Neither fish nor Flash, nor good red herring

Goodbye Flash. Hello. Enable. Disable. Splutter, cough, wheeze…

Tech giants have long agreed that Flash (an outdated technology that has been used to deliver interactive online content) is to be confined to history at some point in 2019 or 2020. Adobe, its makers, agree and big companies such as Google have helped to speed-up its demise by making Flash harder to use from their Chrome web browser. Developers are also happy to say goodbye and switch over to its replacement; HTML5. The problem? This switch and change hasn’t been fully communicated to end users, such as teachers, and it’s causing a number of problems.

Read more…

National Coverage of Digital Leaders

Digital Leaders Logo

Digital Leaders are a common sight in most secondary schools. The team of students who are assigned as digital leaders are usually expected to help with a range of IT based tasks. For example, assist with computer based learning, provide assemblies in e-safety and/or be a friendly face to the less technical minded students. I was therefore flattered and surprised when I was contacted by The Times to discuss the Digital Leaders programme that I have put together.Read more…

Students: You don’t need an iPhone!

Hand holding device“What laptop should I buy for my son/daughter/grandchild?”. This is a question I am asked at least once every week or several times a week when Christmas is on the horizon. I’m always very happy to chat with anyone who wants my tech advice. I’ll listen to their requirements and make a couple of suggestions for them to consider. Conversely, no-one has ever asked me what mobile phone they should buy for a child. Consider this – the phone will be used umpteen times a day whereas the laptop is often only going to be used at home and for usually the same purpose each time i.e. using the internet, writing an essay or creating a presentation. Therefore, why does no-one want my advice on something that’s going to get used more and cost two, three or even four times that of a decent Chromebook or suitably cheap laptop?

I recently undertook a survey to find out more about student mobile phone usage. The results make very interesting reading…Read more…

Essential Spreadsheet Formulas for Teachers

Spreadsheet formulas for teachersSpreadsheet formulas are essential knowledge for teachers. Whether you’re using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, its likely that you’re going to number-crunch some data using one of these apps during the academic year. They both come pre-loaded with a dizzying amount of formulas that you can tap into. Most you’ll never use (unless you decide to leave the teaching profession and become an accountant) but there are seven essential formulas that will help you get the most from the those exam analyses and baseline data tables. Whether you’re new to spreadsheet formulas or need a refresher, here are the most useful formulas teachers will need to use…Read more…

School Email: 9 Top Tips for Teachers & Students

school emailStaff and students are expected to be fully conversant with school email. Not only do users need to check their email regularly enough so that they don’t miss important announcements but they also have to understand and apply the complex landscape of netiquette, respond to emails quickly (and politely) and action any instructions that they receive. Being on top of your email inbox has never been so important in schools. So why, whenever I help a member of staff or a student, do they have an email account that is bursting at the seams with often more than 1000 emails in their inbox? It seems that how email is managed in schools is, well, often not managed well.

The following list of 9 top-tips could make your use of school email even easier, more efficient and slightly less stressful. The following never gets taught to email users. Why? I’ve no idea as my suggestions are key to ensuring that school email users are getting the most from this core communication tool.Read more…

Display Boards 2.0: Upgrade your Classrooms with Augmented Reality

Example Classroom Noticeboard (courtesy: http://mariya2387.wikispaces.com/)Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours putting up displays in classrooms and corridors. Unfortunately, I’ve never actually seen anyone stop, read, and enjoy the content on any of my boards. I’ve also grown weary of that pesky small tear that inevitably appears in the bottom corner of my boards, which rapidly spreads like a crack in a car windscreen, due to students picking at it or the careless brushing of chairs and schoolbags against it. I’ve tried so hard to get a ‘wow-factor’ display every time but I fear that boards are so ubiquitous, they are lost among all of the other classroom and corridor display board offerings.  If I were to be really cynical, I’d say that display boards are not for the students at all but to merely make schools look attractive for Governors, prospective parents and alumni.  Whatever the reason, it’s time to upgrade those 2D display boards and bring them to life with Augmented Reality!

Read more…

Pokemon Go (and never come back?)

img_3510Pokemon Go is everywhere. It’s been in the news, discussed and dissected in blogs, highlighted as an e-Safety concern for children, advertised in Churches, created additional workload for emergency workers, provided work for ‘professional‘ Pokemon Go hunters and has helped discovered a dead body. Oh, there’s even some people playing it. The summer of 2016 will be remembered for, technology speaking, the release of Pokemon Go. I haven’t heard this much fuss about an app since, well, the last big app.

Whatever your thoughts about Pokemon Go, it has certainly caught the imagination of young and old, male and female, technophiles and technophobes everywhere. Now that it’s been downloaded more than 500 million times, the simple question is “was it worth it”? Did all the debate and endless speculation about the game just encourage more people to download it? Did its innovative use of Virtual Reality really change the gaming landscape forever? or will it be another Angry Birds, a highly successful game that quickly lost its appeal? Read more…