Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Our December eLearning Newsletter is Now Up

Click the image to open the news

As an aside - we made the newsletter with the all-new version of Google Sites (which you can reach instead of the standard one by using the web address https://sites.google.com/new - at some point soon anyone who already has sites on the system should see them move safely over and the old Google Sites will be but a memory.

The new system is (even) less for the power user but is a tremendous tool for someone that wants to make a site that looks good and concentrate on the content on the page rather than the geekery of web design.

First impressions after spending an hour making this page is that it is a remarkable improvement.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Web Clipping Fact Card

Click image to open the Factsheet
So you have something on a web page that you want to make part of your worksheet/ slide deck/ whiteboard file/ notebook? You can usually copy and paste but sometimes you want to be able to capture it exactly as it looks on the screen at that moment.

Web Clipping is one of those things that does actually take practice, and you may need to unlearn some tricks.

If you aren't used to working with one you probably have a workaround (on a Mac my old method involves holding down three keys on the keyboard, choosing what I want, then inserting the picture manually - it takes a while and leaves my desktop littered with files I don't want). When you see someone using one it is so obviously something worth learning.

There are some guides on the factsheet for using web clipping with various popular apps - take the time to become so confident you can use it without thinking during lessons.

If you use use Windows 10, the web-clipping tool in Microsoft Edge is simple and absolutely brilliant - well worth checking.


Thursday, 24 November 2016

Introducing the David Ross Education Trust eLibrary

Click on image to play video

Login information will be shared with staff and students in the next few days (the aim is for it to be the same as the one used in to login to everything else). This video has been made to introduce the eLibrary to staff and students.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Google Classroom Fact Card

Click on the image to view the card.


Here is another "Fact Cards" about the numerous tools for teachers and students we feature in the Basecamp training. This example is Google Classroom. This is a hugely powerful tool for anyone that has already started using Google Drive and wants to take sharing materials with their classes to the next level.

Create a course online and either invite your students via email, or give them a code to type in to allow them to enrol.

As lessons go by post things for the class:

  • An announcement - perhaps a reminder or a link to the OneNote used in the lesson, or an attached OfficeMix they may find useful.
  • An online assignment - something for the students to complete online and submit - perhaps responding individually to complete a writing frame provided for the task, or working collaboratively on a presentation. Multiple files can be attached to an assignment (of any kind - not always Google ones - indeed products like OneNote, Mix and Sway from Microsoft work brilliantly in Classroom). As teacher you can see when students have completed the task and view the work they submitted all in one place.
  • An online question for a response from students.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Save to Google Drive Chrome Extension

An increasing number of educators are turning to Google Drive as opposed to external hard drives and USB memory sticks for saving work - none more so than DRET's Star Classroom teachers. The benefits of 'cloud' storage as opposed to a physical storage device are numerous, and well documented. But plain and simply, it just makes life easier.

For those that have turned to Google Drive as their primary method of storing work, lesson plans, documents, presentations etc, there are many great add-ons that make life a little easier, and your work-flow simpler.  None more so than an extension to the Google Chrome browser called 'Save to Google Drive.' It provides a quick and easy way to save images from a google search directly into a Google Drive folder.

Check out our brief video explaining what's what, to see just how easy it is!



See more great training videos on DRET.TV (you must be logged in to a DRET account to view videos)

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Rolling Out Those Big Screens

Star Classroom is first and foremost about professional development and building a community of practice that spans all our academies and massively improves our agility to adopt, adapt and fully exploit new technologies in our work in ways that work for us: not as a parallel "tech for its own sake" agenda, but simply by supporting all our great teachers in their work to make learning better.

That said, the work to put in the physical side of the project - our standard classroom equipment, is now well underway. This is in no way the classroom of the future - we can't wait that long - this is the classroom of the present.

Installation at Eastfield

Engineers from European Electronique are visiting academies to do site surveys and discuss any special requirements with staff and then visiting to put up as quickly and with as little fuss as possible the equipment.

Soon after
The installs have been done so far at Charles Read, Charnwood, Ingoldsby, Eastfield, Cedar Road, Briar Hill and Newnham: and there are many many more to do before we reach the end in January.

In most cases the installation is a simple swap-out for the old projector and board. We fit an LED touchscreen with a Windows 10 PC mounted behind linked to peripherals. The aim is a good value, an all-in one system that will operate reliably and usefully for many years.

Showing the iPad Screen-casting to the big screen

Not every classroom is the same though. In a couple of cases, a mobile unit was needed rather than a wall-mounted one - so the system can be set up on a stand. In two academies we're trying the new screen supplemented by the old one alongside it to review how that might be best exploited in lessons.

Students at Charnwood making use of their Chromebooks to interact with the teacher's display
Every installation is followed by by a 1 week checkup and then 6 and 12 week coaching visits. In those initial visits it has been so positive to see imaginative and effective use of the new systems (in ways we hadn't always expected) within days - it will be fascinating to see how things develop in the weeks and months again.

Office Mix Fact Card

click on image to open the card.
In the coming weeks we will share some "Fact Cards" about the numerous tools for teachers and students we feature in the Basecamp training. This first example is Office Mix. Although what it does (at least what we do with it) is quite simple and limited, it can be incredibly powerful.

Take one of those Powerpoint files you already have.

Load it up on the screen and tap Record.

Draw on the slides as you use them in class and when you're ready click to stop recording.

Tap on Publish to video and choose the channel you want to push it to on dret.tv and your slides, annotation and voice-over is on the web for the class to access on their web browser, tablet or smartphone.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Using YouTube Videos with SafeShare.tv

We've had a number of requests to make some videos from our training.dret.tv channel publicly available - this being one shown on the Basecamp Resources page that attracted the most interest:

Safeshare.tv allows you to strip away adverts and comments from a YouTube video, and to clip it to just the section that will be most useful for your lesson. In the video Ben from our eLearning team walks through the process from start to end, so you can watch YouTube in class.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Welcome to the Basecamp

We call the initial immersion day for our Star Classroom programme "Basecamp" - because (and forgive the cliche) if the development and sharing of best practice in using IT in the classroom and to engage and support teachers, parents and students inside and outside the room is climbing a mountain, this training is not about carrying people up the slope, it is about getting them to the starting point well equipped and supported and ready to get climbing! In week one we've worked with eighteen teachers from nine different academies, some of whom have already had our new "standard" classroom set up installed.

Basecamp is about 10% to do with how to use the equipment in the room (the remote control takes a few minutes to master of course) but much more about sharing how the current good practice that led the teachers to be asked to join the programme can adapt to it, and the opportunities to  develop new approaches.

All of the materials used are accumulating on a public web page - http://basecamp.dret.cloud (many of the videos though are behind a login, for various reasons - please let us know if there is a particular one you'd like us to move over to a public server).



We now have an official logo!
The day breaks into three sections. The first is the simplest and most obvious - making sure everyone can use the screen (both with and without the PC that is mounted behind it) and the various peripherals - and if they have anything else in their classroom already, they know where to connect it and how and taking delivery of their iPad in "Ben's Grotto" and ensuring it is all configured and apps can be installed from our in-house app collection.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, when you let a group of people loose with things they discover features and tools you either hadn't picked up on, or didn't think anyone would care about. For example, when using the screen with its built in basic Android system, it's possible to call up the image from the main computer (and indeed a visualiser if you have one connected) and have them picture in picture to annotate using the pen.

Secondly we spent time on content creation - with a focus on using the iPad for one group of people, and using the "big screen" with the other. Tools for rapid content creation like Office Mix or Active Presenter, which enable you to take existing material and add voiceover and annotation before packaging the results into a movie you can share (through your class web TV channel of course) offer a very low-friction/ low hassle way to make material available to students in a simple way.


Finally we focused on methods to share resources with students including OneNote Class Notebook and Google Classroom.

One week down, five to go! Many thanks to the colleagues that made this week so enjoyable and interesting - and to Charles Read and Malcolm Arnold Academies that hosted the workshops.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Basecamp Day 1

Our first Star Classroom Basecamp training day took place at Charles Read Academy, joined by an illustrious cast of teachers from Charles Read, Ingoldsby and Charnwood Academies. A multi-layered day covered over 25 different pieces of software, hardware and equipment covering varied topics such as video production, sharing resources and making the most of the big screen. One down, 20 to go: what's going to be great is that each day will have its own flavour as we are joined by teachers from different schools, subject areas and backgrounds, with different skills and creative ideas.