classroom

How to Evaluate iPad use in Education

iPad

iPad

(UPDATE: Read the final report and evaluation)

We are currently running an iPad trial at school and investigating their effectiveness for teaching and learning.

In order to fully understand the impact of these devices it is important to evaluate their use.

I created two evaluations. One for students to fill out once and one for teachers to fill out. These were created in Google Forms and a short cut was added to the iPad to make it easier for students to access.

It was important to me that the evaluations were short to encourage staff and students to fill them out.

Once the evaluation period is over, I will use the evaluations to help formulate a report.

The PDF evaluations are below:

Teacher Evaluation

Students Evaluation 

The great thing about Google Forms is that it is free, plus it gives you a great summary of results  with a selection of graphs.

There is room for both Computing and ICT in the schools

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

This article was originally published by The Guardian on 13th February 2013

After Michael Gove’s speech at BETT last year I wrote my first ever Guardian Teacher Network article, entitled Is Gove washing his hands of ICT. Just over a year later, it is clear that Gove has indeed washed his hands of the subject that myself and my students love. ICT has been rebranded as computing. Back in May, I asked the question ‘Is it time to rebrand ICT?’, changing it to computing was not what I had in mind. I was hoping for something more progressive. The change came as a surprise to me and many other ICT teachers. Especially, when you consider that the draft programme of study (POS) back in November was still called ICT.

So, why am I so upset about the announcement?

Firstly, I would like to say that I am completely in favour of teaching computing.

I have been actively adding more and more computing into my curriculum for several years. In my current curriculum I teach programming, internal computer components as well as computing history. This will be further developed next year. As is the case with all good teachers, my curriculum is evolving all the time. However, what you will notice is that it runs alongside ICT.

The current draft POS, is a real let down to ICT teachers and their students across the country. There needs to be room for both computing and ICT. In fact I firmly believe that we are robbing our students, if the current draft stays how it is. Obviously, computer scientists will most likely disagree with me. But isn’t it our job as educators to prepare all students for the digital world they are living in? I have taught students of all abilities in both comprehensive and independent schools. It is safe to say that I think it will help ‘some’ who eventually enter a career in computer science, but will hinder many more when they realise they are being taught things that are of little relevance to them. It is important to get the balance right. It is important not to restrict our student’s digital education. Let’s improve the ICT curriculum, but let’s think of the students and not pander to lobbying from outside interests.

There is also a worry that there will not be enough curriculum time to deliver the new KS3 POS. Will schools start taking time from maths, English and science? Of course not, how can they? Did those fighting for this change think of this? Did they even care about it? People who are not teachers or do not work in education rarely think about these things. Not when they have their own agenda to think about.

Perhaps the most potent and universally recognised issue with the change to computing is training. There are thousands of ICT teachers who will require CPD if they are to deliver the new programme of study. The government is going to have to supply free training to current teachers and schools will need to free up time to allow this to happen. Then there are our future ‘computing’ teachers. Will the government be able to recruit enough teachers to be able to actually teach this new curriculum? As the UK is currently facing a shortfall in computer science teachers, where will this leave the subject over the next few years? I suspect, in limbo. Maybe all those non-teachers, pushing for the change, should give up their jobs to become computing teachers.

I suspect, if the draft stays as it is, we will see a fallout in several years time. My prediction would be that the majority of students leaving schools will not be equipped for most workplaces. How many employers will care if their employees can:

“…explain how data of various types can be represented and manipulated in the form of binary digits including numbers, text, sounds and pictures, and be able to carry out such manipulation by hand.” – Extract from the new KS3 POS.

So what would I like to see?

I would like to see a new POS that gives students a rounded digital education.

At the moment there is only a tip of the hat to ICT. This is not right. It should include equal parts of digital literacy, digital citizenship, digital creativity and computing. Lets not forget who are the most important people in this educational conundrum. A curriculum at KS3 that is too heavily weighted to computing is doing our children a disservice and perhaps may even put them off pursuing it at KS4 and 5.

There are a lot of ICT teachers doing exciting and innovative things. I attended the RethinkingICT conference last year and it was inspiring for all who attended. So many ideas, so much to look forward to.

What has transpired recently is that students and teachers have been overlooked, in favour of what I believe, to be private interest. I feel personally betrayed by this change, remember this comes from someone who sees the value of computing and believes it is an important part of ICT. In my opinion the changes are myopic and done for the wrong reasons.

I hope that Mr Gove thinks again. I hope that the final version of the POS takes my article and the swathe of dissenting voices into account. I hope it does the right thing for the young people of this country.

iTunesU Course Manager (VIDEO)

I will admit that this is not the most exciting video I have ever posted! However, it does give you an idea how the iTunes U Course Manager works and how easy it is.

It is probably not a good idea to make a video when you need sleep. Oh well…enjoy!

Students setting up their Raspberry Pi (Video)

This is a quick video showing some of my students setting up the Raspberry Pi at our lunchtime club.

They have really enjoyed coming in and putting everything together. Once they are good to go, I have given them an iPad with Readdledocs (now called Documents) installed. In the App I have supplied them with PDFs of some Python resources, that they are using for programming. The students can then annotate the PDF and make notes.

Today was excellent and there was some real collaberation, problem solving and fun going on.

NearPod for iPad: Revolutionise presentations and AFL in the classroom

Students watching a video

Students watching a video

Today I tried out the NearPod App in a PSHE lesson.

I have pretty excited about this for a while and I have finally got around to testing it in the classroom.

For those who don’t know what NearPod is – check out this link.

So before the lesson I created my PowerPoint, converted it to PDF, uploaded it to NearPod and added the interactive elements (polls, quizzes and video). I had enough iPads for each student in class, which was perfect. However, this morning I was asked if I could have another class in my room with me. I only teach PSHE in half classes, but the added students meant I would have one iPad between two. It turns out, this wasn’t a massive problem, although less than ideal.

Once the students came in, I handed out the iPads and explained what would happen in the lesson. The topic I am working on at the moment is the death penalty. NearPod allows you to send a presentation directly to the students iPads.

NearPod was great and the ability to guide students through the presentation, while walking around the classroom was excellent. Of course the power comes from the interactive elements of the presentation. I was able to ask the students if they agreed with the death penalty by sending a poll to their iPads. The results came to my device and I was able to share the overall results with the students at the push of a button.

We then looked at why people do/don’t agree with the death penalty. Once we had done that and had a clash discussion, I then sent a quiz to their iPads. Again, I could share the overall results with each studemt. However, the students can see their own individual results on their iPads.

The ability to do this is great for AFL. You can also export the results and keep them on record.

Finally, I had embedded a video in the presentation.

I shared the video to their iPads. Every student was able to watch the video, on their iPads, at the same time. Excellent!

Apart from a few issues with WiFi on a couple of the iPads, NearPod worked perfectly. The students were engaged and really enjoyed using it. I can really see how great this is for teaching and learning.

The Biology department plan to use NearPod in lessons after half term. I’m looking forward to seeing how they get on.

I will post a video of a NearPod presentation soon, so those who have not seen it can see it in action.

iPad Launch to all staff- INSET: How it worked (Resources Included)

A photo taken just before the INSET began.

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On Friday 28th of September we finally launched our iPad trial to all staff. There was only about 3 weeks to organise the event, but the whole thing went very well. Staff left excited, inspired and full of ideas. It really was an outstanding day!

The Build Up

After the summer holidays, I came back to school with the exciting prospect of our iPad trial. However, I realised how much work there was to do. Planning the launch to HoDs as well as organising a whole school INSET was pretty stressful. Luckily, the Asst Head (teaching and learning) was amazing and really helped organise everything. I have talked briefly about the launch to HoDs (2 weeks before the INSET for the whole school) in a previous post, so I will say very little about it here.

I really wanted the INSET to be an event. My idea was based around an Apple style keynote presentation. A few weeks before the INSET I spoke to several members of staff about ideas I had about Apps for T&L. I then asked if they would like to take part in the INSET, by showcasing not only the App, but how it can be used to enhance T&L, inspire and engage students.This would, of course involve speaking infront of the whole school. The teachers I asked jumped at the chance. The idea was to show all staff how other teachers would use the iPad by showcasing inspiring and innovative uses. This is far better than me and the Assistant Head getting up and talking at staff for 4 hours.

Once the speakers were organised I put a schedule together. To stick with the idea of a keynote event, I put together an online flyer using www.smore.com which was sent to all staff. You can see it HERE. I have removed full names.

The event was now organised. Before the INSET, the Assistant Head made some tweaks to the HoD launch presentation and we were almost good to go!

What I have not mentioned yet was how we would display the iPad screen in the theatre, where the INSET was taking place. This was perhaps the part of organising the event that was the most stressful.

My initial idea was to use an Apple TV to mirror the iPads wirelessly to the projector. Annoyingly, the Apple TV and our wireless network did not play nicely together. The IT team at school spent a week and a bit sorting it out, and to my relief they got it to work! Woo hoo! The last thing I wanted was to have the iPad wired to the projector.

What I eventually did was to use my MacBook Pro and the Reflections App to mirror my iPad. It worked slightly better for my needs as I was able to save the Keynote presentations as well as App videos on my Mac in case everything went wrong.

Before the INSET I also talked to our Theatre Manager and got him onboard with the lighting. It was very important to me that the lighting was right. The stage needed to be light, the screen needed to be dark and the audience needed to be atmospheric.

Staff was ready to go, tech was ready to go, I was ready to go.

The day of the INSET.

The theatre at 8am. One hour before launch.

The staff taking part in the INSET arrived at 8am and we checked the iPads and other bits of tech worked. Apart from a few hiccups it was fine.

At 9am the rest of the school staff arrived and I was nervous. In fact, I think all those speaking were nervous too.

First up was the Assistant Head, who went through the presentation below.

It was a great set up for the rest of the morning. The plenary slide, was obviously used at the end of the morning in the conclusion.

Next up was Tim (Physics), who showcased how he would use SolarWalk and why. Then Amy (History) and Graham went through Timeline: World War 2. A truly awesome App.

Helen (Library) then demonstrated and explained an amazing interactive magazine App that she had created herself using Adobe InDesign. She had used it for open evening and students and parents were blown away by it.

The last person before break was Jason (Music) who went through several creative music Apps. Guest post by Jason coming soon.

Break

The first App we showcased after the break was perhaps one of my favourites. Certainly one I think that can change the way iPads are used in the classroom – NearPod. This was a really interactive and fun session led by Mike (Biology). Everyone in the room were seriously blown away by the session.

Mike demonstrating NearPod.

The last person to showcase some Apps was me. I am not sure how everyone else was feeling but I was pretty nervous.

My session was on non subject specific Apps. Using Blooms Taxonomy of Apps I demonstrated 6 Apps that could be used across the curriculum. It was great to see in the afternoon INSET some teachers using the Apps I had demonstrated. Certainly put a smile on my face.

After my session, Graham concluded the INSET and we spent the last 30 minutes answering questions and talking to departments.

All-in-all an incredible morning.

When I went up to the staffroom for lunch afterwards I saw something amazing…members of staff sat around a table all with iPads, completely ignoring a massive tray of biscuits! Brilliant.

Thanks:

I wanted to thank Mark Anderson (@ictevangelist) and Daniel Edwards (@syded06) for their advice over the last few months. Cheers fellas.

Is it time to rebrand ICT?

This blog was originally published by The Guardian on 30th May 2012 and is an update of a previous post on this blog.

When I did my GTP several years ago I did next to no training in computing. As we all know the curriculum was very much ICT-based and that was fine with me. The skills I have very much fitted in with the curriculum I had to teach.

Things are now changing. Gove has told teachers that they don’t have to stick to the old curriculum. Over the past year and a half I have been able to teach my own curriculum anyway, as I have moved to an independent school. But it has been made very clear there is a need to teach computing in schools before KS4.

I agree this should happen, and it’s very exciting. However, it is also quite intimidating. I have spent almost seven years (including my training) teaching ICT with very little computing. Where do I go from here? Well, I have already started teaching visual programming usingKodu. I am also in the middle of writing a computer science scheme of work to be delivered next year. This will teach students how computers, smartphones and tablets work.

Is this enough? Like many ICT teachers I do not have a lot of curriculum time compared to other subjects. It would be a shame if state schools were forced to drop ICT and only deliver computing because of a lack of time. In fact, we would be doing our students a disservice.

Like many others I need guidance.

My biggest worry is programming. The reason I didn’t choose programming at university was because I find it very difficult. For me it is like learning a new language. I am very much of the opinion programming is not for everyone. Although, I understand it is very important.

I am sure there are other teachers like me who do not program. If the government want programming in schools they are going to need to stump up some money for training courses.

There is a danger that if teachers need retraining, courses will be supplied by large corporations like Microsoft or Google. Can we trust them to give teachers the training they need or will they simply take the money and create training that directly benefits them?

However, over the last few weeks I have been using Codecademy to learn Java Script and to become more proficient in HTML and CSS. This is free and has been fantastic. Hopefully, this will allow me to deliver more programming next year. Perhaps we do not need to pay for training and we can train ourselves?

If all students were taught to be programmers throughout their school lives would we find masses of them out of work? There are only so many jobs available. The people who will benefit the most will be those paid to write computing courses.

There has to be room for both ICT and computer science.

Students should able to choose between the two, certainly at KS4 or 5. After all students are able to choose which languages they learn or sciences they study.

We need both to be exciting and engaging. Teachers in different schools need to be sharing resources and schemes of work. Many are already, certainly the teachers I know. If we are to change the way ICT is perceived we need to be constantly evolving. If we want to incorporate computer science into schools we need innovative ways to teach it communicated to all.

Conferences like the Guardian Teacher Network’s Teaching Computer Science in Schools are important ways for people in education to get together and discuss what the future holds. These are great as long as teachers are allowed to get time out of school. I fear many may not.

I would also very much like to rebrand ICT, for me it is old fashioned. Perhaps “digital literacy” would be more appropriate?

There are several teachers who I follow on Twitter working on Digital Studies. Is that the rebrand we need? I don’t think there is one answer but I would certainly like to rebrand ICT at my school.

In conclusion, I am looking forward to including computer science into my curriculum. It is intimidating but a great opportunity for personal development. Now I must find the time to teach myself what I now must deliver. Finding the time in an already incredibly busy job may be toughest task of all.