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Showing posts from August, 2016

Our Own App Store

Part of the Star Classroom project is providing the teachers involved with a mobile device - with the long term objective of replacing those Windows laptops. In preparation for that we're working on how to manage a fleet of iPads to ensure they come right out of the box ready to use, with easy access to a good selection of apps without any hassle.

After looking at a number of alternative ways of managing iPads we've selected a system called Casper from Jamfsoft. It allows us to set up an iPad so that even from the moment it is first unboxed and give staff access to an App Store where we can put together a collection of apps for them to download and use.

Which apps should we use? We'll be creating a group on Yammer for staff to select the best for primary, secondary and general use and vote on the ones that should be standard on every iPad.

Auto-filled Calendar

This poor old test user has a timetable of lessons in early August, but what it shows is a new feature of our system coming into operation. From now on it will be possible to have people's timetable from SIMS automatically update their calendar (to save the hassle of typing it in yourself).

By default the calendar will be updated for six week's ahead and if your timetable changes in SIMS that evening your calendar will be fixed too. Students will also have their timetable auto-loaded.

We're currently doing final tests before rolling this out to all sites. Obviously secondary academies will be the ones with the most to gain, so we'll launch it there first, but every academy with SIMS will have this added.

The same system (Salamandersoft) that does this will also automagically set up groups for every timetabled class, form, year group and department, so emailing and sharing resources will become much much easier - more about that in a few days,
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Improving WiFi

Remember a world before WiFi? It's become essential for so many things and we want it to be consistently good at every academy across the Trust. Over the Summer and Autumn we're doing two things.

Where the WiFi is poor we're either adding to it, or simply replacing it with easy-to-manage access points that we know will be good for several years ahead. This should mean that all indoor spaces and many outdoor ones will have good quality signal, linked to our network for staff, students and guests.We're making the experience of using that WiFi consistent so that if you've used the service at one of our sites, it will "just work" from then on.  Part of that simplification process will involve people having to register their device with us before they can connect for the first time: this will allow us to ensure that when they bring their own device it can only access what it should, and make sure that their internet use can be properly tracked.
When your acade…

How to Access CPD on the Microsoft Innovative Education Network

(Apologies if the video above is blank for you: Only logged in users on dret.cloud can view it: if you are a member of staff please go to http://dret.cloud, login and then come back to look).

Microsoft publish a wide range of resources for teachers on the Innovative Educators Network website, ranging from simple how to guides up to quite extensive courses. Alongside that members can interact with other teachers across the world.

DRET staff can use their normal login/ password to login to the site using the link on our home page and selecting the option of Office 365 login. The video above shows the process.
The video is hosted on our Office 365 Video site "DRET TV" in the IT channel - there are many other videos there: if you are a member of staff and would be interested in managing a channel of your own (perhaps to share resources with your class) please get in touch.

Contact Us

To contact the eLearning Strategy project please:
If you are a member of staff at a David Ross Education Trust Academy, visit Yammer (log in with your usual user ID and password) and look for the groups for eLearning there. We'd love to hear from anyone else - the best first point of contact is our Twitter account @star_classroom.  Commercial enquiries: We strongly prefer to initiate contact ourselves for products and services that interest us - for larger items this will be through the various frameworks. Please don't cold call.

Coming Autumn 2016 to DRET: RM Books

We're pleased to announce that RM Books will be available to our staff and students in the very near future - we are holding some initial set up and training with availability to staff in September and will soon announce the full launch date for the service. Working together as a network of academies means we can put together a far better collection of titles than we ever could working as individual sites.

RM Books will appear as a new tile on the homepage for users as soon as it is available - your usual user name and password will give you access. There is a free app you can download - again your account is the same as your academy one.

RM Books is RM Books is an online eBook library specially designed for education. It allows us to provide access to high-quality etextbooks, curriculum titles, fiction and non-fiction, as well as free use of hundreds of classic literature ebooks. Initially we are offering a collection of popular fiction and non-fiction books, but we will be askin…

People: Guy Shearer

Guy is the Trust's Head of Service for IT and the lead for the eLearning Strategy. He is on twitter as @guyshearer.

Follow Us On Twitter

We've just created a Twitter Account to share news and information about our eLearning Strategy. Please follow us to keep in touch with the programme and share ideas and examples from your own classes.

Welcome

This blog is a reference point for the Star Classroom project at the David Ross Education Trust - to introduce the people and the tools used. Much of the material will be available elsewhere, but as this site is public, anyone outside the Trust who would like to know more about our work will be able to find out here.