Monthly Archives: March 2014

Office for iPad – missing the point?⤴

from @ teachitgeek

The internet went positively giddy last week as Microsoft finally announced Office for iPad. Twitter was abuzz with people shouting for joy. “Finally”; “Never thought I’d see the day” etc. My response was a little lukewarm when I read the announcement. Was I missing the point? Were we suddenly back in the mid-90s when Office was the standard productivity tool of choice?2014-03-31 15.13.38_1

Now don’t get me wrong, Microsoft has done a great job with these apps, they are far from the version that appear in both the iPhone and Android apps. Releasing them as three stand alone apps was a great move – albeit frustrating that the only function available to non 365 account subscribers is Read-only.

In Scotland, we have a National intranet for schools, named Glow. In it’s latest iteration Glow is built upon Sharepoint 2010 and gives each user a 25Gb OneDrive for business storage allocation.This allows users access to their files from a number of devices, including the iPad. Users can edit documents within the browser using Office online, as well as create new documents and collaborate in real time with other users. This is a huge bonus in education and was something that Google Docs users found to be the most useful feature. You can link Office for iPad to your Glow account but it requires authetication with a Microsoft365 account first to get the ball rolling. This is a lot of ‘fiddling’ to get pretty much the same functionality offered for free in any browser.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 21.16.11
The iPad is an emerging technology. It offers pupils and staff the opportunities to create engaging, varied lessons to help develop independent, reflective, life-long learners. Digital devices should only be used when it adds to a learning experience. To me, using Office on an iPad is an enhancement – something that can be done on a laptop or netbook and not really transformative. If you look at the SAMR diagram above, augmentation is the process of using the technology as a direct tool substitute. Using Office on the iPad does have it usefulness in terms of productivity, but is it really what we want to use the iPads for – to create rich learning experiences and creating confident individuals?

I don’t think so.

Projecting Poetry to Prominence⤴

from @ ICT for Teaching & Learning in Falkirk Primary Schools

Words in rhyme are part of literacy around us, whether lyrics of songs, advertising jingles on television or posters, rap or nursery rhymes. And in developing literacy in the curriculum there are opportunities to encourage looking at rhyme.

At different times of the year there are often national or international opportunities to harness the prominence of poetry in its various forms to engage pupils, whether it’s part of national poetry day or month or a local or national festival, or an anniversary celebration of the works of a particular writer in rhyme (such as annual Burns celebrations centred on the life and works of Scotland’s bard Robert Burns).

There is a host of ways of using various free tools to help engage pupils in writing poetry in various forms.

Click here for a variety of ways to use a range of free tools to engage pupils with the poetry of Scotland’s poet Robert Burns - each of the ideas are equally adaptable to be used with poems in other forms and by different writers, poets, rappers or lyricists.

If rap is a style in which some pupils find their outlet for creativity then click here for The Week in Rap which provides examples of how the style of writing can be used to engage in the news of the week while also developing the facility to write in rhyme. Although most of the content is available only by subscription there are free examples which will provide inspiration for pupils to create their own reports in rap.

Getting the chance to hear young people recite poems can often provide the inspiration for others to develop this skill. Click here for the US Poetry Out Loud site to support a poetry recitation competition, with hosts of examples of students reciting poetry of their choice. This site also includes helpful guides and resources to support teachers looking to provide support for pupils in developing recitation skills.

Blabberize provides a free online tool to create an animated image where a pupil can add a mouth which moves at the same time as a recording of the spoken word which the pupil can either record throught eh program itself or upload from a previously made recording. This can be used to bring alive an image of a character or animal from a poem spoekn aloud by a pupil.

Read, Write, Think website has a wide range of activities for supporting literacy, and with many on poetry. Click here for a post about how a variety of these tools can be used during a focus on poetry.

Listen and Write – literacy activities inspired by song – provides a range of free to use online tools which help support a teacher support pupils engage in looking at lyrics of songs. These can be used in different ways, whether looking for the rhymes and how lyrics are put together, to finding ways to inspire pupils to create their own lyrics.

Ode to Poetry – websites to generate student poetry online is a fantastic post by Mrs Smoke which is a collation of a range of online sites which support using poetry in the classroom in many different ways and for different ages and stages of development.

Cybraryman Poetry page is a collection collated in categories by Jerry Blumengarten of tools and resources to support using poetry in the classroom.

Poetry, Poetry, Poetry Symbaloo – is a collection of links, collated by Shannon McClintock Miller, to a variety of online resources to support pupils engaging with poetry, including magnetic words, alliteration creator, rhyme finder, poems in shape forms, acrostic poems and much more.

And if your pupils want to record and share their words in rhyme, online, then click here for free tools to help pupils record, edit and share online their audio recordings.

Digital Literacy Competency Framework⤴

from @ SQA Computing blog

We've been developing a Digital Literacy Competency Framework (DLCF) for some time. This framework defines the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected from someone who is considered digitally literate.

We've used this framework to develop the new Digital Passport award, and it will be the basis of future digital literacy awards. Unlike similar frameworks, the DLCF defines not only knowledge and skills but also the attitudes and behaviours that the modern citizen needs. It's also very up-to-date, including such things as "attention literacy" - the mindfulness that is needed to overcome the distractions of the modern age.

We think that the Framework is a pretty unique mix of knowledge, skills and behaviours -- but it's still evolving so let us know, in the comment section, if you think that we've left anything out.

Contact Hilary if you want to know more about the DLCF or our digital literacy awards.

Where Have My FE Colleagues Gone? Lost Boys… Or Missing Opportunities?⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

I am the eternal optimist. As such when others see problems I can, on occasion, wonder if there might be some new and interesting opportunities.

Now that I have finished my latest research I have been sending some updates to my FE contacts recently regarding my plans, and the number of emails that have been returned "undeliverable" has been significant.

When I checked these contacts on LinkedIn, I then get confirmation that they have moved out of FE and into other sectors. All these bounce backs in your inbox provides an interesting visual demonstration of how FE has lost 30% of their staff in some departments recently... and makes you wonder about the impact this has had at the college.

I really do detest this from the student and staff perspective - hard working educators forced to leave due to budget cuts and all this expertise leaving the classroom. But is there an opportunity here?
Connecting business with FE
If this 35% drop in academic staff is consistent with other departments who have left FE, this would mean that some 60,000 are now working in different industries and sectors. I wonder to what extent FE are using former colleagues to establish links with industry? 

One of the best ideas that I have seen regarding the successful implementation of a strategy is for teams to answer "yes" to these three critical questions;

1) Do we have enough assets for the outcomes?
If Yes then you can go on to ask "What should we do to accomplish the outcomes, if no;
2) What assets do we have that we haven't identified yet?
3) Will behaviors accomplish outcomes

With a 30% drop in staff I can imagine that the answer to "do we have enough assets for the outcomes" may well be "no," but surely a credible and viable answer to question 2 is "How about we see what our former colleagues and their new employer can do to help achieve this outcome?"  

The 5-minute Favour & Reciprocity Rings
Wharton University Professor of Management, Adam Grant, discusses the secret of Adam Rifkin's success as one of the most connected networker, who is trying to change the way that people network and is an advocate of the 5 minute favour.

Reciprocity rings is one way to instigate this kind of collaboration. This is where a group is gathered for the purpose of members asking for something important for them in their personal or professional lives.  A request is put out to the group and participants make connections, offer introductions, contacts or more tangible help with achieving member’s goals

This idea was developed by University of Michigan psychologist's Wayne and Cheryl Baker and their website Humax has all the tools you will need to develop the method.  Some of the business benefits listed on their site include:

  • Real business benefits are achieved
  • The monetary values of benefits achieved typically exceeds $150,000
  • The time saved by participants typically exceeds 1,600 hours
  • The Reciprocity Ring builds community, strengthening the network of relationships among participants
  • The Reciprocity Ring is transformative — and informative. Not only will you learn solutions to your issues, but you’ll also learn more about your colleagues and co-workers.

Private Vs Public Solutions
In February Michael Gove said that State Schools should be more like Private Schools. I agree that State Schools can learn a lot from private schools, but also feel that some comparisons are more than a little ridiculous.

As I highlight in my Culture in Education post, it takes a village to raise a child and this is something that private education excels at... they make use of "The Old Boys Network" to find opportunities for their children. This can be evidenced in Miles Corak's "The Great Gatsby Curve" and how 75% of children with wealthy parents have worked for the same employer as their parents did (this raises to 90% of the super-rich).    
Unfortunately people from deprived areas have parent who don't work, some even an entire network of friends and family who don't have jobs?! 

Parents in private education tend to make any requests regarding their children's career public with their networks, could FE fulfil the same role for their students? Could this help some of the lost boys of the council estates, in the same way that it helps their privileged counterparts in the private estates?  
FE Network
If 30% of FE staff have left the sector in the last few years leaving existing staff with a greater workload due to budget cuts etc, and as reciprocity rings have demonstrated that they can save participants time, I'm sure that they could have an impact on FE whether to; 

  • Helping students to get work experience or employment
  • Develop courses and/or apprenticeship programmes that fit their employers' needs 
  • Encourage employers to look at FE for training and conference needs
Surely there is an opportunity here to make this community of ex-colleagues and former FE staff work for existing college staff and their students? 

If you have worked in FE and/or are interested in exploring the concept of reciprocity rings please feel free to take a moment to fill out the details on the following link - Left FE: What Next?

LEGpO (or Po-Lego) – Genius Idea⤴

from @

Like nearly all of my recent great ideas this one was magpied from twitter.  The genius (no inverted commas) behind the idea is Rachael Stevens @murphiegirl whose very clear explanation for it all can be found here. I can, however, take ALL the credit for renaming it LEGpO or LEG-PO if you prefer, as opposed […]

Seminar series: Professor Peter Mayo 28/3/2014⤴

from @ Cat's eyes

We had a guest speaker at the latest in our research seminar series.  Professor Peter Mayo is Head of Education at the University of Malta and he was talking about his latest book, The Politics of Indignation. This talk was concerned with one specific chapter in the book on migration in southern Europe.  Critical pedagogy, sociology of education and social theory feature as his research interests.

It was clear from the beginning that we would be presented with a radical perspective on what is an utterly desperate situation.  Professor Mayo opened with a shocking statistic: 20 000 migrants have drowned in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to southern Europe in the last 20 years. That’s 1000 bodies per year. And these are the ones who had survived war, rape, the desert, the journey to the coast. It couldn’t really be any further from the idealised image of the Med more commonly suggested in the media, and also perhaps reflected in many people’s holiday experiences or aspirations.  I have been aware of reports of dead refugees washed up on southern Italian beaches and , and have read Partir, a moving, tragic but excellent fictionalised account by Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun of a migrant’s attempt to cross the Straits of Gibraltar. This isn’t mainstream fiction however, (not available in translation into English) and the aforementioned reports aren’t commonplace in the UK.

The migration debate is topical. It’s a policy which is supported by the SNP, but hasn’t really surfaced as a major feature of their independence campaign yet. Maybe it never will. The arguments to support it are usually economic. Migrants are trafficked as human commodities in order to provide a cheap and necessary source of labour in a globalised economy.  Colonialism alone is not to blame for the wretchedness suffered by these people in their quest to find the better life in the promised land of their colonial power.  The problem is they too often find the Promised Land has closed its doors to them; the discourses of security treat them as criminals and rob them of their dignity, their possessions and even their freedom to express themselves in direct defiance of the Geneva Convention. Political intransigence inside Europe on this issue has created a value system which prioritises security over human life and the perversity of globalisation has made both a necessity and an object of loathing out of the migrant among some (perhaps working class) communities – divide and rule.

The discussion opened up into a broader treatment of activism and groundswell movements, and neo-liberalism in higher education and how globalisation is working to marginalise radicalism and social justice in research and recruitment.   It was a fascinating session, and a real pleasure to meet Professor Mayo. He was hopeful that in Scotland we have values in our education system which might mitigate the appalling racism he described. Whether we do or not, we certainly have a responsibility to ensure that inter-ethnicity is developed in a positive way.

There are some signs of hope. One of them for me is the fantastic work done by a close friend of mine, Maggie Lennon in the Bridges Programmes she set up and manages. Bridges find employment and education opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers. It has many successes to boast of and should be celebrated as a shining example of social entrepreneurship working for justice and integration. There is so much scope for educators to learn from this project, and maybe vice-versa.  There’s also a massive need for more programmes like Bridges if migrants are to be considered as more than economic commodities in Scotland, and elsewhere.


Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games⤴


Who We’re Looking For:

> Men & Women aged 18 – 45, no special skills or experience required
> People with enthusiasm who will grab this once in a lifetime experience


> More than 40,000 people will see each of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the venues – Celtic Park and Hampden.

> The Ceremonies will be seen by a potential global TV audience of more than 1 billion

> You’re in safe hands, the team producing The Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games are super experienced, combing talents from across Scotland with global expertise. Glasgow 2014 are working with Jack Morton Worldwide, an international events company, who also produced the Ceremonies for Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006 as well as the Athens Olympics and the 2010 World Cup.

Apply here

Office365 on my iPad – 4 year subscription for £80⤴

from @ ICT & Education

Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are available to download on my iPad. Now I’m not a particular fan of these products but there’s no denying their importance and the clout they hold over pretty much any competitive programme.

I downloaded the free apps for my iPad yesterday and was dismayed to find out that all I can do is, well, read files. I can’t edit, create new documents or do pretty much anything. For the privilege of doing so, I have to shell out a yearly subscription of around £60. Sigh.

However, I did find another method which worked quite well. I have a GLOW account – a national online system created to support Scottish teachers. And I found out that I can buy the “Office365 suite for University” at a substantially reduced rate – £80 for four years.

So if you are a Scottish teacher and have a GLOW account, you’re on a winner. :-)