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Happy new year to all 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: Abhi Arya Richard Doughty Ian McMurray Carolyn Savage

Tech&Learning UK is published four times a year by NewBay, The Emerson Building, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU, England Editorial tel: +44 (0)7823 777528 Sales tel: +44 (0)20 7354 6000 Please send press material to

© NewBay Media Europe Ltd 2017. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owners. Printed by Pensord Press, Wales

Print ISSN: 2057-3863 Subscriptions to Tech&Learning UK are free to qualified readers. Register online at

Welcome to 2017, and to the first Tech&Learning UK of the year! As the name suggests, technology in the learning space is the name of the game. We don’t believe in it for its own sake, though; we look to bring you tech that delivers real benefit, either directly or indirectly, to teachers or students. One person strongly associated with the world of tech is Sir James Dyson, he of the vacuum cleaner fame; an inventor of the old school. Yet he feels the UK is failing to produce enough engineers with the skills needed by companies like his. To that end, he has created the Dyson Institute of Technology. Turn to page 10 to see what he says. In this issue we have a feature exploring not just hot tech for the Editor: Heather McLean classrooms and lecture theatres of today, but those of tomorrow. In the future tech trends article on page 12 we look at the likes of augmented reality, virtual reality, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, and where these cutting-edge technologies are taking education, and educators. Not, it seems, to the front of the classroom: do not expect to see students passively watching the teacher at a single screen for very much longer. We are living in the era of the connected classroom. Staff and pupils demand instant connectivity throughout schools across a plethora of devices. Students today view their tech and access to it in the same way that older generations view electricity; it should just be there all the time. This is not the land of candlelight anymore; we don’t have chaps wandering cities at night snuffing out the street lights. Yet unlike candlelight and electricity, modern devices come in more than one flavour, and schools, like students, need to pick a favourite. I am talking about operating systems. Turn to page 16 to read about how primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities are going about picking between the ecosystems of Apple, Google and Microsoft, and why. There is little worse than the moment your IT fails on you, whether the WiFi goes down for no apparent reason, or the laptop you’re using to conduct a class from decides enough is enough and dies; it is always a disaster. With budgets always feeling the pinch, buying new kit to lessen these IT problems is not often an option. Ashmole Academy was facing these very problems; take a look at the solution it found on page 28. Until the next issue of this magazine, enjoy the first term of 2017! @techlearningUK

CONTRIBUTORS 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.

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.

Abhi Arya is partner at Sandbox and president at FEN Learning. He is passionate about impacting learning and believes that for this change to happen, all key stakeholders need to be engaged. FEN learning is driving tech and content innovation to enable better learning solutions.

Carolyn Savage is head of international education at Winter’s International School Finder. She is passionate about education and has spent 15 years working with children from all around the world. She understands the changing face of international education runs deep.

Robert Dragan is an education and technology enthusiast interested in social and mobile learning. He believes that machine algorithms will be able to provide a personalised experience to every learner around the world. Robert is currently the CEO of Learnium.

January 2017






FEN Learning’s Abhi Arya on teachers, the future and Education 2.0 Learnium’s Robert Dragan on mobilising personalised learning Winter’s International School Finder’s Carolyn Savage on edtech

10 Interview Sir James Dyson and the new Dyson Institute of Technology

12 Future tech trends Looking at the brave new world of cutting-edge classrooms

16 Which ecosystem? Choices, choices – Apple, Google or Microsoft for you?

20 Secure the network Network protection is simpler than it may at first appear

21 Show Preview: ISE AV show ISE 2017 brings a new hall for education technology

26 Show Preview: Bett Bett 2017 schedule in detail, for all it has to offer educators

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28 Ashmole Academy Replacing the academy’s network to support growth

30 The Warriner School Making communications with parents faster and simpler

31 Oxford University Revamping lecture AV equipment in the Department of Zoology

22 Showcase Looking at the options in touch display technology

32 Product Focus Customised coding in your pocket with the micro:bit Bringing kids together on Sensory Guru’s Magic Carpet


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ABHI ARYA While teachers are key to developing young people, technology training lags behind, slowing down the evolution of Education 2.0


t the boom of industrialisation, schools were tasked with training students in language and maths. It was their job to develop the basic skills and then to deliver young people to industry. But as the world has become increasingly digital, schools and teachers have had to take the challenge of developing the leaders of the future. Teachers’ jobs have evolved from being mass developers of industrial labour to mass customisers of education. They are now expected to develop each child individually to the best of their ability, develop competency in core skills such as maths, English, science, and digital literacy, while also equipping students with the key communication skills required to succeed in the 21st century, which is a mammoth task. There is no surprise then that the Education Policy Institute’s recent findings suggest that teachers are working up to 60 hours per week on a regular basis.

REFORMATTING EDUCATION The solution to this situation lies in reformatting education to reach a stage we refer to as Education 2.0, which is not a simple task. Schools today have one primary goal: to get better grades. And this needs to change. Education must move away from result-oriented motivation to development-oriented in order to 6

January 2017

evolve, and training teachers in new technology lies at the heart of this process. In doing so, the focus of teaching must shift to inquiry-based learning with a focus on developing the core competencies, and there are three key tools teachers require to move forward and embrace Education 2.0.

DIGITAL CONTENT Teachers need new lesson plans, videos and digital assessment content delivered on a simple and intuitive platform that can be seamlessly used between home and school. Not only does this deliver a more significant learning impact, it provides the flexibility that teachers crave in the industry. The evolution of teachers’ roles means they are now struggling to personalise learning at scale. Teachers need access to student analytics and granular data so they can understand an individual’s biases and dislikes for certain subjects, while also being able to assess their progress and make the necessary steps to help them understand concepts in their own learning style. This can be easily achieved through a one-to-one teacher-student relationship, but in order to take this approach to scale, there needs to be a better adoption of the technology that leads to masspersonalisation to a degree of one. Most importantly, teachers need better communication tools to

develop a framework for teacherstudent-parent collaboration. Only then can the concepts of flipped classrooms, home-school relationships and parent integration be made possible. To achieve this, the technology providers, school administration and tech departments must move up a notch.

‘Education must move away from resultoriented motivation to development-oriented in order to evolve’ TAKING FIRST STEPS The first step begins with an alignment of goals. How does your school see the path of child development today, and is it willing to invest available resources in the development of this path? Once the answer to these questions are clear, schools need to step up and acquire the required content, technology and

tools to make the goal achievable. This is where critical evaluation comes into play and choices need to be made. Does your school want a subscription to all-youcan-eat content or to specific skill development content? Does the infrastructure need to support collaboration across all devices? And does the solution need to be device agnostic, or must it cater to a particular tablet? Many such questions need to be answered, and teachers must fundamentally be part of the decision-making process, as the gateway provider between schools and students who essentially deliver these tools. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but with careful alignment, acquisition and deployment of resources, schools can shift the balance of education more towards new-age learning. Abhi Arya is president at FEN learning and partner, Sandbox.


CAROLYN SAVAGE How the landscape of technology in education is changing as ‘edtech’ is being implemented and coding, creativity and creation take precedent


oding, robotics, web design, 3D printing and green screens may sound like components of the latest sci-fi blockbuster, but they are in fact part of the changing landscape of technology in education. For a few years now the education sector has been focusing its resources on technology, with education technology funding rising by 64% in 2015 to more than $3.1 billion, according to data by CB Insights. This intense focus on edtech is because schools, colleges and universities have to adapt to meet the demands of the increasingly digitally focused world. Nowadays, understanding the latest technology is a requisite for anyone entering the jobs market. According to the World Economic Forum, the demand for technology skills will continue to grow by 20% by 2025, and new technologies will create more than two million jobs in just under five years’ time.

IMPLEMENTATION AND FACILITATION Technology is being implemented in schools worldwide. In Abu Dhabi, for instance, the education council, otherwise known as Adec, has introduced Google Computer Science (CS) Education into its curriculums for 450,000 students, to learn how to create programs, applications, games and to learn robotics. Adec has also introduced 3D printers into more than 90 schools.

When I worked in Cambodia, the top international schools were teaching children as young as six how to code and it is increasingly common for coding to be introduced into curriculums worldwide. I recently retweeted a post from a school in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, showing how its Key Stage 1 learners were participating in what they termed ‘physical’ coding.

‘Virtual classrooms are on the rise and we’re already seeing new innovations being used in traditional classrooms’ In the UK, the new computer science GCSE was introduced two years ago and has coding at its core, while former US president Barack Obama rolled out ‘Computer Science for All’ in the US, an initiative that aims to teach programming skills to every pupil, from kindergarten to high school.

rolled out to all Year 7 pupils in the UK and has just launched sales worldwide. This kit facilitates the teaching of coding, while encouraging creativity and inquiry-based learning, and can be used to develop a huge array of creations, such as wearable technology, robotics and heart monitors. It will be rolled out to primary schools in the UK over 2017, along with tutorials and teacher training so that pupils will get the most out of their micro:bits. Virtual and augmented reality headsets, artificial intelligence, real-time collaboration and wearable technology are among the most significant innovations emerging in education today.

CODING, CREATIVITY, CREATION Meanwhile, I recently attended a presentation given by Gareth James, the director of educational programmes at the micro:bit Foundation, where I learned about the history of the BBC micro:bit mini-computer, which was

NEW INNOVATION GROWTH Although we’re yet to see a radical departure from the way lessons are taught, virtual classrooms are on the rise and we’re already seeing new innovations being used in traditional classrooms.

There is, for instance, a virtual reality app for biology students, Virtuali-Tee, designed to explore the inner workings of the human body in 3D. Artificial intelligence is also already playing a role in learning analytics, as we saw in recent months with a robot from Cornell University, PR2, learning various tasks which it then taught to another robot at Brown University in the US. Yet with exciting tech tools launching on a regular basis, it’s important that we remember not to bombard our children with too much technology, and that it is instead well integrated into their lives. If not, young learners will lose vital social skills and won’t get the mental stimulation and physical activity they so desperately need to develop and succeed in life. Carolyn Savage is head of international education at Winter’s International School Finder. January 2017



ROBERT DRAGAN As the digitisation of data becomes more ubiquitous, students are moving away from attending lectures to watching them on their devices


or hundreds of years, schools and universities have disseminated knowledge through lectures. Given that the source of knowledge was the teacher, it was a logical choice to put them at the front of the room and get them to orate their wisdom. Textbooks helped somewhat to disseminate knowledge further, but the model of the teacher at the front remained. This is probably because an educator can often explain a topic in better terms than a textbook. There’s also more of a humanistic or personalised touch listening to a lecturer than reading a book.

'The fourth industrial revolution will see a move towards personalised learning with technology helping lecturers to rebuild personal relationships with students' SHRINKING BUDGETS As education budgets have shrunk, classrooms and lecture halls have got bigger. We now have universities that boast lecture theatres that can hold up to 1,000 students. But as recording 8

January 2017

technology and the digitisation of data become more ubiquitous, we are now seeing students move away from attending lectures to watching them on their devices. Newcastle University is one of numerous institutions that now offer services like ReCapi, which allows lectures to be recorded and made available online. This means students can now re-watch their lecturers or even just stay in bed and watch them from there. After all, how different is the experience to being in the room? They’re still listening to the lecturer, they can see them and, best of all, they can even pause and rewind as much as they want. It is this sort of technological development that has started feeding into the methodology of teaching and learning, resulting in new approaches such as flipped learning. This gives more autonomy to the learners and takes advantage of the technology available to schools, colleges and universities by getting students to watch lessons at home and use class time for more productive study.

TOWARDS PERSONALISATION Recording lessons might not be universal yet, but it is certainly a product of the third industrial revolution; it’s using technology to overcome the physical barriers of bringing education to individuals. However, it’s not quite ‘personalised’ education.

The fourth industrial revolution will see a move towards personalised learning with technology helping lecturers to rebuild personal relationships with students and design a teaching approach bespoke for each individual. We’re starting to see this happen through online tools and learning platforms that engage with each student and facilitate an enhanced student learning experience. Education companies, such as Knewton , are working on education products that respond to each learner’s abilities. They test, assess and respond to what students can and can’t do, and then provide appropriate learning material. However, in the future, intelligent algorithms will be able to analyse a student’s needs, highlight shortcomings and make study recommendations. Lecturers will have insights into each student’s progress, creating a learning plan tailored specifically for them. We’ll finally see the return of personalised tuition facilitated by technology that will improve student experience and, potentially, performance. At the

moment, this sort of technology is very much still in its infancy, but it’s only a matter of time before it is made available to the masses.

SOCIAL LEARNING NETWORKS In the meantime, there is a growing shift towards personalised learning through social learning networks, such as Edmodo , Spiral and Learnium. Students are now au fait with social networks and communication tools. They use them on their phones, tablets and laptops every day. Students are already engaging with each other outside of the traditional learning boundaries, setting up study groups facilitated by WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Engagement is the key to more personalised learning. Where a student has read an article and has a query, comments can be made and responded to by other students and tutors, guiding the learner through every step of the process and bridging the support gap between lectures and personalising their education to their specific and ever-changing needs. Robert Dragan is CEO at Learnium.

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IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME Frustrated at the lack of skilled engineers in the UK, Sir James Dyson, inventor, industrial designer and founder of the Dyson company, has taken matters into his own hands: he is to create his own university, the Dyson Institute of Technology. Heather McLean talks to him about the idea and its execution

Sir James Dyson has designs on fostering the next generation of engineers as he looks to double Dyson’s engineering team to 6,000 by 2020. In November 2016 he laid out plans to open the Dyson Institute of Technology, teaching high-quality engineering degrees alongside jobs at Dyson’s research and development campus in Wiltshire. Through the Institute, Sir James will invest £15 million over the next five years to tackle the dearth of skilled engineers in the UK. He plans to offer the brightest aspiring engineers a relevant alternative to a traditional university degree. The new degree will combine academic learning, initially delivered


January 2017

by WMG University of Warwick, with hands-on experience developing Dyson products and working alongside Dyson’s current engineering team of 3,000. The students will come away from higher education debt-free, having earned a salary throughout, and with the prospect of earning a full graduate wage on completion of the four-year programme. Sir James said: “The UK’s skills shortage is holding Dyson back as we look to increase the amount of technology we develop and export from the UK. We are taking matters into our own hands. The new degree course offers academic theory, a real world job and salary, and access to experts in their field.

Photographs: Adrian Sheratt

The bespoke engineering degree has been developed by Dyson engineers and WMG Warwick University, who aim to bridge the gap between industry and academia. The four-year degree programme covers the fundamentals of engineering in years one and two, and delivers more specific electronics and mechanical engineering content in years three and four. Students may also get the chance to spend time in Dyson’s technology and design centres in Singapore and Malaysia. The Dyson Institute of Technology will apply for degree awarding powers eventually, in a bid to become a standalone university. Dyson hopes

to build on the work of the James Dyson Foundation and offer a highquality engineering education to aspiring engineers. Dyson currently has active research partnerships with 40 universities worldwide, as well as funding PhD students and professors in top engineering universities worldwide including Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge. Dyson also plans to invest £100 million in external research projects in the next four years, working with exciting technology startups from Israel to Singapore to the US. The students will have access to this global network of engineering expertise.

INTERVIEW: SIR JAMES DYSON Why have you decided to create the Dyson Institute of Technology? There is an ever-increasing shortage of skilled engineers in the UK. We are taking matters into our own hands to train and develop raw engineering drive and talent. The new degree course offers academic theory, a real world job and salary, and access to experts in their field. The Dyson Institute of Technology is designed to give bright minds everything they need to carve out a successful career in engineering. I know there are many people out there who are as obsessive about engineering as I am, questioning every aspect of a product, how it works, and how it can be better. Therefore why not get stuck into an engineering job straight from school?

a man in a boiler suit repairing a cooker rather than the exciting technology and machines that engineers invent. Technology is fast paced. We must excite young people about making things. In schools the academic study of science and maths must be wedded with practical challenges.

‘Looking back at my school days, I wish I had stumbled into engineering earlier. I had no idea what being an engineer could lead to, to say nothing of how rewarding a career in engineering can be’

This is a massive step. How do you see the Dyson Institute of Technology growing in the future, and do you believe you are trailblazing the way for other engineering-based companies to follow your lead? In September 2017, the Dyson Institute of Technology will welcome its first cohort of 25 students. The four-year course will combine full time jobs at Dyson with teaching from University of Warwick professors and supported by Dyson engineers. We will work with the University of Warwick to award degrees until the Dyson Institute of Technology applies for degree-awarding powers under new plans laid out by the Department for Education in a recent whitepaper. This will allow it to become a new university, awarding its own qualifications, in the future. What are the top three problems today with the UK education system in relation to teaching STEM, and how do you feel things need to change to overcome these issues? More must be done to encourage people into engineering careers. Britain has 37,000 engineering vacancies a year, but produces just 22,000 engineering graduates. Many of these end up pursuing finance careers. Many people misunderstand what a career in engineering entails, imagining

There is, however, a silent ‘D’ in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM); design. It’s integral to any successful product. We need to make sure it’s not overlooked in the curriculum, so that our future scientists and engineers can think creatively. Design and technology in schools is the start but unfortunately D&T is often undervalued. The subject combines the academic rigour of the STEM subjects with practical and hands-on skills. But to be useful it is imperative that the latest industry developments are incorporated in the curriculum. With increasing demand for industry influence in education, to help provide better career prospects and real experience for undergraduates, where might the UK further and higher education systems end up? The Dyson Institute of Technology is aimed at people who are obsessed with engineering, and who could not imagine spending four years learning about engineering theory in the classroom. That said, university education is still incredibly important, and Dyson continues to work with over 40 universities worldwide.

New research leads to new technology. These partnerships give students crucial industry insight and businesses cuttingedge ideas. Private investment in cuttingedge research will keep the UK competitive. It’ll increase exports and rebalance our economy. It’s hugely important. How has your personal experience as an inventor and entrepreneur influenced your desire to help younger generations? I was given a choice at school: pursue arts or sciences. Never both. There was no happy medium for someone who liked tackling problems with their head and their hands. Looking back at my school days, I wish I had stumbled into engineering earlier. I had no idea what being an engineer

could lead to, to say nothing of how rewarding a career in engineering can be. I set up the James Dyson Foundation 14 years ago to address issues like this. Through workshops in schools and annual activities like the James Dyson Award, my foundation seeks to show young people how interesting and exciting engineering can be. The James Dyson Award encourages creativity and invention by celebrating the work of young design engineers and elevating them to a global platform. I hope that the Dyson Institute of Technology will build on the work of the James Dyson Foundation and offer a high-quality engineering education to aspiring engineers. January 2017


FEATURE: FUTURE TECH TRENDS The traditional ‘everyone face the front’ classroom style is likely to become outmoded with the advent of new technologies (picture courtesy RES)

THE BLEEDING EDGE... Technology has already made a substantial and positive contribution to how teachers teach and students learn; however, says Ian McMurray, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. He takes a deeper look into what tech is at the bleeding edge of innovation in classrooms today, and tomorrow


K government education policies may come, and UK government policies may go, but if there has been a constant in education, it has been the progressive deployment of technology in classrooms and lecture theatres to help improve outcomes. From the overhead projector through to the interactive whiteboard to bring your own device (BYOD), teachers and students have experienced a transformation in what it means to learn. Technology, though, is not a destination; it is a journey. Standing still is not an option as what worked yesterday may not be good enough for tomorrow. “Any technology that is not cloudbased, collaborative or enabled for the connected world should be consigned to the bin rapidly,” believes Phil Smith, head of product at Smoothwall, a specialist developer and provider of internet security and web filtering solutions. 12

january 2017

CHANGING SHAPE He has an ally in Graeme Lawrie, director of innovation at Sevenoaks School, who oversees the school’s technology services and curriculum ranging from immersive technology to programming and robotics. “We have already seen DVDs, CDROMs and now USB memory sticks fade out in the wake of the cloud,” he says. “Software will also now go that way, with computers being a window to a server and nothing more. Gone are the days of installing programs on your local drive. Think Office 365 or Steam.” Lawrie warns: “Interactive whiteboards, touchscreens, in fact, any front of classroom devices, have seen their day. The shape and concept of a classroom will change. The idea that a classroom is a room where there is a focal point at the front and the teacher stands in front of a class full of students is long gone. ” Meanwhile, smiles Martin Hamilton, futurist at Jisc (formerly the Joint

Information Systems Committee), whose role is to support post-16 and higher education, and research, by providing relevant and useful advice, digital resources and network and technology services: “I would have to single out the ubiquitous PowerPoint slide deck for my own personal Room 101. Whether on a smart whiteboard, projector or flat screen, PowerPoint has instilled, and constantly reinforces, a culture of the linear narrative; we are on slide 19 of 72, and we know that we will be seeing the other 53, in order. If we’re really unlucky, then the contents of the slides will also be read out aloud to us verbatim.” Those assessments of technologies that have unquestionably enhanced the teaching-learning experience may be harsh, but they are made in comparison to what is, increasingly, becoming possible. Hindsight is a very perfect science. On the other hand, as Nobel physicist Nils Bohr famously remarked: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” It is important to acknowledge the

KEY POINTS The days of everyone in a room looking at a single screen are numbered The three key technologies for educators in the future will be AI, VR and AR AI offers the potential for more individually centred learning and improved teacher effectiveness VR and AR can substantially increase student engagement, positively impacting learning outcomes Increased connectivity and the IoT offer as yet untapped opportunities for schools and universities

backdrop against which the future will unfold, however, and the way that technology – especially the connected world – forces a re-examination of the nature of teaching and learning.

FEATURE: FUTURE TECH TRENDS CLASH OF IDEOLOGIES “We’re seeing what I would call a clash of ideologies right now,” notes Hamilton. “On the one hand, a resurgence of interest in traditional schooling practices like rote

Students at Sevenoaks School are using virtual reality in a wide range of subjects from art and design to philosophy

learning, and on the other, progressive approaches like project-based learning (PBL). Perhaps the real question here is, to paraphrase Albert Einstein, is it worth learning something that you can simply look up? And yet there are some things that we benefit from being able to do immediately in our heads, such as spelling and simple arithmetic. Technology will definitely enhance the learning of the future but there is also this wider question of how it will change the way in which we learn.” Lawrie picks up the theme: “Gone are the days where we have to know everything, or be able to recall huge expanses of data learnt at school,” he says. “We all have some sort of instant mobile access to the web, we can talk to our watches, we can ask Siri; in fact, information is all around us. There are still some things we need to ‘know’ but the ease of access is changing the landscape dramatically. Technology is, as with everything new in education, a tool. How it is used by the teacher is the key to success. Is some technology over used? Yes of course. Is some technology under used? Again, yes. But with an inspiring educator with hands on this technology, anything is possible.” By definition, it is virtually impossible to predict disruptive changes. There is, however, significant value in analysing trends, and, in technology terms, many educators believe those are already clearly visible, seeing artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as being hugely influential in schools and colleges over the coming years.

EFFICIENT, FLEXIBLE “With growing levels of automation and connectivity, the use of virtual and augmented reality technologies for teaching and learning is set to increase rapidly, with a focus on virtual classrooms, immersive technologies, blended artificial intelligence training, social learning, mobile learning, dynamic assessment and psychometric testing,” avers Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquette, co-founder of education events company

EdTechXGlobal. “These technologies will lead to the creation of learning tools that are more efficient, flexible and tailored to each student’s needs. Such tools will open up education to all, and most importantly, help the coming generations prepare for a new economy, driven by digital technologies.” For sure, AI is nothing new. Research into it began in the mid-1950s, and interest in the subject was revived with the advent of AI-based ‘expert systems’ in the 1980s. Understanding of the subject has unquestionably increased substantially, but, perhaps more importantly, we now have easy and affordable access to the powerful hardware that complex AI software demands. “AI has the potential to help both pupils and staff,” claims Smith. “AI doesn’t necessarily have to mean white robots parading round the classroom; as classrooms become fuller and busier and the demand on teachers increases, digital teaching assistants in the form of tablets could help alleviate the issue. They would be able to answer questions pupils may have, and offer real-time explanations for those answers.” “The role of both students and teachers will evolve and become more interactive, intuitive and efficient,” adds Vedrenne-Cloquette. “AI will automate basic education activities, freeing up valuable time for teachers to focus on

streamlining teaching processes. Adaptive learning programmes will help students evolve by building on their own skills and strengths.”

ADAPTIVE LEARNING “In the short term, AI will do smaller but still quite powerful things,” believes Charles Wiles, founder of edtech company Zzish. “It can automatically mark an English essay, for example, saving teachers significant marking time that they can use instead for teaching. Or it can automatically understand a child’s learning progress and make recommendations for the next best activity for a student to progress, so-called ‘adaptive learning’, perhaps recommending to a parent a particular mobile app to use, for example.” There seems little doubt that AI will play an increasing part in all our lives; it is, indeed, already doing so, and education too will benefit. And, just as it has been around for many years, so too have AR and VR; 2016 was perhaps the year in which they became commercially mainstream, with the much-hyped Oculus Rift finally shipping, products like Samsung’s Gear VR appearing, and AR apps and games now widely available. “AR was the talk of the summer,” notes Smith. “Pokémon Go was played by schoolchildren up and down the country and set a precedent for the future of

‘S Scho oolss couuld d cerrtaainlly loo ok at employinng virrtuual// aug gmennte ed realitty as a meanss of keepinng pup pills in ntere ested and d eng gag ged d’ Phil Smitth, Smoo oth hwall gaming. Schools could certainly look at employing VR and AR as a means of keeping pupils interested and engaged.” Adds Wiles: “Adoption of this technology in the classroom may be slow to take off due to the high costs, but there’s plenty of opportunity for these technologies to make a big impact on learning. It would be far more engaging january 2017


FEATURE: FUTURE TECH TRENDS for a student to find themselves wandering under the Eiffel Tower and chatting to virtual Parisians than sitting in the classroom working through a set of questions in a textbook, for example. That greater engagement and context should lead to much greater learning.”

MORE THAN A GIMMICK “The runaway success of Google Cardboard has shown that VR doesn’t have to require £1,000 headsets and workstation class PCs, by taking advantage of the increasingly sophisticated hardware to be found in even budget-level smartphones,” says Hamilton. “Google’s Expeditions app has also demonstrated that VR can be more than a gimmick, offering teacher-

‘T The role e of both stuude entts and d teaachherrs will evvolvve and d beccom me more e interracttivve, intuittive e and d efficiientt’ Benjaamin n Ved drenn ne-Clloque ette e, EdTe echX XGlo obal led interactive VR field trips to places ranging from Machu Picchu to the International Space Station. Expeditions has reached over a million learners in 11 countries over the last year or so, and Google have just announced that they will be making it available to a million schoolchildren in the UK.” At a Google event in November, CEO Sundar Pichai said that VR can spark students’ imagination and help 14

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them learn about topics like how blood flows through the human body or the impact climate change is having on the Great Barrier Reef, “in an engaging and immersive way.” “Everyone is waiting for the Microsoft HoloLens to come out,” believes Lawrie. “We are eagerly awaiting the delivery of ours. From initial reviews, it looks to be incredible and whilst it will take time for developers to create useful content, it is not that far away. The Minecraft content that has already been produced is brilliant, and anyone that has used software and gamification in education knows how good that software title is.” Lawrie admits that the VR and AR technology currently available can have some drawbacks, while wearable technology creates its own set of issues; in an examination environment, for example. “Information is no longer just at the tip of our fingers, but accessible at the flick of an eyelid,” he observes. And therein lies the rub for educators; not just identifying the technologies that will truly deliver results, but adopting them at the optimum time. “Was 3D printing a flash in the pan?” asks Neil Watkins, managing director of Department for Education (DfE) compliant IT procurement framework, Think IT; while, according to Hamilton, there is also a higher degree of riskaverseness among UK educators than in other countries.

REAL OPPORTUNITIES But while AI, VR and AR are grabbing the education technology headlines, it would be wrong to overlook the real opportunities presented by a truly connected world: education can benefit as much from the Internet of Things (IoT) as industry. “We’ve tended not to take a holistic approach to the learning journey,” says Hamilton. “However, with tools like learner analytics now available, I think we could see this shifting. If we view the school, college or university as a vast interconnected system, then it becomes quite interesting to think about the data that one part of the system could usefully send to another. To pick just one example: your library knows when you last took a book out, whether you are likely to stay in the building to work or play and even whether you read

A brave new world of VR at Sevenoaks School for pleasure by taking out books that aren’t on your reading list. By having this level of understanding and insight, a truly digital institution can build up a composite model not just of how to best support an individual student, but also of how its estate and facilities can be used more efficiently and effectively.” Hamilton also notes the potential of technologies like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home to play a role in the classrooms of the future. “How about technology that automatically orders stationery, paper and general equipment when stocks are running low?” asks Smith. “This is already a popular idea within the retail and grocery sector, and so it will only be a matter of time before the education sector becomes involved.” “Connected education can mean more collaboration, remote working and lessons being delivered in multiple locations simultaneously,” adds Watkins. “Engaging parents in their child’s learning is the one thing shown to have a significant impact on the child’s attainment, so solutions that engage parents will continue to have a big impact.”

SUPPLEMENTARY TOOLS It becomes apparent that if the goals of bringing technology to the classroom

and lecture theatre are to improve student learning, teacher effectiveness and educational productivity, then upcoming technologies have much to offer, although Smith sounds a cautionary note. “Schools shouldn’t necessarily ditch other models of teaching to make room for it. It should be seen as a supplementary learning tool,” he advises. Watkins has additional advice when it comes to staying abreast of what’s possible. “Educators are unquestionably very busy, but those that take the time to learn about and play with new and emerging technologies, and spend time talking to suppliers, manufacturers and other educators, will give themselves a distinct advantage,” he says. For educators looking to take advantage of what is to come, the best advice may come from Scotty in the 1951 science fiction move The Thing from Another World: “Watch the skies everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.”




Google Chromebooks make learning fun at South Staffordshire College

APPLE, GOOGLE OR MICROSOFT? The increasing spread of bring your own device (BYOD) policies and IT leasing schemes, plus industry demands that new recruits should have broad IT skills, are now dictating the choice of device operating system by schools, colleges and universities. Richard Doughty takes a closer look at the choices being made


he larger the type of institution, the wider the choice it must offer to meet the ‘customer’ demands of growing numbers of vocationally focused students at further and higher education level. Working and studying with systems and applications not common in the industries where students seek jobs is no longer acceptable practice to employers. Yet at the smaller end of the market, size and budget constraints limit the likes of primary schools to one operating system, whether it be Microsoft Windows, Apple, or the less expensive and increasingly popular cloud-based Google Chrome operating system (OS), which can now run Android apps. Most primaries use Windows as their default OS, reflecting Microsoft’s global schools market share of 43% in 2015 [Futuresource Consulting]. And Microsoft’s cloud-based infrastructure Office 365 Education, a suite of hosted Microsoft services and apps free to 16

January 2017

schools and students, has revitalised the market, with a strong take-up across the education sector.

PRIMARY CHOICES In the same year however, 71% of UK primary schools were using tablets [British Educational Suppliers Association], with Apple’s iPad taking a significant share. Westfields Junior School in Yateley, Hampshire was an early adopter of the Apple route through the iPad 2 shortly after its launch in 2011, despite initial doubts by its then headteacher of 20 years, Karine George. “I was very anti-Apple at first. They’d cornered the market, the cost was high, and there were other options.” But the school did need more laptops and George spent a year visiting schools with a BYOD policy in place. “Before you buy an iPad, you’ve got to know what you want to use it for,” says George. “And then you need the wireless infrastructure to support it.”

As an Apple sceptic, what really sold her on iPad and Mac OS was its interoperability with other products, portability, almost instant opening time, battery life around eight to nine hours, and education apps then unavailable on any other platform. George gave every staff member an iPad, including the caretaker, and they all showed up for training during the summer holidays. The school now runs a successful one-to-one scheme, with most parents buying iPads at a reduced rate through the school for their children to bring to class each day. With seamless access at home or at school, pupil engagement has rocketed. This is a positive story, promoting the advantages of iPads. Yet schools should also beware that ease of use can work against you: in a recent Northern Ireland survey of families using iPads at home and school [ATL Teaching Union], parents highlighted the distraction factor. It was easy to message friends,

KEY POINTS Windows 7 is the main operating system across the vast majority of primary and secondary schools, while many are migrating to Windows 10 Apple (backed by iPads) is the main OS in a considerable number of primary schools, some of which are now considering moving over to the increasingly popular and less expensive Google Chrome OS and Chromebook Colleges and universities offer Windows, Apple, and Linux or open source systems to accommodate the vast number of different devices used by students download games or unsuitable material, or email photos of finished homework to fellow pupils. Not everyone, schools included, can afford iPad, which is why the market may be changing. The much less expensive

FEATURE: WHICH ECOSYSTEM? Chromebooks working on the cloudbased Google Chrome OS are starting to challenge Apple. Chromebooks are now firing up lightning fast, between five and eight seconds. And as Chrome OS uses open source technology, schools can rely on automatic upgrades; there is no need to use up technicians’ time troubleshooting. If parts break, they can be easy to replace on site. In fact, George has come across several ‘Apple’ schools considering moving over to the less expensive Chrome OS. Chromebooks work intuitively with Google Apps for Education, an increasingly popular set of free education apps in the cloud that can sit on any device. In 2015, Chrome accounted for 50% of all education device sales in the US, up from 16% in 2013. Is the UK starting to follow suit?

SECONDARY CHROME Tring School, a secondary in Hertfordshire, is among the vanguard of schools adopting Chrome as their main operating system. Secondaries generally opt for Windows as their main OS, use Macs for specific subjects such as music and creative arts, work on improving their wireless networks’ access to the cloud to accommodate BYOD policies, and allow a diverse range of devices and software to ‘talk’ to the school’s main OS. But for Tring, struggling with computer rooms full of ageing computers very expensive to replace (every three to five years), price was a key factor. To use Microsoft software alone cost the school £7,000 a year, says network manager Debbie Gower. It was not only cost. Tring had no physical space to build more computer suites and its onsite computer storage space was inadequate. It began looking at alternatives, including Google Chrome (no licence fees) and Google Apps for Education (free and “very user friendly”, says Gower). Windows did offer more but using Google software on Chromebooks (at under £200 per device) was much less expensive, Gower comments, adding they are “much simpler and quite intuitive”. Speed has been a key difference between the school’s old Windows machines and Chrome, she says. With

Learning with iPads at Westfields Junior School, Hampshire

lessons lasting only 50-60 minutes each, teachers often spent up to 15-20 minutes just getting students booted up and logged on with the right software. “We now have it down to a couple of minutes and use the time for quality teaching. Google Apps are fantastic in the classroom because teachers can see what pupils are doing on a document and give constructive feedback during class, especially with things like marking,” Gower comments. On drawbacks, Gower says you cannot put traditional software on a Chromebook; everything has to be cloud-based unless you ‘virtualise’ the software, which can be quite expensive and might not be cost effective. But on the plus side, she adds, software producers are now offering cloudbased versions of many traditional software programs. Still in the process of rolling out Chrome across the school, Tring will continue to use Windows and Apple machines for particular subjects such as computer science and creative arts and design.

MAC VERSUS WINDOWS For most secondary schools, however, Windows 7 or the new Windows 10, linked to Office 365 Education, is the preferred OS package. Rickmansworth School, a secondary in Hertfordshire, recently fully embraced Windows. “We were losing files between our Mac and Windows systems, because we were using a dot local domain,” explains IT manager Till Maina. “So we

took out all the Apple Macs and updated the servers to Windows 2012 R2 ‘2013’; most of our kit was Windows anyway.” Two years ago the school signed up for the free Microsoft Office 365 Education. “We began using it just for its free email as there was no urgency; we were previously paying someone around £10,000 a year for email and internet access,” says Maina. The school now aims to become more cloud-based and is using Windows devices in a pilot BYOD scheme for sixth formers. Maina states: “Once we’ve gone to the cloud we should be able to access all systems but we first want to get all

the Office 36 5 and cloud-based stuff running. We’ve got to teach the students to collaborate using the cloud.” The plan is to have the whole school on BYOD by around 2020, Maina notes: “We’ve already started deploying Windows Surface Pros and are looking into Chrome tablets. Also, partly because Google Chrome needs wireless access, we upgraded the wireless network with a new controller and new access points last summer holiday, and doing more this summer.” So what have been the key advantages of Windows 365 Education so far? It has enabled Rickmansworth to centralise


South Staffordshire FE College is one of a small band of colleges that has fully embraced Google Chrome OS. Strategy and infrastructure director Jamie Smith takes up the story: “About 18 months ago I wanted to move us into the cloud so students could at last work in ways that suited them rather than our administrative purposes. So within months, we planned and then moved all 10,000-plus students and just under 1,000 staff over to Chrome-based and Chromebook technologies. “Chromebooks are light, durable web-access devices, and they use 65-85% less energy than any conventional computing device, which amounts to thousands of pounds in annual energy savings. They have also enabled staff to become far more efficient administrators… the number of registration completions alone has gone up dramatically. “The Chromebooks never slow down, with boot-up times down to five seconds rather than three to five minutes. The time saved is strategic. “We are also making huge savings. I can get around four Chromebooks for the price of a £900 desktop. There is very little maintenance; we’ve bought hundreds and just two have had a fault. I’m also saving at least £50,000 annually on a storage area network I no longer have to pay for. It’s free with Chrome OS. “Our learning resource centre now has a 90% occupancy rate, compared to 30-40% before we moved over to Chrome. There is, of course, still a place for Macs or higher-spec Chromebooks in creative arts and media production, particularly if you need to do advanced graphic design, while accounts departments prefer Windows.”

January 2017


FEATURE: WHICH ECOSYSTEM? Highbury College in Portsmouth strives to ensure students can access any programme with any device

printing, gives teachers remote access from anywhere in the world to their documents stored in a One Drive version, and provides tight security. Microsoft guarantees that it will store all in-thecloud files within Europe, complying with European regulations. Two potential drawbacks with the cloud are that you lose any access to software and data if your internet provider goes down, and your data is controlled by someone else. But the advantages of speed, security, backup and automatic upgrading outweigh most objections.

STUDENT FLEXIBILITY Further education colleges and universities likewise strive for flexibility demanded by students using their own devices that are often loaded with an OS not compatible with the institution’s default OS. But because of their greater size and budgets, they can afford to consider installing virtualisation software: programs that allow a single machine to run, say, Mac on a Windows machine or Chrome on a Mac, even though that machine only has one operating system physically installed. While South Staffordshire College had led the way down the Chrome OS route [see box, p17], Highbury College in Portsmouth knows that key local employers such as IBM and Canon use Windows and Windows apps and thus expect students to know those systems backwards when they apply for jobs. But equally, says Paul Rolfe, Highbury’s head of technology and innovation, the college has striven to ensure students can access any program with any device they bring into college. “We’ve done a lot of work with Citrix so we can support any platform,” he says. Citrix virtualisation software allows students and staff to access a virtual desktop and apps with any device and at any time, cleverly detaching software applications from the underlying hardware they was designed to run on. The college has even extended the scheme to a local primary school. After five years with Windows 7 OS, the college is migrating to Windows 10, the system that students want to be trained on. “But we want to be deviceagnostic,” says Rolfe. “People should be free to use whatever device they want. 18

January 2017


‘P Peop ple shoulld be fre ee to use e whaatevverr de evice the ey wantt. It’s no ot goo od eno oug gh for sttudennts… … nott to o be e able e to o do o som mething g be ecausse the ey donn’tt havve the e righht soft ftwarre’ Pau ul Rolffe, head of techn nolog gy and d inn nov vattio on, Hig ghb burry Colle ege, Porttsmouth It’s not good enough for students on an accountancy or engineering course not to be able to do something because they don’t have the right software. That’s why we went down the Citrix route.” And, equally, those learners who use Chromebooks will not be penalised; Citrix allows them to access Windows. Long term, the college hopes to adopt a BYOD policy and just provide the platforms and mechanisms to access applications needed.

Universities, meanwhile, have long been used to BYOD. Like many HE institutions, the University of Hertfordshire reflects the dominance of Microsoft, with some 2,000 to 2,500 Windows PCs, 250 Macs, plus 100 dual-boot Linux machines. The plan is to migrate to Windows 10 in September 2017. During each summer vacation, the OS is given the latest software update that’s come out that year, says Gavin Collington, team leader in user experience development. “There’s a problem if a new version comes out in November, say, as we tend to be stuck with the older version for that year. But there are some ways round that. “Most of what we do is Windowsbased as teaching software is developed for Windows, but we also have Apple and Linux machines as some things you can only do on those platforms,” Collington states. Macs are used in on creative arts courses, psychology and in libraries. They are generally earmarked for specific roles such as music sampling, while the 100 or so Linux machines cater for engineering work, and courses on computing systems. Hertfordshire also takes virtualisation seriously, using Application Jukebox software to make one computer platform function like many computers, saving money and resources, and ‘kidding’ the computer into running additional software its underlying hardware does not recognise. Like most if not all UK universities, Bristol follows the same pattern, using Windows 7 as its main OS, which caters

for 85% to 90% of its users’ needs. It is also working towards Windows 10. Again, individual faculties may rely heavily on Macs (popular in publishing, video, reprographics and music production industries), or Linux open source systems. “We go down the route of asking what is the actual requirement?” says Bob Berrow, zonal team leader in Bristol’s IT services department. “What needs to be achieved? Can we update it with standard solutions at minimal cost to maximise return and investment and support users? Or is a more specialised solution needed requiring alternative systems?” The university follows a ‘mobile first’ policy to complement the rise of smartphones, whenever any systems require renewal, replacement or enhancement. “Users will switch between devices and platforms,” says Berrow. “They may start on a desktop, use a laptop to work somewhere else, finish off a document on their tablet and then review it on their mobile. That’s the expectation we are striving to meet,” he concludes.

Save the Date IBC2017 Conference 14 – 18 September 2017 Exhibition 15 – 19 September 2017 RAI, Amsterdam

Where the entertainment, media and technology industry does business


LET’S BE CAREFUL OUT THERE Portsmouth Grammar School’s WiFi access points are connected to a WatchGuard network security appliance that authenticates users as soon as they are on school grounds

Maximising the resilience of your network is not hard, if you know what to look for and how to implement counter-measures, finds Ian McMurray


osing all your data to a virus infection is, according to some, the universe’s way of reminding you to do back-ups. Few of us have not received a call from ‘Microsoft’ letting us know that our PC is running slowly, but it is OK because they have the knowledge to fix it. And who has not been a target for the infamous Nigeria 419 phishing scam? For schools and universities though, it is not just about malicious threats. Job one is to guard against non-malicious threats. “Education establishments need to be operating on the certainty that no network can deliver 100% uptime,” believes Hubert Da Costa, VP of EMEA at Cradlepoint, a provider of cloud-based wired and wireless WAN networking solutions. “It’s definitely a case of when, not if, they’ll lose internet connectivity. What’s the back-up plan while the problem is being fixed?”

PROTECTION PLAN According to Da Costa, a failover plan should be put in place in the event that a wired internet connection experiences a service disruption. “Upgrading to a more robust wired connection is one possible solution,” he says, “but it’s expensive and is still susceptible to outages and service disruption. A possible alternative is to bridge the gap with wireless WAN failover. Based on 3G and 4G technology, this option is quick and easy to deploy.” Some threats, such as a virus attack, are obvious. Others are less so. “Account compromise is a significant threat,” observes Steve Manzuik, director of 20

January 2017

security research at Duo Security, whose business is protecting organisations against data breaches. “Over the last couple of years, we have seen an uptick in account compromise with the intention of redirecting automated payments to staff to an attacker-controlled bank account, or with the intention of simply using school resources without authorisation.” At best, the latter can compromise an establishment’s reputation, and at worst, individuals will suffer real financial losses. As well as recommending that all users are educated on basic security hygiene, such as passwords of appropriate strength, which can be enforced by password managers, Manzuik believes two-factor authentication should be implemented. “Traditional hardware-based twofactor solutions can take months or even years to fully implement, with hidden costs and high overheads,” explains Manzuik. “Duo’s cloud-based solution eliminates those costs and makes it easy for users to authenticate, and administrators to deploy.”

HELD TO RANSOM Another threat all too easily overlooked is that of being held to ransom. A recent report from security firm BitSight found, somewhat surprisingly, that educational establishments are the most frequent victims of ransomware, with 13% of all organisations reporting having been hacked; more than ten times the attacks experienced by financial institutions.

“This is because schools hold highly sensitive data, that of minors and students, and often do not even consider themselves a target,” says Jason Allaway, area VP UK and Ireland of digital workspace technology company RES. “Criminals exploit this; they know the huge worth of reputation to schools and universities.” Like Manzuik, Allaway believes in the imperative of user education, and also stresses the importance of implementing appropriate technologies. “There are a number of strategies that should be adopted,” he notes. “These include permission-based access, application whitelisting and blacklisting and not allowing files to execute or download. All of these will create an effective wall against cyber criminals. Of course, they will need to be regularly updated to keep up with innovative hackers.”

RECOMMENDATION TIME To this, he adds the recommendation that data is always backed up, that penetration tests are regularly carried out, and the use of automation for offboarding and onboarding users. First and foremost, however, believes Jonathan Whitley, area sales director,

Northern Europe for network security company WatchGuard Technologies, comes a school’s duty to keep children safe online, with failure to do so likely to incur the severe displeasure of Ofsted. “Visibility of what’s going on in the network and being able to see network traffic is critical,” he believes. “Understanding what users are looking at on the internet is the first part of shaping a granular strategy that works. As a next step, the ability to correlate all network traffic from the end point to the perimeter will help to preventatively neutralise zero day threats as they emerge.” User education and deploying the appropriate technologies does not guarantee network security, but it can make a substantial contribution. Sergeant Phil Esterhaus’s admonition to Hill Street’s finest – in our headline – holds just as true for schools and universities.

‘T Therre are a num mber of sttrate egiess that sho ould be adoptted’ Jaso on Allaw way,, RES


EDUCATION TECH IN THE AV SPACE ISE 2017 is focusing on education to demonstrate how technology can further enhance the learning and teaching experience


hile technology is not necessarily the reason for some of today’s innovative teaching techniques, it is certainly supporting many of them. This trend is mirrored at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) event held in Amsterdam in February 2017, where the presence of education-related technologies and activities continue to grow. Launched in 2004, ISE is the world’s largest tradeshow for the professional AV and electronic systems industry. ISE 2017 will take place from 7 -10 February ,and is expected to draw over 1,100 exhibitors and more than 65,000 registered attendees to its Amsterdam RAI location. The event is a joint venture of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) and InfoComm International.

DEDICATED EDUCATION HALL ISE has always included solutions and products for education, while educational buying groups attend the show, and as a result ISE 2017 is welcoming the addition of a dedicated education hall. As well as a specific hall dedicated to education, ISE will allow visitors from the educational sphere to explore many relevant technology subjects. From loudspeakers to amplifiers, processing, and networking, audio is a key area at the show. So is digital signage, which is one of the fastest-growing

AV market segments at ISE. This area of the show and other digital signage content around the show floor draws professionals from around the world. Meanwhile, bringing the Internet of Things (IoT) to schools, colleges and universities, the smart building area at ISE helps fuel the need for smarter solutions. As the appetite for smart building design continues to grow, this dedicated area on the show floor means ISE is the place to see the latest products, emerging trends, energy saving kit, automation solutions, as well as the best practice approaches.

NEW EDTECH OPPORTUNITIES Also, a must-have for all educational establishments in this world of smartphones, tablets, laptops and apps is unified communications. We are all living more connected lives and each year companies choose ISE as the place to showcase the latest in videoconferencing, chat, email,

Keeping up with the daily news at ISE

instant messaging and other unified communications solutions. As the IoT enjoys its rise to prominence, unified communications will continue to be a very exciting part of the show. The real-time distribution of information, whether it is audio, video or text-based, is creating a lot of opportunities in education. “Technology is only as efficient as the teaching approach and should be the foundation of any digitalisation,” says Tobias Stumpfl, CEO at AV Stumpfl, which will be exhibiting at ISE 2017. There has been much discussion in education circles about how education has to change and evolve to provide students with the relevant skill sets for a digital age. The key trends, certainly in primary and secondary schools, are interactivity and collaboration, according to Marc Poffley, business development manager at provider of control and automation systems, Crestron, which will also be at the show. “We are still seeing a growth in the interactive touchscreen market and also a huge request for BYOD technology. With further and higher education it is more about multiple devices to deliver content, whether that be online content delivered through room PCs, visualisers delivering images of items put under them, or lately the use of Skype and video conferencing to have multiple sites coming together,” Poffley notes.

EMERGING INTERACTIVE TECH Even as this type of edtech becomes standard, other emerging interactive technologies are coming to the fore. Virtual reality (VR), for example, may have galvanised the film and TV entertainment community into all manner of content experimentation, yet the format is equally applicable to education. Applications include teaching via virtual classrooms, providing virtual campus tours to prospective students, and the Google Expeditions programme that allows students to go on a virtual field trip. Augmented reality (AR) set-ups involving ultra high resolution display technologies combined with interactivity are some of the most impressive solutions available right now. However, much smaller evolutionary steps can be just as exciting. “Compare the impact of a tiny image of a Rembrandt or Picasso painting in an old school book with the power of a high-definition image of the same painting projected onto a proper projection screen or shown on a videowall,” says Stumpfl. “The visual experience may be literally life-changing for some of the students.” Attend ISE 2017 to learn how technology will further enhance the learning and teaching experience. January 2017




Touch displays enable multiple students to share ideas and collaborate on a format that is intuitive to them, while teachers are able to create lessons and provide content on the fly. Take a look at Tech&Learning UK’s top picks...

PROMETHEAN ACTIVPANEL The ActivPanel range from Promethean is designed to futureproof schools’ investment in edtech and provides the latest features for a modern classroom environment. Schools consistently cite ‘instant whiteboarding’ and ‘mirroring’ as major features which make a huge impact on the teaching and learning experience. Enabled by Promethean’s external and fully upgradeable Android device, teachers can wirelessly mirror the content of any mobile device in the classroom on the ActivPanel. Instant whiteboarding means there is no need to connect to a computer; using a core range of interactive tools teachers can launch a collaborative session quickly and easily. This powerful Android device also puts a wealth of apps at the teacher’s fingertips, providing additional educational content and resources with a simple touch.

The ActivPanel supports ‘instant whiteboarding’; teachers can easily encourage classroom interaction and collaboration without the need to connect to a computer. They can respond to learning ‘in the moment’ and capture discussion as it happens. Also, facilitating collaboration and bring your own device (BYOD) means promoting peer assessment and collaboration is simple. The ActivPanel allows teachers to wirelessly mirror content from the ActivPanel to student devices and vice-versa. Teachers can also access powerful education content with a click; with access to thousands of apps direct from the ActivPanel, educators can access their preferred educational applications and download the content easily and wirelessly.

The ActivPanel can also provide a WiFi hotspot. Supporting up to five devices, as well as simplifying connectivity, in some cases it can also reduce the overall cost of WiFi infrastructure. Teachers can also create bite-sized

BENQ RP SERIES INTERACTIVE FLAT PANELS With time spent in front of a screen rapidly increasing, not just for pupils, but also teachers, BenQ’s RP Series of interactive flat panels (IFPs) have been specifically designed for the education market to prevent long-term health issues. BenQ is constantly developing technology to enhance the learning experience, but also developing solutions dedicated to preventing eyestrain, eye fatigue and muscular degeneration. The current BenQ solutions look to reduce glare, exposure to blue light and flickering, creating a healthier learning environment. The RP series features various classroom-ready display sizes with UHD 4K resolution. Replacing blackboards, whiteboards and interactive whiteboards, the series boasts open learning platforms and interactive


January 2017

software for inspired learning. Each screen features the EZWrite 3.0 app, a software solution powered with an array of co-operation and annotation tools to make learning in the classroom far more interactive for both teacher and pupil. To activate, simply tap an on-screen app to maintain a smooth teaching flow, free from technical interruptions. Over the air (OTA) updates allow schools to keep screens up to date with the latest firmware, plus its plug-andplay set-up means it can be up and running within minutes. These models reflect BenQ’s aspiration to bring the interactive touchscreen experience to classrooms and help the move towards collaborative learning. Effective teaching and learning cannot take place

in an environment where teachers struggle with the technology, the company says.

learning opportunities. With the ability to connect third-party devices and applications, the ActivPanel can support the trend for ‘digital snacking’, helping teachers deliver learning in smaller chunks.

TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASE: TOUCH DISPLAYS VIEWSONIC CDE8452T The CDE8452T is the latest in ViewSonic’s product line of largeformat touch displays to encourage collaboration and interactive learning in schools, colleges and universities. With pre-installed ViewBoard 2.1 software, the CDE8452T provides a platform for teachers to bring learning to life and for pupils to enjoy a multimedia learning experience. The screen has been designed for secondary and higher education and its 10-point touch-enabled display, whereby up to ten users can simultaneously write, draw and interact on the display’s surface, make it a useful tool for group interaction and collaborative learning. ViewBoard software (Windows compatible) enables students to write, highlight, edit and transform documents and images in real

time. In addition, screen recording means lessons can easily be shared with other educators and students. The display is wirelessly compatible with modern devices and also accommodates a plug-and-play experience, providing students with the opportunity to share content and information in an interactive space. Products like the CDE8452T have revolutionised the learning experience for both students and teachers, providing a focal point for student engagement and encouraging collaborative multimedia learning, claims Viewsonic. For teachers, interactive touch displays have created digital classrooms and technology-rich learning environments, helping to diversify teaching methods and provide new ways in which to engage students in education.

CLEVERTOUCH LUX Clevertouch Lux is an interactive touchscreen range that comes with inbuilt Android and a simple yet powerful new user interface called Lux. The range works in tandem with all personal device brands and learning ecosystems including Microsoft, Apple, Google and iOS. Clevertouch’s software offering is geared towards making life easier for teachers and completely free to Clevertouch users. For example, it was the first touchscreen brand to launch an educational app store. The updated Cleverstore, which is launching at Bett 2017, is teaming with educational apps that can now be searched for by subject, key stage and language. Following the launch at Bett, Clevertouch Lux will include updated Snowflake MultiTeach licenses (app and software) and an exclusive license for Snowflake MultiTeach Lessons for any connected web based devices at no additional cost. This enables teachers to create, upload and download lessons from the community page, which can be

accessed by students using their personal devices to do homework or revision outside of school. Another software update available on Clevertouch Lux is Lynx 5, which is available as software or an app. Designed to make light work of lesson planning and delivery, Lynx 5 comes with a range of new features including a media manager, condensed tools menu and lesson dashboard, and it can read a wide range of previously incompatible file formats. Using the media manager, teachers can embed videos directly into lessons, without the content opening in an external browser, and annotate over them. Simple actions such as printing or importing PowerPoint files are quicker and more streamlined, letting teachers focus on their lessons.

At Rio School District in California, teachers and students have embraced ViewSonic’s touch display technology, regularly using products such as the CDE8452T to expand learning activities. “Teachers can now create interactive spaces where students work alongside them; they can add internet content

or video to enhance their lessons and can save any type of work used on the display. Students similarly interact with the displays in any number of ways, including using them to enhance presentations,” says Mike Vollmert, district director of technology.

SONY BRAVIA PROFESSIONAL DISPLAY Sony’s combination of professional and consumer features in the Bravia Professional Display range delivers brightness coupled with 4K image resolution that means high impact educational content stands out even in brightly-lit classrooms. With four times the resolution of Full HD, 4K instantly grabs all students’ attention with lifelike detail, rich colours and exceptional wide contrast. With the addition of touch overlays, these displays turn into super-sized touch screens, creating even more compelling experiences for students and teachers alike. Students will not be able to keep their hands off them, with 10 multi-touch points offering accurate, lag-free performance with no ‘dead spots’ across the entire screen area. The

screen overlay’s tough anti-glare surface also makes it ideal for installation in sunny environments. Touchscreen technology can give students the opportunity to get hands on’with their learning. It boosts the value of content and increases engagement where it matters most, particularly for subjects like medical and engineering courses. Bravia Displays, matched with touchscreen overlays, provide educators with the equipment to blend bright, engaging content with tactile experience and personal insight. Insula College in the Netherlands has installed seventy 75in FWL-75W855C Bravia Professional Full HD LED displays to help staff deliver compelling lessons.

January 2017


TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASE: TOUCH DISPLAYS PHILIPS 65BDL3051T A brand new level of interactivity is now available with integrated touch technology. More flexibility and simultaneous touch performance coupled with operability opportunities give teachers great user interaction. The Philips 65BDL3051T MultiTouch display is enabled with automatic touch recognition. The USB connector is HID compliant, providing true plug and play operation. With the Android operating system integrated into the touch display, educators can work with the most open operating system available, and save their own apps directly into the display. This also means that built-in apps like the browser are touchcapable right out of the box. Teachers simply need to connect the power for immediate interactivity. Teachers can upload media into the display and playback content immediately. Working in conjunction with the internal browser, the internal memory also serves as a memory cache when streaming online content. If the network ever fails, the internal memory keeps content running by playing a cached version of the content, ensuring that media stays up. With this integrated touch display,

antiglare glass with low optical parallax allows for an immersive touch experience. With little to no glare and low reflection on the display, images are crystal clear with pure colour and great clarity. A robust display management platform, CMND puts the power back into the teacher’s hands.

Update and manage content with CMND & Create or control settings with CMND & Control. The FailOver feature can be used to simplify presentations and videoconferencing; when a room is not in use, background content can run from whatever input source is

chosen. When the class starts and a presentation or a laptop screen needs to be shared, users can simply connect the computer and the display will automatically switch inputs and show what is on the laptop screen, with no need to do anything manually.

NEC MULTISYNC E705 SST (SHADOWSENSE) The best way to learn is to participate and engage with the subject. Touch is a natural, intuitive way to communicate. Touch in the form of smartphones and devices is embedded throughout our lives and so it makes perfect sense to


January 2017

utilise this familiarity to aid learning. Ideal for small group learning and collaborative work in secondary and higher education, NEC’s ShadowSense touch technology uses high-performance sensors to

provide performance, stability and accuracy. Students can enjoy intuitive touch behaviour where the display automatically detects and switches between finger and stylus writing. Also, enhanced filtering and special sensors allow operation even in the brightest ambient light conditions without causing ghost touches. In universities, ShadowSense offers a more corporate look and feel, much appreciated by students compared to other, more primary level offerings. ShadowSense technology with 10 real-time touch points allows several people to interact in parallel, which leads to more efficient working results. The display can be bundled with a Windows-based OPS Slot-in-PC for a simple and seamless solution. With DisplayNote NEC Edition whiteboard

toolbox software included, up to 20 attendees can collaborate using their own devices. The NEC 70in MultiSync E705 SST multi-touch display with 400cd/sqm brightness offers a digital canvas to facilitate creative and efficient collaboration in classrooms. NEC’s E series offers a value-for-money solution for educational establishments and the large-format display technology offers a long life with minimal maintenance. Derby University has recently purchased a number of E705 SST touch displays for use in their classrooms. Since 2013, Derby Uni has been using NEC touch displays within adaptable, interactive learning spaces in an innovative student-centred approach to learning.

How IoT Makes Smart Buildings Even Smarter Full day business conference with twin-tracks on commercial and residential technology and applications

This year‘s one-day conference will show how the IoT (Internet of Things) will change the way we work, the way we live, and reveal the new services now possible within today‘s buildings. Join the world’s leading smart building experts and thought leaders in Amsterdam, the day before ISE 2017 begins.

Exhibition, Conference, Networking

More than 200 delegates

Monday, 6th February 2017 9am to 5pm Amsterdam, RAI, The Netherlands

For more information and registration visit:

Award Winning Architect: Ole Scheeren


BRINGING EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION TO THE FORE Bett returns to ExCeL London on 25 - 28 January 2017 and is once again set to shake up the education scene

Come and join in the fun at Bett 2017


his year’s Bett show focuses on game changers; the individuals, events and products that have had the biggest impact on helping us discover exactly what is possible. With seminars, product showcases and demonstrations from a long list of education game changers, combined with every educator’s own passion, Bett 2017 aims to help visitors make their mark. For visitors looking to seek out the latest and most groundbreaking 26

january 2017

products, Bett Futures is back, in association with the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), and should be top of the agenda. Bett Futures provides visitors with an opportunity to meet the innovative start-ups driving forward the next generation of learning; the smallest companies with the biggest ideas. Since the last Bett show in 2016, we have experienced a year of significant change within the education sector; issues such as academisation,

When? 25-28 January 2017 Where? ExCeL London Time? Wed 25 Jan 10:00 - 18:00 Thu 26 Jan 10:00 - 18:00 Fri 27 Jan 10:00 - 18:00 Sat 28 Jan 10:00 - 15:00 governance, selective schooling, teacher retention and the outcome of the EU referendum have been sources of lively debate. Bett 2017 will

provide an arena for open and informed discussions about the future of education, and how each attendee can play a part in creating it.

SHOW PREVIEW: BETT 2017 BETT ARENA The 2017 Bett Arena will host educators from across the globe, gathering on the show’s centre stage for a passionate, open, knowledgeable but entertaining look at how, together, we can create a better future through education and become the next educational game changers. The Bett Arena will once again offer visitors sessions that mix practical advice, insight, inspiration and tools. To give you an idea of what to expect from the Bett Arena, here is an overview of some of the inspirational speakers who will be taking to the stage, and the topics they will be discussing: Wednesday 25 January • Teachers Maarit Rossi and Kazaya Takahashi (2.30-3.15): Global Teacher Prize winners and finalists discuss their beliefs about what makes a world-class teacher. • Saku Tuominen, founder of HundrED, and Kate Robinson, editor in chief at HundrED (3.30-4.00): The world is changing faster than ever. Education is struggling to keep up. In many areas, the field is in need of massive change, but implementing new methods and innovations is difficult as the sector operates in silos; classrooms, schools, districts and even countries. HundrED, a collaborative, global project, aims to determine how the next 100 years of education should look to make it relevant, exciting and fit for the needs of an increasingly globalised world. The project empowers teachers to share their innovations and helps them spread to schools across the world. Over the past several months, HundrED has been searching for exciting, inspiring innovations that are already changing the face of education globally. In this session, they will explore why it is that changes struggle to spread, and share insights on how to embed new practices and approaches successfully. To do this, Tuominen will be diving into invigorating examples and announcing HundrEd’s first ten worldwide innovations. • Karen Blackett, chair at Mediacom, and Elspeth Finch, founder at Indigo& (4.30-5.15): The creative industries have become a global powerhouse, one that increasingly requires STEAM talent. How can the sector achieve gender parity and remove the stigma of

not offering a serious career? What can be done to build stronger links with the education sector? A panel of leading women from across the sector will gather to discuss the issues faced and explore potential solutions to one of the biggest challenges in the industry. • David Faulkner, founder at Education Changemakers (5.30-6.15): Six start ups from the Bett Futures 2017 cohort face some of the greatest names in education and technology. Which of them will survive the encounter and which one will receive, based on the audience vote, the title of Bett 2017’s ‘One to Watch’? Thursday 26 January • Ed Stafford, explorer at Discovery (11.30-12.15): Renowned adventurer, explorer and broadcaster Ed Stafford shares his view on why the spirit of exploring is so important in today’s world. • Professor Stephen Heppell, CEO at (1.30-2.15): Don’t sweat the orders from above. Educationalist Stephen Heppell shares stories of some transformational bottom-up projects making an impact in today’s educational landscape. • Ger Graus, education director at Kidzania (3.30-4.15): Facts, thoughts and aspirations about a careers curriculum fit for the 21st century and its children. • Sir Tony Robinson, actor and TV presenter at Discovery (5.30-6.15): The actor, historian and national treasure explains why he believes learning needs to be brought to life to be most effective. He’ll also share insights into his work with Discovery in the education arena. Friday 27 January • Eric Sheninger, senior fellow at International Centre for Leadership in Education (10.30-11.15): Awe is a huge component of life; it’s hardwired in our brains. When we experience the sensation of awe, we are consumed by wonder, relevancy, emotion, engagement, inspiration, and realworld connections. Awe is a driving force for learning that will not just benefit our students now, but also well into their future. However, traditional views and functions of school deprives

Testing out the latest tech trends

many students from experiencing the joy and power of awe as a catalyst for meaningful learning. During this keynote, Sheninger will share innovative, research-based practices that you can implement to bring back a sense of awe to learning. • Heston Blumenthal, celebrity chef (1.30-2.15): Creativity offers us the opportunity to explore and discover, and children – even teachers – should not be afraid to ask questions, or to fail. If you question nothing you lose the essence of what it is to be human, because ultimately, we are imaginative beings.

STEAM VILLAGE Following its success in 2016, the STEAM Village will play host to a number of organisations supporting learning in the STEAM subjects. The Bett STEAM Village is an interactive space for teachers, students and parents to learn through exploration and play; a place for visitors to try out STEAM solutions and products while considering how they can be assimilated into the classroom to enhance education. Experts will be on hand to guide visitors through key STEAM topics, teaching methods, and new and emerging technologies.

CPD CONTENT Saturday 28 January • Professor Stephen Heppell, CEO at (10.30-11.15): Education policy changes are announced so frequently that progress should be meteoric, surely? But it isn’t, is it? If technology is to keep on making learning better, in the way we have seen throughout the life of Bett, then it needs to be happening from the bottom up. Luckily, there is much that can be done in families, by parents and guardians, and children, to bring learning alive. This talk explores what is possible, and happening, today. • Zach Shelby, CEO at micro:bit foundation (2.30-3.15): Shelby will talk about micro:bit a year on since its launch to one million young people in the UK, where the diminutive device has had a scale of impact beyond imagination. Now, micro:bit is being launched around the globe, and Shelby will share his vision for the future of micro:bit and why it’s important for generations of young people to come.

Practitioner-led Learn Live seminars and workshops will address key issues in contemporary education, providing useful insight into the latest research, practices and policies affecting education worldwide. Visitors will come away from these sessions with innovative teaching techniques that they can easily implement in their own classrooms. The growing emphasis on school leadership will be addressed in the School Leaders Summit, which will explore the most significant challenges facing senior leadership teams and how they can be tackled. This summit will also provide an opportunity for school business managers and senior leaders to network and collaborate to come up with forward-thinking solutions to improve school leadership. Bett 2017 is free to attend and will take place from Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 January 2017 at ExCeL London. For more information or to register, please visit You can also follow the conversation on Twitter @Bett_Show. january 2017



AVOIDING DISASTER Going through a period of huge growth, Ashmole Academy in Southgate, London, was pushed to undertake a refresh of its ageing infrastructure, in particular around backup and disaster recovery. Tech integrator Krome Technologies supplied and installed a storage and virtualisation platform, eliminating the risk of a single point of failure in the production environment


shmole Academy was growing, fast. The academy was faced with large problems: it had to support a new primary school moving onto the same site, and also enhance its system to be able to deal with the growing number of devices being added to the network by students and teaching staff alike. This 11 to 19 years mixed school has 1,500 enrolled students and around 380 sixth form students studying at the Sixth Form Centre, which has a social learning area and a high-tech study centre suitable for e-learning, which was opened in 2014. The new primary school was set to open in 2016. Damian Hustyn, ICT network manager at Ashmole Academy, knew that in order to cope with the academy’s growth, over 2015 they needed to install a more reliable and resilient system that would provide 24/7 access to all users – students and staff. The solution needed to ensure an always accessible service to guarantee that any issues could be resolved quickly, as the existing system took hours to fix, leading to downtime for users.

AGEING INFRASTRUCTURE “Our network hadn’t moved very fast in the last 10 to 12 years,” comments Hustyn. “We had ageing kit and the requirements for schools had moved in that time from the desktop to mobile devices. Mobile devices meant multiple people needed to be able to connect simultaneously, and we needed to make services available


January 2017

to staff, students and the wider community at the weekend. We also planned to support a new primary school on the same site, supporting all the primary school’s requirements.” Says Hustyn: “We’re a school that’s going through a huge period of growth. We needed a complete refresh of our ageing infrastructure as 20 physical servers were performing a multitude of jobs, including databases and emails, meaning we were limited around the maintenance we could perform during the school day. This meant our IT team had to work long hours in order to complete any tests after work hours to avoid causing disruption to the learning process.” The academy was previously reliant on four different pieces of back-up software and had no real disaster recovery solution. With storage limited to around 4 terabytes, routine management tasks such as back-up proved time consuming. “The capacity for back-up on our previous solution was spread across a number of different locations, meaning that as an IT team we had to spend time physically changing tapes. We knew virtualisation would free up our time to concentrate on providing a fuller IT service to our users and would support our ongoing growth,” adds Hustyn.

system. “We can offer a service to people, but if you’re not going to get much out of it in terms of value for money and an improved performance for the end user, and show a cost saving, nothing will happen.” With a limited budget and specific requirements around storage and virtualisation, Ashmole Academy wanted to ensure that it was choosing the right technology for its needs and also the right integration partner. The solution put forward by technology provider Krome formed the basis for other vendor quotations due to its strength, with Krome winning thanks to its professionalism, advice and Hustyn’s confidence in the team. The primary objective for this project was to create a reliable storage and virtualisation platform that was scalable in line with the academy’s planned growth. The solution designed by Krome included Dell EqualLogic SAN, which provided more than double the storage capabilities of the previous solution in one central location. The Dell PowerEdge R730 servers running VMware vSphere Essentials Plus, supported by Veeam back-up and Dell Networking switches ensured that Ashmole had a highly available and scalable futureproofed solution.

SMART SUPPORT LIMITED BUDGET Yet he adds that due to financial restraints at the school, money savings and value for end users had to be proven to be possible with a new

The entire solution is supported by PRTG Network Monitoring solution from Paessler that provides proactive monitoring and early visibility of any issues within the data centre. The

SOLUTIONS: ASHMOLE ACADEMY “Over the last year or so we’ve been

PRTG solution is monitored by Krome in

Hustyn. “We invested in a number of

house to free up the Ashmole Academy

training days provided by Krome which

working on a new virtual learning

solution by Krome technicians who

IT team’s time. During the school day

have helped us maximise our investment

environment involving iPads and

contact me in the event of a failure or

Krome will contact the IT team in the

and have given us the confidence that we needed in the solution.

e-readers for students, which we

a foreseen risk. Having that back-

may not have had time for before,”

up support is critical and I’ve been

observes Hustyn. He explains how, with the former legacy infrastructure, they had to wait days to have failed servers back up and running: “When we had failures on our old systems it could have taken days to restore the information. Now that we have virtual machines we can replace with back-up in as little as 15 minutes,” he notes. “Since implementing the new solution we’ve had teachers telling us that they appreciate the more reliable system and the additional storage now available to them,” says Hustyn. “Our network is now much quicker to access and saving or opening documents is much faster and more fluid than on the previous system.” Hustyn adds: “All of our equipment

impressed by the Krome team who

event of any issues, providing valuable support around any glitches. The academy needed to ensure that the implementation could take place during the 2015 summer holidays to ensure minimum disruption for its users. “The Krome team made it an easy process, providing a checklist of everything we needed, meaning the implementation went smoothly,” says Hustyn. “During the pre-installation phase Krome also provided great guidance and the implementation team was hugely professional and did a great job. “During the implementation, the Krome engineers went above and beyond, taking the time to talk us through the installation as it was happening ,which was invaluable,” adds

RELIABLE AND RESILIENT As a result of the implementation, the consolidated virtual server environment installed not only saves the academy time and administrative headaches, but has a specific cost saving implication. “In the first four months of the new system we saved between £2,000 and £3,000 on power and cooling, which is money we can use for the greater good of the school,” comments Hustyn. The new infrastructure has provided the school with a reliable, resilient environment that requires far less management time and the Ashmole Academy IT team is now able to use their time more efficiently, allowing them to focus on advancing to new technologies.

is monitored remotely via the PRTG

have really added value on to the solution they implemented. If we do have any issues with the solution in terms of glitches, we’ve been able to promptly speak to somebody at Krome via helpdesk or phone. They can solve it or escalate it to be solved very quickly.” Concluding, Hustyn comments: “We’re delighted with our new solution and what it’s enabled us to do so far. We’re excited to keep expanding and growing, knowing that our system can handle extra users and that we’re supported by the proactive and knowledgeable team at Krome.”

Students are now able to connect any device easily to the network

January 2017



Warriner School saves time, money and engages parents with Groupcall Messenger

ENGAGING PARENTS IN COMMS Making the switch to digital school-to-home communication was a decision a long time coming for The Warriner School in Oxfordshire. School business manager Leigh Barmby explains what happened


efore digitising our schoolto-home communication process, our teachers were reliant on old-fashioned methods, writing letters to be sent home, and either posting them or sending them back with their students, neither of which were completely reliable. This approach also limited our ability to send tailored messages to individual parents or groups of parents, such as those whose children were partaking in a particular school activity, going on a specific school trip, or who had special educational needs. As such, we were conscious that parents would view our communications as generic and not relevant to them. Another issue we were facing was communicating with parents promptly and efficiently: the time-consuming nature of writing and sending letters meant that there was often a lag between an event at school occurring or a change being made and parents being informed, leaving them feeling out of the loop. 30

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TIME TO GO DIGITAL We knew that going digital was the only way to address these issues, and so we were delighted when we discovered a solution that would allow us to quickly send text messages and emails to individual parents, all parents or specific groups with tailored content. Making parents feel like they are an integral part of the school community is so important for us, and we want to be able to have open conversations with them regarding any feedback or concerns they may have. However, the time-consuming nature of responding to a letter or calling the school and trying to ascertain who is the most appropriate person to speak to can put parents off. Using our new digital parental communication system, Groupcall Messenger, parents can receive emails or texts and reply instantly from wherever they are, meaning they’re far more likely to engage with the school and express their opinions, which is so valuable to us!

UNDERSTANDING GROUPCALL MESSENGER Groupcall Messenger is a parental contact system used by more than 5,000 schools, enabling them to send text, voice or email messages in any language to parents’ mobile phones or landlines, providing unauthorised absence and general parental communication. Messenger reads pupil and attendance information live and in real time from the school’s management information system. Messenger provides a simple solution to keep communication expenditure low. Sending text messages instantly is a quick and costeffective way to ease the pressure on inbound and outbound phone lines and reception staff. The integrated email and push messages (Xpressions app) systems provide free communication services and can save schools thousands of pounds by reducing printing and postage requirements, as well as improving the school’s environmental footprint.

QUICK MESSAGES A good example is when we’re trying to arrange a date for a school event: we can send a quick message to all parents to give them our suggested dates and times, and they can easily respond with their availability. This is a task that, with our old school-to-home communication method, would have taken weeks! Not only has digitising our schoolto-home communication system saved our staff masses of time and helped the

school to achieve a robust and effective parental engagement process, it’s also saved us a staggering £12,000 in the first year. So we’d definitely encourage other schools to make the move to a digital school-to-home communication solution. I would recommend Groupcall Messenger to any school that wishes to improve communication, efficiency, and save money.



As part of a complete refurbishment, the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford needed to overhaul its lecture theatres with reliable, futureproofed AV equipment, including a central control room and lecture capture functionality monitored remotely many popular control protocols, inlcuding Crestron RoomView, Extron IP Link, AMX and PJLink, which allow almost all aspects to be controlled across a network. Each projector was connected to an SY Electronics Apollo multi-format matrix switcher. Having two images available allows the lecturer to show multiple sources including imagery from visualisers, cameras, PowerPoint presentations and video. It also enables them to broadcast webcasts and show Skype communications with presenters that are not necessarily based at the university.

“Reliability of the equipment was absolutely key”


he University of Oxford’s Zoology Department was in dire straits; despite this being the premier teaching site of the university, the lecture theatres had not changed in over two decades. A complete overhaul of the three main lecture theatres was needed as part of a wider project to refurbish the entire Tinbergen Building. The refurbishment would improve the seating, carpets and decor, as well as upgrading the AV equipment. This included replacing the old XGA and WXGA projectors and control room equipment, and installing cameras and audio equipment that could be used to record lectures. Each lecture theatre had its own dedicated control room. The project needed to create a central control facility for all three. It was imperative

Centralised control for the university’s revamped lecture

that all the equipment used was reliable and would have longevity in terms of futureproofing the technology and infrastructure installed.

AV ON A BUDGET Finally, there was a tight budget and timescale for the whole refurbishment, with only a couple of months in the summer to complete it. Simon Ellis, IT manager at the University, says: “Reliability of the equipment was absolutely key. If a unit fails, we would need to erect a scaffold tower over the seats, which in itself takes around half a day to put up. Our lecture theatres are always fully booked and we have just half a day available each week for maintenance.” Conferex Communications was hired to supply and install the entire AV solution including projectors, audio,

cameras for lecture capture and control room equipment. Conferex installed two Optoma ProScene EH7700 projectors in each lecture theatre together with audio equipment, cameras for lecture capture and the central control room solutions. It used fibre optic cabling that will allow the university to easily replace components and eventually upgrade to 4K projectors. Ellis notes: “It was important to us that we use the same projectors across all lecture theatres. These needed to be high resolution and bright, as well as reliable. We had a tight budget to completely refurbish all our lecture theatres, including the IT equipment.”

PROJECTING THE FUTURE On the projectors, the Optoma EH7700 ProScene projectors used in each lecture theatre have a brightness of 7,000 ANSI lumens and use BrilliantColor technology to produce bright images with balanced, lifelike colours. Nick Price, territory manager at Optoma Europe, comments: “Schools and universities must look to the future for their ICT procurement, and Oxford is such a good example. It installed the bright EH7700 because of its image quality, futureproofed connectivity and reliability. These models can be managed and

THE HEAR AND NOW For audio, the largest theatre was installed with two Martin Audio MLA (Mini Line Array) speakers. Smaller Tannoy VLS column array speakers were installed in the other two and these were focused to take into account tiered seating. Sennheiser omnidirectional remote paddle antennas were installed to improve audio reception from wireless roaming microphones. The video capture system has four inputs plus audio; each input goes into the recording software to ensure that high-quality audio and video from the lectures can be saved for future viewing, and so that for popular lectures, audiovisuals from one theatre can be broadcast across all three. A new central control room was also built to serve all three lecture theatres. Lecturers can control almost all aspects from the podium control panel including lighting, audio and what is shown on each projector. “I am delighted to say that we got exactly what we wanted,” exclaims Ellis. “There is nowhere else in the university where the AV equipment is done so well. Our time spent in planning this has certainly paid off!” January 2017



MICRO:BIT A pocket computer that brings coding, customisation and control to life


nnounced in January 2016, the BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows children to get creative with technology. In the BBC’s most ambitious education initiative for 30 years, up to one million devices were given to every 11 or 12 year old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK, for free. In the 1980s, the BBC Micro introduced many children to computing for the first time. Part of the BBC’s 2015 Make it Digital initiative, the BBC micro:bit builds on the legacy of the Micro for the digital age, and aims to inspire young people to get creative with digital. It has been made possible only through a groundbreaking partnership between the BBC and 31 organisations including ARM, Barclays, element14, Lancaster University, Microsoft, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductors, Samsung, Technology Will Save Us and the Wellcome Trust. This tiny codeable computer allows young people to be inspired by technology, whatever their level of experience, and aims to help develop a new generation of digital pioneers, to develop core skills in science, technology and engineering, and unleash a new generation of digital makers and inventors. The BBC micro:bit is a small computer that you can code, customise and control to bring your digital ideas, games and apps to life. It measures 4cm by 5cm, is available in a range of colours, and is designed to be fun and easy to use. Something simple can be coded in seconds, like lighting up its LEDs or displaying a pattern, with no prior knowledge of computing. The BBC micro:bit also connects to other devices, sensors, kits and objects, and is a great companion to Arduino, Galileo, Kano, littleBits and Raspberry Pi, acting as a springboard to more complex learning. 32

January 2017

Students can programme their BBC micro:bit to become anything they want, from simple games to smartwatches and even fitness trackers, all by using one of the code editors at the micro:bit website or the mobile app, and by connecting it to other devices and sensors. The website also features a range of resources and tutorials to help teachers, parents and students take advantage of the BBC micro:bit’s vast potential. Micro:bit includes: 25 red LEDs to light up, flash messages, create games and invent digital stories; two programmable buttons activated when pressed; an on-board motion detector or accelerometer that can detect movement and tell other devices the user is on the go; a built-in compass or magnetometer to sense which direction the user is facing, the user’s movement in degrees, and where they are; an in-built magnet that can sense certain types of metal; and Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to the internet and interact with the world. Users can create a personal area on the micro:bit website that will allow them to save and test creations in a simulator before they are transferred to the user’s personal micro:bit. Also, the available tools scale to be as complex as the user’s ideas, imagination and skills require. In March 2016 the BBC said one million BBC micro:bits were to be delivered free to every year 7 student in England and Wales, year 8 student in Northern Ireland and S1 student in Scotland. Following the nationwide

rollout, a new foundation was created to take over the promotion of the micro:bit, called the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. The BBC micro:bit hardware and much of the software has been opensourced, and BBC micro:bits are now available to buy from a range of retailers. Money generated from these commercial sales will be used to further encourage as many people as possible to join the coding revolution.

KEY FEATURES Teaches coding to those with little or no experience Fits in a kid’s pocket and can be used anywhere Includes accelerometer that can detect movement Has built-in compass or magnetometer to sense direction Sells for around £13

Stuart Keens, director of studies, head of mathematics and ICT at Terrington Hall School in York, tells us why he was attracted to micro:bit over other offerings: “I had recently taken over the co-ordination of ICT at our school and wanted something hands-on for the students to use. I had previously tried Lego Mindstorms with some success, but these are priced too high for occasional use. With Raspberry Pi becoming more popular, we invited a group to give some demonstrations of what could be done with this type of technology. Students of course loved it. When the BBC introduced micro:bits, we were one of the first schools to place an order. Quite simply the price, ease of use at a basic level and really straightforward website attracted me to them. The BBC’s history with successful school technology – I grew up with BBC Basic computers in my classrooms – reassured me that this was not just going to be a short-term fad.” micro:bit is a great motivator for students of all ages, adds Keens: “Although released for year 7 students initially, I found that years 5 and 6 would benefit most from being taught to program them. Even year 4 can access the basics, and it is they who will get most inspired. We had some children do an introductory activity to design some music. They took the micro:bits home over the weekend (we trust them), and one girl reported back that she had been able to play ‘Happy Birthday’ to her granddad. The genuine happiness on her face was truly inspirational.” He adds: “The programming concepts that can be taught through ‘block editor’ (similar to the way Scratch and Tynker work on the internet) are sufficient to give students a thorough grounding in coding through a fun, interactive medium. I have slotted micro:bits into our ICT scheme of work, and have found that it prepares students well for more formal programming later, using Winlogo or Python.”



An app-based interactive projection system that stimulates and engages Students of all abilities can learn and play together


The Magic Carpet mobile system

Useful for both SEN and mainstream students Responds to the slightest movement


or children to be able to interact with pictures, light and sound, to be absorbed through play and without knowing it, to learn, is perhaps the gold standard of education. Working to achieve that goal is Sensory Guru’s Magic Carpet, an app-based interactive projection system that stimulates and engages people of all ages and abilities. Users simply move over the projected apps to interact with them. Magic Carpet responds to the slightest movement, supports multiple access methods such as gesture, eye gaze, mouse and touch and projects a variable image size, up to a huge 3.6m wide, catering for wheelchair accessibility. This system is, of course, incredibly useful for children with special education needs to be able to learn from the curriculum and to improve their personal and interpersonal skills. Yet it is also used in mainstream schools as another way to change the means of learning to engage an entire group and keep focus and attention on the topic at hand. The Magic Carpet supports national curriculum Early Years, Primary and SEN learning, sensory stimulation, play and leisure with a wide array of interactive content. With its eye tracking technology and its ability to focus the image onto a wheelchair tray, it is particularly beneficial for disabled users.

Lee Blemings, CEO of Sensory Guru, says: “With a simple plug-and-play set-up, the system is easy to use and personalise. There are thousands of apps available in our app store to keep everyone engaged for years to come. User-generated content made using the app builder can also be shared with other system users all over the world.” Magic Carpet has a motion capture camera that tracks users as they move over the projected apps. This movement data informs the software of the speed, direction and location of the movement. The software then converts this data into dynamic audiovisual feedback, which users experience as real-time cause and effect triggered by their movements. Sensory Guru has been supplying the Magic Carpet system as a fixed ceiling installation since 2009, but decided to create a fully integrated and accessible plug-and-play mobile Magic Carpet interactive projection system that allowed variable image sizes and easy set-up and control. Sensory Guru contacted the AV fixing solution experts at Loxit and together developed designs for a new portable unit. After a year experimenting with camera and projector configurations to find the perfect combination, the team chose the Optoma X320UST ultra short throw projector.

Supports multiple access methods such as gesture, eye gaze, mouse and touch Projects a variable image size, catering for wheelchair accessibility Available as fixed ceiling installation or mobile system Control is via from Sensory Guru’s iOS and Android apps which include a remote system shutdown. Magic Carpet is fully compatible with Tobii Dynavox eye trackers which can be used on a monitor alongside the Magic Carpet to enable Eye Gaze users to participate with their peers. John Whittle, director at Loxit, says: “Seeing the Magic Carpet in action, the way it encourages end user engagement and promotes positive learning is revolutionary. This use of technology is truly life changing and we are really proud to a part of this fantastic story.”

More than 500 UK schools, centres and hospitals have now adopted the Magic Carpet either as a fixed ceiling installation or a portable system. It is the only NHS-approved interactive floor projection system and is now on the NHS framework for Sensory Equipment. Emma Maltby, headteacher at St Mary the Virgin, one of the schools that uses the Mobile Magic Carpet, says: “It is a huge tool to use in mainstream education. The children are having fun. They are engaged... they are learning at their best.”

Karen Bratchell from St Joseph’s Specialist School and College, Surrey, which teaches SEN students, set up Magic Carpet in the school’s nurture room to help children learn and soothe themselves. She comments: “In the nurture room we have timetabled sessions in a low-demand environment so they can have a lovely time, and get their heads straight. Magic Carpet is another resource where you can put it on and students can interact with it, staff and other pupils. “We’ve heard the words ‘it makes me feel safe’, from students. So it enables us to build relationships and trust; trust is a major factor. Obviously there is the educational side of Magic Carpet as well, but it ultimately brings together all the different elements. It’s amazing. It has brought so much out of our learners. Their imagination has run absolutely wild. They are pretending to be animals, hiding in caves, taking socks and shoes off to swim across the fish pond app. It has just been absolutely amazing. I would say, any school that wanted to get a Magic Carpet, go for it because they are absolutely fantastic.”

January 2017




MorpheusCup 2016

The Education Show 2017

Third Morpheus Cup announced

Returning to the NEC, Birmingham from 16 to 18 March 2017, The Education Show is back to showcase the latest innovative ideas, resources and insights available. Now in its 27th year, it has become a recognised event for educators wishing to find out how to make their school an even more inspirational place to teach and learn, and for those wanting to keep up to date with the latest developments in education. This year’s show welcomes a number of education visionaries who will be speaking across four different theatres. Visitors are invited to be inspired, gain key insights and share their thoughts on some of the most challenging topics currently facing educators. The three-day event will once again provide teaching professionals with the opportunity to touch and test hundreds of resources and products from over 300 exhibitors, all offering a wealth of knowledge and experience in their field. To help exhibitors plan their route around the show, the British Education Suppliers Association (BESA) will be on hand at the BESA Show Information Point. The association’s knowledge and experience will help visitors plan their time at the event and ensure they get as much out of it as possible.

Already adopted by hundreds of campuses from 20 different countries in 2015 and 2016, the Morpheus Cup event is now Europe’s largest competition for talent, projects, ideas and start-ups in 20 disciplines. Now the 2017 competition has been launched. Supported by the European Commission, the Morpheus Cup offers the opportunity for European students to compete remotely and on site. Students are invited to submit a summary in one of 20 Morpheus Prize categories, such as FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, Healthcare, Retail, Coding, Design, Space, Telecom and Mobility. On offer is the Morpheus Prize for best student project by category, and also a place in the final to pitch to a world-class jury and the winners in other categories. An endowment of €25,000 in cash, connections with employers and investors as well as equipment are up for grabs. Students just need to register individually or in teams and submit the draft electronically at before 1 March 2017. Students wanting to compete must form a team of two to three competitors and be present on site in the House of Knowledge, Luxembourg, on 28 April 2017.

TOP TIPS Parents regret giving smartphones to kids Parents in the UK regret buying mobile phones for their children, according to a new study. Half of British children will own a mobile phone by the age of 11, according to a study from Nationwide of 2,000 parents that shows the average child will receive a phone worth £120 on their 11th birthday, and will then spend two hours every day glued to the device. Incredibly, researchers found one in 20 children will own a mobile handset by the age of six as parents give in to primary school peer pressure. Yet four in 10 parents end up regretting giving their youngster a phone at such a young age, as by their teenage years the child is transfixed by the likes of social media, texts and games. A third of parents fear their children spend far too much time on their phone, with one in eight kids spending more than four hours a day chatting to friends and playing games. Altogether, six in 10 children use their phone to play popular computer games, while 54% will watch videos on the likes of YouTube and social media channels. More than half of youngsters will spend much of their time surfing the internet, and 49% regularly listen to music. A fifth of parents are concerned their child’s phone has led to them not enjoying enough quality time with the family, and 16% are concerned their child is missing out on face-to-face interactions with others.

EDITORIAL CALENDAR Coming up in Tech&Learning UK 2017

April • Inclusion - How tech is being used to help those with disabilities, English as a second language and SEN • Robotics - How robotics technologies are being used in the classroom today, and how it will be used in the future • How to: Make the most of mobile • Tech showcase: Lecture capture • Show review: Bett 2017 and The Education Show

September • Coding - We look at why and how coding is being taught progressively from primary to university and why it is important • AR and VR - How, where and

why are these technologies edging their way into education? • How to: Create lesson content with tech •Tech showcase: Gamified learning • Show review: EdTech/RM Event

November • 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

January 2017

Let’s bring learning to life We’re here to brighten every step of your students’ learning journey in lecture theatres, auditoriums, shared spaces and right across campus. From reliable, energy-efficient laser projectors and BRAVIA Professional Displays, to Vision Presenter which puts you in control of multiple content sources, our solutions create exciting and collaborative teaching experiences. Talk to your personal Account Manager, and discover how partnering with Sony can help you secure bigger educational returns from any size of AV investment.

Tech&LearningUK January 2017 Digital  

Technology for engaging minds

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