

January 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm (Uncategorized)

This book provides a huge amount of sane advice to teachers working hard in schools – compiled from Tweets provided by Twitter users in response to the #movemeon challenge – initiated by members of the Historical Association to provide advice for colleagues in education and published this last month December 2009. movemeonbook.pdf
You can find more out about this at

James Wilding

Permalink Leave a Comment

Wiki Wiki

January 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm (Uncategorized)

I seem to have developed a desire to interfere with my colleague’s teaching. My Web 2.0 agenda does not stop at the door of the Physics lab or ICT room. I feel an evangelical lust upon me and have been imposing myself like a jehovah’s witness at the classroom doors of the unenlightened.

Helpful friend? or pain in the arse?…it depends on who you ask (and who they’re talking to) but I really don’t care…its amusing me.

My latest victim is the history department. It was suggested that a topic based Wiki was a good idea so I set one up using . I’m sure that there are loads of other providers out there but this one came up first and said that they offered ad free , zero cost basic wiki functionality for educational establishments. (although the google ads are still there atm)

It took me about 5 minutes to open an account and the subsequent double ICT lesson with yr 7 to get them all enrolled as contributors and to work out how to use it. Armed with some information about their forthcoming Medievel topic, a couple of text books and the Internet we set to task. The resulting Wiki is a bit ropey and lacking in content…but it is up and running and the pupils have a basic idea of how to create ,edit and link pages together with lots of ideas about what to do with it.

These yr 7 girls, having been converted to the faith by my religious fervour are now delivering the newly discovered media to the doors of the history room like they’ve found the Dead Sea Scrolls….It will be very difficult to ignore them from now on.

some initial thoughts on the process:

* When trying to “sell” this kind of idea to teachers, their first thought is “oh…more work” rather than “the same work in a different way”
* Getting the pupils enthusiastic about this sort of thing is far easier.
* I knew nothing about history or Wikis before the lesson. I’ve learned lots about both.
* The process of learning with my yr7 class was quite enjoyable. Lots of discovery and independent learning going on.
* The two most engaged pupils in the class were the same two that are notoriously not always engaged in history.
* The sense of ownership of the project amongst these pupils is palpable.

Right….I’m off to talk to the English dept about Blogging……

Paul Cross

Permalink 1 Comment


January 24, 2010 at 3:51 pm (Uncategorized)

Anyone seen anything good at BETT they want to share? We came across CAT testing online which we will adopt and will improve things for us. We went to see It’s Learning who host our VLE – lots of interesting things on the road map. Also interesting to learn about considerable power saving benefits of using Win 7 with Server 2008; they reckon you can save between £23 and £46 per desktop per year. We have been running a test bed to upgrade from XP to Windows 7 – took three and a half hours. MS were saying you can run Win 7 on an old 128 mg RAM machine but not if you have the XP mode on board which allows you to switch OS to ease compatibility problems. Mac went through a dual OS period with IX and X – it was nightmare.

Andrew Hampton

Permalink Leave a Comment

In Praise of the Technician…get one now

January 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm (Uncategorized)

After my Wiki Wiki blog post it was (rather pointedly) suggested by our ICT technician that I had completely failed to acknowledge her efforts in this little project. This is sadly true. She not only inputted all the email addresses so the kids could be invited to join but also quickly taught herself how to work the thing so she could support them in the lesson. She was also very active during the lesson sorting out a work around for a broken link issue on one of the servers which meant a few of the pupils could not verify their new account (as well as making a note to fix the issue later)…Sorry, I don’t take you for granted.

The issue is far wider than this though…..what would have happened last year when there was no technician?…Not this lesson that’s for sure.

For years, our small school has laboured under the delusion that we could get away without employing someone for basic ICT help. From this year’s perspective, that seems incredibly naive. The jobs needed doing so I had to do them (eventually) and when it really hit the fan, all my teaching stopped, or I spent my time fire fighting and patching the system up.

I am far better at teaching than I am a sorting out ICT issues. I enjoy Teaching yr 10 more than rebooting another stroppy fat client and I’m paid far more than would be reasonable for the installation of a new printer. I rush things, don’t have time to follow through and forget what I did.

Allowing the ICT teacher/Coordinator time to do the basic system management tasks in a small school is a false economy. Let them teach. More than that, let them stand back and look strategically at the situation and start to direct the efforts and resources of the school towards better teaching and learning.

Get a technician.

She makes better coffee than me as well.

Paul Cross

Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »