Training Teachers in Mobile Learning: Final update

Sir Jonathan North Community College have been working on a BSF ICT Innovation Project which aims to develop staff pedagogy in the delivery of content and resources to students in a familiar and accessible manner; enhancing teaching and learning through the innovative apps and working practices available, and developing teacher’s pedagogy around new digital technologies.

The project has now come to an end, and here Pat Thompson, Peter Guthrie and Andy Herickx - members of the project team, provide a final update:

Image shared under a creative commons license by Tatsuo Yamashita

Image shared under a creative commons license by Tatsuo Yamashita

Overall Project Summary

The whole staff has been trained on using iPads in lessons, all curriculum areas have borrowed a staff iPad for experimentation, New technologies group is piloting projects to be shared with teams and Curriculum Team Leaders group in preparation for major BSF iPad roll-out, most technical issues have been overcome and the experience of the set we have had has proven invaluable as we move towards the large scale deployment through BSF.

 1.      Staff development

iPads have remained a key focus of our training this term. All teachers have now received training on using iPads in lessons, with the new technologies innovation group spending significant time planning, training and experimenting with the devices.  Our strategy has shifted towards this innovation group for the future so that teachers are able to spend time developing projects and experiments with the devices before feeding back to a group that will disseminate across the staff.

2.      Student involvement

A lunchtime news reporting club has been established with a target group of Y9 students, with the aim being to develop their independent learning skills alongside their ICT.

This group has also been augmented with a number of Y7 students and has proven exceptionally popular with students.


 3.      Teaching and Learning

Below are some apps which we have been using this term.

App Subject areas Detail Feedback
Comic life Cross curricular App that produces high quality comic books/posters. Whole staff training has been focussed on this. Used successfully in many subjects and with Y7 on a Geography field trip to conkers.
iMovie Cross curricular Simple and intuitive video editing tool. Used in a variety of subjects to produce high quality films/trailers very quickly. Downloading these films is currently an issue.
Coach’s eye PE, dance, drama A coaching aid to improve performance. Regularly used in PE, Dance, Drama
garageband music Now free with iOS7 The pilot of this was so successful our Expressive Arts team have purchased 10 iPads for class use.
educreations Cross curricular Easy tool to create short lessons to allow flipped lessons. ICT have successfully trialled flipped lessons and have shared their progress using educreations with the Innovation group
Lemonade tycoon Computing Great way to explore modelling and input/outputs of models, making and testing predictions Used very successfully in Computing with clear improved outcomes for students
Move the Turtle Computing A nice introduction to programming and logical reasoning Helped to develop logical reasoning and problem solving skills and led to improved outcomes in scratch programming.
Codea Computing Used in GCSE Computing to explore programming theory – abstraction, iteration, recursion etc. Mixed response with students and a new language to learn for teacher, though it was highly motivating once the steep learning curve had been ascended.
Pixel Press Floors Computing Used in Y7 lessons to extend logical thinking and programming skills through game design Very well received, though the process wasn’t immediately intuitive.  Most extending through the design process quite quickly, though.

  4.      Operational issues

We continue to experience a number of teething issues and our digital arts technician has spent significant time on researching and overcoming these issues. An account of these is detailed below, an update from our previous report, in order that other schools will benefit.

a.      Volume licencing

Volume licencing typically offers a 50% discount but is not compatible with iOS7. Fortunately Apple have just introduced a way round this in the UK. This is not straightforward and involves purchasing credit from Apple which can then be redeemed within 30 days on any app with 50% discount, but is a workable solution.

b.      File storage/retrieval

Getting files off iPads still is not straightforward and we have not got a universal solution. We have now overcome the Google drive issue so this is a good solution for most apps, as the students have all got google drive accounts in order to use our chromebooks.  Unfortunately comic life and iMovie, our most successful cross curricular apps, do not allow the option to save to google drive. We are now researching webdav as an alternative, so students can save and retrieve their own files. Dropbox works with comic life, and this is our current method, but as this is accessed via a central dropbox account, this is a long winded workaround.   Therefore getting work off devices remains a problem, although we are hopeful that this situation will be resolved long term either through BSF or Apple improving their Airdrop software to allow files to be transferred easily from the iPads to a teacher PC/Mac. We envisage this problem will be solved when BSF has been fully implemented, as the solution from Jigsaw should allow all of our iOS devices to connect to the network effectively and thus relieve the problem.

Next Steps

We are at an interim stage with iPad deployment as the BSF ICT solution will be implemented from September.  We have trained our entire staff on using iPads in lessons with a number of success stories coming from a range of curriculum areas.  We have overcome a number of issues technically, but still find that some very useful apps are not easy to retrieve work from – this means that students are engaged working and produce quality work, but we are unable to evidence it.  We will continue to experiment with solutions to the problems and train our staff, but the focus will shift from whole staff training to through the specialist new technologies group and 1 to 1 training as required.

Posted in Innovation Projects | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

College Leader - New Technology Project

Another of BSF ICT Innovation projects provides us with an update today. The College Leader project is led by Tony Tompkins, ICT Strategy Coordinator at The City of Leicester College. The project consists of three distinct strands:

1) Funding the post for College Leader - New Technology

2) Running 6 x 2hr training sessions on each of the DigiLit Leicester Strands.

3) Providing up to 10 hours release time for a number of staff to run a small innovation project, making better use of existing technology.

Here, Tony provides an update on the project so far:

College Leader post

In September 2012, the College created the role of “College Leader – New Technology”, a temporary secondment to the leadership team.  The secondment was originally meant to run for four terms as part of the BSF process, to help with the visioning for New Technology and to contribute towards the ICT solution design process for the new build.  This secondment was due to finish in December 2013.

Once we arrived in our new building, it became increasingly clear that there was need for the role to continue, to ensure that the college received value for money from its managed services and also to lead on staff development to ensure that we made full use of the new technology delivered through BSF.

Thanks to the additional funding made available through the BSF ICT Innovation fund, the College was able to extend the temporary Secondment of College leader - New Technology for a further two terms beyond its original 4 term remit.  As a direct result of this extra time, we were able to better support the bedding-in process of the new ICT solution, which has been quite problematic and has required much more management than the College was expecting.

Also during the extra two terms, the College have been able to create a new permanent post of "ICT Strategy Coordinator" at leadership level, and have successfully appointed to this role.  The post holds overall responsibility for the strategic direction and development of New Technology within the college and will also lead on CPD aimed at boosting the skills of our staff team.  The additional funding has helped bridge this period and provided continuity, allowing the College to continue to develop its effective use of ICT to support teaching and learning.

DigiLit Training Sessions

We have thus far managed to deliver 3 out of the 6 training sessions aimed at moving staff on to the next level of competency within each DigiLit strand.  The original intention was to use the funding provided to pay for release time for staff to attend the training sessions. However, this was proving extremely difficult to schedule and was delaying the sessions. We decided instead to run them as two hour twilight sessions, running from 3:30 - 5:30pm, and to pay attending staff additional hours.

The twilight sessions proved extremely popular, if a bit tiring, and all were fully booked out.  We gave priority to staff who identified as "Entry" or "Core" by asking Lucy Atkins from the DigiLit project to mail shot these staff directly with a priority invitation.  The sessions were created and delivered by our own Pioneer level staff, and tailored to suit the technology and software available within school.  We focused predominantly on SharePoint, and use of iPads as these are key parts of our ICT strategy and least familiar with our staff.

The 3 sessions run were on the following DigiLit strands:

- Creating and Sharing

- Communication, Collaboration and Participation

- Technology supported Professional Development

Evaluation of all 3 sessions was extremely positive, with most staff rating the sessions as Outstanding and all staff rating them Good or better.  Where sessions were criticised, it was mainly around the fast pace and the desire to fit a lot into each session.

We have 3 outstanding sessions to deliver in the Autumn term.

Small Innovation Projects

Part of the funding has been used to continue to innovate and develop our use of New Technology across the College.  In January 2014, I requested bids from our staff team to run small innovations projects to develop the use of our existing software and hardware, delivered through the BSF process.

We currently have 6 innovation projects running across the College:

Faculty Project
Business To increase awareness, and then use of the new learning platform that the college is developing – sharepoint- for the business education area, with a view to expanding this to the Business / ADT Hub.
Modern Foreign Languages Develop the use of audio/visual feedback/marking – the use of Show Me app to produce marking that students can respond to


Inclusion Develop the use of laptops, ipads, Apps etc to support SEN students in the class.
Art & Design To develop the use of the Laser Cutter and the software Corel Drawfor use with KS4 & 5 Design Students
Art & Design To develop a ‘Video Resources Bank’ which can be used to;

  • Support progression for different abilities in lessons
  • Demonstrate health and safety with machinery/tools
  • Recap practical tasks – (play on loop as a visual aid)
  • Support learning during cover lessons when the class teacher cannot be present
Business To develop the use of e-beam so that all teachers are confident with all its features and capabilities so that they can save lesson plans, annotated and voice recorded power points and email them out to students.


All the accepted projects use new software or equipment delivered as part of the BSF process.  The successful staff were offered up to 10 hours release time to develop their practice with this New Technology and to create resources for their subject areas to use.

The innovations projects are on-going, though many have been delayed by difficulties with staff taking release time to devote to development of their projects.  This is partly due to their own reluctance to leave exam classes, and partly by constraints from the College due to the amount of cover already taken across the school this year.  We have requested and been granted an extension until autumn half term to allow staff more opportunity to take time and work on their projects.  I will report more fully on the impact of this project in the final report.

Posted in Innovation Projects | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Investigating SharePoint as a Learning Environment: Training

Back in December Peter Williams, Maths teacher at The City of Leicester College, embarked upon an individual innovation project to investigate the use of SharePoint (part of the Office 365 package) as an alternative Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for the school. Peter's project is now coming to a close, and before he submits his final reflections on the project, he wanted to shared a brief update on the training he has provided for both students and staff.

"Having spent time designing and developing our use of SharePoint, there was a clear need to run some training, initially for students on how to access and use SharePoint effectively, and then later for staff across the maths faculty and then the rest of the college on what SharePoint is and how it could be used.

Training up Students

Training students happened within the classroom. I made sure that I planned in activities which would make use of the SharePoint tools regularly so that students would have time to get familiar with SharePoint and begin using it efficiently and often, including outside of our lesson time.

I was able to then spread this training to the whole of year 9 as we run a 10 week carousel during the last part of their year. This meant that over the course of those 10 weeks I taught every year 9 maths group for 2 weeks, so I was able to put together some basic training on SharePoint which could be repeated across an entire year group.

The training lessons were very simple, I set up a handful of tasks for them to complete which introduced them to each different aspect of SharePoint very briefly.  They had an hour to work through the tasks independently, and the students really enjoyed the freedom to explore something new with the help of their peers.  They were tasked with writing an update post on Newsfeed using a specific hashtag, creating folders to store their work in on OneDrive, and accessing 3 different resources which I had created in SharePoint Sites.

This opportunity to introduce SharePoint to a whole year group at once meant that widespread use of the tools happened very quickly, and students were able to begin using these tools, particularly newsfeed, to begin interacting with one another with very little need for prompting from staff.  Many of the students quickly saw the benefit of using OneDrive for their work, and loved the fact that they had permission to use a social network within college.  My hope is that in particular the use of newsfeed will grow dramatically next year as we start extending our device per student programme.

Training up Staff

As well as using SharePoint with my classes, there was also a need to train up other members of the maths faculty on using SharePoint Sites.  The resources I have been working on were previously available on our VLE, and staff wanted to keep using them with their classes.

Because a lot of the resources I put into Sites were already familiar to staff this was done very informally, I only really needed to show them how to access Sites (which is very easy!), and they could work out the rest from there.  This was taken up really well by the rest of the faculty and it quickly became a faculty wide resource used by the majority of staff.  This easy uptake was in part due to the simplicity of using SharePoint, and in part because the staff and students were already familiar with using outlook webmail which is an integrated part of SharePoint, so they were already familiar with parts of the system.

Due to the now widespread use of SharePoint by students across the college, it also became apparent that staff from other areas of the school wanted training on making use of SharePoint.  There were a handful of staff members who were particularly interested in how to use Sites effectively to share resources, and some members of staff had already begun experimenting with OneDrive and Newsfeed to see what they were and how they might be used.

To facilitate this I teamed up with Tony Tompkins who has been working on college-wide new technology projects to organise and run some twilight staff training sessions.  I ran a session focusing specifically on the use of SharePoint for creating and sharing resources which focused primarily on using OneDrive and setting up a SharePoint site, and the following week Tony ran a session on collaborative learning tools which included using OneDrive for collaborative document editing and how to use Newsfeed effectively.

This training was well received and the staff involved have all been very positive about wanting to explore and use these tools as part of their teaching and learning in the next academic year.  I am now in the early stages of working out how to deploy these tools, particularly the use of OneDrive and Newsfeed, across the whole college, which will mean further training for both staff and students and deliberate and intentional inclusion of the tools in our teaching and learning throughout the year.

Working with new technology is often challenging, but my experience with SharePoint through this year has consistently been that once I had done the legwork in setting things up it was always very easy to train up students and staff to use the system.  I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy most jobs have been within SharePoint, and the students have generally adopted the system quickly and really enjoyed using it."

Peter's final project post is due over the next few weeks and will include feedback from students and staff - stay tuned!

Posted in Innovation Projects | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Learning LAST: an update

With the end of the school year only hours away, here in the BSF ICT office we're busy wrapping up and updating information on a number of a our Innovation Projects. One of these is the Making Learning LAST project from Beaumont Leys school. The project focuses on the use of classroom observation technology to deliver three elements of work: supporting self and peer observation and reflection for NQTs and Year 2 teachers, recording teaching materials for use within a flipped classroom approach and creating a bank of good practice resources, for example, starters, plenaries and experiments.

Here Alex Vann, Assistant Head and project lead, provides us with an update on the project's progress:

Image shared under a creative commons license by Ashley Spratt (USFWS)

Image shared under a creative commons license by Ashley Spratt (USFWS)

The Iris system continues to be a huge learning tool for staff at Beaumont Leys School. It is being used extensively by our Teach First, NQT, first and second year teachers to reflect on their teaching.

We have also used the equipment in our professional learning for Lesson Study, a method of professional learning where a particular area of focus is identified by a teacher. Working in triads, a lesson is planned that will enable to teacher to look at the desired area. The students are then the focus of the observation rather than the teacher. Having cameras in the room rather than two other teachers means that the class behaves in a similar manner to normal. There is also then a recording of the lesson which all three can view and discuss and based on this the lesson can be replanned and retaught.

Staff Feedback

“I found that the video system assisted me in 3 main ways:

It allowed me to see students’ reactions when I had my back faced towards them. This helped me with behaviour management and searching for the positions to be standing in while teaching.

As both cameras are interlinked, I had one of the cameras constantly following me around and the other facing the students. This allowed me to spot minor details. For example, from facial expressions, students becoming restless and frustrated due to them not being challenged enough.

It assisted me in analysing my performance in aspects that I felt had more of an impact than being directly fed back from an observer. For example, I found it difficult to keep up with the instructions I was giving out to the students at the pace that I was communicating it to them.”


“Yes would definitely use it again! I think it’s worth having a go because it enables you to reflect more holistically on your lesson and the learning taking place. I think trainees and NQT should definitely have a go. It is very cringe watching it back and the technology is a little bit fiddly, but manageable.”


“I’ve used Iris software twice, first time I had technical issues which meant I couldn’t actually view the observation but the second time was great. The kids are over excited and show off for the first 5-10 minutes but then they forget about it and continue like a normal lesson.”


“The whole experience of watching the lesson back was really useful as it allows you to experience the pace, and flow of the lesson and highlights areas where you realise you were talking too long, explanations were or weren’t clear enough etc... Overall being able to view a lesson over again and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses was really helpful in developing targets and areas to focus on.”


“Using Iris for lesson study was a stroke of genius. We started the cycle looking at how to increase the engagement in a year 10 class and as we sat and watched the lesson back in its entirety we realised that the engagement was actually not an issue, it was something slightly different that we wouldn’t have known about or recognised without the system. Being able to talk with two colleagues whilst watching the actual lessons was an experience that every teacher should have. How many times have you had ‘Real Time’ feedback as it were?”


“The system is amazing, you can view your own lesson where ever, whenever you want. I asked my mentor to watch the video of my teaching. He wrote notes and questions on the video that were time stamped allowing me to see exactly what he meant. For example, I missed an assessment opportunity that he spotted. When it’s pointed out to you and you can see it on the video it becomes so much clearer.”

Flipped Classroom

For the second strand of the project’s work, we approached the science faculty to see if they would be willing to take part in a flipped learning trial. The concept was sold to them (although most knew the general concept), through discussion and by using examples such as these;


We chose the science faculty for the trial as we identified that there are large parts of a typical science lesson that are the acquisition of knowledge before using that learning to enquire and investigate. If the knowledge was acquired pre lesson (or part of the knowledge), the lesson time could be used for the investigation of that learning. More time could be given to group work and hands on enquiry that leads to a deeper level of learning.

That was the plan, unfortunately, flipped learning has not been developed as far as was planned, due largely to time constraints. Enthusiasm still exists for developing a flipped learning scheme of work but we are in the situation of not having a large enough bank of resources available to plan a unit for the trail period to take place. We will continue to work on the resources so that the library grows and we are able to conduct an extensive trial producing evidence that we can use to develop flipped learning further at Beaumont Leys.

Next Steps

We are starting to use the IRIS system to share good practice at Beaumont Leys. We are building the vehicle by which staff access good practice (teachers demonstrating particular aspects of their teaching), videos through SharePoint Sites. The working title is ‘Online PL Library’. We are also linking our library to YouTube videos by academics such as John Hattie therefore signposting their work to our staff. The idea is that staff are set as contributors to the site and can add links to resources they have found, add to discussions, upload documents and generally spark conversation, collaboration leading to improvements to teaching and learning.

Posted in Innovation Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MP6 Final - young people politically speaking

On Friday 27 June, the final of the Member of Parliament's 6 (MP6) political speaking competition took place at Hamilton Community College. The competition is organised by Sera Shortland, the school's Citizenship teacher, in partnership with Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz MP and has been running since 2011. The competition is open to 11 to 16 year olds across the city

'MP6 aims to encourage and develop young people’s political literacy, helping them to understand how politics shapes our everyday lives. Through participation in the MP6 competition and encouraging discussion through online social networking, MP6 aims to increase motivation, skills and knowledge for young people to confidently engage in decision-making processes.'

Sera Shortland

This year, the event was live streamed - with invitations sent out to MPs, including the Prime Minister, to support the young people by watching along.

MP6 Banner

This year the contestants were speaking for four judges:

Cllr Vi Dempster - Councillor for Beaumont Leys, Assistant Mayor and Executive Lead Member for Education & Children's Services.

Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz MP - MP for Leicester East, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee

Professor Rosemary Sage - Professor of Communication in Education, Speech and Language Therapist, Psychologist and Teacher

Anjali Vaz - Daughter of Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz MP

Following an introduction to each of the judges, the contestants took to the stage and began to present their speeches. Six young people from across the city made it to the final:

Alfie Fitch-Critchley


Uppingham Community College

Why should I vote?

Ryanvir Singh


Soar Valley College


Marisa Patel


Sir Jonathan North Community College

Remaining in Europe

Suad Takar


Moat Community College

Importance of voting

Rebecca Stone


Hamilton Community College

The Introduction of ‘British Values’

Isaac Saunders


English Martyrs Catholic School

UKIP – Good or Bad?

It was a difficult call for the judges, with all six contestants speaking clearly and projecting well. They were very impressive and clearly very passionate about their chosen topics. Following each speech, the judges asked a series of questions covering topics such as Labour's Twitter account being hacked and David Cameron's opposition to the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker. The questions were intended to judge the contestant's knowledge of recent political topics as well as their ability to handle questioning.

And the winner was...

3rd Place Marisa Patel
2nd Place Rebecca Stone
1st Place Isaac Saunders

This year the competition was also supported by the BSF ICT Innovation Fund, which has been used primarily to set up a website for sharing information and resources associated with political speaking and the MP6 competition. The funding has also supported staff and student development in the use of iPads for video creation.

You can read more about the project at the MP6 website:

Posted in Innovation Projects | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning at Home and in the Hospital


Learning at Home and in the Hospital (LeHo), is an open education project sponsored by the European Commission, designed to ensure young people’s right to access to education. It focuses on making use of digital environments and tools to meet the needs of learners who aren’t able to access mainstream education, because of the effects of physical and mental illnesses.  

Leicester’s own Children’s Hospital School are the UK Hub for a project partnership which includes teams based in Belgium, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Spain, and forms an international network for home and hospital education through ICT.

The project launched in January 2014, and this month head teacher George Sfougaras and researcher Suzanne Lavelle traveled to Zagreb for the projects second meeting. George Sfougaras said, “We are dedicated to providing an excellent, quality education for those who are currently too unwell to attend their own schools”.

The project will carry out an international review of how technologies are being used to support the education of learner’s who are too ill to physically attend school, and design ICT-based solutions which will enable children in hospital, receiving home therapy, or who attend school part-time due to illness, to access education.

If you are a teacher, medical professional, ICT professional, parent/carer or student involved in home and hospital education, you can get involved by joining one of the projects national or international groups.

Posted in CPD & Innovation, Network Learning & Communities | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Quick Key to deploy and analyse high quality diagnostic assessment items in geography

The geography department at Soar Valley College have been working together to evaluate the use of the Quick Key app for supporting formative assessment practices. Quick Key uses technology similar to optical mark recognition to speed up the process of capturing formative assessment information. The key focus of the project is the use of formative assessment strategies for informing and improving instruction.

Simon Renshaw, project lead, has compiled a detailed report on the department's work- including information on forming hinge questions and feedback gathered from learners - a brief summary of the project can also be found below.

Using Quick Key to deploy and analyse high quality diagnostic assessment items in geography

Developing Hinge Questions

High quality diagnostic assessment items, such as hinge questions have the potential to elicit evidence of student achievement so that subsequent instruction can be improved by signposting where intervention is required to maximise learning gains at both a student and whole class level.

On his blog, history teacher Harry Fletcher-Wood describes a hinge question as a technique which allows the teacher to check for understanding at a ‘hinge-point’ in a learning sequence, because of two inter-linked meanings:

(1)  It is the point where you move from one key idea/activity/point on to another.

(2)  Understanding the content before the hinge is a prerequisite for the next phase of learning.

Hinge questions are multiple choice assessment items which require all students to respond to the question. This then allows the teacher to quickly gather information on how each student is progressing in their understanding. Hinge questions are a powerful pedagogic strategy as their deployment creates an opportunity to make visible to the teacher any (inevitable) unintended misconceptions in student understanding so the teacher can then make adjustments based on the evidence they receive from students.

Quick Key

Quick Key is an app which turns iOS devices into an optical scanner to grade multiple choice assessments on paper, up to 30 questions long. Quick Key also creates reports which allow the teacher to analyse both student and class performance. This data can then also be exported into a spreadsheet format.

The department first decided to work collaboratively to create a suite of multiple choice assessment items as a revision summary for a range of GCSE topics which utilised a hinge question methodology. Several have now been created and have subsequently been hosted on the Internet Geography website and are available for download.

Interestingly, Dylan Wiliam provided a critique of the department’s approach during the project via Twitter and noted that once we moved from using single question items in class to a suite of questions, the description of the assessment items as hinge questions was incorrect. In his view, hinge questions are single question items deployed live in class. Taking his feedback on board, in that sense, what we created for our GCSE students is perhaps better described as “a series of diagnostic questions informed by a hinge question methodology”. However, the data which these assessment items create through Quick Key stays true to the principals of formative assessment in the sense that it rapidly provides exceptionally useful information on which to inform modifications to future instruction.


The BSF innovation project facilitated excellent professional conversations within the project team in relation to developing geographical understanding and pedagogy. The project team’s enthusiasm and commitment to supporting each other as they collaboratively refined their diagnostic assessment items provided fertile ground for professional dialogue throughout the project.

Encouragingly, between November 2013 and May 2014 there have been several opportunities to share project work within and beyond the college.

(1)  The project leader aimed to keep a record of key events and learning on his blog

(2)  On a whole school level, in December the project team were asked to deliver a “By staff, for staff” CPD session on hinge questions and Quick Key. The feedback from the first staff session was overwhelmingly positive and the team have been asked to offer the session again in June.

(3)  Twitter was a spectacular source of inspiration during the project and the Quick Key founder Walter Duncan @4_teachers remains a constant source of positivity and encouragement.

(4)  In March the project lead delivered a 7 minute presentation on our work to date as part of the DigiLit sponsored Teach Meet. The video of the TeachMeet presentation can found here.

(5)  In April, the project also featured as part of a workshop organised by the Geographical Association’s Secondary Phase Committee, at their annual conference at Guildford University.  Again, despite only being a component part of the workshop, the feedback received was encouraging.

Next Steps

Following our second evaluation of the project, the team felt that the purchase of Apple TVs for each iPad would add further value to the project. The rationale here was that displaying correct answers following an assessment, displaying the iPad screen would create a more efficient debrief process post scanning. In addition, displaying whole class results by questions allows students to see how the class performed as a whole. This allows the class to appreciate how they are progressing as a group of learners. Decisions to focus on particular areas for development can then be negotiated rather than dictated by the teacher.

Following engagement with this BSF innovation project, the department feel certain that our new plans for KS3/4 will involve the use of hinge questions and Quick Key to support pupil progress.

Looking ahead, it is inevitable now that geography teachers have iPads as a resource they can deploy, further projects with the iPads will be developed. With such rapid growth in the range of apps which can be used in classrooms coupled with the capacity to display teacher iPad screens to the whole class, this project has provided the resources to support future teaching and learning innovation at Soar Valley.

The project team at Soar Valley would like to thank Lucy, Josie and the wider BSF team for their continued support and words of encouragement throughout the project.

Posted in Innovation Projects | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership Briefings: Flipped Classroom

The DigiLit Leicester team are currently running a series of briefings for school leaders. The briefings are designed to ensure school leaders are aware of and up to date with current, effective approaches to using technology to support learning, teaching and school community development.

Our third briefing was held in May at The City of Leicester College. Denise Sweeney, an Educational Designer from The University of Leicester, led the session which provided an introduction to flipped learning approaches, benefits and practicalities for schools.

'Flipped Classroom' is an overarching term for a range of teaching approaches where students gain exposure to new material outside of classes (typically through video) and then use class time to assimilate, discuss or apply that knowledge (through problem-solving, discussion and debates).

Image shared under a creative commons license by Jackie Gerstein

Image shared under a creative commons license by Jackie Gerstein

Denise's key takeaways from the session were in the form of points to consider:

Homework - The flipped classroom model relies on student completion of homework prior to the lesson. How can you prepare for students who have not completed this work? How can you ensure that the homework you create is accessible for all students?

Homework Quality - No student will find an overly long and detailed video engaging. How much of the subject do you need to cover to prepare students for the lesson? Can the topic be broken down into bitesize chunks?

Production Quality - We would all love to be able to produce videos of a quality to make James Cameron jealous - but in reality do we need to? If the video gets across the key learning messages does it need to be HD quality? Maybe for some topic areas the quality of the video is important, but there will be times when quick and dirty works perfectly well.

Want to find out more? Download the briefing sheet Denise produced for us:

Flipping without flopping: Flipped Classroom Leadership Briefing

Further Resources

Mark Ostler's Flipped Classroom Innovation Project - through an individual award Mark, faculty lead for humanities at St Paul's Catholic School, undertook a short-term project investigating the use of flipped classroom approaches.

Judgemeadow Community College's Science Department YouTube Channel - The science department have been sharing videos with learners, for them to access outside of classroom. These videos cover experiments, calculations and handy tunes for remembering important scientific facts and information. The school also uses a twitter account @JudgemeadowSci to distribute useful snippets of information to learners.

Posted in CPD & Innovation, Space & Place | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Developing Digital Literacy CPD sessions at Babington Community College

In January, Babington Community College began a BSF ICT Innovation Project which aimed to raise awareness of the web-based tools and services available for supporting teaching and learning. Martin Corbishley, the school's Computing Subject Leader, set out to achieve this through the delivery of a set of 8 workshops for school staff, covering a range of topics including; using twitter to extend the classroom and making use of online collaboration tools.

Back in March, Martin shared his thoughts on the initial phase of the project. These can be found here:

Improving Digital Literacy at Babington Community College

The project has now come to an end and here Martin shares his reflections on the project as a whole. A summary can be found below and Martin's full report, including staff feedback on the training, can be downloaded here:

Developing Digital Literacy CPD sessions at Babington Community College

Running the course

The content of the course was intended to show staff what was available online and how it could be used in the classroom.  All resources were designed to be quick to set up, free and easy to use so that they could be implemented straight away into the classroom.

Originally the course was intended to run in school every other week during the Spring term with the distance learning to be completed on the alternate week.  Due to the varied demands on teachers in school it was difficult for all 20 members of staff to attend on the same day so the delivery of the course was instead split into two days running the same session and staff choose the day most suitable for them to attend.  Sessions ran for one hour after school and were delivered solely through the use of the Google Nexus.  The course ran for most of the spring term and into the beginning of the summer term as some sessions had to be postponed due to events on the school calendar.


After completing the course, speaking to staff who took part and reading their feedback from the evaluation I believe the course has been a success but could be improved if it was to be delivered again.

The course structure of eight sessions and a mixture of school based and distance learning could be more concise.  I would suggest a condensed four session program just based in school would be a better model moving forward.  Staff responded well to sessions that provided resources that were easy to use and create and that could be implemented into a wide range of lessons, this included technologies such as Socrative quizzes, Edmodo, Google forms and online collaboration boards.

More time consuming and technically proficient technologies such as creating and using a wiki with a class were less enthusiastically received and involvement on the wiki was limited to just a few queries when teachers struggled to set these up.  I would suggest that using wikis would require a whole series of professional development sessions on its own and was too much to expect people to pick up in a week.  Just using the wiki to deliver the sessions was a better way to introduce teachers to the possibilities of the technology by using it for themselves as the learner.


This course has benefited both the school as a whole and those that took part in developing their digital literacy.  It has opened peoples’ eyes to what is available and how the internet can be used to enhance how we use technology to deliver lessons. The school will benefit because the digital champions who took part will be sharing ideas and resources with their faculties and this will in turn ensure that the technology available in the new school will be used in a more creative and collaborative way.

Next steps

The new condensed four session CPD program as discussed in section 3 will be put forward to the school’s SLT as a proposed inclusion the school’s CPD calendar for the next academic year.  This would be a rolling program so that all staff can complete it in small workgroups.  It is hoped that once all staff have been provided with their individual laptops as part of the new school network they should have the opportunity to have training on how they can plan and deliver lessons with improved digital literacy through the use of Web 2.0 applications.


The wiki with links to all resources created for this course can be found here:

Posted in CPD & Innovation, Innovation Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Childnet STAR Toolkit Launch

STAR ASD esafety project

We’re delighted to be supporting the launch of the Childnet STAR Toolkit – a free online resource that offers practical advice and teaching activities to help secondary schools explore internet safety with young people with autism spectrum disorders.

Developed in partnership with Leicester City Council’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme, the resource was created as part of the DigiLit Leicester project. Childnet worked closely with three of Leicester's BSF schools - Ellesmere College, Nether Hall School and West Gate School, to design the resource. Jill Moult, a teacher at West Gate School, said:

“Teaching internet safety to young people with autism spectrum disorder can be a real challenge. This toolkit will really empower school staff to support young people with ASD to make good choices and keep themselves safe online.”

Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, said:

“The Childnet STAR toolkit is designed to give schools the building blocks they need to develop a tailored approach to online safety for their pupils with ASD. By working with Leicester City Council and three fantastic schools in Leicester we have been able to develop a practical online toolkit that addresses the online risks faced by young people living with autism spectrum disorder, such as cyberbullying, contact by strangers and exposure to inappropriate content. Importantly, this resource is available to all UK schools free online. Through the teaching activity ideas and forum we want to encourage educators across the country to use these resources, and also to feedback and share their ideas and materials so we can collectively and collaboratively provide excellent e-safety education for young people with ASD.”

The Childnet STAR Toolkit

The aim of the Childnet STAR Toolkit is to assist teachers in educating their pupils with ASD about the internet and safeguarding them against online risks.

The four sections SAFE, TRUST, ACTION and RESPECT all feature the concept of friendship and emphasise the importance of finding the balance between online and offline interaction. At the same time, the resource is continually promoting a positive, fun and safe experience for young people with ASD.

The online resource includes a forum to encourage educators to share their teaching ideas and how they have used and adapted the STAR Toolkit in their educational setting. This will provide a platform for sharing best practices in online safety for those working with young people with ASD.

The resource is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Launch event in Leicester

The Childnet STAR Toolkit will be launched on the evening of the 3rd June at an event held at the New Walk Museum in Leicester.

The event will be a chance for educators and industry experts to hear more about how the resource was created and the online experiences of young people with autism spectrum disorder.

The event will be opened by Leicester’s assistant city mayor with responsibility for children, young people and schools, Councillor Vi Dempster, who has highlighted the importance of the resource for schools in Leicester. She said:

“I’m really pleased to be launching this innovative resource as part of our commitment to transform learning through the Building Schools for the Future Programme.

“It’s vitally important that we keep young people safe online. This resource will help to tackle some of the challenges involved in ensuring young learners who could be more vulnerable are aware of the risks.”

“It will help make sure that all our learners get the chance to benefit from the many positive learning opportunities the internet can offer.”

Posted in E-Safety & Cyberbullying | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment