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Thursday, 31 January 2013

@BETT_Show 2013 - Day 2

This is the second of three posts in which I will share my thoughts from BETT 2013. BETT is the world's largest educational technology show and attracts thousands of visitors from all around the world each year. This year BETT was held for the first time at the Excel Arena in London.

Today has been another brilliant day here in London and although I still have tonsillitis, my cough is getting slightly better and I enjoyed today so much more because of that fact!

Yesterday, I promised you two key highlights and one question from each of my three days at BETT 2013. Well today is a different day and I have decided to give with one highlight and one question (just to be different).

Key Highlight: Google Stand (@RoscoMahon)

My first highlight of today came at the very beginning of my day when I sat down to listen to Ross Mahon on the Google stand. Ross who is Global Awareness Manager for Google Apps for Education describes himself as a Google Apps Edu Evangelist. His aim while working at Google is to try and get the world of Education thinking about 100% web and he certainly did that through his presentation.

Beyond just talking about Google, Google Apps and Chromebooks (all of which are very interesting), Ross spoke about great learning! Ross shared examples of inspiring practice with and without Google and the power of working in collaboration. The point that really touched me though concerned the humble Rubik Cub.

Ross explained that the current world record for an adult to successfully solve a Rubik Cube is around six seconds (check out the below for some amazing Rubik Cube action) -

But with technology, can student do even better?

Ross' illustration serves to show yet again that we should never limit our expectation of our pupils, especially when using technology because anything really is possible!

One Question: Why? Why? Why?

As promised, I will end this blog post with my question of the day which has to be -

Is putting all your eggs in one basket with say 1:1 iPads or 1:1 Chromebooks really the way forward? Does one product alone prepare students for the world in which they will have to live, learn and work?

Answers on a postcard or alternatively use the comments section below to discuss.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

@BETT_Show 2013 - Day 1

This is the first of three posts in which I will share my thoughts from BETT 2013. BETT is the world's largest educational technology show and attracts thousands of visitors from all around the world each year. This year BETT was held for the first time at the Excel Arena in London.

I must start by saying that I have been suffering with tonsillitis for the past four days and my first experience of BETT this year has been overshadowed by a continuous cough (apologise if you have sat or been anywhere near me today). Withstanding this, I have still had a brilliant day and take away some great points to move forward with.

To keep my blog posts concise over the next couple of days (I like being concise), I am going to share two key highlights from my day and one question...

Key Highlight 1: Chris Mayoh (@ChrisMayoh)

My first highlight came towards the end of my first day here at BETT 2013. By chance, I stumbled across a presentation that I had already favourited in the BETT App - 'Embedding pupil voice and pupil participation in developing strategies for whole school improvement'. This saw the brilliant Chris Mayoh from Bradford present to us about his excellent Digital Leader project. This project has seen 50+ schools across Bradford come together to engage pupil voice in moving forward new technologies that support learning.

Obviously, many of you will know that I am a strong advocate of the Digital Leader programme having had a successful group in my last school ( You may also know that I am starting to embed this practice at IPACA (see Digital Leader trip to Mozilla Blog - It is always good therefore to hear from others running similar projects. 

What really impresses me about Chris' work is the sheer scale in which he has taken Digital Leaders to become a success across 50+ schools in Bradford.  Equally impressive is that Chris has retained the key principal that makes Digital Leaders have such an impact in schools. Namely that there are no limits of what pupils can achieve... anything is possible! See below:

Key Highlight 2: Learning Together (@StephenHeppell)

My second highlight has to be my first port of call for the day. Stephen Heppell's 'Learning Together' area really embraced it's title and saw mixed age students - from PhD to primary - encapsulate the joy of 'learning together'. The messages from Stephen's stand link heavily with those from Chris Mayoh's presentation.

More information about the stand is best summed up in Stephen's post:

'Our 2013 theme is Learning Together. A mass of activity will include some Raspberry Pi and makeymakey programming / building, some binary maths (all our children will be wearing 0s or 1s!), and some student-led explanations of the Internet. We are very pleased to be joined this year by partners Netgear to help us narrate the topography of the Internet. Netgear are following on from previous years' partners like Google and Panasonic. 
In particular you will see children of all ages working together - NEETs students helping primary programmers, grandparents helping yougsters and youngsters helping grandparents to know where learning is in this millennium.

Many of the students from Spain and England have in common that they have been engaged in projects to "make their learning better". Indeed a lot of the stand is painted with a surface developed by the SEK schools' Spanish students to make every surface writable (and cheaply!).
In addition, we will be Skyping to students building huge and ambitious robots in Michigan, listening in as students in other countries partner and support each other through live link ups, looking at projects near to home and abroad, hearing from experts on the stand.
We have found a host of old maths technology devices, from pre-historic Sinclair calculators without equals = keys through pre-decimal comptometers and slide rules, to abacuses and even circular slide rules! Our students will be dragging you onto the stand to see if you can remember how to use this old technology, and to reflect on your own school days.

And all this fun & learning will be captured as we work. There is a student led podcasting feature to do all this, using iPads and a simple USB mixer deck. Last year at BETT 2012 we had the wonderful Russell Prue from Anderton Tiger on our central feature stand, with his very pro schools' radio kit. This year, in keeping with our Learning Together theme, the children will be running the whole broadcast schedule and asking you for everything you can remember about learning with old and new (and very old!) technologies'.

Original source:

I have to say that my interview for BETT_Radio today on the 'Learning Together' stand by Lampton School pupils was another personal highlight. As well as having a great discussion about learning, it was the only time today I could hear myself clearly as I listened through my headphones (due to my blocked sinuses)

One Question: Why? Why? Why?

As promised, I will end this blog post with my question of the day which has to be -

Why are so many companies at BETT 2013 still pushing old projection based technology?

Answers on a postcard or alternatively use the comments section below to discuss.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Digital Leaders Begin Role


This week I have the pleasure of visiting different campus sites to tell a selected group of IPACA learners that they have been selected as IPACA Digital Leaders. The news comes following an application process which saw over 100 learners from across IPACA apply to support me in my role as Director of Digital Learning and Innovation.

Moving forward there will be lots of exciting opportunities for the Digital Leader group and others to shape the vision of how technology will support and inspire learning here at IPACA. I hope to meet with each of the Digital Leaders regularly at their Campus' as well as arranging IPACA wide events and educational visits (more information to follow).

In the meantime though, I have set the Digital Leaders a challenge! I would like them all to sign up for Edmodo. Edmodo is a secure online environment to connect and collaborate, share content and access discussions and notifications. I hope Edmodo will become the online home of IPACA Digital Leaders where we will all be able to work together across all campus sites. 

Please see below for a selection of pictures and audio clips following my first visit (Grove Campus) to break my exciting news:

Blank mind map:

Pupils begin to share their thoughts:

 Pupils share work of other IPACA Digital Leader:

Audio clips:

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Edmodo - My First Step

On Tuesday afternoon, I will be joint leading an IPACA Engage, Innovate and Inspire C.P.D session entitled - Edmodo - A Beginner’s Guide. Edmodo provides teachers and students with a secure place to connect and collaborate, share content and educational applications and access homework, grades, class discussions and notifications. I am encouraging IPACA staff to come along to this session to find out more about how to get themselves and their students on board.

This session will be led by John Smith (Science Teacher at Royal Manor Campus) who has already used the platform successfully in his class to engage and inspire his pupils. This is a platform suited not just to secondary pupils but the whole IPACA learning community and as we move forward together I can see it being the perfect solution for lots of work including cross-campus collaboration.

One way I am already planning to use the platform myself (as seen in the screenshot above), is to provide an online home for my IPACA Digital Leaders to connect, collaborate and be inspired.

This is my first step with Edmodo and I look forward to sharing with you all how I get on.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Interview with Professor Stephen Heppell

On Tuesday 15th January, 2013, I was very proud to have two of my Digital Leaders interview IPACA Patron Professor Stephen Heppell. Professor Stephen Heppell, has a strong personal commitment to the area of Portland and understands the educational landscape in detail. He is passionate about ensuring that young people on Portland have access to the best education we can provide.

Stephen is a visionary educationalist and Chair in New Media Environments, Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University. Stephen has a remarkable track record in designing innovative large scale projects over three decades, and is acknowledged internationally as a leader in the fields of learning, new media and technology. Speaking about IPACA, Stephen says, "I am delighted to be involved in the evolution of this exciting new Academy for Portland. With my grandchildren currently at school on Portland I am very aware of the things we already do so well in our local schools. As a professor in England and in Spain I am lucky to be directly involved in some remarkably effective school projects around the world and to see the things that they do exceptionally well too. I’m honoured and thrilled to be able to play my part in developing IPACA as a world class Academy".

To see the video recording in full, please see below:

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Power of a P.L.N

I have already shared with colleagues how powerful a P.L.N can be but it is always worth saying again. On Thursday (10/01/13) I worked with some colleagues to explore ideas focused on incorporating I.C.T more into their work. Instead of just relying on our own experience and thoughts though when approaching the meeting, I first asked my P.L.N (not sure what a P.L.N is keep reading below the pictures), please see below for the response I had.

My initial question on Twitter:

Snapshot 1:

Snapshot 2:

Snapshot 3:
But what is a P.L.N?

Post taken from:

PLN is an acronym for Personal Learning Network. The acronym is relatively new, but the idea is not. Teachers have always had learning networks—people we learn from and share with. Teachers are information junkies. We’re also social. Put the two together and you have a personal learning network.

The structure of my PLN has changed since I first started teaching.

The pre-Internet 80s

Yes, there was an internet of sorts in the 80s, but I wasn’t on it. Teachers at my school made up the core of my PLN. Network central was wherever we gathered between and after classes. Most of the information we shared came from articles or books we’d read, conferences or workshops we attended. Books came from the bookstore, information from conferences came home in suitcases. The good stuff was photocopied and filed for future reference.

My PLN was very small—the teachers in my school, a few colleagues from graduate school, workshop presenters. Most information was shared face to face.

The e-mail 90s

I sent my first e-mail message in 1995. I could find information about books online, but had to buy them in a store (or, ask someone in the US to buy them in a store and ship them to me). I saved bookmarks for websites I liked, but still printed out pages for my files, and still shared information face to face.

My PLN got a little bigger in the 90s. I could use the Internet to look for infomation, and I could use e-mail to communicate with people after I met them at conferences. However, the people in my PLN were still mostly teachers I had met face to face.

The social 2000s

For information junkies, this decade has been amazing. Not only can I order books online and have them shipped to me in Japan, I can order books and download them to my computer. I access most journals and newspapers the same way. Information is waiting for me each morning in my inbox from discussion groups. The sheer volume of information available can be overwhelming at times.
The  biggest change has been in the way I meet and communicate with people in my PLN.

First, there is Twitter, which is like a big noisy teacher’s lounge. Everyone is talking (texting) at once. I might share a conversation with one or two teachers in the lounge, and catch fragments of other conversations around me. As I read the newspapers and group digests in my inbox, I share the good bits by sending short messages to other teachers on Twitter. Since they do the same, there are a lot of good bits being shared.

Most of the resources are in the form of links—to websites, to e-books, to blogs, or to activities. Rather than printing out copies for my files, I save the links on a social bookmarking site, like Delicious. Because I use tags instead of file folders, I can easily search for specific items. And because teachers can look through each other’s bookmarks, it’s easy to share.

Discussion groups (like JALT’s Teaching Children SIG or IATEFL’s Young Learners and Teenagers SIG) are like conference breakout sessions, where teachers have extended, and topic-oriented conversations.

Nings are like subject area resource rooms in a large school. They’re social networks connecting teachers with common interests. In addition to discussion forums, members keep blogs, share resources, and plan group activities.  EFL teachers might belong to EFL Classroom 2.0 or English Companion, or both.

I attended more conferences than ever before, but travel much less. I still prefer to physically attend a conference, but online sessions and summaries allow me to be there in spirit even when it’s impossible to be there in body. For example, the IATEFL conference this year broadcast plenary and workshop sessions (and then archived the videos available on the website), Twitter allowed workshop participants to share updates and allowed teachers not at the conference (like me) to ask questions during panel discussions. Issues raised during the presentations were discussed in online forums.
The kinds of discussions I have, and information I share with my PLN hasn’t changed all that much over the years–what works in class, how students learn, how to become a better teacher. How I meet other teachers, where we discuss ideas, and how we share information has changed. Significantly. My PLN now includes teachers who live quite far from me—in Asia, Australia, the Americas, Europe and Africa. I meet them online. I learn from them online. I share with them online.
The teachers in my Personal Learning Network are some of the best friends I’ll never meet.

Flipped Classroom - VIDEO

Following on from my intial post about the 'Flipped Classroom' (copied below), please see above for a recording from my IPACA Engage, Innovate and Inspire C.P.D session entitled: 'The Flipped Classroom - A Beginner’s Guide' which took place on 18/12/12.

On the 18/12/12, I will be running an IPACA Engage, Innovate and Inspire C.P.D session entitled: 'The Flipped Classroom - A Beginner’s Guide'. IPACA colleagues can still sign up for this session by clicking here. This session will explore how many educators are exploring the flipped classroom model which uses technology to deliver instructions online which can be used outside of the classroom. The session will be held at RM Campus and will explore the model and provide practical examples of things to try out in your classroom.
In advance of this session I wanted to give a stronger overview of what is meant by the term 'Flipped Classroom'. After a little searching I feel Wikipedia gives a good definition which supports my understanding and application of the term:
'Flip teaching is a form of blended learning which encompasses any use of Internet technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher-created videos that students view outside of class time. It is also known as backwards classroomreverse instructionflipping the classroom, and reverse teaching.[1]
The traditional pattern of secondary education has been to have classroom lectures, in which the teacher explains a topic, followed by homework, in which the student does exercises. In flip teaching, the student first studies the topic by himself, typically using video lessons created by the instructor[2][3] or shared by another educator, such as those provided by the Khan Academy. In the classroom, the pupil then tries to apply the knowledge by solving problems and doing practical work.[4][5][6] The role of the classroom teacher is then to tutor the student when they become stuck, rather than to impart the initial lesson. This allows time inside the class to be used for additional learning-based activities,[7] including use of differentiated instruction and project-based learning.[8]
Flip teaching allows more hands-on time with the instructor guiding the students, allowing them to assist the students when they are assimilating information and creating new ideas (upper end of Bloom's Taxonomy).[9]'
Extract taken from:
For some local examples of 'Flipped Teaching', check out the DASP (Dorchester Areas Schools Partnership) Maths website. This website contains
 short video clips of DASP students explaining how they do a particular sum.