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ISC ICT Conference – Collaboration is how we roll


Last week I spoke at my second ISC ICT conference. I shared a platform with Laura Doggett (@lauradoggett) the Head of MFL, who is pioneering the use of iPads in modern languages, and Rosie McColl (@rosiemccoll), the deputy head of English.

I’ve wanted to run a test bed of iPads at Berkhamsted since they launched, and when Laura took over the MFL reins a year ago I knew that with her eLearning background she’d be perfect to lead the project. She has documented her experiences so far on her website, but suffice it to say that after some robust management conversations about funding and deployment, coupled with a slew of technical challenges, we’ve only just managed to get the project live a few weeks ago. Nonetheless, we’re already gleaning a vast amount of useful data and feedback that will help us to evolve the school’s pedagogical approaches and give a useful steer on future directions for student devices in the classroom.

Rosie has helped to pioneer the use of the Learning Platform we launched a year ago, using Google Apps for Education. Although I am the editor-in-chief, such projects live or die by the strength of the supporters who evangelise and encourage others to experiment and engage with the possibilities presented by cloud based learning. Rosie has been such an evangelist, and the work she has done, using live writing sessions (including between classes on different campuses), as well as the development of the wildly popular online literary magazine, The Inkspot, have made her truly an eLearning champion.

The three of us were given a platform to explain how Berkhamsted is promoting collaborative learning and by happy coincidence (or design) what we do was what earlier speakers, such as Prof Steve Molyneux, had advocated for schools looking to move their eLearning agenda forward.

You can see the Prezi that Rosie produced for our talk here.

Before we spoke, I chaired a session with a selection of our students, who explained how they were using a range of eLearning tools in their learning. Alison, a year 13 student, has produced an incredible animation, using open source programs, which she learnt how to use by engaging with other film makers on YouTube. Lucy in year 8 helps to run The Inkspot, while Max, a year 13 student, uses Google Docs to share ideas in A Level English and deepen his knowledge. Year 10 students Xavier and Nic talked eloquently about their iPad experiencs so far. Felix, also a year 13 student, creates academic blogs for his Media Studies course, which I mark and annotate on-screen using Diigo. You can see an example below.

The students performed incredibly well, given that they had an audience of over one hundred head teachers, deputy heads, and Directors of IT. They spoke with passion about what they did and handled questions with aplomb. After the session ended they were mobbed by senior leaders, keen to carry on the conversation! It was a moment that made all of us feel very proud, as it is one thing to talk about what you want students to do, and something altogether more exciting and rewarding when they themselves articulate how the eLearning vision is improving their work.

Their moment of triumph was captured on video and it is worth listening to what they have to say.

I would like to thank Mark Steed (@independenthead), the Principal at Berkhamsted School, for giving us and the students the chance to shine. We all found it a fantastic opportunity to showcase what we do as a learning community, and it was great to receive positive feedback from so many delegates.




Typography rules

I love typography and the impact the shapes of letters, the spaces between them, and the colours used can influence the meaning an author wishes to convey. So, I was delighted to find this infographic, and an accompanying article, from Mashable. It’s a brilliant timeline of typographical development, showing how the advent of typewriters and the web have caused typographers to respond to the challenges posed by different delivery media.


Conference presentation at the IPD Heads of Sixth Form Conference

On November 30th I was honoured to give the ICT keynote speech at the IPD Heads of Sixth Form conference in Oxford. The focus was on how collaborative, cloud based tools can help Year 12 and 13 students develop the skills they need to succeed at A Level. The presentation is hosted on Slideshare and you can download a copy from there, if you would like a PDF version without the embedded video.




Moving towards DIY Infographics

I’ve written in the past about my love of infographics and the reasons why I don’t make them. To recap, although I have the skills to create animated representations of data, the fact I would have to use Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut Pro and quite possibly some other programs too, just puts me off. It’s too time consuming when I have classes to teach and teachers to support.

However, it was only a matter of time before some crazy creatives realised lazy folk like me just want to take our data and visualise it.

Two new services have caught me eye: takes your LinkedIn profile and turns it into a range of customisable info graphical resumes. Here’s what it did for me. It’s a good idea with a lot of potential, especially as jobs become harder to find. This may not work if you’re applying to be an accountant, I would guess, but should cut the mustard if you are applying for a job in a more extrovert and creative line of work.

At the other end of the scale,¬†is on the one hand a great place to search for infographics produced by other designers. However, the company is moving into allowing anyone to create stunning visual content. Their work is still in development, but there’s a tantalising glimpse of what it should do in their Twitter page. It takes your own individual Twitter feed, or two feeds for comparative purposes, and generates an infographic based on them.

Here’s me, followed by a comparative version of two colleagues, Laura Doggett (@lauradoggett) the Head of MFL at Berkhamsted School, and Mark Steed (@independenthead) the school’s Principal:





Videos from Berkhamsted Media