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The latest updates and developments in school technology
On with the show? You BETT! A guide to the biggest trends in ICT for January’s BETT show
Update 40 ›› ICT news The latest updates and developments in school technology
IN PRACTICE 42 ›› Staying safe online Berkshire’s Bishopswood Junior School tackles e-safety
FOCUS ON 44 ›› BETT 2012 The biggest ICT trends at next year’s BETT show
HELP DESK 50 ›› Techno Geek Laptops – the best, brightest and better value
Shar with e me I T m y our anag er
NEWS & ANALYSIS Pupils ‘twice as engaged’ using 3D content
Academies ‘must login to e-safety issues’
A pan-European project has revealed a widespread positive impact on how students learn when using 3D content as a teaching tool, improving student engagement, concentration and exam results. The research, conducted by Texas Instruments (TI) DLP, compared the difference in comprehension, information retention and overall behaviour between students learning via traditional 2D methods versus learning via 3D projection. Over the course of the study, 92% of students on average were attentive during 3D lessons, while only 46% were actively paying attention during non3D lessons. Similarly, on average, 86% of pupils improved from the pre-test to the post-test in the 3D classes, compared with just half (52%) who improved in the 2D classes and individual exam results also improved by an average of 17% in the 3D classes, compared to an eight per cent improvement in the 2D classes between pre-test and post-test. “Recent technological innovations like 3D capable ultra-short throw projectors, tablets and interactive whiteboards are practically destined for use in schools and all appeal to a modern child’s high level of media and technological literacy,” said Ulf Greiner of NEC Display Solutions Europe, which supplied the technology for the pilot. Across all of the schools involved in the study, 3D shortened the time it took for students to learn concepts, increased their attention spans and resulted in overall deeper thinking from the students. “Not only does it help keep students’ attentions, but also provides an immersive, 360-degree view of content that previously could only be taught using flat, 2D images and videos, or rudimentary models and figurines,” added Greiner.
Cheap tablets for India A £30 tablet computer built in Britain could be the solution to India’s rural poverty. According to a Guardian report, the Indian government has been introducing this affordable device to India’s schools and universities in a bid to get more of the country’s children online. London-based Datawind won a tender to sell the computer, named Aakash – Hindi for ‘sky’ - to India’s government for £30 each; and subsidies from the government will reduce this price to around £20 for students and teachers. The device has a seven-inch screen and runs a version of Google’s Android India’s current operating system. literacy rate Currently, Datawind is able to make 100,000 units a month, though it will have to step up its production output to reach India’s 220 million India’s literacy rate children. The firm hopes in future to also sell the under British rule tablet in shops in the UK.
Academies could be held directly responsible for legal liabilities that arise as a result of online threats to pupils. The stark warning is revealed in a newly published white paper written by legal expert Dr Brian Bandey, in conjunction with web security and filtering firm Smoothwall, called ‘E-safety Law and Academies – An Overview of Obligations Owed by Academies to Students’. While legal obligations surrounding e-safety are largely the same between state schools and academies, mainstream schools’ liabilities are often shared with a local authority or council. However because of the academy’s autonomy, the legal exposure and liabilities fall on the academy trust and its directors – much like company directors. “Company directors are almost always in the firing line when it comes to litigation, so this issue means an individual, perhaps the headteacher or someone else, can be held totally responsible for the e-safety of pupils,” Brandey commented. He recommends academy trusts ensure there is adequate employer and public liability insurance in place to support activities. “However personal liability will not arise if governors carry out their duties in good faith and the general opinion is that personal liability insurance for governors doesn’t offer good value for money because those acting honestly and within their powers will not require it,” he added. “When it comes to the law, there are a number of overlapping areas that are concerned with the e-safety of pupils and a school’s ICT, whether it relates to pornography, accessing inappropriate sites or online bullying and harassment,” Dr Bandey continued. “One of the most important legal duties for schools relates to the health and safety of pupils.”
school uses online interPreter to talK to deaf Parents A primary school in London is one of the first in the country this year to use an online interpreter to communicate with deaf parents. St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Chingford has started using ‘SignTranslate’, which has been developed by national healthcare charity for deaf people, Sign Health, for face-to-face reports with pupils’ parents. Steve Powell, chief executive of the charity, which provides health-related services and campaigning for fair access and improved communication, said they created SignTranslate primarily to support communication between deaf people and healthcare professionals but St Mary’s Catholic Primary School approached them when they saw its potential in the education environment. “We believe this may well be a useful pilot to help teachers and parents discuss the well-being of a child and achieve a better understanding of their progress,” said Powell. SignTranslate is accessed via a live webcam link, to give online access to fully qualified British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters at short notice. Powell added: “Using a webcam, the deaf person and interpreter can see each other and sign the conversation with the relevant professional, whether it is for a school appointment or with a doctor.” Evelyn Gibbs, Year 6 teacher at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, said: “We are obliged to provide three reports to parents each year, two face-to-face and one written. “We have used a volunteer in the past to support conversations with deaf parents but knew that a more qualified interpreter was needed for complete and objective communication. “We were then referred to SignTranslate. It was easy to set up and use. An appointment was made very quickly and the interpreter was excellent.”
frog now offering school imProVement serVices to schools Frog has launched a school improvement team that provides expert advice and guidance on supporting schools to achieve their goals through better use of their learning platform. To support this, Frog has developed a powerful framework that allows senior school leaders to evaluate how their school is performing on their learning platform journey at the same time as putting realistic, goal driven, actions in place. The social networking made available in the framework means schools can collaborate and discuss ideas with each other. They can also access a bank of ideas that have already made an impact in other schools. Head of School Improvement at Frog, Lucy Evans explains: “For over a decade, we have worked directly with schools rather than through local authorities. We’ve used this knowledge to develop this unique tool which will help schools drive real school improvement.”
NEWS IN BRIEF la cuts Ict JOBs Seventy local authority workers in Staffordshire could lose their jobs after the council revealed it needs to cut ICT budgets by £1.6m, the Sentinel reports. A three-month consultation starts this month before final decisions are made about the staff who work for the service run by Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council. Last year, the ICT workers supported 12,000 computer users, 5,000 servers, and 600 sites. Schools are among those affected.
BETT Olympia, London
Education Show Nec Birmingham
Bishopswood Junior School in Tadley, Berkshire saw the benefit of promoting internet safety among its young pupils. Julia Dennison catches up with Year 5 ICT coordinator Sarah Stephens to find out how entering a competition landed her kids with new netbooks and a sense of purpose
“Before the competition, the children wouldn’t have thought twice about clicking on links or opening attachments. Now they have shown a real understanding of the dangers of just as important and that appropriate safeguards should be placed on computer systems to prevent pupils from accessing unsuitable sites inside school and out. The latter is the challenge. While what happens in the home is not necessarily the responsibility of the school, nor is it easy to control, it can have a significant impact on the child’s overall wellbeing and therefore their education. Teaching pupils how to protect themselves while in school was found to help them transfer this awareness to their families at home.
E-safety good practice
SCHOOL Bishopswood Junior School TYPE Community junior school LA Hampshire PUPILS 203 YEAR 5 ICT COORDINATOR Sarah Stephens
here is no reason why good practice in safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare shouldn’t be a feature at every school. This was the message that came out of an Ofsted report in September highlighting the need for improved safety awareness in Britain’s schools. The study, ‘Safeguarding in schools: best practice’, found that while nearly every school prioritised safeguarding, with the best schools incorporating safety into their curriculum, safeguarding arrangements were no better than satisfactory in 21% of schools, revealing a clear need for considerable improvement in the area. Creating a safe environment for pupils not only requires high standards of physical health and safety measures, like good hygiene and clear corridors, but also virtual safeguarding. The Ofsted report argues that internet safety can be
Sarah Stephens, Year 5 ICT coordinator at Bishopswood Junior School in Tadley, Berkshire (pictured in purple), recognises the importance of promoting e-safety in her school. She initiated a project before the summer holidays to help her pupils increase their awareness of how to stay safe online even while outside the classroom. The cross-curricular ICT project was undertaken as an entry in a competition by IT security firm Norman aimed at educating children about online dangers. As part of the school’s competition entry, pupils were taught about the three major internet threats: cyber bullying; online strangers and viruses, worms and Trojans and were asked to describe each category in words and pictures. Their efforts were rewarded when they came first in the competition in a September awards ceremony, securing 10 netbooks for the school and three netbooks for the prizewinning pupils, protected with security software. Stephens commented on the success of the project at the time of her winning: “Before we took part in the competition, the children wouldn’t have thought twice about clicking on links or opening attachments. Now they have shown a real understanding of the dangers of viruses, worms and Trojans. They also understand they need to be careful about the information they reveal online, because the person chatting to them on a forum or social media site might be pretending to be someone else.”
An e-project in action Stephens started the project by finding out what the pupils already knew about internet safety. While they had some knowledge, they knew very little about cyber bullying. “Learning about cyber bullying happens more in secondary school, but I think it’s quite important for children to know about it [at primary
school level too],” comments Stephens. She started by showing the pupils some YouTube videos on the three e-safety topics, which she then linked into the school’s literacy topic by asking the children to write a paragraph about what the videos meant to them, which could be in the form of a poem if they wanted. They then had to design a picture to go with the text. As Ofsted recommends that pupils undertake writing for a purpose, this provided the perfect opportunity to enter a prize draw and meet the suggestions of the inspectorate. As issues of internet safety and cyber bullying could be potentially difficult issues to address, particularly for young children, Stephens and her team tread carefully. “We said: ‘If you do want to come talk to us at any point, feel free,’” she remembers. “They didn’t really know much about the subjects – and we just reinforced the importance of talking to their parents and teachers and telling someone [if anything happens].” With stories emerging that one in 10 under-10s now have an iPhone and one in 20 an iPad, it’s becoming evident that children need to start learning about internet safety from an increasingly younger age. “You’re never too young,” confirms Stephens. “That’s why I used a YouTube clip intended for Key Stage 3 to show them. I edited it to include what was appropriate, but even then there wasn’t much that wouldn’t have been suitable for Key Stage 2.” Stephens was overwhelmed by the dedication the children put into the project. “They were so moving,” she says of their competition entries. “They were winners no matter what in my eyes.” To then nab first prize in the competition was a great relief. “I just couldn’t believe it,” she adds. “I went down and told them and they were just in shock, especially the ones who won the netbooks.” The whole project has inspired Stephens to continue educating the children on the topic of e-safety. “I’ve given the lesson outline to the other teachers,” she says, as they plan to teach children from every year group at Bishopswood some form of internet safety. “We’ve had so much writing come out of it,” she adds, “which is really good and the children just worked so hard on it.” Ofsted would surely agree that this Berkshire primary school is a shining example of what other schools can do to safeguard their pupils against the notorious world of internet threats.
Never a BETTer time With the BETT show just around the corner, it is a good time to look at what is going to be hot in the world of ICT. Matthew Jane speaks to some leading experts and exhibitors at next year’s show to gauge what you can expect from the world’s largest educational ICT event
hile there may still be a couple of months left until the biggest education ICT event in the world opens its doors to eager technology fans, now is the time to start thinking about the BETT Show 2012, planning your visit and deciding which lucky members of staff will be making their way to London’s Olympia in January. Next year’s show promises to be bigger, better and more crammed with the latest gadgets and solutions than ever before. It will address several key themes, along with showcasing the latest trends in ICT innovation. Given the current climate of financial frugality in schools, cost efficiencies will be a hot topic at BETT, with many questions asked about how technology can be employed on tight budgets or to help reduce overall costs. “A key part of this will be helping schools to make better use of the systems they already have,” suggests Graham Cooper from Capita SIMS. One of the cost-saving solutions that is increasingly utilised by schools is cloud technology. Vicky Myers from Frog suggests that with the tightening budgets, there will be an ever greater emphasis on value for money and justification of investments. “While cloud technology is evidently a way in which money can be saved on hardware, it’s not a panacea to all of the issues that schools encounter,” she says, stressing the importance of reliability. “Return on investment is about planning for the long-term investments – not quick wins using the latest fads, but really making sure you are getting a tangible return.” Virtualisation has also been heavily discussed in school recently and this will be reinforced at the BETT show, especially with its links to helping deliver more for less. “The concept behind virtual desktops is simple: today’s PCs are so powerful that most people only use a small fraction of their power,” explains Paul Gullet from NComputing. “Depending on the configuration, a single PC can host up to 100 simultaneous users.” Taking technology outside the classroom will also be prominent at the show, with a host of mobile devices on display. “Mobile information and learning is likely to be a key focus of the show and the concept of fixed ICT suites or trollies of laptops may be called into question,” says Stuart Abrahams from Groupcall. Jane Robertson from Westcoastcloud points to a recent survey that found that nearly a third of children under the age of 10 have their own mobile phone, proof of the necessity to support learning environments conducive to this demand. She stresses the need for schools to
provide a safe working environment for pupils. “While technology is a wonderful way of engaging and encouraging learning, it is all too easy to get lost in the excitement without considering the ramifications of wider internet access,” she says. Filtering and support of mobile devices will be a crucial concern for school leaders, as well as localised control of web filtering. Simon Wilcox from Smoothwall says: “There will also be a lot of emphasis on protection from web-borne malware as it is now the single biggest vector of online threat.” Other hot topics covered at the show will be parental engagement, especially given the move to make communication between schools and parents a major factor in Ofsted inspections. “Something at the forefront of new technology in education is the ‘app’,” explains Geoff Jones from ParentMail. “Many schools have systems already in place that send messages via mobile phone to parents. App technology, however, opens up more opportunities; for example it can enable parents to manage their child’s activities and payments from one central source.” The use of apps is also being incorporated into the curriculum, assisting those who have difficulty with reading and writing. “The apps are beneficial in a number of ways, assisting with studies as well as day-to-day activities such as sending emails or text messages from a phone,” explains Mark McCusker from Texthelp Systems.
“Return on investment is about long-term planning” Not to be forgotten in the mass expanse of innovation on display at BETT are back office systems and those essential solutions that help administrative staff in their daily tasks. Jodie Yeadon from RM says the firm’s stand will have a large focus on solutions to help improve efficiencies. “We’ll demonstrate a number of back office solutions that can support senior leaders with their leadership and strategic goals,” she says. “These solutions not only help to fully utilise data in order to enhance learning outcomes, but can help schools engage with parents too.” As the scope for using technology within every area of a school expands, so too do the solutions and innovations to facilitate this. BETT will offer the perfect opportunity for school leaders to explore the labyrinth of ICT all under one roof, and, as an added bonus, EdExec will have a stand there too, so you can always come and brainstorm ideas with us.
WHY SHOULD SCHOOL LEADERS PLAN TO ATTEND BETT 2012? “BETT has always been an excellent showcase of new technologies and this year the need for schools to gain a good understanding of where ICT is going has never been more important. Mobile information and learning is likely to be a key focus of the show and the concept of fixed ICT suites or trollies of laptops may be called into question. In order for school leaders to make the right decision they must be fully informed of the options available to them.” Stuart Abrahams, Groupcall
“Seeing is believing, and the BETT show allows schools to see the latest technology in action and helps them visualise how that technology can be used in their schools and classrooms. If any school has a vision regarding how to use technology to enhance their pupils learning experience then this is the show to make that vision a reality.”
“With the growth of the academies and free schools programme, many school leaders are being given more freedom to shape the way their schools are run than they have ever had before. BETT is still the biggest education IT exhibition on the calendar and with both large and small suppliers all under one roof, it is a great way to stay up to date with the latest developments in how technology can be used to raise attainment and support whole school improvement. “The show’s extensive seminar programme offers a goldmine of best practice from some of the most innovative schools that heads can tap into. This gives them a valuable source of knowledge and expertise that they can take away and adapt for use in their own schools to raise standards and inspire pupils’ learning.” Graham Cooper, Capita SIMS
Stuart Hughes, Investec Education
“Anyone who is involved in the purchase or implementation of technology for a school, college or university should visit BETT. It’s the world’s leading educational IT technology event so everything that’s new and important is there. Headteachers and IT buyers can not only try out new products, they can also discuss any concerns they might have about how that technology can be used in their school or college. They can hear about the latest trends in educational technology, learn how to make more informed judgements about what to purchase and develop their professional knowledge by hearing from the experts.” Jane Robertson, WestcoastCloud
“In times of austerity, school leaders need to realise the potential cost savings that can be realised by moving to cloud-based ICT solutions… and the role it can play in school improvement and raising standards. It’s important not to leave these decisions simply to their ICT technicians.” Fiona Aubrey-Smith, UniServity
“BETT gives those responsible for maximising the ROI of their school’s IT investment the opportunity to see first-hand the software solutions that can help manage the investment. IT asset management is a case in point. To be able to make informed investment decisions you need an accurate, up-to-date inventory of your hardware and software assets, so while it may be the IT technician pressing the buttons, it is the leadership team who ultimately need the data on which to base their decision.” Chris Lovesey, Netsupport
“School leaders should visit the show because more responsibility rests on their shoulders to make important decisions based on ICT in the classroom since the abolition of BECTA. They need to see for themselves and talk to experts in the field before making costly decisions.” Neil Hartigan, NEC
“School leaders should visit the show to be inspired by the latest educational technology and realise how ICT can help them achieve their whole school vision. ICT goes beyond the classroom. By visiting the BETT show school leaders will find solutions to improve back office efficiencies, engage with parents and utilise data to enhance learning outcomes.” Jodie Yeadon, RM Education
WHY SHOULD SCHOOL LEADERS ATTEND BETT 2012? (continued)
“Web security and filtering is more about delivering on mandatory e-safety and child care commitments than just protecting children and staff from unsavoury images and content. Our children are now digital natives and need to be equipped with the skills to protect themselves in their online lives. Our education leaders need to fully understand the technology, the threats and the law surrounding this issue – BETT will provide a platform on which to start understanding this complex environment.” Simon Wilcox, Smoothwall
“There is no other show in the UK that brings all the leading edge technology for education under one roof. Every BETT exhibitor will be putting their best foot forward to offer school leaders a chance to get a feel for the latest trends and solutions and map them to their own school needs. School leaders can also communicate with peers, share ideas and speak to a range of companies in a short space of time. BETT is one of few, if not the only, educational ICT show in the UK, which senior management teams from educational suppliers attend and this is a great opportunity for school leaders to speak to them about where the company is going, why they are doing things a certain way and the future trends affecting schools.” Mark McCusker, Texthelp Systems
“With the Xbox generation that we now live in, it is imperative that school leaders understand the kinds of technology their students are surrounded by as a way of life. You can’t expect kids to come to school and get engaged by a teacher and a textbook anymore when they’ve been playing multiplayer games with people all over the world on their Xbox all weekend. It’s too easy for school leaders to get left behind and therefore, BETT is the ideal opportunity to look at the latest technological advancements in learning and understand how they can really engage students – and teachers.”
“BETT continues to be the premier event in the calendar for education leaders, because it is here that we see what is working in school now and what is being developed for the future of teaching and learning. Leaders need to have a vision – and BETT certainly showcases that. At Promethean we will be doing just that; showing the interactive technologies that are making a difference in classrooms across the globe now, and revealing our future thinking and roadmaps.”
Vicky Myers, Frog Jim Wynn, Promethean
“School leaders will be able to experience demonstrations of a range of technologies that could help them meet government targets for attainment, efficiently manage student behaviour, attendance and bullying, and improve communication with parents. Brand new solutions for schools are launched each year at BETT, giving school leaders a chance to leave the school grounds and speak to other school leaders and suppliers face-to-face to seek advice, share best practice and decide which solutions best fit their needs.” Stephen Clarke, Contact Group
“To find out how they can save money and at the same time improve the school’s learning technology. There are emerging technologies such as desktop virtualisation, cloud services and online collaboration tools that are really driving down the cost of IT in the classroom.” Paul Gullet, NComputing
“Find out how to improve efficiencies and deliver a better learning environment to students, cost-saving by using technology, and networking opportunity with partners who understand and share their vision.” Jay Watkins, Misco
“BETT offers school leaders a perfect opportunity to see a multitude of ways that technology can be used to best effect. They can talk to experts in the field about different systems and how they work, as well as hear from other schools about their experiences. BETT is the one show in the year where all the major IT providers are in one location and school leaders can get a good sense of future trends and issues, as well as ways to address them.” Mohamad Djahanbakhsh, Serco Learning
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‘top tips Laptops in schools: A practical buyer’s guide. Techno Geek brings you some questions to ask when purchasing laptops for your school Who is it for? It can be a complex and overwhelming proposition buying a suite of laptops for your school. It may seem an obvious question, but it’s worth starting with: Is it for the pupils, teachers or both? What kind of software and internet access do you need? Will you need to plug in lots peripherals (printers, projectors, whiteboards etc.)? Does it need to be carried around and need an extra-long battery life? Are you buying in bulk? (Look long term as you might get bulk discounts.) Here are some things to think about: • Battery life: The bigger the battery, the more weight in the laptop – can a pupil easily carry around a heavier laptop? • Size: Having a large screen could be better for use in classrooms, but this decreases the portability. A 13.3” screen is fine for word processing and the internet, though for video and graphics you may need something in the region of 17”. • Connections: What kind of outputs/inputs does it have? It’s best to check what you need; a lot of devices use USB ports, so it’s good to have plenty of them – though you also need to consider what your equipment in the classroom needs. Does your whiteboard need a VGA connector or HDMI? Insides It can be confusing what various aspects mean: • The processor or CPU is the engine of the computer: The higher the number the faster it process things, though the price increases. • The ram: This is best described as the speed at which your computer can access data from the hard drive and crunch it with the CPU, so this has an effect on the speed. • Hard disk: How much data you can store on the computer. • EG: If you want to be able to use a lot of video in the classroom, you will need the correct specs to be able to do so. Around 4 GB of ram is recommended. If the computer is going to be used for something like video editing, you’re also going to need as fast a processor as possible. (An Intel
core i5 or i7 should do the trick.) If you only need to use office applications and surf the net, 2 GB of ram and a modest processor will be more than sufficient. (Intel core i3 will do it; as will most AMD processors.) It can be trickier when looking at video cards and graphics; most chips that come with laptops are fine for school use, but if it’s for something more specific its worth doing research. In terms of hard disk space it again depends on what you need, If you have large multimedia files, go for a 320 GB disk, though you can always expand later by using an external disk. Security In physical and software terms this is crucial. You need to make sure you have somewhere safe to keep the laptop(s) and you need to protect your data and against viruses. There are a number of solutions out there – will your new laptops be able to run on your network; will your current physical security provisions be able to cope with all your new kit? Warranties You need to balance the cost of extended warranties with the cost of repairing the machines if they are damaged or faulty. The inner workings of a laptop are delicate and in the wrong hands can be easily damaged. It could be worth looking at three-year warranties with onsite repair, and perhaps having spare machines to fill the void if some need repair.