**This is a completely unofficial view of what may come to pass in 2012**
One thing for certain is that the current EMBC contract with schools in Northamptonshire will come to a close on Oct 31st 2012. Please note that the date is NOT March 31st as some schools seem to think.
So what happens next?
Over to you… literally…!
You really will have complete control over what your school chooses to replace the current service. Obviously, you will be obliged to maintain acceptable safeguarding measures including content/email filtering and it would seem sensible to stick with a good level of broadband, although theoretically you could choose dial-up (if you can find a provider).
emPSN (East Midlands Public Service Network) would seem like a good place to start for most schools, as it is taking over the reins from the EMBC. Companies such as BT and Virgin are linked into emPSN although you could also go directly to BT or Virgin and try to negotiate your own deal.
Alternatively, you may choose to go with one of the many other ISPs that will be advertising their services in the near future. Companies such as Exa, Talk Straight and WebAnywhere are already contacting schools, but there will be many more in the coming months.
Whatever you decide, remember that YOU have the choice and can pick and choose which services you purchase from each supplier. You could have your broadband supplied by one company, emails from another and content from a third.
Over the coming months, it would be sensible to prepare for the changes. Decide what services you really want, find out what speed of connection you require (remembering that you will probably require more speed in the future), ask other schools what they are planning (you may get a deal for a cluster). Look out for the ‘Broadband Services for Schools’ factsheet coming into schools in the next few weeks – it is a great guide that has been compiled by the Northants Harnessing Technology team – it really does explain everything you need to know.
Another school year lurches to a close and it’s time to reflect…
This time last year, the BLT was still a concept, dreamed up by Peter Ford and Tom Rees, and latched onto by a few individuals who were ‘Game for a Laugh’ (me included). Having seen it grow and take on a life of its own, I feel proud to have played a small part in the success of the venture and I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes us next year.
The Mobile Technology trial was a success in my school and we’re looking to fund the purchase of some iPods even though the budget is tight and the PTA aren’t overly keen on buying ‘toys’ for the classroom – I’ll find a way somehow. I’m determined not to let the fun element of learning disappear along with the cash!
I’m also looking forward to the proper launch of LP+4 in the Autumn – and no, this isn’t an advert or a plug! From what I’ve seen of it, it looks like it may go some way towards bridging the gap between current VLEs and the endless possibilities of Web 2 tools and Open Source software. The security aspects of Web 2 tools has to be an issue for school websites, no matter how attractive/easy to use/intuitive they appear to be – where is the data stored and who has access to it? This is the main reason why most of my classwork is hidden from general view, which is a pity as I can see the real potential of having a real audience for my pupils. I’m hoping that my class’s future public blogs will be much more prominent next year and be widely available to a real audience.
Security can be quite a balancing act and I’m often caught between just going with the flow and letting creativity happen, or holding back and being (perhaps) overly cautious.
Thankfully, the BLT is a good source of what is, and isn’t, suitable or useful for the classroom and for that reason, among others, I’ll be waving the BLT banner again next year – along with the hordes (well dozens) of other teachers/lecturers/students (not forgetting those that don’t fit into these categories) that we now have onboard.
A big thanks to Peter, Tom, Vicki, Jacinta, Keely and Mr Dook for making this all happen.
After the BLT visit to the RM REAL centre, I was inspired (yes – me!) to have a go with one of the websites used by Mr Peter. So I typed in the URL for Newtools and prepared my class for a challenge. Their task was to demonstrate their knowledge of solids and liquids in whatever way the random generator decided. They eagerly watched the board as their groups were assigned challenges and then set off to prepare for the presentations that were scheduled 45 minutes later. So we had groups preparing text messages, haikus, abstract impressionist paintings, origami and mindmaps. What a revelation the lesson turned out to be – so much discussion and collaboration within the groups and also encouragement from the other groups as they presented their work to each other. All of the pupils agreed that it was challenging but FUN… Definitely one to be used for future lessons.
Well the BLT toolkit has found a new home at Earls Barton Junior school and my class is back to ‘normal’. Whatever normal is! I’m sure we’ll sort something else out soon. Anyway, here is a screen capture of our most-used apps. Below it are the thoughts of some of my pupils.
These thoughts have been exported directly from a class Primary Pad
I really enjoyed use ing the ipods and ipads because if we wouldt have won the ipads and ipods
we would still be writng with a pen not talking into dragon dictation. i really enjoyed it and i especially loved going on the ipads.My favorite app was chicktoinary because it made me learn new words.(Megan)
I liked useing the ipads and the ipods becuse thay helpted me with my writing my favorite app is dragan dictation becuse you just speak into it thay where so fun!!!(Ethan)
I realy injoyed useing the ipods and ipads because it made learning more fun. (Adam)
I liked the ipads and ipods because they have loads of leraning posobiatys to bye like super sevens.(Thomas)
i like using the iPods and iPads and my favrote app is super sevens.I will mish the iPods,iPads and flip cams(Jack)
I liked using the iPods because it is much more fun to use them. And before we had the ipads and ipods all the lessons were boring and now they had to go its going to be boring again ( Jada)
I liked using the i pads because they can help us to learn whilst having fun .The ipods helped loads because they were conected to the internet.(Alice)
I like using the ipads because you get to play super sevens and chickshionany.The ipods are awesome.
I like using the Ipads and Ipods becase they helped me with my learning and they were great fun! Now I want a Ipod or a Ipad.( Millie )
i like using the ipads and ipods because its a fun way of learning(Freddie )
So where were we? Ah yes, the class have been using Popplet Lite quite a lot recently. The latest use was to plan an information text in Literacy. As we are also studying habitats in science, it seemed sensible to tie the two together and produce informational texts about our wildlife area. We took the iPods out and took plenty of photos, these were then shared between all the groups and also transferred to the iPads using Dropbox. Popplet allowed easy, collaborative planning…
From there, the children had to use Strip Designer to design a page of a leaflet about the wildlife area…
From here we decided to try and do something a bit different for our Class site on LP+, so I put the pages together using Youblisher.com. This is still an early version and doesn’t yet contain all of the pages. Click to have a look
We hosted the Learning Possibilities roadshow yesterday. Although it was good to meet everyone in the afternoon, the highlight was probably watching my class interact with Stephen Heppell during the morning. They listened attentively as he regaled them with tales from his travels and schools around the world. Today, I kept hearing ‘Stephen said…’ as they explained to some of the other children/staff why they were shoeless (long story…).
Today, around lunchtime was the highlight of my day – the arrival of a Bigtrak (remember them) courtesy of Mr Heppell. Once I’ve sorted the batteries, the children will see why I was so excited…
So where is this going? Well I liked the synergy of old and new working together – young minds of the pupils alongside the experienced (I won’t say old) mind of Stephen Heppell. Also, the Bigtrak sitting comfortably alongside the iPads in the classroom. Old tech and new tech – both enabling children to enjoy learning and exploring their world. The words and wisdom of Stephen inspiring the minds of my pupils and urging them on towards greater things…
Following on from the Myst work last week, the children have been planning their own stories based in imaginary worlds. As usual, children had a choice of iPads etc or good old pencil and paper. It’s interesting to note that even at this early stage of using the toolkit, the children have very clear views on when they feel it will help and when traditional methods will suit them instead.
To help plan the story, I showed the children an App called Popplet Lite (free) and then more or less let them explore its capabilities for themselves. In its most basic form it can be used for mind-mapping, although it can be used in a similar fashion to Lino or Prezi. After just 30 minutes of use, plans were forming with interlinked characters/locations etc. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise some of the words – many of them are completely made up as place/animal/vegetation names.
This week’s literacy is centred around science fiction writing, so I took the opportunity for more Myst work. The class had already encountered Myst last term, albeit Myst III, so were eager to find out more about Tomahna. Today I introduced Myst IV and encouraged the children to think about trying to capture the essence of Tomahna in only one sentence. We used the iPads and iPods to find pictures on the web and imported them into Strip Designer where they could overlay a caption. They then emailed their work to our class address and we had them up on our class LP+ blog by the end of the lesson. They’re now ready to explore further…
Well we’ve had the BLT mobile technology toolkit for a few days now and the pupils are starting to use them without asking for Angry Birds every 2 minutes.
I’d planned a poetry unit around Haikus/Tankas etc and thought I had a pretty good lesson planned. I wanted the children to write collaborative haikus using the iPads/netbooks and a Primary pad embedded into our VLE. Then… I started to watch Grumbledook’s live stream from LWF on Sunday evening and half-heard about Lunes. After tweeting delegates and frantic online chat with other viewers for help identifying the App/website, I eventually found a great resource… Lunes. This slotted into my plan easily and so the less-able pupils used the iPods and iPads to write Lunes, while the rest of the class used Primary pad as planned.
The results were better than expected, but better than that was the involvement of the children. I’ve taught haikus many times over the years, but this was definitely the most enthusiastic group of learners I’ve had for what can be a pretty dry lesson.
As soon as I can get sorted, I’ll post some of the results here, but as I’m off to BETT for 2 days this week, it may well be next week before I transfer them from our VLE.
OK – so I found a few minutes to add a screenshot… Lunes to follow…