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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Home Learning with @DaveGuymon

Increasingly, home learning is making the most of online tools and resources to further students’ study. On Tuesday 1st April, 2014 colleagues from the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy explored how to get the balance of resources right and shared a range of tools that can make students’ home learning experience rich, engaging and relevant. This session included a Google Hangout with Dave Guymon (Teacher/Author, Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA).

A recording of this session is included below:

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Awesome idea - a little expensive though

Currently seeking funding on Indiegogo, this Dubai-based company has created a modular set of components that act as the building blocks for a multitude of different furniture pieces. The kit includes only four types of connections and relies mainly on one type of block — a bar with connecting holes along its length. Using bars of different lengths, kids can put the blocks together in ways that suit them — whether it’s a chair, table, bed or even a fort — as well as being able to choose their favorite colors. The blocks are made from a versatile MDF-like solution called Liquid Wood, which means they are lightweight but also durable. The video below shows OLLA furniture being assembled:

Parents (or teachers) can buy as many blocks as they like through the current Indiegogo campaign — single blocks start from USD 6, while enough kit to build a chair is USD 228, up to USD 1,229 for a cabin bed. Not only do kids get furniture for their room, but they also get to design and modify it themselves, offering an element of creativity and achievement. Are there other ways to help kids have a bigger say in the products they use?


Monday, 7 April 2014


I am excited to hear new developments from Securly (IPACA's filtering provider), this company really is at the cutting edge and is leading the way in their field. Their latest press release highlights their latest developments -
Silicon Valley based Securly, Inc. - the world's leading cloud based provider of unified Internet Security for K-12 schools today announced their zero-touch filtering solution for 1:1 Chromebooks. The new offering gives schools a pain-free way to manage student screen-time on Chromebooks as they move between the school and home.

Given their low price-point, high usability and integration with Google's free Apps for Education suite of tools, Chromebooks have become a platform of choice for schools that are adopting 1:1 initiatives. As of October 2013, these devices were being used by 22% of all US K-12 school districts. While a primary driver of these district-level Chromebook purchases has been online student assessments, the adoption of newer pedagogical models like "Flipped Classroom" has had an impact as well. The latter makes it imperative for Chromebooks to go home with students in order for the district's 1:1 initiative to have any chance of success. A natural question that is raised by teachers, district leadership and parents alike as Chromebooks are sent home is - "How does one ensure online safety on these devices?" Says Tim White, Director of Technology for Webb City R-VII School District - "Sending a device home without monitoring and content protection would put our students at unnecessary risk and open our institution to significant legal action."

The status-quo is dominated by appliance-based proxy solutions. This involves the setup and maintenance of an on-premise hardware appliance. The existing approach has a number of disadvantages. First, since each appliance can support a finite number of concurrent connections, larger take-home programs would require districts to acquire and manage multiple appliances. Second, the fact that all of the students' home traffic is routed back through the school's network makes IT departments that are already stretched thin responsible for network uptime even during off-hours. This also limits students' browsing speeds to the school's uplink capacity which for the most part tends to be a lot lower. Finally, the status-quo's inability to play well with Google Apps makes for a sub-optimal User Experience.

My previous video on Securly

Securly's Chrome plugin makes deploying a 1:1 take-home Chromebook filtering solution an easy 5-minute task. The plugin can be pushed out to Chromebooks via the Google Apps Admin Control panel. IT Admins can use the Securly dashboard to assign granular policies to their Google Apps Organizational Units. Securly reports student activity by their Google ID. IT Admins can also use the Securly dashboard to visualize student activity and the Audit Trail to drill deep into an individual student's screen-time in a matter of minutes.

Said Romeo Community Schools' Technology Director Mark Nelson of his districts experience working with Securly's take-home filtering solution - "As our district embarked on a program to send 3300 Chromebooks home with our middle and high school students, we turned to Securly. Their policy editor allows an easy way to set policies by school or grade level. Additionally, Securly's take-home policy allows sites and categories that might be distracting in the classroom to be accessed when the school day ends and students connect from home networks."

Securly was the first web-filter to integrate with Google Apps for single sign-on so schools with a heterogeneous mix of iPads, Windows, Macs, and Chromebooks could get granular policies per their organizational units. With today's offering, Securly allows IT admins to safely pilot and secure their 1:1 Chromebook programs, while reserving the ability to seamlessly expand the filtering to the rest of the district's devices.

About Securly:
Securly is the world's leading provider of unified cloud based security for K-12 schools. The founding team has a combined 20+ years of experience in the enterprise network security space. The company is a venture backed startup in Silicon Valley and serves hundreds of schools in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. The Securly for Chromebooks plugin is available immediately by signing up for a free trial from and then visiting the Chrome Web Store or via the Google Apps Admin Console.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Chromebooks for Art and Design

Great to see the below pictures of Year 5 at Southwell Campus using Chromebooks for Art and Design lessons! Super work, well done!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Chromebooks Impacting Dance

Chromebooks are having a huge impact across the curriculum here at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy. The surrounding pictures show the portable devices being used in Dance. Having access to the internet means students can research other dances to inspire them. This makes students’ digital logbooks of activity – which are created in Google Docs – much richer.

It is clear that the use of Chromebooks and Google Apps has helped speed up progress in lessons. Now students can perform, film, review and make improvements to their dance within the space of a lesson; all with the help of the teacher, who has shared access to their Docs. The fact that the class is now learning two dances this term, rather than one, is proof of this faster progress. “Children can progress more quickly now, as everything is more instantaneous with Google Apps and Chromebooks. I can be comment on a student’s Doc during the class so they can improve the work as they go, rather than waiting to receive it back after marking the next week,” says Angela Williams, Head of Dance and Director of Performance for IPACA.