Limmud Session – E-tools, E-learning and E-Communication for e-veryone

I’m running a session at 9.30am on Tuesday morning (29th December) on E-tools, E-learning and E-Communication for everyone and I need your help!

The session is being run at Limmud conference, an amazing and diverse Jewish learning conference. I’m hoping to share with people at the conference some great online tools they can use in their lives. I don’t know who will turn up at the session but as well as interested individuals there will no doubt be teachers, educators, rabbis and communal leaders.

There’s two ways you can help
1. Fill in this short online Google Form

The results will be available to view at

2. Join our flashmeeting at 9.30am, pop in and say hello and share a bit of your knowledge to a captive audience!

3. Tweet me your favourite e-tool – send a tweet to @nstone and I’ll collate them together.

Many thanks and I look forward to seeing people online tomorrow morning!

5 minutes of fame – TDA Christmas ICT Videos

About a month ago I was contacted by a PR agency working for the TDA on teacher recruitment. They were looking to make a Youtube film to attract people into ICT Teaching following a similar successful campaign around maths in everyday life. Amazingly they approached me after reading this blog and hearing my interview for the Edonis Project.

I had a long and fairly tiring day at Waterfall Studios in Shepherds Bush filming in front of a green screen and constantly forgetting my lines and having to do things again and again from different angles. The results are below and I’m in awe of the computer graphics that they have put around me to make a totally empty room look full.

Film 1

Film 2

I find both videos rather cringeworthy to watch (I did have a cold and a cough on the day of filming!) but I hope they have some effect. I know for sure London and the South East are short of qualified ICT teachers. After completing my Computer Science and Software Engineering degree the world of programming didn’t have much attraction to me and I went into teaching as it brought together two passions of mine, education and technology.

Technology continues to bring so much to education and it is so inspiring being part of online communities such as twitter, mirandanet and edtechroundup where practitioners actively share the most inspirational and creative uses of tech in the classroom.

In common with many other ICT teachers I sometimes find what we teach a little frustrating. Sometimes students are not challenged by the curriculum, you often hear tales of students being fed up with teachers who know far less than they do (not in my school!) and the numbers taking examinations in ICT and Computing continue to fall. Again there are a number of inspirational people working to rectify this including the recently formed computing at school group who are pushing forward new ideas for getting computing into school.

Being a teacher and an ICT teacher isn’t an easy job, you have to learn to manage all the distractions that computers and the internet offer to children, you have to constantly keep up with all the new software and technology that change every year, and you have to help your colleagues out with all their ICT problems. But you also get to use technology that can be inspiring, children love computers, and once you get over the hurdle of realising that you can’t know everything, learning a new trick from an 11 year old student is a real joy!

Mentoring, Online lessons, virtual tours and computing in school – all in a days work!

Often good things come at once. Sometimes they come at the same time and you can’t make them all – but yesterday the all worked out fine and I had a busy but fantastic day that I had to share on my blog!

On a normal day I’m in school all day, teaching classes, preparing for them or doing work around my e-learning responsibilities. Most of my CPD nowadays I tend to do in my own time, via twitter, online groups such as edtechroundup or evening meetings like Mirandamods. Occasionally I get to go to a course, in the daytime – a real old fashioned Inset!

This Thursday was one of those days – I headed over to the institute of education for a morning session on mentoring. This was the third installment of this course aimed at people like me who are mentoring participants in the graduate teacher programme (a method of teacher training in the UK). The course was useful and we learnt about different methods of mentoring most of which was new to me. By the time we had finished it was too late to head back into school so I’d arranged to try and teach my A-level computing class online.

I headed over to the British Library, a wonderful place to work, and it has free Wi-Fi. I sat myself down in the cafe and waited to see if any of my class would join me in an online flashmeeting. Almost on the dot the first students arrived – 3 joined from home and 3 from the school library. We had a 40 minute online lesson and it went okay. The main problem was the other fascinated year 13 students in the school library who kept on coming over to see what was going on. One even joined the lesson. Aside from these disruptions we actually got some work done. I talked the students through database normalisation using a hefty powerpoint presentation. It was hard working out if students were listening, participating or learning. I gauged this by asking questions and getting students to summarise what I had been saying. Based on the answers obviously something had got through! I did get a few strange looks from people in the library cafe.

No sooner had the online lesson finished when I got a skype call from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano also known as @langwitches . Her 6th grade class interviewed me as part of their project on Jewish communities around the world. I’ve tried to help set them up with different friends of mine on different countries. Apparently Silvia has managed to cover every continent even Antartica! The girl who interviewed me asked great questions and I really enjoyed our 10 minute chat and meeting some of Silvia’s students. I’m very jealous of their project and look forward to seeing the results!

After an hour to kill in the British Library (which flies by when you have work to do) I headed over to the Moorgate offices of Oracle UK where I listened and joined in with the Owers Lecture 2009. The title of the lecture was “Can we reverse the decline of schools’ computing especially with girls”. The two main speakers were Kate Sims and Stephen Heppell who gave plenty of food for though. This was carried on through an audience discussion (we’d by then reformed into a circle) where we heard many points of view. I hope some of the lecture will soon be shared online by the people that were recording it. It’s well worth watching and I will add a link here if it arrives.

Overall a fantastic day – I like to think my school gets value for money when I pop out for an inset!

A few ways teachers and students use our VLE (Edtechroundup Teachmeet)

This is my presentation for Teachmeet Edtechroundup Edition #TMETRU09

For more information on Teachmeet visit for more info on Edtechroundup visit

You can see info (and some recordings) of my previous Teachmeet contributions here

Both are fantastic CPD communities and opportunities and it’s great to see the two concepts joined together for an evening.

A few ways teachers and students use our VLE (Edtechroundup Teachmeet)

Please see my video presentation below. I used Screenr to record the screencast which limited me to 5 minutes hence the rush at the end. In the video I show different ways our VLE is used.

1. Student blogs – most are just for fun but we’re hoping to have students writing regular book reviews and sports reports in future.

2. As a document/resource repository for lesson or home resources. Many people decry this use as a waste of a VLE. Okay it doesn’t use all of the features and isn’t very interactive or collaborative but is a great place to start and has obvious benefit for teachers of allowing students to access work from home. Especially useful for revision time.

3. For discussion forums – Great for reflection, discussions or just setting open questions. When students post their response the whole class can see it, learn from it and comment on it. When they do it in their exercise books it’s just between them and the teacher.

4. For extracurricular clubs

5. Making students a teacher in their own course – they can then share their notes with classmates and build a collaborative resource to help with revision.

Look forward to hearing your comments and feedback as well as ideas of things you do with your classes.

Staff E-learning Newsletter

Last week I sent out this staff e-learning newsletter to try and keep staff informed and enthused about e-learning and our VLE. The response so far has been excellent, we’ve had three new teachers start using the VLE in a week. See the newsletter below, I’ve slightly amended it to remove some personal details but most of it is still there.


Dear Staff,
In an attempt to avoid unecessary meetings or announcements in shout I’ve been working on this mini newsletter to keep you updated on e-learning and the VLE. I’m hoping I can keep up a monthly newsletter throughout the year. Take a look, have a read, let me know what you think.
Here’s what in this newsletter
1. Reminder of how to get on the VLE
2. Resources and tutorials to help you, where to get help
3. VLE Teacher of the month
4. VLE teacher targets
5. Simple Videoconferencing in the classroom
6. Inspirational Videos for the classroom.
7. Reminder about Nintendo DS Consoles
1. Reminder of how to get on the VLE
It may have been a while so here’s how you log on…
Visit and login – to log in use your eportal username and password. Once you are logged on if you click your name in the top right corner you can change your password and your profile details.
For students their username is…(removed for privacy)  I have attached a helpsheet that you can print out for students. (not attached to blog post)
2. Resources and tutorials to help you, where to get help.
If you get stuck with Rickypedia please come and ask myself or Julie. If you want to book a mini training session with me I can come and visit you during registration for a 10 or 20 minute slot, if you need we can probably get cover for your registration. For password resets or anything urgent you’ll probably find Julie easier to find, she’s in the quiet room every day except Friday, I’m around usually in the staffroom or LI6 on Monday and Wednesday mornings. If you need either of us Julie is at (removed e-mail from blog post) and I’m at (removed e-mail from blog post)
A few resources to help out:
On Rickypedia are a few resources – once you’re logged in, on the list of subjects click on “staff” and then choose “Tutorial videos” for basic videos on how to create and build up courses.
Also in the “staff” – section is a course called e-learning training which has a sheet for pupils explaining how they log on.
A group of very good online and short (2 minute) training videos are at I think these work at school but can’t promise so you may need to look at home!
3. VLE Teacher of the month
The aim of this bit is to show you how different teachers have used the VLE. This time we’re going to visit Sophia in the History department.
I have attached some screenshots of Sophia’s courses with this e-mail
 Example uses in History department (pdf)
The history department are using the VLE as an interactive resource to enhance teaching and learning. In a year 9 module there is a unit on life in the 19th Century. The first resource in the course is a link to an interactive resource on the Manchester Art Gallery website looking at a painting of the times. The next resource is a discussion forum where students have to discuss various questions on the painting. It is amazing seeing students building up their knowledge and responding to each others’ posts.
Next there is a link to a page on the national archive website on the same topic followed by a downloadable word document containing a worksheet for students to complete. A powerpoint from the lesson comes next followed by another 2 discussion forums for students to carry on answering questons online. To give you an example of how students have used it – one discussion done over 3 teaching groups has been viewed over 800 times – how often does that happen with a student’s work in an exercise book?
4. VLE Teacher Targets
Some people like a challenge or a target to meet – here are some for you to try and get done this month.
Beginner: Create a new course and add something to it.
Intermediate: Create an online poll (it’s called ‘choices’ in Rickypedia)
Advanced: Set an online homework (assignment) and mark it online.
If you finish a challenge come and see me and I’ll give you a ‘well done’ sticker, 3 stickers and you can have a certificate!
5. Simple Videoconferencing in the classroom
Anyone wishing to try out simple videoconferencing should take a look at Flashmeeting a free tool provided by our local broadbam consortium. It now works in school!
Flashmeeting allows up to 25 people to chat using text, audio or video – you could also use it to connect just one person upto your class online even if they only have a basic webcam or microphone. Even without a webcam in your classroom you can talk to them via audio or text chat.
6. Inspirational Videos for the classroom.
This great presentation has links to 100 youtube videos that you could use in the classroom. Some are truly amazing.
Obviously YouTube is blocked at school to keep us safe – see this blog post about how to download these videos to bring into school.
7. Reminder about Nintendo DS Consoles.
Reminder – we have 16 Nintendo DS consoles and a variety of games including maths, english, braintraining, puzzle, french and just for fun games. You can book them out for lessons or registration for your classes or forms – the sign up sheet is on the bottom of Mr. Griffith’s noticeboard in the staffroom (he hasn’t complained to me yet!) and the consoles live in a neat easy to carry box in Mr. James’ room.
For some cool ideas on how to use Nintendo DS in the classroom please check out this evolving presentation – 23 Interesting Ways and Tips to use a nintendo Ds in the classroom
Enjoy and come and ask if you need a hand with anything!


What gets kids on a VLE and what difference does age make?

Download – What gets kids on a VLE and what difference does age make? (pdf 321kb)

A year on from completing my MA in ICT and Education and I’ve got round to sharing my research study. I had grand ideas about trying to get it published but never got round to it. So here it is to share with the world on my own blog. Despite being a year old I think the research is just as valid today as it was when I started. Please feel free to read, use and distribute. If you do use it for anything interesting I would love to know.

I chose the topic of virtual learning environments to investigate and I wanted to know what gets students to use a VLE and how the use varies between ages. You can read the abstract below – please do let me know what you think – either via comments, via e-mail or via twitter.


Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) become compulsory in UK schools from 2008. A great deal of public money has been and will be spent on them. Research on VLEs in schools is sparse and research on what makes students use VLEs even more so. This study builds on a practitioner’s observation that students of different ages use VLEs in different ways. Through focus groups, a survey and the analysis of VLE access logs, this survey investigates why students use or don’t use VLEs and looks for differences and patterns in the uses of students in three different year groups.

Analysis of results shows that there were significant differences between year groups in perception and usage, and that the youngest students were more eager users of the VLE. Communication and homework were found to be two key factors for student use. The study advises that schools take the opinions of pupils into account when designing or procuring VLEs and suggests that more research on what makes a successful school VLE would be invaluable to school decision makers who often have few experiences in this field.

Why Scorm and multimedia learning resource development is best left to the professionals

Teachers are often critical of commercial resources available to them. Be they “old fashioned” textbooks, “new fangled” software packages or, even newer, resource packs for VLEs. This is sometimes because resources, such as books, are written to work generally with a large group of people but may not tailor to exactly what a teacher wants or to what a class needs. A good resource can provide a lesson structure as well as content for both teachers and students to follow. Even with a good resource I find myself dipping in and out of it as suits me and as suits my students. I’m sure in common with all teachers I may use a textbook for some of the lesson but complement it with other resources such as websites, explanations, or other activities that I create or use. I think for ICT based resources, online or otherwise, we have higher expectations. With a textbook I would not expect students to just read through it and follow text, explanations and exercises. With an ICT based resource there is an expectation that content, especially engaging interactive content, will let students learn independently with less direction and less picking and choosing from the teacher. Maybe it’s these high expectations or maybe it’s the often high prices that often lead commercial education packages to disappoint.

With this thought in mind I wondered if I could do better myself? A module on my MA in ICT in education (now complete) gave me the opportunity to develop a web based learning environment. While most people built a website I wanted to see how well I would do at building a self contained learning resource on a topic. Additionally I set myself the challenge of developing a scorm compliant resource. In layman’s terms scorm is a standard for packaging up learning materials (files, quizzes, information etc) into one package (or zipped up file) that can then be loaded up and used in any system or VLE that reads scorm packages (eg moodle). I hope that explanation makes sense, if you want more details you’ll have to ask someone more knowledgeable!

If you want to read my full report on how this development went I’m attaching my full assigment here (all 6000 words of it) below. Be aware this report was written in June 2008. To summarise…

I chose the tricky to teach and I think slightly dry topic of database normalisation for my resource.

I used an online authoring package called myudutu to develop the resource. This was found via Jane’s E-learning Pick of the Day. Although the interface was sometimes a little cumbersome it did have some great features such as build in quiz type activities and a powerpoint importer.

Creating the resource took many hours, many more than I would spend preparing a normal set of lessons on the topic. The end result was far from perfect and far from what I wanted. I wasn’t happy with the navigation, the design of materials, the narration I provided. I am unable to share my materials as I haven’t got copyright for all the content I included.

And my conclusion taken from my document was as follows…

Having seen a number of commercial offerings for content for VLEs I was always left unimpressed. Most were expensive, uninspiring and did not comprehensively cover the topics I needed. Part of the challenge I wanted to take on was to see if I could do better. Though I created a resource that did a good job for me and my class I’m afraid I didn’t do better. The overall quality of my resource was not on par with commercial offerings in terms of layout and design. My content was good but every teacher likes to use resources in a different way and they may not meet the requirements of many teachers. The time taken to create the resources was also prohibitive. I did not tally the exact time spent creating the WBLE but I estimate I spent 6 to 8 hours creating a resource that is far from perfect and that would occupy a student for a maximum of 2 hours. For a software house this may be a good return on investment but for a teacher it is a prohibitive amount of time. One of the problems with getting teachers to use online learning environments is the time it takes them to prepare online resources (Dabbagh, 2002). This project has left me a little downhearted that this is a problem that will be very difficult to overcome for teachers who want to create comprehensive and professional materials. On the other hand, a few years ago I felt I could not create a professional quality website. Now there are online tools that I have mastered that have changed this. I hope in the near future that rich learning creators will be available that produce professional and immersive resources with minimal effort. Until then I shall be leaving any similar projects of this kind to the professionals and concentrating on making use of simpler tools WBLEs have to offer.

Do you have or know of any great content or easy to use content creators? Share it in the comments section, commercial suggestions/adverts are welcome as long as you make it clear who you are and are happy for others to disagree with you or confident they won’t!

Downloads (PDF 333kb)


A year of e-learning in school, a reflection

Last year was our first year of our VLE “Rickypedia” (not including our mini pilot) and the first time we’ve tried Google Apps. Below is a report I gave and delivered to our SLT at the end of last academic year to update them on the progress. I have edited it slightly so that is publishable online.

As I hope you can see from the report I have tried to give an honest review of where we have got to and what we need to do. I would love to hear any feedback; here’s a few questions to get you started…
Am I being realistic? How does this compare to your experiences? How have you solved the problems?
I’ll leave the rest to you.

Rickypedia and E-learning at School 2008-2009

The current incarnation of Rickypedia has been in use since late December 2008. It is run on an implementation of Moodle hosted by E-Cognition. E-Cognition is a small Moodle provider run by Dale Jones an ICT Advisor in the North of England. We are currently paying a modest 3 figure sum a year for their most basic service though this is likely to increase with usage. Support and help from e-cognition has been very good. I have Dale’s personal mobile and e-mail contacts and he has resolved any issues as well as special requests very quickly.
It took a while to get started as we had to move over courses from the old Rickypedia, point domain names to the correct places and set up user accounts manually. Most of this was done by our network technician. With the experience and knowledge from this year the setting up process should be much quicker next year though there will inevitably be some new issues. We will have to archive old courses and remove leavers which may take a while.
We also set up a school implementation of Google Applications for Education. Again usernames and domains ( had to be set up manually. With improvements in technology it should be possible now to integrate Rickypedia (Moodle) and Google Apps better so that less admin work is needed. This may cost a small sum from our hosting company to set this up but may be worthwhile in terms of a reduction of administration time to create accounts and ease of use for staff and students.
Overview of current setup:
VLE: Moodle ( hosted offsite offers virtual classrooms for all teachers. Social and student spaces are also planned.
Google Apps: Google Apps for Education ( offers online collaborative, word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tools, surveys, e-mail, start page, storage and websites.
Current Use:
Due to the time it took to set up all usernames we have made a slower start than I hoped for not being ready to go until December 2008. Nevertheless in one full term we have made good progress. This is the current usage that I have tracked.
ICT: All year 7, year 8 and 9 pupils are now using Rickypedia in their ICT lessons. A catalyst of this was the absence of one teacher which led another to create courses that students could follow when their teacher was absent. Some courses in particular make excellent use of discussion forums and other features of the VLE.
Most year 7s have completed or are in the process of completing a 3 week scheme of work on e-safety. By the end of the year they should all have idea how to use Rickypedia and the student e-mail system.
The use of Google Apps has been embedded in some existing year 8 & year 9 projects and the features available have allowed us to extend the work the students are completing.
Year 12 & 13 Computing students have made some use of Rickypedia.
Extra-Curricular: The online gamemaker course has drawn a handful of users from across year groups.
Physics: The Physics department have built courses for year 9 sats revision, GCSE revision and for AS and A-level. They have also built a fantastic course for students involved in the cosmic ray project to coordinate their work online.
Astronomy: An online astronomy club has drawn a random mix of followers across the school. Though it is only contains a small amount of content it is a snapshot of how online clubs and groups could be run through the VLE.
Biology – A teacher set up a course for year 13 students to allow them to continue their learning while he was away from school. This course is an excellent model of how Rickypedia can be used for independent learning and revision.
Library – The Red House book online group has continued encouraging members to blog about books they have read. Last year’s 6th form library course with advice on finding online resources is still available. Under development is a “portal” area with links to good sources of information for all students.
EEP Project – The EEP project has future plans to use Rickypedia to allow collaboration between students from partner countries. This should be working in some way by the end of Summer.
French – The French department has used school e-mail addresses to send e-mails to exchange partners.
Music – A teacher has built an extensive revision website for KS4 & 5 students using Google Apps site builder.
Citizenship – One teacher has built an online course for her Summer year 8 citizenship module.
History – One teacher has experimented using Rickypedia for online discussion forums with year 12 students.
Training Delivered:
One of my priorities when planning Rickypedia was running staff training. I am still struggling to work out the best way to deliver this training but I still believe it must be a priority. The following training has been delivered.
January whole school Staff Inset
Science deparment through departmental Meeting
Representatives from History, Geography, ICT, PE and Music in group after school and one and one sessions.
Some cover supervisors have also taken some training.
Other “training” not mentioned has been in terms of troubleshooting many varied problems and issues.
I strongly believe training must be as personalised and practical as possible and fitting this in has been a problem this year.
Related Projects:
I believe it is important to use the best tool for the job and Rickypedia isn’t always the best tool. Some uses of Google apps have already been mentioned but outside of this I have offered help to the following e-learning related projects.
EEP Project – have been building a website for the project using a Wiki on wetpaint.

RS – One teacher independantly has built a large revision website at Ricky Religion. I have offered a small amount of support with some more technical issues.
Teething problems:
We have had various teething and learning issues. As already said it took until December to set up all of the accounts and courses. We’ve had to work out how to lock usernames and are yet to find an efficient way of resetting passwords. Currently only staff members with administrative priviledges can do so which can delay the process.
Areas To Develop:
I believe the killer features of this technology are collaboration, interactivity and engagement but for this to happen certain areas needs to be improved.
Use of multimedia – This is difficult at present as many video services are filtered. It is also difficult for staff to create their own videos as they don’t always have access to equipment or have the training to use it.
Interactive Activities – There are many interactive activities that can be embedded into courses. From simple online quizzes to more complex webtools. Time for training is needed to show teachers how to access the functionality.
Social School Areas – I hope to have student moderated social areas set up over the Summer for students to communicate and socialise in a safe space online. Training the students up to do this correctly and monitoring what goes on is a time consuming process.
School council – I have met with school council already to discuss how they could use Rickypedia. It has the real potential for making the student voice heard and making the school council a truly representative body that can interact with students online.
Use of school e-mail – All staff and students now have access to e-mail accounts but most students and some staff don’t know how to use them correctly. There is so much potential for improving communication between staff and staff and between staff and students.
Accessibility: The ICT department has enthusiastically adopted Rickypedia though I strongly believe it has far more in terms of features to offer other curricular areas. ICT though has easy access to computers making it easier. Other departments still need better student access to ICT in lessons for Rickypedia to be used to its potential.
Working around network limitations: In terms of speed and connection we have not had any major problems this year though the internet does intermittently slow down. The main problem is with filtering and useful services being blocked. This inhibits the creativity and freedom of both teachers and students. I strongly believe that we need a more flexible filtering system in school. Many students now have internet enabled phones where they can access all content that is blocked at school in the playground unsupervised making a mockery of classroom filtering.
Training: Finding time for training has been a major problem. A plan for next year should include set dates and times for VLE training so that every staff member has had basic training and number have had more advanced training. Fitting this into my timetable is an additional concern.
Time for staff to develop resources and skills:
Dealing with e-safety issues: We have successfully dealt with some small cyberbullying issues but the system actually made it very easy to track and deal with as the evidence was saved on our system. I feel the outcome was positive but we need to do more in preparing pastoral staff to deal with these issues. We also need to do more educating students on these issues.
Lack of quality pre-prepared content: I am yet to find any killer VLE content for any subject. The market is developing and if something worthwhile becomes available it should be considered.
Continuity planning: Making sure that there are other staff members who could take over so that Rickypedia is not dependent on me.
Proposals and Objectives for next year:
Continue and develop administrative support: Having admin support this year has been essential and invaluable but there have been times when the support has been busy doing other work and it has had to wait or be left. I feel whoever provides the support should take more of a hands on role in developing the VLE and dealing with problems with staff face to face. Currently most things come through me or are requests by me. I feel regular meetings and updates with myself would go some way to doing this.
School Development Plan: I would like to look through the school development plan and identify areas where the VLE and e-learning can compliment and aid what is already in the plan. I hope in this way the VLE will be able to take a more central place in school life fitting around the needs of the school rather than the other way around.
Passwords: We have had some problems setting and resetting passwords and need to find a more efficient way of doing this.
Integration with Google Apps: I have already tasked our hosting company to look into this over the Summer. If this can be achieved for a reasonable cost it would make the Google Applications more accessible for students and staff as only one password would be needed for that and Rickypedia.
E-safety policies and integration with citizenship: E-safety policies should be confirmed in writing and commented on by pastoral staff. The teaching of e-safety needs to be integrated with both citizenship and ICT lessons.
One on one support and materials to teachers: From running training sessions this year I have found that they are most effective for those who already have confidence and skills using ICT equipment and just need to be shown the basics to get off and running. I need to find time to provide more one on one support for staff who are less confident both technically but also in terms of ideas of how to use the technology.
Bringing in external trainers: I feel that I can only have so much effect running training sessions and it may be worth bringing in some external trainers to inspire and train staff to use the VLE effectively. Bucks LEA use Moodle as their VLE LEA so I should be able to get access to excellent and experienced trainers through them.
Sharing good practice: I want to start a regular working group of staff primarily to share good practice but also to get feedback on the VLE and e-learning.
Student led areas & encouraging student voice: Creating student run areas of the VLE, allowing students to express their opinions of the school and the world via the VLE (utilising the school council) and using students to train and aid staff.
Achieving all of the above is a large task and will not be possible for me working alone on my current timetable. As I’m not expecting this to change I think it may be worth bringing extra people on board. I think bringing other teaching staff on board somehow running mini projects could also play a part and also help with continuity planning. There are a number of expert users I have in mind but I hope there will be others who crop up during the year. I am open to any ideas of how to get people to take tasks on as this may be difficult in reality. Getting other teaching staff involved in more depth will also help with continuity planning as the base of knowledge will be spread wider.

Summer bloggin’, happened so slow…

This Summer I’ve been a bad blogger despite having so many posts up my sleeves and in progress. 2 weeks left until school starts and I’m setting myself up a mini office (a laptop ona table) to mark coursework, learn a programming language, get up to date on the new A2 course and of course write some blog posts.To put a little pressure on myself here’s some blog posts I’m planning on writing and finishing – if they don’t appear somebody hassle me until I do! I guess as I write them I’ll edit this post to link to them.

  1. A review of a year of VLE and e-learning at school.
  2. A few great examples of VLE use this year at school.
  3. My experiences of creating a scorm e-learning resource.
  4. Nintendo DS in the classroom.
  5. My MA research into “What gets kids on a VLE and what difference does age make”
  6. Some cool bits of a cool school I visited (in Boston)

Doing all of those in the next two weeks is a little ambitious but at least I now have a plan. Hope everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is enjoying their Summer and everyone in the Southern Hemisphere their Winter.

Flashmeeting videoconference to enhance our face to face conversations

I’m currently at the Mirandamod Conference on “Teachers as Bloggers” – click here for the “Teachers as Bloggers” page with information and also links to communal mindmaps that are being created.

We’ve been discussing blogging all day. One point of many that resonated was how long it can take to write a blog post. So I’m taking a few minutes to see if I can write a quick post about something that has impressed me – and I’m going to go a little off topic. The conversation about blogging has been superb, the collaborative mindmap has been great fun but I’m so impressed as to how well the videoconferencing is working.

In the room at the IOE we’re all sitting around a table and at one end of a room is a projector showing a display of a flashmeeting videoconference. Currently there are 19 people joined to the flashmeeting and they are very much participants not just online but in the room. We’ve 10 in the face to face meeting and 19 online. Having attended so many presentations and conferences where the technology doesn’t work it’s great to have a solution that just works!

Credit to flashmeeting and credit to Leon Cych for doing the filming here. It’s time to get some videoconferencing working in my school.

  • ps – I got this blog written in about 15 minutes, result or rushed?