ICT with the interns at OUDE

This session on homework and ICT is going to start us thinking about how we can get around restrictions on the use of ICT in schools (mainly a shortage of available computer suites for history classes) and still enable our pupils to use ICT to help their learning.

I’m planning this morning around two central propositions:

  1. great learning with ICT starts with great planning; and
  2. we can use the ICT that pupils have access to outside lessons to help them learn history.

So, we’re starting with a look at wallwisher – with the central question being ‘what’s the point of homework’. I’m hoping that by considering the purposes of work outside of the classroom, we’ll start to think carefully about how ICT might help support some of them.

After that we’ll look at an online spider diagram which considers some of the reasons we might set homework.  I want to show that there is more than one way to get ‘brainstorming’ or crowd collaboration going in homework, depending on the kind of thing you want to do.

After we’ve got our basic propositions settled we’ll move on to looking at three ways of setting homework that achieves some of those reasons.

  1. Yacapaca
  2. Voicethread
  3. Blogging (you could also try edublogs or edmodo)
  4. Feedback, and the results of feedback
  5. Film making

When that’s done we’ll take a look at my ‘51 things to do with ICT for learning‘ and have a cup of tea.  After break, I’ll be supporting interns in creating their own homework using ICT for learning.

ICT for Learning with the NQTs at Little Heath School

I’ve an hour (gasp!) with the NQTs after school tonight, and in that time I want to introduce them to the idea of using ICT for Learning (especially for homework).

We’re to start with a cool voice thread – the NQts will log in (after creating a user name and password in line with the safety guidelines)

Then we’ll look at a wallwisher wall – http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/ICTLHS.

Then we’ll have a go at some activities on yacapaca.com

And finally, we’ll take a gander at feedback and data gathering using google forms. I’d like you to give me feedback too!

It’s only an hour, so we’ll have to run quickly through the issues – which I’ve helpfully slimmed down into a prezzi!


This is really a sort of proof of concept.  We do a lot of revision sessions, and I wanted to see if we could ask one teacher in particular to use a livescribe pen to do a pencast of one or two of his sessions.  This is by way of encouragement!

Pencast for Alan
brought to you by Livescribe

The 'e-baldie' roadshow continues…

Tomorrow I’m speaking to Learning Plus conference at Easthampstead Park Conference Centre, Entitled “Working Towards Success at 16-19 and Beyond”, and as always my schtick will be ‘ICT for Learning’.  I’ll be using the attached powerpoint, but also the online technology I’ve been banging on about via this blog and my recent talks.

I’ll be using an example of a KS5 Law activity from Yacapaca

I’ll also be showing this video, which would be ideal for kS5 business, ICT and other students.

I’ll be showing the filmsforlearning.org website, which could easily be utilised by teachers in 6th form, specifically this example of a teacher – made KS5 Geography video.

I’ll be showing an example (one that’s getting a bit long in the tooth now) of a blog I ran with some KS5 Cold War Students.

We’ll also look at Simon Ross’s great KS5 stuff on www.ilovehistory.co.uk.

Finally, I want to show the Google Forms Feedback idea that I’m planning on using next year.

Hopefully that will be enough to inspire some discussion, as we’ve been timetabled for 50 minutes of questions and discussion!

We love yacapaca

As you might know from my last post, I made various presentations today at the University of Reading Institute of Education about using ICT to teach history.  I think it went well, and I’ll find out later when I see what feedback I got using a google form.

I had great help in preparing for this presentation from Ian (@yacapaca on twitter) and his colleagues at Yacapaca.com.  One of the sessions involved the student teachers having a go at a mock up of an old style GCSE paper 2 that I’d made using yacapaca.  I discovered last week that the links had stopped working.  I mailed the support line at yacapaca.  Not only was I given excellent advice, but then I received an email from Ian this morning:

Ed, you lucked out. My colleague Alex worked until 2am to fix the
files list in time for your presentation tomorrow. I’ve just checked
it, and it all works now.



Talk about service.  To top it all off yacapaca raised a great deal of interest at the session.  Thank you Ian (and Alex!)

Teacher Driven? Ambition in E-Learning and Engagement

This is the last post I’ll make about the really excellent SSAT conference I attended a week ago on “Raising achievement through embedding learning technologies”. At this conference I met some really interesting people and heard some enthusiastic and engaging discussions on now to improve learning through the use of technology.

Several of the talks got me thinking about what drives innovation and high standards in schools.  As I was listening to these inspiring people I thought of the SSAT (this site is not sponsored by the SSAT by the way, its just that quite a lot of their stuff is pretty good!) DVD on Embedding Formative Assessment.  Dylan Wiliam, who appears in several videos on the DVD,  explains that by and large you do well if you’re in a classroom where the teacher is working well, that the an important factor in differences in attainment between pupils is the teacher who teaches them.

This seemed to ring true for me whilst listening to Mark Richardson (who I’ve already posted about), who saw making films as a way of helping his students to learn (and not just something cool to do with technology), and for Mark Clarkson, who spoke about helping teachers solve problems and change the way things work with pupils in their own classrooms.  Mark C gave us the example of using hand held PDAs loaded with books to encourage boys to read more.  Dominic Tester from Costello Technology college wants to go beyond the government / BECTA requirement for ‘online reporting’ to parents by 2010, driven by the need for the school to engage parents in the learning of their children.

The theme really struck with me I’ve posted before (ad infinitum) about having solutions imposed from above, and also spent hours on inset where I teach staff how to use various packages, and I’m not sure about the impact of either.  The examples above might help us explain why my hard work might have achieved less (so far!) than I might have hoped – they were all driven by the needs and the ambition of the teachers.

In order to help teachers drive innovation and improvement we need, yes to inspire them, but aslo to say ‘yes you can’ when they come to us with a need.  Most importantly though we need to start where they are.  The very nice man in charge of the whole day, Paul Hynes, programme leader for new tech at the SSAT, held up a NCSL hierarchy of activities using ICT.  You have probably seen it, it’s by Martin Blows (2005) and shows a latter of increasing engagement and deeper learning.  Blow’s argument is that the further away one gets from ‘exchange’ (swapping traditional practices with ICT), and the nearer to ’empower’ (empowering learners to take control of their own learning), the better.

Broadly I think I agree.  However, what the conference last week taught me (amongst many other things) is that we have to start where the teachers are right now.  Exchange is a great place to start, with the ambition of moving further as soon as we’re able.  It also seems to me that exhange can sometimes also be empowering, because some traditional practices are themselves very effective in empowering learners to take control of their learning.   As an example I’d like to humbly offer my prototype google docs form which attempts to assess pupil’s attitudes to the learning that they’ve just done, and to find out what they’re planning to do next.

The right tools (Full Marks)

I was at the SSAT conference on embedding learning last week, and it really fired my imagination, and one thing in particular has been rolling around my brain, the issue of ‘having the right tools’.  If you have met me at an event you’ll probably know that I’m a passionate believer in good software, that well made tools can not only make work easier, but inspire people to new things.  I’ve never been in agreement with BECTA’s proposition that ‘platforms don’t matter’ – that all that matters is what you do with them.  BECTA might not be able to bring itself to recommend one platform or another, and I think it might have done more harm than good with its infamous ‘approved’ but not really ‘approved’ list of VLEs, but I certainly have strong views.

What I’m less hung up on now is how awful the platform is that we have at school.  It’s soooo bad that it is frankly an irrelevance, its use is restricted to page creation for hardy souls that don’t mind links randomly breaking, or working without version control.  As I said, I’m not so hung up about this imposition from the LEA, its ad-hoc, creaky and un-intuitive technology and its huuuuge cost (I think, I can’t actually find out how much it costs my school)…. Anyhoo.

Some of the people I heard talk on Wednesday last at The SSAT conference are making me think that the VLE is not the foundation stone of e-learning in a school (though a decent one would make things a LOT easier thanks).  I’m coming around to the idea that we can afford to ignore it (apart, as I say, from the cost).  I’ve already posted about Mark Richardson from www.filmsforlearning.org and his conviction that most children have access to technologies that will allow them to make films, without extra cost.  Two other marks, Mark Toombs from Woolmer Hill Technology College, and Mark Clarkson, Egglescliffe School took me further down this road during that day.

Mark Clarkson spoke persuasively about free and very cheap ways of innovating teaching and learning using ICT, using technology such as refurbished handhelds, free tools such as etherpad and voicethread (thanks to an amazing example by Ant Heald), Mark also used a wiki to collate student work as well as his own thinking.  I’ll say more about the particular insights that Mark brought in a later post.

Mark Toombes also discussed homework and mobile phones.  His philosophy was certainly one of ‘bringing in the outside world’, and of using pieces of technology to meet communication needs in his school.  During the day I talked with delegates about the excellent www.yacapaca.com and bubbl.us.  At school we’ve been using 21classes.com and google docs to distribute information, but also experimenting with creative ways of closing the feedback loops between school, pupils, parents and teachers.

Of course, it would be great to have a flexible, powerful, easy to use VLE, hub or clearing house, which managed identities, pushed out information and could act as a virtual gathering place for the whole learning community, wouldn’t it.  The point is that it’s not a necessary condition for moving forward.

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