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? www.isanet.ning.com – 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 http://englishcompanion.ning.com/, http://geographical.ning.com/ , http://isenet.ning.com/ and http://slners.ning.com/ (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. http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/edu/index.html 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! – http://sclater.com/blog/ 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: http://www.teachhub.com/news/article/cat/14/item/323
4. Sign up as teachers for the Taecanet Springboard www.taecanet.com – 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 (http://www.lulu.com/product/download/%23movemeon-2009/6170010) – by following one such blogger, and here’s another – http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2009/06/30-alternatives-to-youtube… that can point teachers in the right direction. And if you have views you would like to give broader audience too, remember – www.isaonline.wordpress.com – a place where it seems sensible for me to publish for a wider audience the best ISANet blog posts.

James Wilding

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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: http://www.dropbox.com/gallery/2777458/1/snow?h=96f8b3 Very simple and intuitive. Thoroughly recommended!

Chris Rowan

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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 http://dougbelshaw.com/blog/2009/12/01/my-tmetru09-micropresentation/

James Wilding

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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 www.wikispaces.com . 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

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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

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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

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A Brave ISANew World

January 24, 2010 at 3:44 pm (Headlines)

One of the most inspiring activities I have engaged with in my professional career has been this engagement with social networking.  To date, I have tried to find a better way of describing this research, but in truth, the users have it – these social tools are part of the web 2.0 revolution and the name has stuck.  For good or ill, whether it be Facebook, eBay, Twitter or generic blogging, social networking software is here to stay!

Now the private side of ISA social networking is our ISANet Ning network, and it needs to be a private garden to assist newcomers to this activity gain their feet. Applicants apply to jtw@clairescourt.com for access, and providing all is well, ‘Ning’s your butler’ and they are being served straight away.

The trouble is of course that those not totally engaged with this private garden don’t and won’t get to read all the good stuff being published there. From Ian Nairn (the founder), Andrew Hampton, Chris Rowan, Rupert Fowke and Paul Cross to name but Five, those ISA friends deserve a wider audience.  And for those within ISA who would like to engage in this vanity publishing, seeing the ISANet Blog writ large and in public might just encourage a little extra activity.

So the way in to our public wordpress blog is through the ISANet Ning private network, but what follows below are January 2010’s best bits, and here’s hoping this activity continues and gathers pace.

James Wilding

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