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Tech to put a spring in your step Editor: Heather McLean Executive Editor: Paddy Baker Head of Design: Jat Garcha Designer: Tom Carpenter Sales Manager: Gurpreet Purewal US Sales - Executive Vice President: Adam Goldstein Production Executive: Warren Kelly Digital Director: Diane Oliver Content Director: James McKeown Contributors: Richard Doughty, Ian McMurray, Terry Freedman, Sam Warnes, Charles Wiles, Colin Bethell

Editorial tel: +44 (0)7823 777528 Sales tel: +44 (0)20 7354 6000 Please send press material to PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe to Tech&LearningUK please go to Should you have any questions please email

is published 4 times a year by NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA

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© Copyright NewBay Media Europe Ltd 2017 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. The contents of Installation are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems.

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Spring is in the air and summer is just around the corner, and so to mark the excitement that a few rays of sunshine can bring to this great isle, we have some great technologies in this edition of Tech&Learning UK that will put a spring in your step around the classroom, and a bounce into your students. Technology can help give all children better access to an education, from those with learning difficulties to those with English as a second language. In our feature on inclusion on page 12, we take an in-depth look at the way creative tech is being used to open up teaching for students that really need new ways to access learning. Taking sci-fi into the classroom are robots, and these little guys are engaging students and aiding the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths all Editor: Heather McLean in one fantastic go. We have a feature on robotics on page 16 that will show you how easy it is to introduce robots into everyday teaching, and the creativity, teamwork and thinking skills that they can stimulate. For some schools, the use of robotics is still a long way off; first things first, you have to bring your infrastructure and basic computing technology up to date. One teacher on a mission to turn his school around is Stephen Eustace, from St Joseph’s Secondary School in Rochfort Bridge, Ireland. Read about his epic quest on page 28 to transform ICT at the school, and what he is up to next. Making teaching simpler for teachers while bringing students to the edge of their seats (and even camels!) is Labdisc. This is a wireless, compact data logger packed with sensors for every science. It eliminates the need for endless cables and self-calibration, and allows you to take students outside of the classroom and be creative with scientific testing and data logging to make great discoveries, so turn to page 32 for more. To embed all that learning, possibly the hottest app on the block is Studytracks, a music-based way of taking revision to the next level. No more dull evenings spent staring at textbooks; now students can take their revision with them everywhere and sing along to the words, while teachers have a new way to engage and enthral. Take a look on page 33. Yet all this technology has got to be confusing when you have to pick out not just the interesting stuff to use in the classroom, but the WiFi access points, the PCs, the tablets, the USB sticks and keyboards. Helping educators throughout the UK is Think IT. Turn to page 6 for our big interview with Neil Watkins, head of the organisation, to see how procurement can become headache-free. Until the next issue of Tech&Learning UK, enjoy the sunshine! @techlearningUK

CONTRIBUTORS Richard Doughty is a freelance journalist and copywriter. He worked on The Guardian as the paper’s special supplements editor for many years, specialising in education, and during that time launched and edited a regular IT in education supplement covering schools, FE and HE sectors.

Ian McMurray has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, communications and media relations with hightechnology companies in the IT and audiovisual markets. His experience and knowledge now contribute towards his career as a freelance writer, working across various titles.

Terry Freedman is an independent writer, consultant, trainer, and speaker in the field of educational ICT and computing. He has been a head of department and Ofsted inspector, and publishes the ICT & Computing in Education website. He loves writing about education and technology, and education technology.

Sam Warnes is a former geography and PE teacher and founder of EDLounge. He started EDLounge in 2009 to provide students that were in inclusion or excluded with an inclusive resource to educate them and also provide them with an alternative route into employment.

Charles Wiles is CEO of edtech firm Zzish, which specialises in transforming e-learning apps into classroom-ready tools with analytical insight on student and class performance. He was formerly UK product manager at Google, leading the first team that built Android.

Colin Bethell is a qualified teacher with 20 years’ educational publishing experience. He brings a wealth of know-how to the Veative team. He’s taught in the UK and Japan and spent the last two decades in publishing.

April 2017






EDLounge’s Sam Warnes discusses helping excluded students Zzish’s Charles Wiles on budget cuts versus the need for tech Veative’s Colin Bethell looks at the use of VR in education

10 Interview Think IT’s Neil Watkins on making IT procurement simple

12 Inclusion Looking at the cutting-edge tech that helps all students progress

16 Robotics Robots are here – check out how they are aiding education

20 Using mobile in HE Rather than fighting the smartphone revolution, make the most of it

28 St Joseph’s Secondary School From zero to hero – how one teacher is turning a school’s technology around

30 University of Bolton Queen’s Specialist Building gets a complete refurb of IT and AV

31 St Stephen’s CE Primary School Augmenting children’s reality with Harry Potter-like excitement

26 Show Review Bett 2017 was a hit – we take a look at the show highlights

22 Showcase Looking at the exciting options for lecture capture technology

27 Show Review The Education Show was all about CPD and new resources

32 Product Focus A sensor-packed disc for all sciences, Labdisc is a revolution Studytracks brings music to learners’ ears with rhythm and bass

10 4

April 2017



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SAM WARNES Ensuring students both inside and outside of the classroom achieve the academic success they deserve


hile teaching full classes every day comes with its own set of challenges for teachers, usually centred around them not having as much time as they would like to give struggling students the additional support they might need, at least they are able to identify these students. Similarly, they know which students are over-achieving. Teachers know which students are on track to getting their predicted exam results, and those who need to work harder to do so. Importantly, all the students sitting the classroom are very definitely on their teachers’ radar.

HELPING THE OUTSIDERS But what about the students that aren’t in the classroom five days a week, who in fact, rarely complete a full week at school at all? What if a student has been suspended for a prolonged period, or has mental health issues that keep them from regularly attending school; how can teachers effectively keep on top of their progress or identify gaps in their knowledge? Academic success and achievement shouldn’t be reserved only for those students sitting within the classroom walls, and it is each school’s responsibility to ensure this isn’t the case. Within minutes of entering a class for the first time, most teachers will have sussed the situation; 6

April 2017

John’s the class clown, Tom’s the attention seeker and Erica is prone to aggressive outbursts. Even in my own teaching days, every class had at least one ‘disruptive’ student. But in my opinion, these students are not bad kids and they don’t want to be singled out for negative reasons; they’re just disengaged.

CREATING CHAOS Disengagement can manifest itself in many different ways: bad behaviour, defiance, creating chaos, refusal to complete tasks or take part in classroom activities, attention seeking, physical or verbal abuse, or complete indifference; anything to avoid the actual process of learning. Undoubtedly, engagement is the key to success for all students. So as educators, and even as parents, how do we keep all our students engaged, and re-engage those who may be a little more ‘reluctant’? If schools can successfully engage their students, those both within the classroom walls and those outside, then they are less likely to slip under the radar, for whatever reason. Virtual classrooms can provide an effective way bridge this gap, and benefit all students. Virtual classrooms offer more adaptability for students, which means teachers or instructors can assess the individual needs of classroom and non-classroom based

students, quickly and easily. They can also adapt content to meet individual learners’ needs, which isn’t done as easily in the classroom.

SENSE OF FAMILIARITY For those students not based in the classroom, virtual classrooms also provide a sense of familiarity; when it comes to learning, they aren’t left to their own devices.

‘When students have been excluded, virtual classrooms offer a repair pathway that focuses on the individual’s behaviour’ Virtual classrooms ensure they still feel part of the school community, and as though they are moving towards the same learning goals as their peers. It also means have structured time when they are out of school, so their parents can

measure what they are doing at all times. Progress is also continuously monitored by the school during this time, and reintroduction to the school environment is seamless. When students have been excluded, virtual classrooms offer a repair pathway that focuses on the individual’s behaviour, helping them to understand and modify it. If students choose not to complete their behaviour pathway work, it means they have to go back into isolation on their return to school. Consequently, schools report that the percentage of students completing this work is very high, as they see it as a preferred alternative to isolation. While schools have an obligation to excluded students, I believe that, more importantly, they also have a moral one. Schools have a responsibility to all students, not just those sitting within the classroom walls, and virtual classrooms can help bridge the gap between the two. Sam Warnes is founder of EDLounge.


CHARLES WILES How can we get around the ongoing budget cuts in British schools in order to increase spend on edtech?


ccording to data from GSV Advisers, the average primary and secondary school in the US will spend $134,000 [£108,300*] this year on educational technology. That is a total of $13.4 billion [£10.8 billion] spread between 100,000 primary and secondary schools in the country. With 64 million students, that’s around $200 [£162] per student, up from $150 [£123] per student in 2015. Of course, the total bill is still a fraction of the money spent on primary and secondary education as a whole in the US, just 1.6% of total spend, but this still represents a significant investment in education. By contrast, schools in the UK spent £900 million on educational technology in 2015. That works out at $160 [£129] per student per year. While the US has continued to invest more in educational technology, budget cuts translate to a decreased spend in educational software in the UK where edtech tools are often regarded as a ‘luxury’ compared to the classroom staples of textbooks and other traditional resources.

many educational software vendors to focus much more of their efforts on cracking the US market, given that schools that side of the Atlantic are much more amenable to adoption and usage of such technology in teaching than British schools. The result is a broken UK educational technology ecosystem where the vast majority of schools use embedded and outdated software when much better global solutions exist.



A school may blow its entire annual budget for edtech software on a single subscription fee for just one application, and many of the incumbent apps used by schools year after year are tired, not innovative, and do little do drive meaningful engagement and mastery of skills. The unforgiving UK school procurement ecosystem, which has presented itself as an almost insurmountable barrier to entry for many edtech start-ups, has forced

One reason why the US market works is because software vendors can sell to districts and states, giving healthier profit margins and creating viable businesses. In many countries, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, centralised government buying creates a viable ecosystem too. In fact, when I recently visited Singapore, I met with four of the team from the Ministry of Education’s Education Technology Group. They were tasked with evaluating

‘The unforgiving UK school procurement ecosystem... has forced many educational software vendors to focus much more of their efforts on cracking the US market’

education technology, disseminating knowledge to teachers and making centralised nationwide purchases where possible. In the UK, to my knowledge, we don’t even have one person in the Department for Education responsible for education technology in schools. In some ways this is to be understood; centralised government purchases in a rapidly changing market will often result in poor purchasing decisions, and schools that will simply not use the software that has been bought for them, leading to potentially millions in wasted funds. Allowing schools to make their own individual purchase decisions solves this, in theory. However, it is inefficient and 50% or more of the money spent by schools ends up covering the high marketing and sales costs that educational software vendors are forced to cough up as a result of the current ecosystem.

ALL YOU CAN EAT Organising schools into purchasing clusters (note that I am not advocating the old LEA ecosystem here) would partially solve the problem, but there is a third way; what if there was a software ecosystem for schools where they could pay a one-off

annual subscription for software and then use any educational software at any time? Such models are not new and are already used in other sectors. Individual teachers could use any software they wished, chopping and changing as and when appropriate. They could use 100 different applications in a school year if they wished, instead of just one. Moreover, since the educational software providers wouldn’t need to market so hard to schools to get them to use their software, schools would end up paying less. UK government could be a global pioneer with such a model and fix the broken UK education technology ecosystem, ultimately resulting in much better learning outcomes for our students and a rise up the worldwide Pisa rankings. Moreover, it would enable UK educational technology start-ups to become successful at home and, in turn, abroad, ensuring their places as pioneers within a sector that has the potential to universally make real and positive social change for all children. Charles Wiles is CEO at Zzish. *Exchange rate at time of writing: £1 = $1.23, March 2017 April 2017



COLIN BETHELL Looking at how virtual reality technology has the potential to enhance classroom-based learning


irtual reality (VR) technology has fast become an established industry hot topic and will either succeed or sink into history during 2017. When looked at more broadly, many commentators expect the former – but what does VR mean for education? As the VR hardware industry develops equipment quickly and competitively, you can see the availability and affordability of the equipment evolving with equal speed. Although both software and hardware are new to the field of education, VR's transition from the gaming industry will be critical to establish itself in this wholly different environment.

'Whichever way VR is used in education, its benefits include the active and immersive experience that it brings to students' ACTIVE AND IMMERSIVE At the Bett conference in January, you could already see a shift away from phone-based VR head-mounted displays (HMD) and a move to allin-one devices aided by controllers and gestures. To enable complete interaction with the device, a bridge such as the controller is vital and will 8

April 2017

play a critical role in the expansion of VR into education. As an educational tool, there are various levels at which VR can be used: in the classroom; for homework; as part of a resource lab; or for distance learning. The content can be applied as a core learning tool or as a supplement to a curriculum. Whichever way VR is used in education, its benefits include the active and immersive experience that it brings to students. The exploratory and practical trial and error made possible by VR means it can be extremely motivational as well as a functional aid to understanding and retention, through practice, repetition and other types of activities. The roots of the content software in the dynamic and extensive gaming industry will make VR content for education an enriching experience with almost limitless possible adaptations.

TRIAL AND ERROR Operating in a virtual environment, students can practise trial and

error in almost any subject. They can visit places that would be virtually impossible in any other circumstances, such as other planets or inside the human body. Content visualisation and creation is therefore, of course, critical. In the same way you would only use a textbook from an established author and publisher, so should be the case with any other content used for the same curricula. As for any technology, it should not be adopted as a fashion, but only with strict pedagogic criteria in place and this will surely vary between institutions and individuals. What is clear, though, is that VR in the classroom will become a fundamental tool, as long as it finds the right place and is meaningful in attending to learning outcomes. The value of VR in allowing students to fully immerse themselves in a visual concept has already been introduced into some classes. This can elevate learning because there’s another instance to connect with the concept, promoting greater understanding and a visual component that will heighten retention.

SIBLING TECHNOLOGIES When you have the right type of content designed and implemented in order to deliver education-quality materials, this will enhance the teaching and learning experience overall. VR isn’t the only technology to consider. It’s also worthwhile considering sibling technologies such as augmented and mixed realities, which are also developing fast. Taken together and projecting these various realities in the wider context of the general technology trend towards experiential and wearable hardware, it becomes more obvious that VR has a central role in technology circles along with its siblings. Whether educational establishments choose to implement VR this year or not, it’s likely those that do will place themselves at best advantage for what follows; the roll out of new ‘reality embracing’ hardware in the near future. Colin Bethell is director at Veative.

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KEEPING PACE WITH EDTECH Technology innovation is rapid and relentless, yet schools and colleges are often faced with the task of keeping up with edtech evolution while concentrating on educating students. Neil Watkins, director at Think IT, an EU tendered procurement framework for ICT in education, talks to Heather McLean about the challenges educators face, and the possible solutions

What are the top problems faced today by the UK education system in relation to buying IT? There are three major problems facing those in the sector buying edtech. The first is complexity. The pace of change in edtech is incredible. How can schools with limited resources possibly expect to keep up with this rate of innovation while at the same time being an expert in all disciplines, from networking, security, safeguarding, hardware, to new applications? I would argue that they can’t and need help. The second is capability. In my experience the majority of schools just don’t have the in-house procurement and technical expertise to create a detailed specification, go out to tender, evaluate technical proposals that can run to hundreds of pages, interview suppliers and negotiate the best deals. Because of this they are open to making poor investment decisions that can affect how they run for the next three, four or five years. And finally, cash; especially when school budgets are being squeezed, how do schools know what’s a good deal and what’s not? There are regular stories of schools being ripped off, and more recently concerns about fraud and theft because of financial freedoms in academies. Importantly, schools as public bodies must also follow EU procurement law. I recently attended a meeting for school leaders where a number were unaware of their legal obligations.


April 2017

INTERVIEW: NEIL WATKINS Is there an area of technology that is particularly difficult for schools to make clear decisions on, do you think, and why? The area that is causing most confusion is the cloud, and that is having a knock-on effect to other areas. Many schools are cautious and concerned because they don’t understand it, but the main resistance comes because of a perceived lack of control; they worry that if their data is ‘in the cloud’ it won’t be secure and therefore they want to keep it in house. Some feel this is due to IT managers being overly protective of their jobs, but the move to cloud solutions is inevitable because the big players such as Microsoft and Google are pushing the sector that way and resistance is futile. The best example is the Microsoft and Department for Education (DfE) Memorandum of Understanding published in January 2016. It stipulates that the educational discounts applied to Microsoft products are being removed over the next few years. Yes, Office 365 is free for schools and colleges, but if you are running Microsoft servers in your school then the licence costs will rise. The only way to avoid this is to move to Microsoft’s Azure platform in the cloud, where those increases can be mitigated. It is important that schools appreciate and plan for the knockon effects of moving to the cloud, including the increase in broadband requirements, or network problems when an entire class tries to download videos at the same time. Does new cutting-edge tech, such as virtual reality headsets, pose any challenges for schools in the decisionmaking process? It presents a number of challenges, but it creates fantastic opportunities for teaching and learning right across education. The first challenge is money. Currently many of the solutions are too expensive for mainstream education, but the costs of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are coming down quickly, which will make them accessible to all.

A further challenge is justifying the business case to heads and governors for buying VR and AR. Solutions have to be relevant and engaging, but the obvious question that will be asked is, will they improve attainment? Unless the manufacturers can demonstrate a real link to attainment, I think many heads and governors will see it as an expensive fad (like 3D printing, which seems to have fallen by the wayside). If you can make the business case, the next challenge is embedding these solutions in the curriculum so that they don’t become a waste of money. In many schools the purchase and implementation of new technology is driven by one individual, such as a departmental head, or enthusiastic teacher. However, if they leave, or don’t engage the other staff in its adoption, the new solution won’t be used and the investment is wasted. I tell all our schools not to underestimate the amount of training and support required to implement new solutions, especially with staff who are not ‘digital natives’. Implementing new technology is usually more of an exercise in staff training and change management than effective installation. The opportunities if we get it right are huge. VR and AR will create teaching and learning opportunities that we can only currently guess at. Google Earth VR can already take learners to places they can’t even imagine. Microsoft’s HoloLens headset mixes VR and the real world. I’ve talked to a university working with engineering companies on AR solutions for trainees. They receive data about manufacturing equipment on their mobile devices while they’re in the factory so can learn on the job. I believe the biggest impact will come from the gamification of education through VR and AR; not just for children and young people, but for adults as well. The Bank of England estimates over 15 million jobs will be displaced by automation and robotics in the coming decades. That means we need a new way of educating our youngsters and retraining our adults. Playing games to learn is the most natural thing in the world, and not just for youngsters. The AR game Pokémon Go swept the world in 2016, played by children, adolescents and adults. Companies such as Deloitte, Samsung and Cisco already use gamification to train and retain staff, and that trend will continue.

With over 15 million jobs set to be displaced by automation and robotics in the future, “we need a new way of educating our youngsters,” says Watkins How do you feel the UK education system needs to change in order to overcome these issues? In relation to the top challenges facing the sector, I would offer three pieces of advice. The first is have an IT strategy. Most schools don’t have one, and that’s not entirely a surprise because heads are teachers and can’t be technical experts. The other challenge there is that schools work on annual budget cycles and don’t plan further ahead than the next financial year. The problem is that without a clear, coherent strategy you are likely to make poor or reactive purchasing decisions, buying only when something goes wrong or when you have extra cash left at the end of the year. The second is to invest in training for staff. For your technicians training in cloud solutions, especially protection against cyber threats, is vital; these are all increasing in education. Training and supporting staff, investing in the effective and efficient use of the tools you have, will enable you to get more from your investment. My third piece of advice is to use procurement frameworks to save time and money buying tech. The DfE recommends schools use procurement frameworks in their guidance on buying IT, but many schools find frameworks confusing and bureaucratic. A recent BESA survey of multi-academy trusts (MATs) showed that 30% felt negatively about frameworks, citing lack of flexibility and cumbersome procedures. There are several governmentapproved ones out there, so schools should therefore investigate different frameworks and find one that can offer the guidance and support they need. In relation to VR and AR, schools need

to find ways to bring tech out of traditional areas of computing and engineering and into all areas of the curriculum, including art, drama and music. An example of this is the project we’ve been working on with The City of London School, involving the establishment of a ‘Creative Learning Think Tank’ looking at embracing technology and digital content creation to support imaginative and disruptive thinking. What does Think IT do to help educators overcome these huge choices they have to make? Also, is there a particular group that will benefit more from your organisation’s services? Think IT was created to help the education sector buy technology. It is a DfEcompliant procurement framework that helps schools, colleges and universities find, buy and implement the technology that’s right for them. The first thing we do is help education establishments work out the technology they want and need. One of the tools we use is our IT Outcomes Framework. We believe that if you make IT decisions based on the outcomes you want for your learners, staff, parents and governors, you’ll make better investment decisions than if you focus on the technology alone. There are four outcomes that come up regularly: safety; increasing attainment; improving engagement; and making savings. Once establishments know what they want, we help them find the right suppliers. We have over 40 of the best educational suppliers in 18 edtech categories that cover every area of IT in education. That breadth of experience is invaluable in helping those who can’t afford internal expertise. April 2017


FEATURE: INCLUSION All children can access learning experiences with Sensory Guru’s Magic Carpet

THE RIGHT TO AN EDUCATION All children have a right to learn, yet those with special educational needs and disabilities have additional hurdles to surmount. Richard Doughty looks at how technology is being used today to include all students in education, from those with autism and dyslexia to those with severe physical disabilities


plashing through water and chasing fish, feeling the thump of bombs during the London Blitz, or being immersed in a fight with a woolly mammoth… these are just a taste of the latest visual, sensory and audio experiences that virtual reality software is bringing to students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Add to that the increasing use of software enabling learners to use eye movement to operate computers (like Stephen Hawking), and the power of the cloud to store and analyse data, and many of the traditional barriers faced by SEND students are being swept aside.

VIRTUAL REALITY A trawl through exhibits at January’s Bett show revealed a wide mix of virtual reality learning tools appealing to all the senses. Sensory Guru’s mobile Magic Carpet, housed in robot-like casing from Loxit, projects interactive video up to 4m wide on the floor or wall. It works equally well for SEND and mainstream pupils, 12

April 2017

who can walk over, sit on and crawl across the ‘carpet’ surface for activities including football, wading through a pond and making fish swim away, or taking part in quizzes. Non-verbal wheelchair users can take part by using touch, mouse and EyeGaze (eye movement) technology and iPads or other mobile devices to control the environment. Magic Carpet has a wide range of ready-made apps but access to a built-in wizard allows schools to make up their own apps using pupils’ photos from their iPads. The kit helps students make choices, practise hand-to-eye coordination and learn how to co-operate with others. As one primary head says: “When children are relaxed, engaged and having fun, they are learning at their best.” Smell, too, is increasingly being used to immerse students in new environments. Osborne Technologies “uses everyday content to create immersive spaces, using scent, smoke, vibration, wind, heat and cold, all the natural elements, to bring a new

experience,” says founder Tom Osborne. Osborne Technologies says any space can be converted into a sensory classroom, complete with audio and interactive video, which can give SEND and mainstream students virtual global experiences and make history come alive, such as living through the Blitz. The technology is also available in a readymade sensory classroom installed in a van and shared between schools.

COMPLETE IMMERSION For a full audio experience Now Press Play is a software program that children access via wireless headphones and immerse themselves in sound, movement and worlds they have never seen. They become the key character in an audio story, solving problems, doing actions, and ‘living the topic’ in their head, whether they are jiving to wartime band music, taking first steps on a new planet, or crawling through a mine tunnel. The product particularly helps slow learners understand subjects not grasped in conventional lessons. “It

KEY POINTS iPads, tablets, the cloud and EyeGaze technology are among the biggest influences on SEN technology over the past five years Lecture capture, with obvious benefits for those with dyslexia and other reading and writing disabilities, is spreading rapidly across UK universities, with students clamouring for wholesale implementation once facilities have been trialled The RNIB’s free Bookshare service is a centralised digital repository, providing blind, partially sighted or dyslexic students with text in the right font, type size and colour, and thus saving many hours of in-school photocopying by hard-pressed teaching staff

has different applications covering many needs ranging from children with autism to those learning English,” says CEO Alice Lacey. “You can pause the action and check for understanding. It’s

FEATURE: INCLUSION about encouraging children to use their imagination and bringing a different dimension to the learning experience.” Touch in the form of switch technology continues to play an important role for students with little mobility. In fact, a new-style wireless switch from Filisia Interfaces won this year’s Bett show award for SEN solutions. Called Cosmos, the set of switches comprises handsized plastic discs that respond to touch with sound, colour and light. Increasing use of haptic technology is providing tactile feedback for the visually impaired from whatever device is being used. “You can explore an image on screen by running a mouse across a graph and feel the line graph in the mouse itself. Or run it over an on-screen vase and feel its shape,” says John Galloway, author and advisory teacher on SEN and inclusion for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Another major influence is the impact of tablets and iPads, says Galloway. “Not long ago a touchscreen monitor was over £1,000 and the size of a tumble dryer but now we carry them around with us all the time. That’s the most significant change. If you think about text to speech, Siri voice control, dictation… they were all once quite specialist but now we take them for granted.”

EYEGAZE EVOLUTION One barrier to progress is the cost of special equipment. But plummeting prices have seen eye movement (EyeGaze) technology become a gamechanger, particularly for those unable to speak and with little physical movement. Around three years ago, Chailey Heritage School in Lewes, East Sussex, was one of the first special schools to buy an EyeGaze software unit costing £15,000plus. Now it has seven units, thanks to prices per unit now as low as £1,000. EyeGaze replaces the mouse function, picking up users’ eye movements and allowing them to almost instantly move the cursor by focusing on the screen. It removes the physical effort that, regardless of intent, can prevent students with disabilities from achieving their goals. A leading pioneer in EyeGaze technology is software specialist Inclusive Technology, which works with software developers to meet the

The RNIB works to provide technology to make studying possible for blind, partially sighted or dyslexic students changing needs of SEND customers. One of the latest products it has worked on is Grid 3, which is free, customisable software from Smartbox that allows anyone with disabilities to communicate and control both computer and environment. One Grid 3 grid holds key words that can all be spoken by the computer when ‘gazed at’ by a user. “It also allows teachers to analyse how a student uses it,” says the school’s assistive technologist, Tony Mitchell. A heat map of the screen shows which items have particularly interested users, providing user data previously inaccessible to teachers and manufacturers. “For instance, we can tell if a user can only see part of the screen. We can then change where we place the grids on the screen. “You can open and close doors, operate computers, switch the TV on and off and make a call on your mobile phone via Bluetooth technology,” says Mitchell. “In future, it could put young people with SEND almost on a par with more able people. It really breaks down barriers and gives them the potential to join the world of work.” Inclusive Technology CEO Martin Littler points to new developments with EyeGaze and the cloud which constantly receives EyeGaze data. “We can see every eye movement, how long they look, where they look, where they look first; it’s two-way. “People with autism and dyslexia tend to use their eyes in different ways,” Littler continues. “There are hints now that people with dyslexia don’t scan backwards and forwards when reading

print, and people on the autistic spectrum are looking lower down the screen than most. In the future, it could become a diagnostic tool. We’ll be able to give teachers more information based on the typical way people look at a screen. “I think it offers the best prospects of helping children severely locked in [compared with] anything we have come across for the last 30 years,” says Littler. “It’s a big step forward.”

FURTHER AND HIGHER EDUCATION Improved technology is a likely factor in a 4.2% increase in further education students registering with disabilities in the four years up to 2014-15, and a doubling of new undergraduates disclosing disabilities between 2003-04 and 2014-15, according to government and HESA figures. Like many FE institutions, Salford City College encourages students with physical disabilities to join mainstream courses, providing a separate centre for those with learning difficulties. Recent strides in mobile technology have helped many disabled students fit in with their able-bodied peers, both in their ability to learn and achieve and in preserving their self-esteem and wellbeing, according the college’s digital learning manager, Andrew Eachus. If students are given a piece of bespoke technology on their desk, they very often do not like it as they stand out; give them an iPad and they feel one of the class. Luke, for instance, is an intelligent student but has multiple sclerosis with

‘R Rixx-w wikis are e a wayy colllatting g innform matio on, makinng vid deo os abo outt youursselff and usiing g it as a voicce in mee etinngss succh as annuaal revview ws’’ Kath hryn n Sto owell,, Charrlto on Park Acaadem my minimal speech and is a wheelchair user. He was given a £1,500 EyeGaze unit and he hated it, says Eachus. “It made him feel tired and in class someone always had to set up the device for him; the screen got in the way between him and his tutor and it didn’t make him feel included. “So he’s now using a mobile phone with Clarocom Free, an app from Claro Software, which he absolutely loves as he can also use it at home with his friends. We’re now upgrading him to the £16.99 Pro version. He’d much rather use mobile technology.” APril 2017


FEATURE: INCLUSION The college has developed its own type of social network called Shared Space, similar to other platforms but completely safe, which helps prepare them for the wider world of social media. It also runs an in-house interactive student magazine linking up with community partners and local businesses. “We’d like it to go national,” says Gale.


‘T Thro oughh EyeG Gaze we cann te ell iff a use er cann onlly see e part of the e scrree en. We caan the en chaang ge where e we placce the e gridss on thhe scrreen’ Ton ny Miitcchell, Chailley y Heriitag ge Sch hool Claro, too, is taking advantage of a gradual relaxation in examining board rules on use of assistive technology in exams. Whereas students unable to read a conventional exam paper have traditionally been accompanied by a human reader, now Claro ScanPens combine with the camera on an iPhone, iPod or iPad to scan a photo of printed text and then ‘read’ it back to candidates who, again, no longer feel singled out. Or there is’s C-Pen, being trialled at Salford. In fact, colleges and universities are accessing a widening range of free mobile apps and internet services to provide cost-effective support for SEND students. Salford City College, for instance, uses a free iPad version of Dragon’s NaturallySpeaking text to speech software. London’s Orchard Hill specialist college values its students’ input so much that it appoints student ‘shadows’ to complement every full-time staff member in its IT department, says its head of digital learning, Simon Gale. “It’s very important as the students are passionate about technology; it makes our products unique as they are being developed by the students.” 14

April 2017

Dyslexia is a common problem for many learners but technology is helping colleges ‘catch’ students whose condition has still not been diagnosed by the time they enter college. Salford, for instance, uses screening software from BKSB to help detect the condition. The RNIB’s free Bookshare service is a centralised digital repository, providing blind, partially sighted or dyslexic students with text in the most suitable font, type size and colour, thus saving many hours of in-school photocopying by hard-pressed teaching staff. Dolphin Computer Access, which supported Sir Steve Redgrave’s successful campaign to set up the repository, is launching free EasyReader iOS software this spring to enable students to access Bookstore materials on tablets, with a free Android version to follow in May. Dolphin also offers a ‘Connect and View’ feature for visually impaired users to let them see their teacher’s laptop screen driving the whiteboard. “The software enables them to make notes and capture the content, in some ways giving them an advantage over sighted children,” says managing director Noel Duffy. Software such as TextHelp’s Read and Write Gold, originally designed for people with dyslexia, is now used to help all those struggling with literacy, including those with cerebral palsy and students learning English as a second language. Meanwhile, TextHelp’s Screenshot Reader can read back anything from the screen: “It scans the screen like a document,” says CEO Mark McCusker. “Many students get their educational content from PDFs which are often very difficult to read, so we work very closely with them in that environment.”

SEND IN THE CLOUD Data analysis via EyeGaze is just one way the cloud is being used to revolutionise SEND provision. Another is communication. “Special schools are often early adopters of new software in a constant search for improved communication for their students,” says SEN advisory teacher John Galloway. One special school pioneering cloud technology is Charlton Park Academy, Greenwich, which has given all its pupils “Rix-wikis” – easy-build websites developed by the University of East London’s Rix media centre to provide a voice for SEND students, particularly those who are non-verbal. Anytime and anywhere, users can add content to their personal website in the cloud, including pictures, words, audio and video, to express their hopes, fears, achievements and goals. “It’s a way of collating information, making videos about yourself and using it as a voice in meetings such as annual reviews where it can be daunting to be surrounded by professionals all talking about you,” says Kathryn Stowell, the school’s head of outreach and augmentative and alternative communication. Users can share all or parts of their site with specific individuals or go public, and they can spring surprises. Stowell describes how one student was a competent signer but his family found signing difficult at home; they thought he wanted to stay locally and continue at the school. Only when the family saw their son’s pre-recorded video at a review meeting did they discover that he really wanted to move onto college. “They were blown away!” says Stowell. “But it was a great outcome as their son told everyone via the video what he wanted to do.”

‘Y You cann explo ore an imaage on-scree en by ruunninng a mousse acrrosss a grap ph annd fee el the e liine graaphh inn the e mouuse ittself’ Joh hn Gaalllowaay,, SE EN adv vissorry teaacherr CAPTURING EVERYTHING Lastly, lecture capture, with benefits for those with dyslexia and other reading and writing disabilities, is spreading across UK universities, with students clamouring for implementation. Essex University, known for its emphasis

on equal opportunities for all students, has been one of the early adopters of the technology, supplied by Panopto. Lectures, including words, screenshots and video, are captured from 6:00am to 9:00pm each working day in more than 200 teaching spaces. Rapid advances in technology will continually raise expectations but only if teachers stay the pace. But as John Lamb, executive director of the British Assistive Technology Association, points out: “Teacher training institutions must spend more time looking at assistive technology and how it can be best used in class.” Otherwise, he says, professionals will often continue to struggle to keep up and be unaware of what is possible.

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Robotics can be used to provide students with an inspiring contextualisation for various technical and scientific disciplines, according to Dassault Systèmes

ROBOTS ON THE RISE What do Kubo, Finch, Phiro, Cubetti, Bee-Bot and Edbot have in common? That’s right; they are all educational robots that were on show at Bett. However, asks Ian McMurray, have they made it out into the real world yet?


f you were a child of the late 1950s or early 1960s, Saturday morning pictures were something of a rite of passage, so long as you (or, more likely, your parents,) could afford the sixpence to get in and, ideally, fourpence for a Jubbly. Hula hoop competitions, yo-yo competitions, cartoons and then the main event. Most memorably, that was Tobor the Great, the story of the relationship between a boy and a robot. Fast forward 60 years, and what seemed utterly incredible is now, increasingly, an everyday reality. If you were at Bett earlier in the year, robots seemed to be everywhere; it was hard to avoid falling over the blooming things. But is that tradeshow reality being reflected in the real world of education yet? 16

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ESTABLISHED INTEREST “I don’t have precise figures but there is a lot of interest in using robots from primary schools onwards, and has been for over 20 years,” notes Professor Richard Mitchell of the Department of Computer Science, University of Reading. “Robotics has been used as part of our outreach activities since the early 1990s. Robots are often used in laboratory classes, mini projects, and undergraduate final-year projects. At the university, for example, we’ve run a cyber challenge project for our students for many years. Their task is to programme a Mars-type rover, to remotely investigate various scenarios and terrains.” The University of Reading is one of 70 university partners that use FutureLearn’s social learning platform to

run a variety of online courses. Its course ‘Begin Robotics’ will be running for the sixth time on the platform from 5 June 2017: registration is now open. “We are starting to see small robots in schools with students beginning to programme in symbolic languages, such as ‘Scratch’, and then download their programs on to the robots,” adds Dr Antonio Espingardeiro, IEEE member and product developer in software and automation, “while universities are increasingly offering more courses in robotics, automation and mechatronics.” According to Xavier Fouger, global academia senior director of programmes at Dassault Systèmes: “There are no statistics available, but it’s true to say that almost all colleges and universities in Western Europe provide learning

KEY POINTS The teaching of robotics is routinely featured in tertiary education – but adoption in primary and secondary schools is as yet less pervasive Imagination, creativity, teamwork and logical thinking are among the ‘soft’ skills that the study of robotics is said to encourage Learning to code finds new expression in robotics, providing additional engagement through using sensors and seeing ‘real world’ outcomes The ‘hard’ skills acquired by studying robotics are expected to better equip today’s pupils for tomorrow’s world of work


Holmer Lake Primary School is among those to have embraced the teaching of robotics (Picture: Amazing ICT)

opportunities based on robotics. In secondary education, the picture is very different. Only a small proportion of secondary education teachers feel confident enough in their own technical knowledge. By contrast, in Korea, this proportion is significantly higher.” “The use of robotics in schools is very mixed,” believes Richard Smith of educational computing consultancy Amazing ICT. “While some schools are purchasing robotics resources, they will often do so because it looks interesting, but due to their teachers’ lack of training in using these types of resources, or the limits of the internal computer network to install the software required, their investments often just end up in cupboards.”

IN ITS INFANCY Smith has something of an ally in Joe Mulligan, principal at South Wiltshire University Technical College (UTC) in Salisbury. “My view is that the teaching of robots and robotics is very much in its infancy,” he says. “There are two main approaches: teaching the principles with educational kits such as Lego Mindstorms, Vex Robotics and so on; and occasionally bespoke kits or projects. I’ve been involved in a very good two-day project where the students programmed robots to follow a path and make decisions. However the skills in

schools generally to use this kit are, in my opinion, limited at the moment.” It seems, then, that there is interest, but not yet widespread adoption, at least in schools, and where schools have experimented with robotics, the ability to fully exploit the opportunity remains limited. It is probably premature for primary and junior school pupils to be thinking about a career in industrial automation, for example. Given that they are not yet ready to acquire specific jobrelated skills, why would younger pupils benefit from working with robots in the classroom? “The main benefit is the tangible nature of robotics, as something will happen physically when you input and run the code,” says Smith. “For example, if you program a robot to move forward for one second, it will actually happen in front of you.” Echoes Julie Best, head of computer science at Leeds City College: “Applying theory to practice in a fun and informative way can simplify learning and increase understanding. It engages the students. It promotes logical thinking, problem solving and teamwork to resolve issues.” Adds Mitchell: “Programming robots to solve specific problems offers an engaging application for teaching logical thinking. Beyond that, tasks are

‘R Robo oticcs give es a purrpo ose e to mechanniccal scienncess, dynnamiccs, pro ogrram mming g, eng ginnee erinng designn, colllab borrattionn, pro oduucttio on eng ginnee erinng and varrio ous manuufactuurinng tecchnniquues’ Xavie er Fouger,, Dasssault Sysstè èmes often carried out in groups, which also encourages students to develop their interpersonal skills.”

robots represent a motivation to study STEM subjects.” Jeff Rubenstein, who is VP for product learning and collaboration at Kaltura, sees similar benefits. “The best thing about robotics in education is similar to the best thing about teaching students how to code,” he notes. “It allows students to exercise their imagination, their ability to analyse a problem, and discover their ability to solve those problems. This is arguably the most important thing we can convey to students.” Teaching coding has, of course, grown in popularity in schools in recent years, for the reasons Rubenstein describes. It is arguable that seeing the results of your programming efforts on screen is compelling, but that seeing something respond to your commands in real life is even more so. Beyond this, robotics often includes the use of sensors – detecting light, sound and objects – that add a dimension not typically found in classical coding for the PC. It is, however, important to be aware of the different levels of capability available, as Martin Hamilton, futurist at Jisc, explains. “Robots can be used in the classroom to teach a wide range of concepts around coding and computational thinking,” he says. “However, you can only go so far with a very simple robot like the Bee-Bot; all it can do is move left, right, forward and backwards and flash its lights, after all. “More advanced robots like the Lego Mindstorms products offer an openended experience where the learner can choose to build and program a robot, or create one of their own using a range of off-the-shelf parts,” continues Hamilton. “However, Mindstorms is significantly more expensive and many schools would struggle to find the funds to equip a whole class with robot kits.” A number of industry insiders do, however, make the point that children are never too young to acquire workplace skills that will stand them in good stead in the future, and not just practical skills, but softer ones too.

GIVING PURPOSE CREATIVITY CULTIVATION Espingardeiro says robotics helps cultivate creativity: “One of the most important elements in building and interacting with robots is creativity. And

“‘Collaborative engineering’ is a skill that is highly valued by employers,” notes Fouger. “And using robots is the perfect way to learn the practice of using a functional digital ‘avatar’ APril 2017


FEATURE: ROBOTICS “Festo and the university share a common goal to ensure that the key skills necessary to deliver the full potential of industrial automation are being developed alongside advances in the technology,” said Babak Jahanbani, head of learning systems at Festo Didactic (GB), at the opening ceremony.


‘P Pro ogram mming g ro obo otss to solve sp peciificc pro oble ems offe erss ann eng gag ging g app pliicaatio on forr te eachhinng lo ogiical thinnking g’ Pro ofe esssor Riichard d Mittch helll, Univ verssity y of Re ead din ng to drive and monitor a technical system. This concept is central for the implementation of practices in the context of ‘smart factories’. “Robotics can be used to provide students with an inspiring contextualisation for various technical and scientific disciplines,” Fouger goes on. “It gives a purpose to mechanical sciences, dynamics, programming, engineering design, collaboration, production engineering and various manufacturing techniques. When associated with digital engineering tools, it cultivates an essential characteristic which distinguishes engineering from tinkering: the ‘right first time’ attitude, a key employability competence.” Focus on the future world of work naturally intensifies through secondary and tertiary education. Leeds City College, for example, uses robots in its software development curriculum to aid with learning. At university level, a case in point is the recent installation at Middlesex University of what is said to be the UK’s first cyber factory training facility, with the equipment supplied by automation technology company Festo. 18

April 2017

With so many potential benefits to be obtained from introducing the study of robots into the classroom, what does the industry advise that schools that have not yet introduced it should do? “I would encourage schools to look carefully into this, and see how they can introduce robotics to support the learning of various topics,” says Mitchell. “There are examples of using robots in arts and drama, as well as the more scientific subjects, so think broadly.” “What I would suggest is that you should only buy one of the products to begin with,” adds Smith. “Schools can then train a number of pupils to be good users of the resources, give them badges as ambassadors so to show that they’re invested in the product and project. This will give them the confidence to train other pupils and even teachers. It’s better to buy one and invest further in training to get the product embedded into the curriculum, rather than buying ten that just end up in the cupboard!” Believes Mulligan: “Any advice I would give, as with any technology, is to make sure that you invest in staff training and skills and to think about hardware that is suitable for your educational setting, rather than what may at first seem the most impressive.” Hamilton sounds a cautionary note, however: “Robots could easily be the next interactive whiteboards if not introduced in a thoughtful way, so probably the key thing is not to rush into anything,” he says. “As a recent survey from BESA and Naace found, many schools are struggling with basic infrastructure such as wireless networking and internet connectivity, which are far more fundamental and underpin a wide range of facilities for staff and pupils. “We need to get these basics right and ensure that there is a level playing field across the UK if we are to fully embrace the potential of robotics,”

Arduino is an open-source electronic prototyping platform enabling pupils to create interactive electronic objects (Picture: Dassault Systèmes) continues Hamilton. “However, it’s also been difficult to recruit and retain teachers for the new computing curriculum, which should give us pause for thought when we come to consider more advanced robotics applications than the likes of the Bee-Bots. There is a real danger of putting people off teaching the subject altogether.”

‘R Robo oticcs allo ows stuude entts to exerciise the eir imaaginaatio on, the eir abiilitty to o analyyse a pro oblem m, and d dissco ove er the eir abiilitty to o solvve tho ose e prrob blem ms’ Jeff ff Rub bensttein, Kaltu uraa PROSPEROUS FUTURE The real case for teaching robotics is, however, perhaps put forward by Espingardeiro and Best. “Technology is becoming part of our

lives,” asserts Espingardeiro. “Robotic devices involve creativity, learning and a do-it-yourself philosophy. It is very important to equip future generations with this type of knowledge. The principles of robotics programming are applied to a variety of areas such as medicine, transportation, entertainment, industry etc. It is the sensor integration, object detection, and programming algorithms that represent the basics of, for example, self-driving vehicles or the emerging Internet of Things.” Adds Best: “There is a prosperous future for teaching robotics and it is becoming an integral part of everyday life. This includes programmable appliances in the home, from smart technology and heat control, to driverless cars. Robots are being programmed to perform basic healthcare, become companions for the elderly and do basic things such as vacuuming. The list is endless for the realms of human computer interaction.” What’s apparent is that robots and robotics is that rare animal in terms of the curriculum: a topic with not only academic value, but also one that potentially provides students with knowledge and skills that are applicable to their future world of work. It is a future we could not have begun to imagine 60 years ago. We’ve come a long way since Gadge helped rescue Tobor from the evil Dr Gustav.

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HOW TO: USE MOBILE IN HE Students at UWE are using their smartphones to aid learning. Picture: UWE Bristol Dave Pratt

SMARTPHONE, SMART UNI University students are inseparable from their smartphones, yet rather than fight the revolution, many universities are embracing mobile as an aid to learning. Terry Freedman investigates


t hardly needs stating that the majority of people carry a smartphone, a device that is increasingly being used to access the internet. According to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report of 2016, 71% of adults own a smartphone, a figure that rises to 93% when those aged 16 plus are included. As far as the student population is concerned, a 2015 study by McGraw-Hill found that 61% of students said that they used their smartphone regularly to aid study; this figure is almost certainly larger now. Universities recognise the need to make resources and facilities accessible on mobile devices. In this article we look at three examples of how students are using their smartphones at university, both in and out of the lecture theatre.

VIDEO ASSESSMENT A challenge facing Manuel Frutos-Perez, director of learning enhancement at the University of the West of England (UWE), concerned assessment. In nursing, for example, an ability to communicate is crucial, but a traditional examination-type approach would only tell the instructor if a student understood the theory. The solution has been to incorporate students’ use of smartphones, in the form of video-based assessment. 20

April 2017

On the first-year nursing degree programme, students are grouped into threes and given roleplay assignments. Two of them act out the roles, while the third films them on a smartphone. Then the roles are rotated. According to Frutos-Perez, “These videos form the basis of a highly detailed written self-reflection, and show whether or not students can put the theory into practice”.

CAPTURING LEARNING To facilitate this large-scale use of students’ video recordings, UWE has integrated Kaltura’s video platform into the virtual learning environment (VLE), making it easy for students to upload their videos. At the same time, the categorisation of the videos and other metadata are handled in the background. For outside of lectures, UWE has developed an app that makes it easy for students to manage their library accounts, check their timetable and find where their next lecture is taking place. Helen Caldwell is the senior lecturer in education (primary computing) at the University of Northampton, her students being trainee primary teachers on the BA primary QTS and foundation degree in teaching and learning. The students in her computing and

technology enhanced learning (TEL) seminar sessions are encouraged to use their smartphones to capture their activities and then to post to the online Google Plus communities and personal blogs associated with the modules. Caldwell states: “This blended approach extends the formal learning into more informal contexts away from the faceto-face sessions.” Students also submit their blogs as reflective e-portfolios for their module assignment. A key feature of Northampton’s computing and TEL work is using technology to support children engaging with authentic real world exploration to make and share a range of digital artefacts. For example, students use their smartphones to take a photo, and then use Thinglink to overlay it with tags that, in effect, bring the picture alive by embedding documents, videos and other types of link. Caldwell believes that students use smartphones well to share and build knowledge collaboratively, such as through social media.

AUGMENTED REALITY Steve Wheeler is associate professor of learning technologies, and is the subject lead for ICT and computing at Plymouth University. His students on the BEd (primary)

course use smartphones sometimes to grab images from the screen and then use them to jog memories of conversations, or maybe use them in blog posts, or annotate them. As part of the course, students do a ‘learning walk’ around Plymouth, the objective being to tell the history of the town without words, courtesy of their smartphones’ cameras and augmented reality apps such as Aurasma, Layar and Blippar. These enable students to turn images (and other objects) into rich interactive experiences. According to Wheeler, students’ use of smartphones is good, in that they share ideas on social media, and sometimes poor, such as when they check their emails in lectures. Yet Wheeler is very definite about the value of mobile technology in universities: “The future of learning is smart mobile. As I said in my book Learning with E’s, ‘You literally hold the future in your hands.’”

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CAPTURING KNOWLEDGE Educators impart their wisdom every day in lectures, which are traditionally only available to the students who attend. Now, with lecture capture technology, students can make the most of lectures at any time and from anywhere, while the university or college is able to build up a wealth of archived information for future use. Take a look at Tech&Learning UK’s top picks

SONY VISION EXCHANGE Vision Exchange is a collaboration system and active learning platform that creates an immersive environment for lecturers, students and colleagues to learn, collaborate and brainstorm ideas in a workgroup-based setting. It also acts as a lesson capture tool; any image on the main view can be saved as snapshot and then be downloaded to wirelessly connected Windows OS devices or to a USB memory stick inserted to the main unit, to review collaboration results. Students or teams can work collaboratively in small independent workgroups or clusters, connecting wirelessly to the platform via their own laptops, tablets or smartphone devices. Information created by workgroups using on-screen annotation tools or a

whiteboard with a digital tag can then be saved as snapshots and downloaded to their personal device so that students can review not only the presentation but their own notes, wherever they are. Vision Exchange benefits both teachers and students by allowing teachers to easily monitor, review and share their students’ work as well as capturing it for future reference. If they see something interesting at one of the groups, the teacher can send that image to all Pod screens to share with all students. For students, Vision Exchange uses simple BYOD mirroring to enable them to easily show what they know, what they

have worked on, or show their findings or research material. Together with using annotation, whiteboard and text labelling capabilities, students can share ideas and capture them to personal devices. Vision Exchange display output can be easily combined with Sony’s SRG series

cameras, providing HD signal feeds to the lecture capture solution platform. This means users can capture all angles so that students can not only review their notes but watch the entire lecture or class back in their own time.

any Windows computer. Ad-hoc recording is easy; walk into the classroom and click the red button on the screen, and pause and resume at will. The synced recording, including audio, screen capture and camera feed, uploads automatically. It can be managed from the Kaltura MediaSpace CampusTube Video Platform or directly through the Kaltura LMS integration. Once uploaded, the video can be edited and enriched with captions, interactive video quizzes and so on. It is simple to add descriptors and tags, plus a title, for easy searching via the virtual learning environment. MediaSpace enables easy management, reuse and publishing of video content across campus. Because the upload service runs in

the background, there is no possibility of a recording being lost. Traditional proprietary lecture capture solutions are typically only found in main lecture theatres because they are expensive. Kaltura Lecture Capture works on off-theshelf hardware, giving lecturers the freedom for the first time to record any lecture, wherever it takes place, very cost effectively. For administrators, video management is simple. Recordings are automatically uploaded to Kaltura MediaSpace, which is integrated with the VLE. Videos are easily shared and accessed across the campus for teaching and learning, marketing, admissions, student life, and alumni relations.

KALTURA LECTURE CAPTURE Kaltura Lecture Capture makes it easy to record lectures with just the click of a button. Its intuitive interface means there is no complex set-up, and no lengthy learning curve for lecturers or administrators. Once the recording ends, it is automatically uploaded to a


April 2017

virtual learning environment. Unlike traditional proprietary solutions, the software accepts recordings from any Open Capture Standard recording hardware. Cameras and screen captures are recorded in full HD and managed from

TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASE: LECTURE CAPTURE MATROX MONARCH LCS IT administrators will find the Monarch LCS appliance – an easy-touse, fully schedulable lecture capture device – to be an excellent addition to their portfolio of learning tools. Simple to set up and integrate into any open video management system or lecture management system, the Monarch LCS enables lecture capture in any and all classrooms. The appliance provides two independent video files or streams, allowing audiences to remain fully engaged by putting control into their hands. When it is used with a compatible third-party player, the aligned video streams enable the viewer to seamlessly select and switch between their preferred layouts. Otherwise, preset production modes

allow lecturer and presentation materials to be mixed before recording and streaming, offering a simple set-up for streaming purposes. Through the new scheduler function, the Monarch LCS can be set to start automatically before an event without any human intervention required. The Monarch LCS scheduler supports the iCalendar (.ics) standard, which can be generated by a variety of scheduling applications including Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook. Allowing identification of multiple devices on a single master calendar, when the schedule is imported to a Monarch LCS appliance, it will automatically start and stop streaming and recording events at times corresponding to each individual device.

CRESTRON CAPTURE HD HIGH DEFINITION CAPTURE RECORDER Crestron’s Capture HD recorder is a high-performance HD presentation capture solution designed for a variety of applications including colleges and universities. It records the complete AV presentation, classroom lecture or training session in high-quality H.264 format at up to HD 1080p resolution, and allows live streaming of HD video and audio over an IP network to a touchscreen, computer, mobile device, Crestron DigitalMedia system or thirdparty streaming media system. Audio content is captured in stereo along with the live ‘speech’ signal from a wireless microphone. The two signals are mixed together and recorded as one high-quality stereo signal. Integration of Crestron’s Capture HD recorder into existing AV presentation systems and networks in a classroom, lecture hall, training lab or boardroom is simple, low cost and easy to use, allowing presenters and instructors to use their choice of multimedia

sources, including highdefinition videos, computers, whiteboards and annotators. Without requiring any special training or extra effort from the presenter, the Capture HD records the complete presentation in full-motion HD 1080p or 720p and uploads it to a network server for publishing. For students, the recorder offers the chance to review lectures and materials and catch up if they have missed a class. It also has the potential to enable the university to offer a distance learning programme for international students. Lecture capture is now a campus standard at Oregon State University, US, which was one of the first to install Crestron’s recorder when it launched back in 2012. “The Crestron system is a game changer in terms of quality, simplicity and affordability,” says Raul Burriel, information technology consultant at the university. In the UK, universities that are currently using the recorder include Cambridge, Sheffield Hallam, Sunderland, City and UCL.

The Monarch LCS’s updated ability to record files locally to an SD card or attached USB drive, and then transfer the data to network-mapped drives at a later time, reduces demand on the network during peak times. This also avoids data loss during peak hour transfers due to errors or connectivity issues. Transfers can be triggered

manually or programmed to occur at a preset time each day. The Monarch LCS tracks successful file transfers and avoids retransferring unless it is specifically requested. Failed or incomplete transfers are also tracked and tagged for future retransfer.

SONIC FOUNDRY MEDIASITE Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite Video Platform is used in 1,500-plus colleges and universities around the world for lecture capture, flipped and blended learning, professional development and campus events. Users choose the video streaming and management model that works best for them: on-premises, in the cloud, or a mix of both. Mediasite boosts student achievement and retention, creates a unified campus video library and helps schools stay competitive with flexible programmes. Among the suite of Mediasite products are: Mediasite Join, a unified communications solution that seamlessly integrates with all leading video conferencing solutions and captures exchanges between a classroom and a remote student; Mediasite Catch, an easy to use, podium-based video capture software for classrooms not equipped with extensive AV; Mediasite Engage, an

application that allows for embedded quizzes; and My Mediasite, a desktop video publishing tool to facilitate flipped learning. The University of Leeds created the largest end-to-end automated and integrated lecture capture and multimedia management installation in the world using Mediasite. Mediasite captures and manages the AV content in teaching rooms for students to watch live or on demand. In addition, My Mediasite gives faculty and students the ability to create and share presentations from desktops or mobile devices. Since autumn 2014, the faculty has used Mediasite to create more than 72,000 academic video recordings that receive over one million views each year. Also, the University of Bristol uses Mediasite for campus-wide lecture capture and video content management, and lecturers use My Mediasite.

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TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASE: LECTURE CAPTURE EXTRON SMP 300 SERIES The SMP 300 Series of products are high-performance streaming and recording processors for capturing and distributing AV sources and presentations as live streaming and recorded media. They incorporate Extron’s FlexOS, a platform for automating system operation. Accepting HDMI, component, composite and optional 3G-SDI signals, SMP 300 Series processors can record and stream simultaneously and can stream at two different resolutions and bitrates concurrently, using a range of transport protocols and session management options.

They offer highly flexible source presentation options. Channel A and B input signals can be presented on the output individually at full screen or together in any two-window display arrangement, including side by side. Up to 16 customised window presets can be prepared, combining the Channel A and B inputs with a PNG background image and metadata. These flexible, multi-source processing features make it easy to recreate the live presentation experience. Comprehensive control and configuration features make SMP 300 Series processors integration-friendly and easy to control and operate.

WOLFVISION CYNAP Cynap is an all-in-one wireless presentation and collaboration system that features a built-in media player, web conferencing, recording, streaming, and BYOD mirroring functionality. This powerful knowledge-sharing solution enables users to play, display, record, and share multisource digital content material from almost any source, and its comprehensive BYOD provision facilitates wireless screen mirroring from any mobile device using built-in support for AirPlay, Miracast, and Chromecast. Recording of content materials is a key requirement in most installations, and Cynap offers a flexible approach to lecture capture. For example, students using WolfVision’s vSolution Capture app for iOS, Android, and Windows can receive and record a stream of on-screen multimedia lesson content directly onto their mobile devices. Making their own recordings gives students the flexibility to choose when to start and stop recording, and encourages them to focus on capturing only the onscreen materials that are most relevant to them. At Okayama University in


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Japan up to 120 students in each classroom are making their own personalised lecture recordings in this way, and functionality is also included that enables students to add their own notes and annotations to the recorded stream during capture. Internal HD recording is also available, suitable for centralised capture and distribution of learning content materials for online use. When automation of lecture capture processes is a requirement, an optional Opencast lecture capture pack can be added. The capture agent is compatible with the popular Opencast environment, and this provides secure, reliable, scheduling, processing, management and intelligent distribution of video recordings. To capture ‘live’ materials, Cynap can be combined with a WolfVision Visualiser.

SMP 300 Series processors are said to be ideal for use in virtually any environment where AV sources can be streamed live or recorded for future reference, especially when combining multiple AV sources will

enhance the message. These H.264 processors have a low cost of ownership, making them a cost-effective solution for delivering presentations to a larger audience.


Panopto is a global specialist in video management and capture, built with technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science. The Panopto Video Platform offers its users a flexible, software-based video solution that can be used to record, edit, distribute, search and upload multimedia content within a few clicks from a laptop, mobile device or using a more sophisticated AV set-up. The recording functionality can capture video, audio, slide decks, computer screens and more. All recordings are stored in a secure and fully searchable video content management system and can also be embedded on websites or intranet portals so institutions can share recordings however they wish. Existing video content, and any recordings made outside of Panopto, can be uploaded into the Video Platform and will take on the properties of a Panopto recording. Plus, integrations with a number of commonly used learning management systems means users can access video through already-familiar systems.

Students benefit by being able to watch back recorded lectures, flipped sessions, video tutorials and more using their preferred device. They can add time-stamped notes and bookmarks to sessions to make it easy to refer back to key content for revision. They can also use the Smart Search functionality to search for a keyword within the video. The University of Wolverhampton recently opened the doors to its new state-of-the-art Science Centre. The University wanted to produce video recordings of demonstrations and archive them for access by students on-demand. Three dedicated Panopto lecture capture recording spaces were designed and installed in the building, taking into account the discipline-specific requirements of capturing detailed demonstrations of scientific experiments. The recording spaces consist of touchscreen interfaces fit for a laboratory environment, and a variety of flexible recording devices including movable ceiling-mounted cameras, high definition webcams and document cameras.


LONDON CALLING! Heather McLean picks out six outstanding innovations from the hundreds on show at the country’s premier edtech event


ett 2017 was bigger and better than ever, with the show heaving with visitors and jammed with a plethora of exhibitors there to meet every need of the educator. Altogether, 35,000 people from the worldwide education community gathered at ExCeL London to be inspired and educated by the most innovative game changers within the sector.

TOP PICKS OF BETT Tech&Learning UK spoke to a multitude of companies at the show, many of which are in this edition of the magazine in more detail, including Boxlight, Studytracks, Veative, EdLounge, and Zappar. We also managed to pick out our favourite technologies and innovations, with six outstanding products that we believe are ones to watch out for over 2017. SMART Technologies’ Smart Board 6000 Series interactive display with iQ is a great package: a complete endto-end, education-relevant display that includes the complete SMART package of software, content and simplicity – a comprehensive ecosystem in one. We were also taken with the Avocor AVX-7510. This interactive display gives educators exactly what they need; cutting-edge technology that is incredibly easy to use. Just connect and you’re away using Windows 10: it’s that simple. We believe that students are going to absolutely love the new Veative VR Learn. It is set to bring the best of new technology to the classroom in a way that will stimulate, enthral and encourage learning, while being easy to use and curriculum-relevant. Sensory Guru’s Mobile Magic Carpet, is, we believe, a truly innovative product that opens up new worlds of education and learning for students of any ability, from mainstream through to those with severe SEN requirements. It’s revolutionary. 26

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Some of the 35,000 people who came to Bett to learn from innovative game changers in the world of ed tech We felt the Boxlight Labdisc sensor-packed kit is a truly innovative, robust, hand-sized science ‘lab’ used with most tablet devices. Packed with up to 14 sensors measuring anything from sound and motion to air pressure and distance, it is available in four different versions covering either general science, physics, biochemistry or the environment and catering for all key stages. Meanwhile, we found the Dell Latitude 11 Convertible (3189) with Dell Productivity Active Pen (PN557W) to be a robust, versatile and light convertible (two-in-one) laptop well equipped for rough handling, with 360º flexibility, designed for both Windows and Chrome operating systems.

EXOSELFS TO WIFI Also at the show, Promethean provided some exciting insight into using technology to explore the possibility of new ideas, from 3D learning to 3D visualisation, the creation of ‘exoselfs’ for a personalised approach to learning incorporating adaptive artificial intelligence, and lifelong learning, “all

coming into our own da Vinci moment”. EdLounge was at Bett showing educators how to bring excluded students into the classroom with the use of its platform, which allows expelled kids to work remotely while still being mentored and monitored by teachers. This allows them to continue to progress in their studies, rather than letting them step off the radar the moment they leave school. And Ruckus Wireless spoke to Tech&Learning UK about that most important of commodities in educational establishments today, connectivity. The company told us of its broad experience in this field, from creating a stable WiFi network on campus to saving money for schools and universities, to onboarding and offboarding new and old users to the network securely, and managing mobile devices. Other excellent products that we were able to look at included: Actiontec’s ScreenBeam 960 enterprise-grade wireless display receiver; Agent 42 presenting Acer’s Chromebook Spin 11; Barco WeConnect, a collaborative learning

solution; Crestron’s HD-MD-400-C low-cost huddle room and classroom presentation solution; Extron Electronics’ SMP 111 recording and streaming processor for lecture capture and distribution; and Vivitek’s NovoDS digital signage solution and NovoPro collaborative presentation system.

FUTURE GAZING Meanwhile, Bett Futures, a platform designed to nurture emerging edtech start-up companies, returned to the show following a successful launch in 2015 and impressive growth in 2016. Studytracks was on show in the Bett Futures area, showcasing its innovative approach to learning. George Hammond-Hagan, the CEO, is also an Ivor Novello award-winner, and he has now turned his musical talents to the education arena. He takes text that students need to learn, from poetry and prose to history and science, and turns it into a music track that they can listen to, learn the words of, and absorb; literally, study tracks. That’s it from Bett for 2017; we are already looking forward to 2018!


HELPING EDUCATORS MAKE CHOICES Thousands of teachers and heads of IT went to The Education Show to make the most of the CPD and innovative resources on offer Understanding the hype at The Education Show

Children testing out some of the exhibits

There were plenty of learning opportunities at the show


n its 27th year, from 16 to 18 March at the NEC Birmingham, The Education Show welcomed educators from across the country. There were around 10,000 visitors to this year’s show and over 120 continuing professional development (CPD) sessions. It is when you combine the quality of the scheduled CPD sessions with the advice offered by the exhibitors that you start to realise why taking a day out of school to visit the show is time well spent.

THEATRE SESSION INSIGHT Here’s an illustration of the power of this combination of factors. On Friday 17 March, the Central Feature Theatre hosted a session entitled ‘Introducing Visigo, a smart monitoring solution to keep children safe online’. This explored the features and functionality of this new monitoring solution that alerts users to suspicious or inappropriate behaviour both online and offline.

The presenter of this session, Ben Jones from Smoothwall, was then on his stand to offer a higher level of insight about the issues surrounding internet security. The company also ran a competition to win a drone, the lucky college teacher that won it claiming that it “made her day”. On Thursday 16 March, Miles Berry, principal at Roehampton University, shared his insights on the challenges facing schools in assessing computing. After talking through the issues and opportunities, he demonstrated some of the technologies that can help with this, including automated analysis of pupils’ projects, tests for code correctness and diagnostic questions.

CODING KNOWLEDGE For those interested in primary computing skills, the TTS Group stand was of interest, where the team encouraged visitors to code Blue-Bot. The Blue-Bot robot helps primary-age pupils code, debug and

simulate algorithms aligned to the new National Curriculum for computing. Key Stage 1 pupils from Gateshead were seen thoroughly enjoying a Blue-Bot workshop, programming the robots to navigate a jungle of leaves and animals. Meanwhile, J2code, which meets all of the coding elements of the National Curriculum for computing programmes of study for KS1 and KS2, was teaching teachers to use it to code. Teachers can run coding on any device and have the option to share, publish, annotate and blog their code as well as connecting and integrating with the award-winning Just2easy tool suite.

VR TO MICROBIT TO DALEKS With virtual reality (VR) a big trend for 2017, demonstrations of the technology were an exciting new development at this year’s show, with the Avantis VR headset drawing attention. The team was giving out free VR headsets to visitors on the stand.

EducationCity’s answer to supporting the primary computing curriculum was seen on its stand. Its computing module is designed to help students prepare for the essential computing skills they will need in later life. It also encompasses the importance of e-safety, both in school and in a home environment. Tablet Academy gave teachers an exciting demonstration of Google Expeditions. Sessions for both MicroBit and Minecraft Education were well attended at Tablet Academy. They also had a hands-on green-screening session for visitors to get involved with. Meanwhile, many teachers clamoured to take photos with BBC Teach’s on-stand Dalek, while also finding out how Doctor Who can help to teach the MicroBit. Overall, the show was a great success. A statement made by a number of visiting teachers was “I’ve got some great ideas to take back to the classroom.” April 2017



TAKING TECHNOLOGY FORWARDS Three years ago, St Joseph’s Secondary School in Rochfort Bridge, Ireland was in an IT mess. Today, enthusiastic teacher and self-declared ICT geek Stephen Eustace has turned the school around, from fixing its connectivity issues to introducing the latest technologies into the classrooms


hen I started at St Joseph’s Secondary School the main issue was that there was no sense of ICT direction,” comments Stephen Eustace, accounting and maths teacher at the school. “There was a willingness to move forward, just the compass was not pointed in a particular direction and indeed, not calibrated.” There were many issues with the ways in which the school worked with ICT at the time he began working there, notes Eustace. These ranged from the staff having Google email addresses but not using them, no sharing or collaboration taking place within the Google platform, to poor computer hardware and software, and WiFi that was non-existent in many areas. Also, ICT procurement was done through a middleman who performed firefighting trips to the school, but who did not make proactive steps to cure any of the problems.

CHANGING ATTITUDES Since arriving at the school in September 2014, Eustace has been busy. Eustace describes himself as, “a geek, plain and simple”. He says: “I have a passionate interest in ICT. After joining the school, I assessed its needs and I wanted to focus on the experience in the classroom. I felt that if I could make the ICT in the classrooms work better, teacher attitudes toward ICT usage would improve and they would want to take the next step.” He began his work in the computer room, upgrading the components in the computers, and reinstalling those computers to move from complex to simplified logins and from a lack of useful educational software to useful and up-to-date applications. “The key


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focus was on standardisation,” he says. Further work in the computer room included taking presentation wireless: “I connected my Microsoft Surface Pro 2 initially with a physical connection, VGA to Mini-DisplayPort. Then I purchased many wireless display adapters and installed them in the computer room, which enabled me to connect wirelessly to the screen.” In the computer room and elsewhere in the school, projectors were updated. The school stripped out ten Epson and InFocus projectors in all and replaced these with five Optoma H181X and five W300 Optoma DLP projectors. Eustace comments: “The W300 is a great projector. It has a high lumen count and is very robust. The H181X has USB power which is brilliant for things like the Google Chromecast or WDA from Microsoft.” He adds: “I installed Goodmans Soundbars under the whiteboards in many rooms, the reason being the price was great at around €50 for a 50W Soundbar – two 5W USB desktop speakers were quoted close to the same price. Also these Soundbars have Bluetooth connectivity, which will be useful in the future, and great audio quality.” Eustace has also implemented Actiontec ScreenBeam devices to allow wireless content sharing from a laptop, tablet or smartphone screen to almost any HDTV in HD, further opening up teaching.

MICROSOFT PREFERENCE After completely updating the school server room, Eustace moved his focus to the school classrooms, introducing Office 365 for emails for all staff and students, as well as OneDrive for file access and collaboration from anywhere, on any

device. The result of this move was that “lessons have been enhanced by Office 365 and flipped learning is taking place,” according to Eustace. Eustace went for Microsoft Windows over Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android because he felt it was the most logical step. He comments: “I find Windows logical to use (albeit I admit it is not perfect). I think each ecosystem has its pros and cons. Weighing up those I decided that Microsoft was best for us. Microsoft Office is a superior program and Office 365 is a natural extension of it.” Eustace also upgraded and replaced many computers used by staff around the school, putting Microsoft Office 13 Pro on all machines and adding SSD storage. Additionally, the WiFi was upgraded to cover the entire school. Next, a pilot programme with 30 Linx 10 student tablets, which run Windows, was begun. “This trial was important as I wanted to see how teachers would respond to having students with devices in their class.” “It got other teachers interested in teaching with a tablet. It has created and continued to be the subject of many discussions with students about the future of education and prompted very adult conversations from the second years that were involved in the programme last year, that would ask me if and when this would be a reality, and telling me ways they thought it would enhance their learning.” One of the learning points from the trial was that students starting secondary school had a range of ICT abilities. As a result of this, the school has introduced an eight-week ICT course for first-year students, while more continued professional development has been provided to staff on ICT.

EVOLVING TEACHING After trying out various tablet devices with different operating systems over the years, Eustace discovered the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. With its pen that provided a natural way of writing unlike any other device he had tried, plus what he calls a “game changer,” OneNote, as well as its familiar and intuitive ecosystem, he claims he was onto a winner. After that he went on to buy and test Surface Pro 3, Surface 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book. He uses these devices to teach with a projector and no whiteboard, commenting: “I have not turned my back on my students (literally) since I began using them. Classroom management and engagement are improved as a result of this. I love the excitement that the device still creates and its ability to hold the attention of teenagers by presenting the lesson content in a way that is familiar and compatible with the lives that they lead.” At the school there are currently around 13 Surface Pro and seven Surface 3 in use by teaching staff. Eustace then looked at how to save money on procurement: “I had many of the projectors and computers replaced and upgraded throughout the school, and I was using various peripherals to do so. The logical move for me was to have certain items on hand to be proactive rather than reactive so I began to hold certain products in stock. We began to save huge amounts of money on ICT procurement.”

GREAT RESULTS On the results of Eustace’s efforts, he comments: “Teaching and learning have been dramatically altered. The improvements that have been made

SOLUTIONS: ST JOSEPH’S SECONDARY SCHOOL with ICT in the school, the AV in particular, have enhanced student and teacher attitudes to tech. “Collaboration is evident and I believe that the atmosphere has changed from technology being an obstacle or nuisance to something that can enhance the class and the life of the teacher.” Additionally, there is much less photocopying and printing being carried out, due to the new way of sharing resources and working, saving the school approximately €10,000 a year. One of the challenges for Eustace was finances, as “finding money for these improvements is a challenge as we are a rural school that does not receive much funding, yet my principal has a great attitude and I did not hear her ever say ‘no’ straight away to something,” notes Eustace. “If the request for something to enhance the ICT was reasonable she always found finances to match the need.” Now the basic infrastructure and ICT is in a good state, Eustace is trialling different technologies to enhance teaching and learning. One being tested is the Intel Compute Stick, a device the size of a packet of chewing gum that transforms a display into a complete computer. It has been tested as a way to add computers to a room in an ad-hoc manner, and to provide digital signage in the school lobby. After all his work on ICT at the school, Eustace concludes: “I really enjoy coming here to school every day. I get real satisfaction from the ICT aspect of my work, even though it’s not my core activity. Teaching for me is still exciting, but I get a real buzz from the IT side, and I get to experience it on the teaching side.”

Eustace: “I felt that if I could make the ICT in the classrooms work better, teacher attitudes toward ICT usage would improve and they would want to take the next step”

A combination of the Intel Compute Stick and Optoma projector helps teachers work fast

April 2017


SOLUTIONS: UNIVERSITY OF BOLTON Dental students make the most of the university’s new tech

OUT WITH THE ANTIQUATED A local institution with international reach, the University of Bolton acquired the old Bolton Sixth Form buildings in 2015, and soon began a complete refurb of all IT and AV equipment to create a cutting-edge facility


he University of Bolton traces its roots back to 1824 when it opened as one of the first mechanics institutes. Granted university status in 2005, it now has a global student body of around 11,000 and was ranked a Top 40 UK university for teaching quality, according to the Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017. The university acquired the old Bolton Sixth Form buildings at the start of the 2015-16 academic year due to its expanding student population. After one year of assessing the technology available in the buildings, Ian Moth, IT and desktop support team leader for the university, came up with a business case for new kit.

COMPLETE REFRESH “What we had in the building was eight-year-old equipment; whiteboards, network infrastructure and smartboard projection solutions. We needed a complete AV refresh, as well as new IT,” Moth told Tech&Learning UK. The business case was made to replace the IT and AV facilities inherited from the college, and create a modern teaching environment, to be named the Queen’s Specialist Building. The upgrade was instigated to support the university and academic department goal of becoming a Teaching Intensive Research Informed 30

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(TIRI) university. Subjects to be taught in the modernised building were teacher education, the sciences and, new to the university for the academic year 201617, dental technology.

NEW AV TECH CDEC won the tender with a submission for AV, while DTP Group won the tender for IT kit. CDEC’s proposal included BenQ interactive touchscreens along with Extron controllers for remote management of the screens and system, and Goodmans Soundbars. Moth says of BenQ: “I had a preference for BenQ based on my previous experience with it. They provide a good screen, heavily locked down for security.” Covering 25 teaching spaces and two open access areas, CDEC installed a total of 21 BenQ 65in touchscreens and an additional seven 79in touchscreens, along with Extron MLC104 controllers using Extron Superplate connections, and Goodmans 60W soundbars. The AV solution was also implemented in a couple of areas at the university’s main campus, says Moth.

NO DENTISTRY DESKTOPS On the IT implementation, IT solution provider DTP Group installed HP switches for Ethernet provision and a total refresh of desktops for staff and student areas. However, in the dentistry

department, no desktop solutions were installed. The labs needed 4K capability as well as an open learning area with interactive capabilities. This was achieved through the combination of BenQ 65in screens in the open learning area and 79in 4K screens in the dentistry labs. On the latter, lecturers are able to use BenQ Q-Cast software and apps for wireless presentation from a laptop to the touchscreen, using handheld devices to control the screens. Notes Moth: “The dentistry department didn’t want the clutter of desktops and thought the embedded technology in the BenQ screens would be enough. We installed Moodle so they can access our virtual learning environment, as well as PowerPoint and YouTube, all implemented with the help of BenQ as the technology is very locked down, to prevent any random person walking into a classroom and installing an app.”

CHALLENGES AND TEETHING The primary challenge for Moth was the timeframe; from appointing the partners to having the project signed off, there were only six weeks before teaching commenced in the building. The pressure of this looming deadline was added to as when the implementation started, Moth discovered that the teacher education

programme was due to start two weeks earlier, so those rooms had to be ready in just four weeks. Teething problems encountered included a few sound issues. Explains Moth: “In the rush of things we just put everything in on a standard VGA analogue solution to get it up and running, but we changed to HDMI cables later on and the sound issue went away.” Also, there was an issue with staff members using the buttons on the BenQ screens to change settings or turn them on and off, whereas they should have been using the Extron control system. States Moth: “We had to get staff not to touch the touchscreen controls as Extron needed to be in control, but people were trying to bypass it.” With effective joint planning and communication, the project was completed on time, and fit for purpose on the first day of teaching. Concluding the project, GlobalViewer software for the Extron controller will be installed, to allow Moth’s team of 10 to manage the building remotely, This is important as the new building is three miles from the main campus.

SOLUTIONS: ST STEPHEN’S CE PRIMARY SCHOOL Zappar brings textbooks alive

AUGMENTING OUR REALITY Augmented reality is one of the buzzwords for education in 2017, but how can it be brought successfully into the classroom? We report on one London school that is making excellent use of this technology


ometimes it isn’t about what you know, but who you know. At St Stephen’s Church of England Primary School in London’s Shepherds Bush, one of the parents was head of a company using augmented reality (AR) technology and told the headmaster, Michael Schumm, about it. Schumm says of that first discussion in 2015 that “I thought it had amazing potential,” and things progressed from there. The parent was Casper Thykier, co-founder and CEO at Zappar, which uses AR tech to help people make their own AR-based interactive experiences, from promotions on till receipts to wedding invitations and even t-shirts. These experiences are delivered by ‘zapping’ a ‘zapcode’, much like a QR code or barcode, with a Zappar app or Zappar-powered app on an Android or Apple smartphone to literally see things come to life.

BRING LESSONS TO LIFE AR brings lessons and learning to life, fostering collaboration, interaction, engagement and understanding of a given topic. By connecting the physical world of textbooks, lesson plans and presentations with digital devices, teachers and students can add a new

type of visual aid and a splash of colour and excitement to any subject. Using a set of tools called Zapworks, the school began looking at ways it could use AR to enhance teaching. Schumm comments: “We started working with Zappar in 2015, and it has been useful from both sides, for them to come in and see how children use their product, and for us. Technology is about being accessible for everybody. As a learning tool, you can do masses with Zappar. All the children here are able to run with this and use it in so many different ways. It’s a really easy, childfriendly tool.”

IMAGINATIVE USES At the school, Zappar has been used with a broad range of students. In a creative writing competition, the technology was used from five and six year olds, up through the school. As part of the students’ English writing work, a competition was held, and the winning stories were brought to life with AR as an added incentive. Schumm says: “In our creative writing competition we made posters for the winning stories with pictures of the kids on them, which the parents could ‘zap’ to see the child reading their story in front of them! It’s really Harry Potter-ish; the

children just love it!” For the end of year school play, a production of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, the students playing the lead roles worked on their characters, using scripting, acting and presentation skills to be filmed for ‘Zapcodes’ that were put on individual posters for each character, promoting the play. “The children in costume and character came alive when you zapped the code,” says Schumm. “The children learned many skills and even had to direct each other. They were very involved in it.” Also, Zappar has been used to create a living diary of a three-day school trip. “It’s a good interactive tool to help children learn,” notes Schumm. Staff took pictures and students filmed clips throughout the trip, then the children helped to put together the footage and pictures to make Zapcodes to bring their trip back to life at school.

PLETHORA OF SKILLS Zapworks has helped bring together a lot of different skills for the students at St Stephen’s: furthering their basic knowledge of working with computers and dealing with different file formats; working as a team to make PowerPoint posters on a given topic; film-making skills, including directing, presenting

and acting, to animation and scripting; and curating multimedia content to create a compelling AR narrative, then presenting that back to the group with a fun take-home element on the topic to share with parents. Schumm adds: “You want a creative curriculum; with this technology, you’re taking it out of the book and making it fun for the students. It encompasses learning in very different ways, plus lots of discrete skills, such as individual thinking, creative challenges, learning outside of the classroom in a real environment, production skills, conveying messages, and thinking about the audience. It’s about imaginative learning and engaging the watcher.”

MAKING STORIES As for the future, Schumm has a multitude of plans for Zappar that is only going to grow. He says: “We’re going to France with the Year 6s, and they will be taking Zapworks with them to make a story of their trip. “There is much more we can do with this; we have a very diverse intake at the school and can use Zappar to promote different languages, international days, citizenship and promoting confidence.” April 2017



LABDISC A wireless, compact data logger for every science, with up to 15 built-in sensors and more


t may be small, but it is perfectly formed for the sciences. Labdisc from Globisens gets rid of metres of cables and piles of kit to be calibrated and set up for science lessons, and instead replaces it with a neat little disc that can be taken anywhere. A wireless, compact data logger for every science, with up to 15 built-in sensors and more that can be easily added on with small cables, Labdisc clears the clutter from a science lab and replaces it all with a single device. It is available in several versions: Enviro; Gensci; BioChem; and Physio; plus Mini with nine integrated sensors. Labdisc places an advanced science lab into the hands of young scientists. It is the only primary and secondary science solution with up to 15 wireless sensors built into a single compact device, changing learning in terms of convenience, cost and portability. Also, science kits and external sensors can be purchased separately that make possible every experiment for primary and secondary level biology, chemistry and physics. Using sensors, even the simplest experiment in a typical class of 30 students requires at least 90 separate items to be tested, calibrated, set up and put away. However, with Labdisc this number is reduced to 15; also, the Labdisc’s internal microprocessor automatically calibrates and tests all the built-in sensors to a known reference, releasing educators to focus on science concepts rather than equipment. As well as providing a cable-free, clean and safe working environment, a single wireless transmission from the Labdisc for all built-in sensors reduces radio interference. This also eliminates the need for costly transmitters built into every sensor. The device includes key features such as display, keypad, and memory, 32

April 2017

KEY FEATURES 15 sensors built into one small device More external sensors can be added on From Labdisc Biochem to the Mini, there is a disc packed with sensors for every scientific need

Data collection is independent of a computer 150 hours of data logging makes it ideal for field trips Use the GlobiMate tablet to expand Labdisc’s abilities enabling data collection, independent of a computer. This keeps science cost effective, and free from computing issues such as availability or even hard-to-read screens in direct sunlight on a field trip. Back in the class or Lab, the Labdisc can operate as a sensor interface, transmitting online measurements to the computer. With over 150 hours of data logging, the device is ideal for taking out on field trips that last several days. Biology or earth science students can explore hypotheses relating to slow-changing phenomena such as plant growth, or the impact of climate change and pollution. Among the things that can be done with Labdisc are: interactive multidisciplinary experiments; record sound waves and analyse sound beat and wave superposition using the Labdisc’s 24kps sampling rate; perform the classic Free Fall experiment and apply sophisticated GlobiLab analysis functions like quadratic regression to understand gravity; apply the broad built-in sensor range and long battery life to measure humidity, atmospheric pressure, noise, luminosity and temperature changes over 24 hours; verify the classic Gas Law (P x V = constant) to less than 1% error with the highly accurate air pressure sensor; and explore the effect of microclimates with full integration of the Labdisc sensors with GPS functionality.

Teachers can also buy the GlobiMate tablet, which offers built-in sensors and a microscope with a large touchscreen. Together with the Mini Labdisc, the Intel-designed GlobiMate is transformed into a powerful and portable digital laboratory with up to 18 built-in sensors. GlobiLab software enables students to measure their world, analyse real-time data samples and develop a skilled scientific response. Junior and secondary school students can benefit from GlobiLab’s platform for experimentation, data analysis and lab reporting, while wireless communication with the Labdisc hardware allows set-up via the

software and full control over the data logger and built-in sensors. Meanwhile, the GlobiLab software maps sensor values and plots them as a layer over a Google Map with GPS. Using the full Google Maps functionality, such as zoom, panning and the ability to choose a map or a satellite image, this powerful tool allows data display that indicates the actual location of where measurements took place. Students can map local pollution or weather conditions and compare their data with other schools, opening the door for meaningful collaboration between students all over the world.

SIMPLE, COST-EFFECTIVE, ROBUST Dr Stuart Fleischer, K-8 [kindergarten to 8th grade] science coordinator and middle and high school science teacher at the American International School in Even Yehuda in Israel, has been using Labdisc for five years. He comments: “Before Labdisc, students working with sensors looked like they were playing with an octopus. These are so simple to use; there are no cables unless you want to add a few sensors on, you can collect data and stream it straight to your PC, or save hundreds of hours of data. I always say you need to collect a lot of data to create a great story, and these discs enable students to collect a lot of great data.” Financially, Labdisc makes sense, notes Fleischer: “You save a lot of money as well, on separate sensors and software; it can get very expensive. Labdisc has made a big financial difference for us. The Labdisc Enviro is saving us around $2000 versus other company products. We currently have 16 assorted Labdiscs already and we’re getting more. “Also, Labdiscs are very robust, they just don’t break. We’ve had them strapped to the side of a camel on field trips, and students can see where we went, the speed of the camels, the temperature and more. That’s one of the things I really love about Labdisc; being able to take it outside with me. “The better information we have, the better stories we can tell, and therefore the more we can understand,” Dr Fleischer concludes.


STUDYTRACKS An app for GCSE and A-Level students that merges music with study materials


ou listen to a song and you remember the lyrics for years, without even trying. Then, out of the blue, that song gets stuck in your head and you can recall all the lyrics… what if you could control that?” So says George Hammond-Hagan, founder and CEO at Studytracks, an innovative app for GCSE and A-Level students. Studytracks is all about music and bringing the science behind how tracks and tunes stick in our heads to the art of learning and revision. HammondHagan is the winner of an Ivor Novello Award, a globally respected award for songwriting and composing presented by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA). He has turned that skill towards education, taking poetry, science and geography and turning text that students need to learn into songs with brilliant beats and catchy tempos that anyone would be hard-pressed not to learn. Studytracks is an app for GCSE and AS-Level students that merges music with study materials, using lyrics relating to a specific exam theme or topic. As the student listens to the music, these ‘hooks’ (short riffs, passages or phrases) become embedded in their memory so that when something triggers the hook, such as a word or phrase in an exam question, students are able to recall the information easily and effectively. At the end of every track, learners can then test their recall using the in-app quiz. The app currently features over 500 songs within various GCSE and AS-Level subject categories. Subjects currently available for GCSE are English literature, maths and AQA poetry. At AS-Level, Studytracks are available for physics, biology, chemistry, history, geography, maths and English literature. HammondHagan also told Tech&Learning UK that well-known artists will soon be featuring on Studytracks, adding to its appeal for students.

Studytracks is an exciting app that uses music to make studying easy

KEY FEATURES Many scientific articles have been written to show and prove how music affects and stimulates the brain; Hammond-Hagan has plundered that knowledge and used his own background in writing and performing music in the creation of Studytracks. Music activates several areas in the brain including the limbic, the medial obitofrontal region. It also stimulates long-term memory, affects how we feel, and can increase concentration [‘From Vivaldi to Beatles and back: Predicting lateralized brain responses to music’, NeuroImage, December 2013]. Further studies have shown that it is not necessary to even hear a tune in order to create the link between music and memory; the words are enough [Cady et al., Psychology of Music, 2008]. The human brain is constantly looking to create patterns and associations, and rhythm plays a large part in this process [‘Why that Song Gets Stuck in Your Head’, Business Insider, 2013]. Within three weeks of launching, Studytracks had 10,000 active users. Over 40,000 students have already downloaded the app from Google Play and the App Store. Studytracks V2.0 launched in September 2016 and includes greater functionality, integration, and more songs.

While Studytracks was originally created for students as a study and test prep tool allowing them to study anywhere and everywhere, after initial tests in a classroom environment it became apparent that it also serves as a powerful teaching aid for educators, with a purpose-built teaching platform now available.

Revision and learning app for GCSE and AS-Level Uses music to engage all students in learning Created by Ivor Novello Award winner Uses science behind memory and recall through music School platform available for teachers

Studytracks is being used throughout Year 11 at The Gregg School, an independent secondary school in Southampton. In February 2016 a prototype of Studytracks was used in a focus group at the school, which then went on to use it as a revision tool while staff began using it as a teaching tool to help embed learning in Key Stage 4. The school has now been using the app for nine months and while teachers are using it to enhance education, students throughout Year 11 are loving it, says Steve Gillespie, deputy head teacher at the school. “We’ve liked Studytracks from the word go. I could see the potential from very early on. Students like it; it’s not babyish or school-like. It feels very professional to them, and it turns kids towards stuff that otherwise would be hard for them to do. Particularly the poetry content has gone down well, in making quite difficult language accessible and engaging for kids, and that previously they might have struggled with. “Staff are using it creatively to actively improve learning in the classroom. It helps drive little key points, for instance in history on certain treaties, home,” adds Gillespie. Students are using it at home as well as in school, he adds: “We are getting a lot of use from Year 11s outside school. They are using it to revise. It’s been nice to hear them talk about revision positively!” On his wish list for the future development of Studytracks, Gillespie says: “It’s a really good tool for more able kids to go away and develop cognitive habits and skills, and it would be nice to see that used lower down in the school. The ability to use a well-crafted tool like this in years 7, 8 and 9 would hook kids of all abilities into things.”

April 2017



Crowds pack ISTE 2016

ISTE hits Texas Take a trip to the US this summer and head to San Antonio, Texas for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) event, being held from 25 to 28 June. For 38 years, the ISTE conference has highlighted the most important and influential trends in edtech, and ISTE 2017 continues that tradition, offering more than 1,000 sessions and learning opportunities in a variety of formats to accommodate many different learning styles. ISTE 2017 will attract more than 15,000 educators from across the globe. Attendees will travel from all 50 US states and more than 75 countries, including Spain, Singapore, Mexico, Jamaica, Russia and Japan. The ISTE conference is known for its energetic and supportive community, where passionate educators share best practices and ideas for using technology to improve student outcomes and foster connected learning in a connected world. New features at this year’s conference include sessions and resources supporting the 2017 ISTE Standards for Teachers (slated to launch shortly before the conference); also the Leadership Playground, where current and aspiring leaders will explore tools and techniques around the theme of Empowering Vision and Voice.


Microsoft Surface 3 encourages collaboration

Microsoft rules globally Google is experiencing strong growth of the use of its Chromebook platform in the US market, according to a new report. However, outside of the US, Microsoft is in the lead. A 58% marketshare for Chromebook in the US in 2016 is no mean feat when competing with Microsoft and Apple, but look beyond the US and the market picture is markedly different, according to a study from Futuresource’s education technology team on the adoption of mobile PCs in K-12 (primary and secondary) schools globally. While Chrome is starting to gain traction in some territories, Microsoft retains the international advantage. It is not just in the operating system space that educational technology adoption between countries is markedly different. In an upcoming report, Futuresource explores the landscape for K-12 administrative and instructional management software in both the US and the UK. The two countries share a common language and a similar curriculum, but illustrate substantial contrast in the adoption of education technology. Different structures for school management and procurement are a notable factor here. In the US, public schools are grouped into districts. There are over 13,000 districts but the largest 250 account for roughly 40% of students, creating enticing opportunities for suppliers looking to scale adoption and significant price competition for big volume deals. In the UK, purchasing of technologies is predominantly done on a school-by-school basis, creating a stronger reliance on channel partners and larger direct sales forces.

RESEARCH Women actively discouraged from careers in tech A survey completed by over 80 women who currently work in technology jobs within both public and private sector organisations, has shown that nearly half of those women were actively discouraged from starting a career in tech. This worrying revelation in a survey from QA, a UK technology training and apprenticeship organisation, is underlined by the fact that women represent just 17% of all technology roles within the UK [BCS/Tech Partnership Women in IT survey, 2016]. This figure has remained flat during the past few years, showing that there are not any significant improvements on the gender imbalance within the fastest-growing sector, technology. If the influencers are dissuading young women from a tech career, this gender disparity will only continue unless action is taken, says QA. QA’s research showed that in order to improve the ratio of women in tech, those surveyed recommended that the industry needs more role models (mentioned by 80%), more tech careers education in schools (79%), and more help from industry (65%), and government (36%), with others asking the TV and film industry to portray gender equality in technology.

EDITORIAL CALENDAR Coming up in Tech&Learning UK 2017 September 2017 Coding: We look at why and how coding is being taught progressively from primary to university and why it is important AR and VR: These technologies are edging their way into education. We look at how, where and why How to: Create lesson content with tech Tech showcase: Gamified learning Show review: EdTech/RM Event

November 2017 Industry and education: How industry is being bought into educational institutions to improve job prospects Mobile apps: What, why and how are mobile apps being used to open up education, from primary to university How to: Use video tech well Tech showcase: Projectors Show preview: Bett 2018 Please send editorial submissions to

Remember – you can follow Tech&Learning UK on Twitter at @TechLearningUK and on the web at 34

April 2017

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Tech&LearningUK April 2017 Digital  

Technology for engaging minds

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