Wednesday, 29 November 2017

eBook library by the numbers

Our eBook library at books.dret.cloud is a great tool for staff and students, and one that is growing every day.

Behind the scenes, we regularly study the analytics to understand how the library is being used. We thought that with the library growing in popularity all of the time across the Trust, this would be a good time to share some of the numbers.

Since the start of the school year, the most popular book in terms of total reading time has been the classic 'The Machine Gunners' by Robert Westall - and great to see this being the first book that has been read for a combined time of over 24 hours! Jeff Kinney holds second and third spot respectively with two Wimpy Kid stories - always popular and we have recently added more copies to reflect this.

Most Read Books since 1st September (total reading hours):
1st: The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall. Total time: 24 hrs 17 mins
2nd: The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid book 7) by Jeff Kinney. Total time: 19hrs 17 mins
3rd: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down (book 11) by Jeff Kinney. Total time: 13hrs 53mins

Looking at the rest of the top ten most read books, Roald Dahl (6th and 10th) has 2 entries (can you guess which books - answer at the bottom of this post), and there is another Wimpy Kid entry. Louis Sachar (4th), Norman Hunter (5th), Colin McNaughton (7th) and John Green (8th) are the authors whose books complete the top 10.

The most popular non-fiction book to date is AQA GCSE Science Student's Book by Christine Woodward, which is a great resource for students. As a result, we have purchased more copies for rental!

We currently have over 1000 eBooks available for loan and at the time of writing the average reading time this academic year is an impressive 1 hour 8 mins.

In the last 30 days the stats are equally impressive:
754 books have been borrowed
17753 pages have been read
Total reading time = 203 hours 7 minutes

Some impressive stats here, and what is the most important is that these numbers are on the rise. We will continue to monitor the data and hopefully post again later this year with a comparison!

If you are a staff member of a DRET school and would like to arrange a training session for your staff or students on how to use the eBook library, then please get in touch with the eLearning team as we are eager to hear from you. Don't forget you can find all the Trust's recommended reading lists at Reading.dret.cloud and can access the eBook library itself via dret.cloud.

Keep on Reading!



[The answer to the Roald Dahl question = Danny, Champion of the World and James and the Giant Peach!]

Monday, 27 November 2017

Edtech UK Global Summit 2017




The Edtech UK Global Summit took place in London on Friday, and what an interesting day it was - full of engaging discussion and insight into the shape of the edtech industry past, present and future. A summit which continued to set the positive agenda for edtech policy and practice.

The summit brought together policy-makers, start-ups, scale-ups and industry, to learn, share and advance the edtech sphere.Whatever the lense that was being looked through - be it the lense of government policy, classroom practice, primary education, HE or FE, school leadership or classroom delivery - the conversations ebbed and flowed and mostly followed the same themes - there will be and have been failures, there will be and have been massive successes, but overwhelmingly the future is bright and the industry is growing at a spectacular rate; there is more and more investment in edtech both in financial and human form, and across all the seminars the message was clear - for edtech to be succesful, we have to work on creating the right conditions for it to succeed: in this respect, some talked about infrasturcture, some about training, some about investment, but all of these contribute to creating the right conditions for success. Or as Mark Martin aka @Urban_Teacher put it, "Edtech isn't just a helpful tool but a seed that you can nurture and grow! But in order for it to flourish it needs the right conditions,"





Shahneila Saeed, Head of Education, UKIE & Director of Digital Schoolhouse backed that up but in terms of pedagogy, and that no matter what the resource you use, be it edtech or otherwise, it is not so much the resource but the way in which it is used that makes a difference.




Mark Anderson aka @ICTEvangelist talked about teacher training and how increased confidence in using tech helps move teachers into mastery, impact and innovation when using technology and away from simply surviving.




And this was all supercharged from the top down by National Technology Advisor to HM Government's Liam Maxwell explaining how government policy is trying to help create the right conditions for edtech to flourish (as recently reflected in The Budget), both now and in the future.

Throughout all of these sessions, I kept relating back to my own experiences of classroom edtech - the funding I have been offered for buying equipment, the training and time I received to develop myself and others, the confidence I had in using the equipment either myself or with a classroom of children - ie the conditions that I have experienced through my teaching career in terms of using technology. Thankfully they have been mostly positive. It also made me reflect on DRET's vision and delivery of eLearning and edtech, of which I am part of and have helped shape -  and what stands out for me is the similarities, in that that where possible, we are striving to create the right conditions for edtech to flourish in much the same way:

Where possible we are replacing old technology with a thoughtful replacement based on what job the equipment needs to do - Star Classroom being a prime example of this. We are also investing heavily in the infrastructure of our schools, upping bandwidths and connectivity for example.
Through the eLearning Team we offer training and workshops such as Basecamp, Challenge for eLearning and our suite of Core Awards - all of which have been curated with staff and students in mind and are aimed at using technology effectively, picking the right tool for the job and building digital skills. We offer bespoke coaching sessions either in person or via video link-up, for individuals or teams based on their needs. (This is the most important one in terms of building confidence and matching technology to pedagogy for maximising classroom impact for me)
We have an eye on the future in terms of evolving technology use but are also aware of the day to day needs of staff and students (how can Google Drive help move us away from memory sticks and external hard drives being a current example). 
I could go on...

I came away from the summit full of positivity. Not only was it an inspiring day, but it was also a reassuring one in terms of the direction that eLearning is going within DRET: we reflect industry best practice in terms of striving to create the best conditions for technology to make the most impact - funding, opportunity, equipment, training and confidence building. What is also reassuring for me is that the Trust itself has put value in edtech and eLearning in the very fact that we have an eLearning Team - there are plenty of other establishments out there that don't and suffer the consequences that follow large tech investment without training pathways or skill building. 

These views are of course my own - and there is always room for improvement - but as a former classroom teacher who has experienced both sides of the coin in terms of the right conditions for success, it feels like we are well on the right path to making sure that technology is used confidently and is effective, meaningful, and impactful - and isn't just a shiny marketing ploy.




Monday, 13 November 2017

New Online Course - Communications

We have another new online course available for you this week called Communications. This course is aimed at new staff that may not be familiar with the communication services we provide at DRET. The key services the course covers are using O365 email on the web, using the calendar and how to use Yammer to enable better communication across teams. This course may also be useful if you are used to using the Outlook desktop app and want to see what the web version also has to offer. Yammer is also a great tool to use across teams, especially if you are working and communicating with people in other schools.

The course will only take approximately 30 minutes to complete and has lots of helpful video guides that you can refer back to at any time. You will also be awarded a certificate after successfully completing the course.

To sign up for this online course fill out this form and select the Communications course. If you are interested in any of the other courses available on the form, you can sign up for more than one by filling out the form again. When you fill out the form you will be given a course code, which you then need to access the course. You can do this by going to Google Classroom, selecting Join Class (+ button at the top) and entering in the course code. You will then have access to the course - don't worry though there is no time limit and you can complete it at your pace.


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Come and get your Memory Stick Withdrawal jabs

With pen drives and external storage on their way out after Christmas, we are doing an increasing number of whole school, team and departmental 'Google Drive Essentials' training sessions.
We are finding that what works well after these sessions is as a follow-up: to offer drop-in 'clinics' whereby anyone with any further questions, problems or issues can drop in and get help from a member of the eLearning team. It's a great combination: initial input en-masse,  then staff get a chance to go away and try it out, then come back to us a week or so later with any individual queries or questions, or for those that really want to take things further, some next steps; it also allows teams to give some thought as to how they want to use Google Drive and come back with questions on how to achieve their goals.

Today we are at Malcolm Arnold Academy, and the walk-in clinic is open. No appointment necessary!



Is your team prepared for life after pen drives? We are here to help.

Please get in touch with me, Guy or Yasmin to arrange whole school, team or departmental training - be it teaching staff, students or admin teams. If you have already had this type of training and would appreciate a follow-up clinic then we can make that happen before Christmas.

If you need a refresher without human interaction - we have plenty of training videos on our training channel on DRET.TV  that should be a good reminder or starting point.

Monday, 6 November 2017

New Online Course - Working in the Cloud

We now have a new online course called Working in the Cloud, which takes you through all the basic features of using Google Drive to store your files. This course is useful for anyone that is looking to ditch the memory stick and move to a secure cloud-based storage system. Google Drive is a great tool that lets you store and share files and folders with staff and students, it’s completely secure and can be accessed at school and at home - in fact anywhere you have an internet connection!


The course will take approximately 1 hour to complete and has lots of helpful video guides to show you how to setup Google Drive. There is also a practical task at the end of the course so you can get used to using it for storing, organising and sharing. You will also be awarded a certificate after successfully completing the course.

To sign up for this online course fill out this form and select the Working in the Cloud course. If you are interested in any of the other courses available on the form, you can sign up for more than one by filling out the form again. When you fill out the form you will be given a course code, which you then need to access the course. You can do this by going to Google Classroom, selecting Join Class (+ button at the top) and entering in the course code. You will then have access to the course - don't worry though there is no time limit and you can complete it at your pace.



Friday, 3 November 2017

500 not out!



This week has been a brilliantly busy one with plenty of eLearning training going on across the Trust.

Yesterday's session at Malcolm Arnold Academy, for example, involved all staff - over 80 people - taking part in a Google Drive Essentials training session in preparation for life after memory sticks and external hard drives. Likewise, over 50 members of staff at Humberston Academy and Skegness Grammar School earlier on in the week took part in Google training. Wednesday saw a group of staff at Lodge Park Academy taking part in a Star Classroom Essentials workshop which enabled staff with new Star Classrooms to use the equipment effectively.

To date this academic year we have now issued over 500 eLearning awards! There are plenty more in the pipeline too, with two Challenge for eLearning cohorts set to start soon and many more training events planned. Next week we are excited to be working with the Core Team's HR department, exploring Google Forms and its benefits.

We are also pleased to announce that we have increasing numbers of Google Certified Educators and Microsoft Innovative Educators in our ranks across the Trust - with more teachers passing their exams this week. Our congratulations to all those who have achieved these external awards.

If you would like more information on DRET's eLearning Awards, you can go to awards.dret.cloud. If you are interested in eLearning training or arranging Core Awards for your team, then please get in touch.