January 25

Planning for the future…

Recent posts about development plans (like this one) has made me think about mine. As part of ours, a digital strategy is key.

Some thoughts on long term digital strategy:

  • It’s impossible to plan too far in advance, a 3 yr development is not really a long time, but lately it feels as though everything in schools is changing on an almost monthly basis. For tech, this is no different.
  • Consider staff implications and CPD – would time be better spent investing in training that changing the provision?
  • What are the curriculum needs (now that it’s here!) – will other subject areas require tech?
  • What will really become obselete? Will companies stop supporting their ‘free’ services?

What will be on my long term plan?

  • A pause! There has been lots of change recently, once the IT infrastructure works to my satisfaction we will pause!
  • A mix of devices, with a mixture of operating system. Whilst the bulk of pupil use is through google drive and google apps I think it’s important that children experience a range of operating systems.
  • Free services, such as google, will be important.
  • Regular tech support and advice will be budgeted for.
  • A mixture of android tablets (cheap and accesible) with iPads (quality of apps and intuitive)
  • Windows in the classroom, ubuntu in shared areas, chromebooks and some laptops. – This is in part to get rid of Windows XP.
  • Robots / beebots / lego – and CPD to use them correctly.

 

I will upload the development plan once done – but would love to know what is going into your long term strategy!

 

September 27

Why I’m trying Linux Ubuntu in school…

Our Digital Strategy is outlined here. Such a vital part of school life nowadays! I've been thinking of a way we could make use of the old machines which are spread around the school.

Considerations…

  • Teachers need to go online, often quickly
  • We are moving much shared work over to Google Drive
  • Pupils are therefore working on Google Drive on on their Google Site more
  • Budget!

 

So, my response is Linux Ubuntu – a version of Linux designed to be pretty much useable out of the box…However still stripped down and fast.

Admittedly you do still have to think about your tech support in school – proxy settings for servers and things are easily handled in the operating system – but you may come across some issues. For example I haven't created a server system…

Linux is an open-source operating system, which comes in many flavours. Built by a community which makes it super responsive to changes in hardware. There are so many different versions that it can feel a little overwhelming! I wanted one which the pupils and teachers would still recognise!

 

What I've done

Installed Ubuntu on a few 'choice' machines – they are old Dell machines – with either 500MB or 1GB of ram. As we're moving away from the shared network they are not connected to the server. I've created some 'crib sheets' detailing what they can be used to do – and installed some simple education software (and a few games!)

 

 

So far

Ubuntu has proven surprisingly resilient – it certainly speeds up the machines it is on – connects quickly and provides consistent access to the internet. Downloading chrome lso helps in terms of our cloud based MIS system! I'm waiting to see how it goes with the adults in school! Biggest learning curve seems to be moving away from using MS Office.

 

And next…


This – I'm looking into some of the child-friendly operating systems – aiming to explore the range of apps and the different organisation.

 

I'll keep you informed! Would love to hear if you've had any experience of this!

 

April 24

Five fab free ed tech tools!!

wpid-Photo-20140424225253.jpgWhilst I recognise that we shouldn’t always expect tools and services completely free of charge, there are many great tools that can be used in the primary school free of charge!

 

  1. Skype – check out the Skype in the Classroom site here. Great for inspiring ideas, connecting with all kinds of experts. I have a couple posts on this site describing my Skype Adventures!
  2. Padlet – a great tool for collaboration and sharing ideas. The ‘walls’ can be embedded into a blog, and then be accessed from home. Also great for use in staff meetings to collate ideas.
  3. Haiku Deck – a really great free presentation tool that is also an app. Super easy to use, and with a very different feel to PowerPoints – the images are great, and because it can be logged on over different devices can also be used for collaboration and critique.
  4. Scratch – the darling of the Primary Coders at the moment, I have written about a couple of projects here, and there is lots of advice at the fantastic Code-It.co.uk website.
  5. Twitter! I can’t stress enough what great CPD can be found on twitter – and for beginners there is a great guide here from the Bring a Teacher to Twitter group and a great guide for beginners here.

I really could go on… But thought 5 for teachers to investigate would be a good start! Would love to hear of your favourite free tools.

Thanks for reading!



 

January 12

Digital Strategy – Planning for Change

A discussion on the Computing At School website here prompted me to think about how I have gone about changing and introducing change to a digital strategy in school.

 

CPD

Even before I know exactly what I want to do I would always start with a staff meeting – even anonymously posting ideas on to a Padlet – but you can share an audit of skills or examine what they do now.. CPD the needs to be a huge part of your strategy, different staff to access different skills and to share across the school what they are doing.

Curriculum Needs

From there I would look at the curriculum, there is lots of information out there to help with this, and you will need a whole school decision about the curriculum before you commit. However you can begin with a look at what i've done here and also a general look here by @michaelt1979. Lots of support from NAACE here too.

Devices and Resources

Begin with what devices you already have, I think most aspects of the new curriculum can be reached on laptops / computers but the chances are, if you carry out an audit of what resources are in school, you will be able to begin to plan activities which fit with the new curriculum.

From there look for gaps. I'm a fan of a choice of tech in the classroom for group / individual use, but that won't work everywhere. Plot what's missing and begin to budget.

Technical Support

This brings me to one of the most overlooked part of the strategy – technical support and advice! When carrying out an audit of resources use your technical support! Ensure that the devices you do have work properly! Nothing will discourage staff from experimentation than faulty computers or dodgy WiFi. Budget for technical support, especially if you are planning to buy more equipment. Good technical support will also be able to advise on purchases, improving WiFi and to give ideas for curriculum use.

Teacher and Pupil Champions!

Teacher champions will be vital in getting the curriculum up and running, particularly if you are buying new equipment. The ICT coordinator can begin with a project, and then share any success with staff. Pupil Digital Leaders (wide community here) can be trained to use certain programmes then lead that with their class or troubleshoot to support staff. For example how the interactive whiteboards should be set up.

Again CPD will be needed at this stage – share the use of simple programming skills such as Scratch – or regsiter for a Code Club Volunteer here.

Software

My final advice for software s to think creatively! When lesson planning work with staff to find what they want to do and source tools that do that. There is lots and lots of help out there! For example using Google Sketch Up for 3D Design.

 

There is always plenty of providers ready to offer solutions:

do check with your Local Authority - some source group discounts for licenses. 

Espresso Coding – their answer to the coding elements of the new curriculum.

Purple Mash and their range of 2Simple Software offer solutions as well.

Use iPads – lots of apps support the new curriculum.