Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Do You Get The Digital World?

Read this tweet from our Education Minister, Leighton Andrews this morning:

"Question for today - do subject advisers in your LA get the digital world? Tweet at me or email me Leighton dot Andrews at Wales dot"

Now, how shall I start answering this? Should I even bother??

For balanced perspective I hope to see follow up questions from the minister over the next couple of days asking:
Do teachers get the digital world?
Do schools get the digital world?
Do parents get the digital world?
Does Estyn get the digital world?
Do politicians get the digital world?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

E-Safety - Sound Advice

Spent this afternoon at a primary school presenting an e-safety talk with both teachers and then separately to parents. The content of each presentation is adapted to the needs and experiences of each group but does initially follow principle of a balanced view of the internet. Highlighting the enormous benefits ('biggest library', communication, collaboration, publishing, commerce, etc) it offers to users with the obvious concerns and problems that arise too (cyberbullying, inappropriate content, copyright, viruses, etc.)  You never seem to get a large group of parents together for sessions like this but I always enjoy talking with them and getting their views and opinions on e-safety. A fairly usual response is that "my children always know more about computers and using the internet than me!" Finishing the session with ways in which they can help and guide their children when using the web. Much of it centring around talking to their child about their use and what they do when online, becoming involved. Realising that this is a lot easier with primary school aged children, becoming much, much harder as they get older - speaking from experience as a parent of two children in their teens! Also shared with them a really good video produced by CEOP called "The Parents' and Carers' Guide to the Internet."

The teachers session too began with the pros and cons of using the internet, however the last part of the session focussed on resources teachers can use to help teach children about internet safety, along with time to reflect on their use of the internet and how to stay safe and remain professional online. It was therefore sad and disheartening to see this evening a report on the BBC Wales News website entitled "Facebook drinking posts teacher Elizabeth Scarlett reprimanded". A report about a 50 year old primary school teacher who was reprimanded by the GTCW over comments about drinking and parties appeared on her Facebook page which were viewed by pupils. She used Facebook to

"freely discuss her favourite pupils, she talks about the best site to buy sex toys, her sexual preferences and talks about alcohol with an 11-year-old."

She believed her Facebook profile was "set to the highest possible setting" and didn't realise that everyone could see her comments. 
It's interesting to look at teacher union advice on the use of social networks:
similar advice from them all making sure your profiles are locked down to friends only, don't befriend students or past students, don't talk about pupils or your work, think closely about your online friends - do they include parents and if so might this put you in a compromising position? Sound advice I would say, you wouldn't want to be in the position of teacher Elizabeth Scarlett would you?? 

Monday, 6 February 2012

Virtual Violence II - The Real Impact of Cyberbullying Revealed

"Beatbullying today publishes Virtual Violence II: Progress and Challenges in the Fight against Cyberbullying - an in-depth study of the state of cyberbullying amongst children, young people and teachers in the UK.
The report is commissioned by Nominet Trust and in association with the NAHT. It will be unveiled in a hard-hitting Panorama documentary airing on the BBC tonight (Monday February 6th, 2012) and reveals that cyberbullying, as a weapon of choice amongst the nation's youth, is showing no signs of dissipating, with 350,222 children – or 1 in 13 – experiencing persistent and intentional cyberbullying, with just under a quarter (23%) reporting that the bullying lasted for a year or more, and two in five (40%) said that it lasted for months or weeks. These findings closely mirror Beatbullying's first Virtual Violence study published in 2009.
Looking at the long-term effects of cyberbullying, Virtual Violence II reveals the detrimental impact this kind of abuse can have on a young person's wellbeing, with:
• 20% of children and young people indicating that fear of cyberbullies made them reluctant to go to school
• One in five (19%) reporting they experienced reduced confidence and self-esteem
• 14% living in fear for their safety
• 5% resorting to self-harm and 3% reporting an attempt of suicide as a direct result of cyberbullying."

Sunday, 5 February 2012

BBC Click 28/1/12 - Multiplatform Storytelling

Did you see this programme? I was particularly interested in the first section of the programme which looked at multi-platform storytelling or 'trans-media' (isn't that a horrible word?) Basically it's how a book or story grows into something much bigger through the use of websites, social networks and mobile technologies.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Google Family Safety Channel - YouTube

Another resource for Safer Internet Day 2012 on 7th February. Here is Google's YouTube Family Safety Channel. Could be a useful resource to share with parents?

ICT For Education Event - My Thoughts Part 1

Had a little time to digest what I saw and listened to at the ICT For Education event yesterday.

First up, it's good to attend an event where the focus is on education and ICT in Wales. Perhaps I shouldn't say ICT, this was much more about technologies for learning and teaching than curriculum ICT - no mentions of 'programming' today. Too often I attend meetings and conferences where the focus is primarily from an English education system. And while this isn't too much of an issue, references to Ofsted, Academies, Free Schools and Michael Gove, while interesting, don't have a daily influence on my life as an ICT adviser in Wales. That's not to say we don't learn from what happens across our border, far from it, what I am saying is that Wales needs to learn from its neighbours, take what has worked well, learn from others mistakes and form this into something unique for Wales. That's why an event like this is important, it's a chance to bring together teachers from Wales and share what's happening here, as well as pulling in people like Fraser Speirs from Scotland to influence, inspire and question how we currently do things. To me that is what's important, that we start the conversation here in Wales, looking at what teachers and schools here are doing, asking questions, forming opinions, moving ourselves forward, getting the best out of technology for our learners. Secondly, it was wonderful opportunity to catch up and meet people. In fact, met several friends and colleagues I hadn't seen for about 14 years!

I'm not going to talk about everything from the day, I'm going to try and pick out the parts that particularly interested me. Damian Donnelly who is an ICT coordinator at Amman Valley School (who I believe is also currently out working for the LA) gave a presentation on entitled "Using Web 2.0 to Support Online Collaboration".

Damian Donnelly talking about ELGG
Much of the presentation was focussed on ELGG, an open source social networking tool which was being used to support student voice and facilitating online collaboration. My colleague and I were very interested in this as ELGG was something we looked at several years ago. However it now appears to be a much more dynamic, customisable tool, and I can see why learners (and teachers) would enjoy using it. It does have that 'Web 2.0 feel' about it. What's also of interest to us is that Damian is using it alongside Moodle course management system, and Mahara e-portfolio system - again both open source products. Moodle has been used across our own authority for about the last 8 years or so we are interested in the integration between all these systems. Looking to the future we would be looking at these three tools as possible services that could be offered across the new Consortia to schools...we shall see.

Hannah Mathias is the information learning technology development manager at St. David's Catholic College in Cardiff. She presented a session looking at the use of Soundcloud in her school.

Hannah Mathias discussing the use of Soundcloud

According to their website, Soundcloud is "the world’s leading social sound platform where anyone can create sounds and share them everywhere. Recording and uploading sounds to SoundCloud lets people easily share them privately with their friends or publicly to blogs, sites and social networks." What I was particularly interested in was the way users could comment on a piece of audio. The uploaded file appears as a wave, click on the part of audio that you would like to comment on, and a text box appears and your profile picture appears under that part of the wave. 

Embedding a Soundcloud file into a CMS (Blackboard)

Files can easily be uploaded and it was demonstrated how this can easily be done from a smartphone app for example - record the audio via your phone and then upload. Yours truly was actually selected by Hannah to read from a piece of text into her smartphone which quickly appeared on the Soundcloud website. The audio files can then be shared, if required, via Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, etc. From an educational point of view these files can be embedded into Moodle or another CMS system (see video above) and then your course or lesson designed around that file. To me it looks like a much better option than the way Moodle traditionally handles audio files, and something that we would like to look at in more detail. At St. David's 6th form college, Hannah is currently working with her English department on using Soundcloud with poetry studies.

Photos from ICT For Education Event 3/2/12

A write up from the conference coming shortly.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Safer Internet Day 2012

If some of you weren't already aware, next Tuesday (7th February) is Safer Internet Day. The theme of this year's campaign is Connecting Generations with the slogan "Discovering the Digital World Together Safely". We are encouraging our schools to take part in this event. In fact we are suggesting to schools that they use could use this event to raise the issue of e-safety across the whole school community for the whole week. I'm going to one school next Tuesday to talk separately to both parents and to staff. We have, alongside a group of ICT coordinators, put together a series of assemblies for primary schools for the whole week, and should also have ready a brand new interactive esafety resource aimed at teachers and school staff on how to keep themselves professional online. I'll blog telling you more about these resources shortly.

If you go to the UK Safer Internet Centre you will also be able to download a school pack containing an assembly, a script for that assembly, classroom activities and some other useful resources. Packs are available for both primary and secondary schools.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

ICT in Education Conference

Off to the ICT for Education Conference at Hensol Park on Friday. Should hopefully be a very interesting day. Particularly looking forward to listening to Fraser Speirs and the work he has done with iPads at Cedars School of Excellence.