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Entries in learning (3)


Digital Displays - No More Backing Paper or (in future) IWBs

ICT display from South Wootton School, NorfolkOver the summer holidays the IT Dept. at our school have been super busy creating the new VLE platform for Admin and parents in readiness for classes to start adding the first snippets of links and letters for home use before the bigger online docs start appearing.

But, one of the more exciting developments in my opinion is the removal of paper backed displays and the introduction of a series of digital displays. There are 6 screens, one for each year group and a shared one for Reception and Year 1. Each screen has a series of videos on loop showcasing that term's learning or important messages to the passing traffic.

The layout of our ICT area lends itself nicely to this kind of sharing of good children's work because throughout the week the entire school passes by our windows and, at break times a lot of the school walks by on their way to the library which is on the floor above. This means that the everybody can stop and watch and see good ICT, not so much in practice, but finished products; they seldom see a repeated screen.

It also means we're not printing a million reams of paper and HP's yearly output of ink to colour them all with. If you think I'm joking and is a bit of an expensive outlay then I'll give you some numbers first. In the whole of juniors we budget for NT$200,000 a year and always run out - that's about $6,800USD or £4,200. Now, in ICT we budget about £1,200 for ink alone (it used to be more with an A3 printer). So, with this cut slightly and moving the printing to be 'necessary items ony' or 'class displays' then this will cut the 'oh little Johnny wanted this to take home' scenario we all too commonly come across. Thing is we can email this home to little Johnny's parents and, with the other children's work he and his parents can see it on the screens when they walk by all term.

Install 6 LCD displays

The other numbers are the costs of this setup. The screens are 27"(originally 23" but was way to small when sat in the windows) Acer LCD NT$7990 X 6 = NT$47940 + the case, wireless keyboard etc was a rough initial estimate and fitting of NT$137,000 was way too high. Plus we didn't need a giant 1TB drive and all the other gubbins you can see in the spec sheet.

So, we got a cheaper case and bits and pieces and paid for higher spec cabling. The cabling was the big draw as its vital to maintain a strong signal. The computer itself is way over to the right (in the pic) and controlled by standing the other side of this glass. So, the cabling had to run HDMI over LAN and back to HDMI again else the signsal strength would be toast by the time it got to the screens. Also, running 6 lots of VLC @ 720p + means the machine needs a bit of oomph.

Display costsSo you can see from the costs it looks a little pricey especially as fitting was about a $1000US / NT$30,000. But, in all it looks good, the children and teachers are in awe of it and the parents always stop and stare for a while so it catches the eye like no other paper backed display - no matter how many bells and whistels you dangle from it!

And, in a few years it will have paid for itself more or less in the cost of paper and ink - this, assuming we would have been changing a similar amount pieces of paper to match the digital output.

We're pleased with it and wanted to share an important part of learning: seeing best practice of your friends, peers and of course celebrating achievement. We're also pleased with it enough to make another giant step in replacing IWBs across the school with 55-60" LED/ LCD monitors controlled with a wireless Wacom Pen and Touch tablet. If you've seen this tablet in action you'll know too that they are not like the old clunkers that meant the pen was a jagged affair. These are smooth with a multi-touch capability much like an Apple touchpad. We will post more about this development as we test this out. Needless to say we're a bit fed up wth IWBs, their non-interactiveness and VGA greyness.

 This is what it finally looks like from the other side of that glass.

 LCD Display in Action


Future Lab and their Vision Magazine

Futurelab (opens in new window)Over the past 2 years or so has grown into a phenomenal place to find out about latest trends, topics, resources and upcoming applications for leaning in ICT. From nursery to Higher Ed. they cater for all walks of ICT in and around school. 

One of the best aspects that I like is some of the smallest touches and evidence that they are educators themselves is the use of a Glossary. They understand that teachers generally don't have time to know the finer points of IT. So, when confronted with new words and acronyms it not only puts people on edge it can turn potentially great users of ICT away from using great resources. This is how Futurelab excels: it doesn't patronise yet inspires with great ideas.

Below is their magazine which includes an interview with Tim Rylands a leader in game based learning; someting I'm quite passionate about at the moment.

Turn to the last page and you'll find a directory of upcoming seminars and conferences in and around Europe.

A direct donwload can be gotten from here: VISION MAGAZINE

Vision 10 from FutureLab UK


FOBISSEA Ed Tech Conference @ Taipei European School

This weekend saw the 3rd FOBISSEA ICT conference for Primary ICT leaders being held at TES, Taipei. The city was a great surprise to me and held vast appeal for a techie and for somebody who loves Asia but would require the polite orderly-ness of mainland Europe. 

The Conference was again a relaxed affair with conversation flowing from one topic to the next. Below are a few snippets from the site we all contributed to and some of the links from last year's conference too. Lots of links and resources for teachers and pupils alike.

Flat Classrooms: What are they?

The Flat Classroom Project is a global Hands-on working together project for middle and senior high school students. It was founded by Vicki Davis (Westwood Schools, USA) and Julie Lindsay (Qatar Academy, Qatar) in 2006.

The Project uses Web 2.0 tools to make communication and interaction between students and teachers from all participating classrooms easier. The topics studied and discussed are real-world scenarios based on 'The World is Flat' by Thomas Friedman.

Below from Julie's site is a slide show detailing the Flat Classroom. The Flat Classroom Project will take you there.



 Links, Resources and Goodies

The great thing about these conferences is the wealth of resources that come bundles with them. This year didn't dissappoint. Below are the list of web resources and applications that will undoubtedly go into this year's requisition.




A review of lots of sites and progrms for learning -
48 Free Microsoft Apps 
Education City - online learning platform in modules for the Primary age range.


Make Use Of




Fantastic Contraption Similar to Armadillo Run (try embedding to avoid adverts)
Armadillo Run Simulations



Maths moves  - a game like situation for maths
2diyarchive excellent resources for 2DIY
Birchfield - VLE content pack apparantly compatable with the majority of SCORN based VLE's.


Dipity -timelines, goes back to about 100AD, dates, maps (great for explorers/adventures), children can comment, use flip books, youtube videos, give kids the same login so that they can do collaborative work from home



Vuvox more ambitious than animoto, timelines, storyboard, glossary, hotspot
Prezi replaces powerpoint, timelines
Edu Glogster -Interactive posters, kids in the class can comment on friend's poster (you need a good internet connection) An example of using Edu.glogster - not a particularly good one!
SSUU make it in word and upload, magazines, newspapers, scan as pdf and make a book, or make a flipbook and embed

Video and sound Editors (online first)


Creaza -all in one package for movie making (integrates with Fronter)
Jamendo - Need an account, but also an alternative to Garage Band
Myna - Online version of Garage Band



Voice Thread: - very good voice and image collaboration site.
Primary Pad realtime collaborative writing
Pirate Pad
Etherpad realtime collaborative writing
Wall Wisher - online post it note, great for homework.
Mind42 - Free online mind mapping
Shelfari - online book club for librarians

EAL/ ESL - Languages


BYKI creates online flash cards (great for MFL teachers)
Frengly Online translation
Tools for Primary School - - This is my colleague's collection of links from BISV
Free Tools - reviewed by the author
NCH Sound conversion software 



Kahootz 3D Modelling
Scibble Maps
Dino Mixer itouch app, great for KS1

Imaging - Web based

Word it Out Similar to wordle
Tagul Similar to wordle
Posterazor -Makes huge posters
Big Huge Labs 
Picasa Print huge pictures
Clevr make panoramic pictures