OH NO! Where’s my ICT gone?

September is fast approaching and the weather is not the only thing seeing a change this autumn. Across the whole country teachers are set to start teaching the new curriculum in computing which includes the likes of coding and digital literacy.

Within the Secondary sector there are specialist teachers with specialist ICT tools, however relate that into our Primary sector and there is an obvious skills gap and very few teachers with an IT background.

Hosting an event on the subject seemed like a fantastic way to bridge the gap and really tackle the fear surrounding the new curriculum. With help from Microsoft’s Stuart Ball and Russell Prue the anxiety was lifted off the shoulders and out of the palms of the teachers really putting emphasis on letting the children you are teaching be creative.

A lot of the tools on a computer they will learn how to use through trial and error anyway. Through technology kids are less scared of making mistakes and the psychology behind this is simple. Through using creative programs like Kodu there is always an undo button. When you make mistakes it is very easy to go back and amend them. Allowing kids to make mistakes is hat will educate them not only academically but also giving them key life skills.

Stuart Ball was inspirational in taking the responsibility of IT away from the IT subject leader. If you ran out of paint would you go to the art subject leader? Rather than having 1 person responsible for plugging in all of the kit, why not have a group of students designated to aid teachers fix technology. This can be used as the ‘basics’ issues! Batteries for white board pens for example

Behind every inspiring lesson is an inspired educator and it’s allowing those educators to become excellent leaders. Russell Prue gave the room a refreshing breath that to become a fantastic teacher they would have to allow the students to learn what they want to learn! Kids learn what they are interested in anyway, rather than shoving more information at them through a coding textbook, let them play games and use kit!

Moving into the afternoon and both Stuart and Russell moved on to workshops to engage teachers and give them the ideas on how to become the modern teacher! Russell, through his brilliantly fun radio kit, allowed the teachers to play with it and show them how a radio kit can be used to help get hands on with education.

With the big orange microphones and colourful monitors in place the groups were divided into primary and secondary. It was quickly pointed out by the secondary staff that the emphasis should be taken away from software and hardware and more about the young people learning, understanding and taking risks.

The ideas that came out at the event, such as rearranging the classroom away from traditional rows, can make a big difference. Is the future in portable devices and beanbags?

BYOD is an idea every school can try and have a look at, kids are getting new devices every year for Christmas, what acceptable use policies are in place? Kids are still texting under desks and banning phones are just going to make things worse! If you really want to stop them using it, make it educational!

A few of the schools have young people coming from such diverse backgrounds. These students will not have access to their own devices. You can buy a tablet for around £130 these days which is the easiest option for schools looking at a 1 to 1 device to user ratio.

Looking at the free software available through Kodu it allows students to put programs together in a way that they can see. This can help their development b making it very interactive, it also allows them to make mistake through the software and they aren’t going to develop the fear of failure!

Stuart Ball made a very interesting point in his workshop, why are we banning things from classrooms? How many of you have the kids making loom bands in schools? And I bet they’ve decided to ban them for 1 reason or another, as soon as you tell a student not to do something the urge to do it becomes that much higher!

So how do you stop the threat of loom bands taking over? Make it educational! You can go through and make the students think about what they are doing to create them. Where does it fit in with the new curriculum? It’s computational thinking. An algorithm around a pattern. Red-Green-Blue-Green-Red-Green-Blue.

We all know if you make something educational kids will lose interest very quickly!

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Bett Diaries Day 2: Thurs

Another day springs into action at BETT as teachers and school leaders embark onto ExCeL. Hosted and camped at the Toshiba stand focusing on wireless and connectivity for devices, I’m still staggered at the incidental or matter of fact approach schools have on investment for infrastructure. It may be that school leaders are delegating down to the IT teams, which is also of concern as the vast majority of IT teams in Primary and Secondary are not up to the job…there I’ve said it. We have had massive concerns about infrastructure support at all schools for a number of years and with major changes to wireless standards, these IT Managers are starting to get found out that they hold little knowledge on how to move the school on. Time for a rethink for these schools, which is slowly getting through. Turning to industry to ensure that standards and best practice is adopted is the way forward, but make sure it’s not corporate led, but from educationally understanding service providers…

I’ve enjoyed many conversations with schools looking at the confusion of ‘what tablet do I get?’, the response that I will also give is ‘what are you planning to do with them?’ which often creates strange answers from ‘we’re supposed to have them’ to ‘every other school uses tablets’. Well, let’s take a step back, we are going to struggle to teach coding at KS3 on a 8 inch tablet running android. So still move to the mixed economy of devices, traditional laptops (clam shell) are still required alongside tablets (whatever form factor they are), so don’t get held to ransom on the perfect device. Think of how you work? It’s about using the device that suits your needs best. I’m not writing this on my tablet for instance….

I managed to grab a quick handshake from Johnny Ball, what a pleasure and delightful man with such a passion for education. I recall his quote that Education should be exciting and fun which is so true.

One note from today is the number of pupils from Primary schools, I wonder whether trade shows are either of interest or appropriate for these children. One thing for sure is that they are being used as a commodity rather than the purpose of what the show is for, bring back the ban on students!!

Really looking forward tomorrow to get some content from seminars and workshops to see what is inspiring our teaching community.

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Bett Diaries Day 1: Wed

For the first year, Hexakis are partnered with Toshiba and have exhibition presence at BETT 2014. With our commitments to driving up standards with technology, this is the place to be.

So, how was day 1?  Attending the stand briefing at 8.30am makes travelling on the London Tube and DLR flood back from last year, where the event moved from Olympia to ExCel… The packed platforms on the DLR and as this is the first day, lots of wheelie suitcases clattering into ankles….

Once the doors opened at 10am, the influx of teachers, school leaders and a large contingent from overseas all headed for the exhibition hall and starting taking their seats for the opening keynote of our Education Minister. Being based on the large Toshiba stand we had the pleasure of Mr Gove being escorted past us, on to the arena where he delivered his opening remarks. Why such a security and entourage was necessary, nobody really knew, but perhaps we could speculate. I can’t wait to read the transcript, as we were busy talking to schools about the wireless infrastructure requirements.

Radio Toshiba launched this week too, Russell Prue is an ambassador for innovation in this area and his broadcasts this week are informative and fun! We had the delight of Sir Bob Geldof on the stand being interviewed which was interesting for us when he returned later in the day awaiting his receipt of his free tablet! I’m sure I heard him muttering ‘I don’t like Wednesdays’ under his breath….

Why is wireless our focus for BETT, well as we see it, there’s a multitude of endpoint devices such as laptops, tablets and handhelds, but few of these manufacturers and resellers actually understand the requirements to make these reliable devices in the education space. That starts with the infrastructure, Paul Rose, HT from Derby Infant school expressed it well on Toshiba Radio “two things to start with, 1. Infrastructure….2.Make sure teachers are confident users”.

Expertise in the wireless and mobility infrastructure is scarce at BETT, in comparison to the number of resellers of devices that all rely on wifi to connect! Please come and speak with us on Toshiba stand C140 about what your schools have, and how to increase for the future years.

I did have a quick chance to speed around the exhibition floor this afternoon and everything is BIG. The stands seem to get higher and higher and brighter and brighter!

One thing that we did notice, was the number of organisations that are ‘ICT’ named…..what will happen in September, will they all change their names to ‘Computing’ or perhaps ‘TEL’?

Get ready for Day 2, where I will share more findings….

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BYOD Readiness checklist.

1. Assess your infrastructure to see what your weaknesses may be, how you can get to a layer 3 network if not already and has it been designed for the number of mobile devices you expect. You might not have to do it now, but plan for it in case you can start with a basic set. Phase the project with clear measurable success criteria at each stage.

2. Assess your network protocol services you have running. EG. Wake on LAN, bonjour, airprint, airplay ETC. What authentication of devices do you have or require on the wired and wireless network? How this might affect the equipment you have or may consider to purchase? Most schools get caught with this one. Eg. Not everything will cross VLANs if this protocol is not supported on the hardware you have invested in already or intend to purchase.

3. Profile the network for types of devices. Do you know what type of devices are on your network? It’s surprising the amount and types of devices that many organisations are not aware are on their network. You can assume and be complacent or you can find out exactly with a profiling tool. The easy thing to do is calculate the number of IP and network devices per building or stack, both wired and wireless, eg, IP cameras and other none user interactive devices. This is going to be a unified solution you need so account for the everything now and what you expect. This way you can right size based on ports required now and in the future. Going forward it should be possible to actually decrease the ports required, as the de facto is wireless for new devices. Is BYOD a consideration, only or joint? Do you allow BYOD now? if so what do you have already?. Again Profile to find out what you have already. After all you don’t want this simple step to take down your network for everyone with something as simple as running out of DHCP addresses. By the way, most early adoption of BYOD allowed policies that introduced a major security. Types of users and the access they require to resources and the type of device(s) they may use.

4. Use Iperf or equivalent software measurement tool for the network stress testing. Measure both when quiet and busy. This helps with the correct design and is crucial to consider from the beginning.

5. APPS and data requirements; Get the school to consider the apps and how they will be use to teach and embed into the curriculum, simply as a tool not a gadget. This will help you choose the right mobile devices. High end video capturing is better on other devices than Apple, such as sports assessment of movements etc. Consider how you will “allow, me, accessing my stuff” via finger trigger happy devices. Not all apps support all storage of data requirements. Things such as WebDAV and making sure the pupil data is stored after the lesson. The thumb will react more quickly than brain engaging! Application intelligence is key for a true flexible mobile computing to allow creativity into the learning environment. It’s not about tying the device down anymore, rather restricting access at the appropriate times. Flexible enough for the wide variety of apps with maximum security. Application assurance and visibility to understand what is going on at any time will be the final requirement in helping support the uses and the learning experience.

Result is a mobility policy designed around a why schools want BYOD.

6. What type of devices are contained in a BYOD scheme? School prescribed, allow everyone to bring anything? With a multitude of devices and platforms, all devices must be able to deliver the elements required in the objectives of the lesson. For example, whether the content created can be stored for assessment?
7. The taxonomy of devices? Again, consider the pupils needs when planning to allow different devices to support learning.
Smartphones – good for internet research…
Slate / Tablets (iPads) – Creative content and consumption device…
Laptop / Netbook – Can create and run educational software titles in line with Curric plans.
Tablet with a stylus – Can use handwriting and recognition as well as all above….
There are important points around what the device is for and how is it implemented across the curriculum. How can the device assist in learning, don’t get held up on ‘which app’s are best?’
8. Behaviour management needs to be considered too. With devices coming onto the network, many devices can and will access social media through 3G/4G connections as well as wifi, so consider your policies on acceptable use and Internet safety. Most importantly, how do you sanction or enforce such policies when access to online content is integral.
9. Make sure that teachers and the whole teaching community and support staff are confident with this increase in multitude devices and technology. Without staff understanding the value and benefits of why BYOD, you may have resistant staff. Professional development for staff is very important when introducing such a change to the dynamic of the learning environment.
10. Decide at the planning stages on the supporting of the devices. Who will support and maintain the devices brought onto the network? Are they warrantied by manufacturer etc? This could increase the demand on the support in a school. Yet, do consider that when devices are under repair there may always be a percentage of students who cannot participate fully, how are they supported and cate for?

Schools need to be vigilant and protective of enabling BYOD schemes. The core value of the learning environment as defined by school policies cannot be compromised, instead they should be built upon by enabling students anytime, anywhere with anything learning. With this in mind, teachers, students and parents need to wok together to enable a successful delivery of BYOD.

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BYOD Readiness checklist.

Here’s a few thoughts relating to BYOD in schools….

1. What type of devices? School prescribed, allow everyone to bring anything?
2. The taxonomy of devices?
Smartphones – good for internet research…
Slate / Tablets (iPads) – Creative content and consumption device…
Laptop / Netbook – Can create and run educational software titles in line with Curric plans.
Tablet with a stylus – Can use handwriting and recognition as well as all above….

There are important points around what the device is for and how is it implemented across the curriculum. How can the device assist in learning, don’t get held up on ‘which app’s are best?’

Call us on 0117 2033636 and ask for one of our BYOD and curriculum experts to discuss how to use these devices in schools…..

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E-Petition – Dyslexia training to be mandatory in initial Teacher Training?

The e-petition ‘Dyslexia training to be mandatory in Initial Teacher Training’ recently reached 18,316 signatures and a response has been made to it.

The response :

As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response: The Government agrees that teachers should be well prepared to meet the needs of all pupils. However, the Government does not require Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers to deliver particular sessions within their programmes. Instead, the Secretary of State’s Initial Teacher Training Criteria specify that: “All accredited ITT providers must ensure…that the content, structure, delivery and assessment of programmes are designed to enable trainee teachers to meet all the standards for QTS across the age range of training.” The new Teachers’ Standards which came into effect from September 2012 state that: “a teacher must….adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils,” and in particular: “have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs…..and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them.” We are mindful of the need for trainee teachers to have opportunities early in their training to learn more about special educational needs and that is why we are increasing the number of ITT placements in special schools or specialist settings within a mainstream school, from 1000 placements between 2009 and 2011 to up to 2000 from September 2012. The placements enable trainees to address the professional standards for qualified teachers (QTS) in relation to SEN/D. The Department currently funds the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust to develop an online Continuous Professional Development framework for teachers, which includes a self-assessment and guide for further study. We are also continuing to work with the Dyslexia –SPLD trust to explore how we can make use of their expertise in further strengthening the recently published advanced materials on Dyslexia, Autism and Communication Needs. Ofsted routinely inspects ITT provision. As part of this process, it monitors and evaluates how well individual training providers train teachers to meet the needs of all pupils with SEN and disabilities including those with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties.

The quality of SEN provision within ITT has been identified as a priority as part of the new ITT inspection arrangements. This emphasis on trainee teachers meeting the needs of all pupils is further backed up by Ofsted’s new framework for ITE inspections. The grade descriptors for the quality of training include a judgement on how training prepares trainees to meet the needs of pupils with special educational needs. It is therefore the responsibility of ITT providers to ensure that they design their programmes so that trainees achieve the outcomes a defined in the Teachers Standards. It would be inappropriate for the Government to mandate ITT providers to deliver any particular sessions. This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.

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Westminster Education Forum – Next steps for the ICT curriculum

Once again a thought provoking and interesting session, reviewing the ICT curriculum and what the next steps are.

Whilst there was a high profile of speakers and members of panel sessions, several key questions still remain unanswered from the Westminster Forum.

Without doubt the message from industry around the ICT curriculum is one of ‘help’, that there are simply not enough graduates coming from our education system to sustain a creative and energetic skills base to draw upon for their workforce.

I applaud the comments from leaders in industry like Ian Livingstone from Eidos, that we need to ensure we maintain the ‘talent pipeline’ and the call to ensure that as part of an ICT curriculum that all sixteen year olds should have ‘created their own app’. What a fantastic challenge to ensure that synergy between creativity and technical ability are fulfilled in our pupils.

So why isn’t this happening?

A number of speakers throughout the morning referenced teachers and training needs to be better to enable success in the classroom.
David Brown from Ofsted, illustrated that lessons are not differentiated, there is a lack of effective CPD and that planning lacks focus in schools that are not embracing ICT.

If we are not engaging the teaching community with ICT, how are we expected to engage and inspire pupils with this curriculum?

There are many agencies and partners working with teachers to enable valued CPD. But once again there’s a focus on ‘what’ is needed and ‘how’ to do it, but as yet I have not seen anything that illustrates ‘why’ we do it. Without the emotional buy-in from teachers in their own CPD, we are likely to struggle with any engagement from the vast majority of the teaching community.

Dr Neil Hopkin had a powerful message about this stating ‘Engagement is what it is all about…We are in danger of creating the Blackberry and not the iPhone.’ This is true of pupils engagement but also the teachers. Why can we not embrace ICT as the whole ‘utility’ subject that it is? To quote the Rt Hon Lord Knight in 2008 “A computer with internet access is as important as pen and paper in modern learning”. Nothing has changed except that devices are now handheld and mobile as opposed to portable.

Bob Harrison’s comments from the stand ‘We are in danger of over promising and under delivering such as projects like BSF’. These are indeed worrying times, as we have an opportunity to make a change with the embracing of ICT into education once and for all. However, getting it wrong now would result in the risk that the call from industry for our technology graduates would move away to other leading education systems in other countries.

Perhaps a risk that we are running is by enabling many agencies and partners to lead with developing or at least enabling an ICT curriculum. This fragmented approach could ensure freedom to own and mature a schools own ICT curriculum, yet it may also produce a lack of clarity for those schools that need leadership. Political emphasis on ‘follow the leaders’ may not be appropriate for ICT as a subject in schools. It’s just too embedded and integrated into all subjects to suggest that there’s a single strand to success.

In terms of the ‘next steps’ I can see real merit in identifying the differences of ICT into Digital Literacy, Computer Science and Information Technology. This gives real focus on key areas of technology that can not only be taught but assessed. However, before we do anything I would urge that we involve young people. Where is the pupil voice in the development of this curriculum? Dr Neil Hopkin stated that ‘Pupils should be creating things that they want to use themselves’ from ICT. How do we know what they want to create without asking them? Isn’t now the opportunity to ask them?

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Microsoft/TakingITGlobal Seminar

Late notice I know, but Microsoft/TakingITGlobal Shout team have just announced to us, about this technical seminar.
What’s really good about these sessions is that they can be ‘one off’ – a simple learning experience of how to integrate Microsoft technology in the classroom or your teachers can engage in the wider Shout programme. They are free! The first one is tomorrow, but the rest are listed here: http://shoutlearning.org/techtools.html
First session: Register for the first Shout technical webinar ‘Kinect’ in the Classroom ’ on Thursday 2 February 2012, 5pm (GMT)
Join members of the K Team and learn how you can program and create interactive Shout games in the classroom. Ray Chambers from Lodge Park Technology College, will share ideas and developments of using the Kinect SDK, to create applications for learning. Kinect is a webcam-style add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 console. It enables users to control and interact with their Xbox 360 without the need to touch a game controller. This online webinar will also reveal how you can create your very own Kinect Shout Adventures game in the classroom!
Register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Kinectintheclassroom
Let us know if you enrol!

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Westminster EForum- Next steps for protecting children online

This seminar entitled, “Next steps for protecting children online” focussed on control and prevention of access, with discussion around filtering and how industry is seemingly working together, through self-regulation, is and has introduced some standards around control of access. It is refreshing and should be celebrated to hear that so many partners are working together to address and protect.

It is also refreshing to hear that this issue has been added to Lynne Featherstone MP, of the Home Office to her parliamentary portfolio. The message from Government that legislation will be considered if industry fails to act is authoritative. Yet, from an observer could also appear to be non-committal. When and how will Government make the decision to intervene? Many presentations from industry at the seminar demonstrated commitment to consider and implement change, on what timescale?

Claire Perry, MP leading the Parliamentary Inquiry illustrated the need for ParentPort, which is a brilliant resource to report inappropriate content. However, this is a reactive service that whilst we do need a mechanism for parents/carers to report online inappropriate material, we heard from Prof Andy Phippen that “parents are the least engaged part of e-safety strategies in schools”. It would be interesting to see the impact ParentPort has made in time, in terms of engagement with parents/carers and how much content has been withdrawn as a result.

Online protection is surely an international issue and whilst we have real fears from Andy Baker, CEOP that what will happen when unregulated ISPs from Russia, China & Ukraine provide services? Surely this should be a focus from Government to pressure at an international level?

One missing element from the seminar, which is very concerning by its absence, is that it isn’t clear whether the Inquiry is listening from young people about protecting themselves, a self –policing society. We heard about how industry is expected to self-regulate but we are guilty of imposing protection upon young people. Filtering, content control and permissions to access are a ‘big brother’ approach to protecting. When there are increasing demands on peer to peer networking and content creation from young people is on the increase, we must learn from them. Gone are the days of editorial or publisher control, the instant creation using Web2.0 and IM must be considered as part of the protection issue.

We heard from John Carr, UKCCC that there are many outcomes and actions from the Bailey review (2011) and Byron review (2008 & 2010) that are outstanding. It raises the questions that perhaps industry and Government are choosing which actions to address first, which is not putting young people at the centre of the issue.

The interesting contrast from the panel members who are from industry and those from non-profit organisations is evident. Whilst industry is acting on the advice and guidance from a Parliament led inquiry, it could be challenged that do they “get it”? It’s easy for industry to illustrate ‘what’ can be done, with processes about controlling access.
They can talk about ‘how’ it can be done by improving filtering processes and controls around accessing content.

But can industry really say that they understand ‘why’ they are doing it. It needs to be driven right from the core of how the industry sector provides its services, that they are there to protect.

Until that realisation is made, we will face competition in the IT,ISP and telecoms sector to change, that although Claire Perry MP encourages, will only be short term and non-sustainable.

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New Technology in Education

After recently attending the Toshiba Ambassador event that overlapped with their Partner Summit 2011, we’ve had an opportunity to look at Toshiba’s new products. As expected, there’s an interesting blend of new technology and improvements to existing products.

Some have real wow factor, but time will tell whether they really have a place in education.

So, here we go…

Firstly, a USB powered monitor: I can see a real benefit here for group work removing the need of projectors etc.

USB powered monitor

then we looked at Toshiba’s tablet developments. There are a number of different devices that Toshiba are going to market with in the Tablet area. The main considerations are that they are running on both Android and Windows platforms. We looked at the  Folio 100 (a personal tablet device) click here. What was impressive was the bigger tablets running the new Android – Gingerbread code. I was’nt aware that this new version of Android stated that there must be two camera’s on the device and GPS. Apparantly it’s a pre-requisite of the OS. These are bigger tablets in direct competition with Apple’s Ipad based on Skypads.

Some interesting techy stuff was based on their new CPU technologies. These new processors also have KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) running. So if you experienced a blue screen the remote sessions can still support the devices. This will be a really useful aspect in the remote supporting of school devices.

Finally, the really impressive 3D technology in laptops and TVs. I was amazed at the upscaling devices in laptops that used active 3D, so the demo’s showed 2D Dvds upscaling to 3D images.  But there was also ‘No Glasses’ 3D on TV’s and laptops. There is some amazing technology leaps going on in Toshiba’s R&D teams! The laptop technology used tracking from the Webcam on the laptop to create the 3D experience, so moving away from a ‘sweet spot’ is not an issue as the 3D is tracking movements from the user. Obviously this is a single user experience at the moment, but they have sorted the multi-watcher experience on the larger TVs. Here we saw a 42″ TV with multiple viewers all hitting the ‘sweet spot’ of 3D with no glasses. This is definitely forward leading technology.

3d laptop

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