Posts Tagged ‘ICT’

7 Key Characteristics of a Digitally Competent Teacher

August 24, 2014

Courtesy of





Click on the link to read The 10 Best Educational Apps for Children

Click on the link to read The Must Have iPad Apps for the Classroom

Click on the link to read Using Videogames in the Classroom

Click on the link to read Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom

Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?


The Must Have iPad Apps for the Classroom

July 6, 2014


Known as the periodic table of iPad apps, these are all extremely useful for the classroom.



Click on the link to read Using Videogames in the Classroom

Click on the link to read Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom

Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?

Click on the link to read The Best Phonics Apps for iPads

Click on the link to read Should Teachers be able to Text Students?

Using Videogames in the Classroom

May 13, 2014



A very interesting article by Michael Kasumovic:


Although videogames are seen by many as a waste of time, one thing they do undeniably well is teach. The problem is that educational games are about as much a game as low-fat ice cream is delicious. Both leave a bad taste in your mouth and are generally unfulfilling.

That’s because there’s a fundamental difference between games made to teach and games where you learn. In the former, you know you’re being lectured to, while in the latter, you’re having fun and just happen to learn.

If you have children in school, you’ve likely come across Mathletics, the educational “game” that schools use to teach maths.

Contrast a maths question from the Mathletics site where students are rewarded with points with a level in Wuzzit Trouble where students need to turn cogs that differ in the number of teeth to reach the right position of a dial to free a wuzzit.

Both games teach maths, but one is a game rather than being a gamified version of a maths equations. By ignoring traditional symbolism, Wuzzit Trouble teaches through a fun intuitive mechanism where players can’t help but learn if they play long enough. The important lesson here is that students are learning through a familiar framework that minimises the costs of mistakes and allows the opportunity for discovery.

The problem is, however, that games such as Wuzzit Trouble and Dragon Box take a substantial amount of time to create and we can’t expect educators to invest such time.

But what if using games to teach wasn’t either difficult or time consuming? What if current games could be hijacked for education? What if there were easy ways to manipulate code? And what if the creation of games could be part of the lesson?

Gaming in the classroom

The value of Portal 2 and Minecraft as teaching tools is due to more than their popularity. It’s because they allow students to create worlds and manipulate the rules that govern them to explore scientific phenomena in fun and intuitive ways.

A quick search for lesson plans for either game provides numerous examples, often on blogs that provide insight into individual successes and failures.

Physics With Portals is one such blog, where high school teacher Cameron Pittman explains how he teaches Netwon’s Laws.

In a similar way, Minecraft can be used to teach simple mathematical concepts such as perimeter and area, to more complex ideas such as probabilities and reaction times.

It’s not only sciences that benefit from a technological perspective. Remixing College English is a website by English professor Tanya Sasser that explores ways to use technology to teach writing, editing, and revision. One of my favourite posts is the idea of having students explore writing through creating text adventures reminiscent of the Choose Your Own Adventure novels.

Imagine asking students to create games instead of handing in written reports. It’s clear the creators of Cuddlefish and Benthic love researched and understood their topics. Instead of marking dozens of papers, students could play and help grade each other’s games.

Groups at Wisconsin and MIT have also been working on a new way to engage students by using augmented reality. Game editors such as Aris and TaleBlazer allow you to create a virtual world where students use GPS enabled smart-phones to visit map locations to interact with virtual characters.

I’ve used Aris to create augmented reality games to teach evolutionary concepts such as sexual conflict and life-history trade-offs. In such games, I’ve created worlds where students take the role of male spiders searching for mates while avoiding predators.

By working in teams and competing against classmates, students learn how different mating strategies evolve, why others fail, and do so in a social setting familiar to them.


Read more of the article by clicking this link


Click on the link to read Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom

Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?

Click on the link to read The Best Phonics Apps for iPads

Click on the link to read Should Teachers be able to Text Students?

Click on the link to read 50 Ways To Use Skype In Your Classroom

Five Great Technology Tools for the English classroom

February 20, 2014

technology in the classroom


Courtesy of English teacher, Sarah Findlater:


Google Drive

Google Drive is a free online storage cloud that has Google’s version of Word, Powerpoint and Excel built into it. It allows students to create documents for free on the go. They can access and edit these documents on a tablet device or computer from various locations with their Google account login. They can share the documents they are working on with other students and can even work in one document at the same time to co-create pieces of work. They can also share the document with their teachers while they work or once they’ve finished to get instant feedback.

Teachers can help students with the creative writing process by getting them to share their stories as they write so you can feedback live without stopping their creative flow. You can give them quick and easy targets through the chat facility or highlight specific sections and create a comment – they have to respond to these otherwise the comment alert won’t disappear. You could also get students to co-create a presentation with one another on an element of the social or historical context of a text you’re studying, for example. Once finished, they can share the document with you, close down their computers and come up one at a time and simply click on their presentation now housed in your drive for instant feedback.


Edmodo is a free social learning platform for students, teachers and parents. It looks a little bit like Facebook so it is a familiar format for students to use. But before you run for the hills, it is very different to Facebook in that it’s completely controlled by the teacher and specifically designed for educational purposes – one of my classes has affectionately named it “Fakebook”. It has a shared timeline as a homepage where you and your students can interact and you can allow students to interact with one another, if you wish. Both teachers and students have a library where they can store documents and share them with others if they want to. The teacher can set assignments, students hand in assignments and teachers feedback on the work all within Edmodo. Two particularly useful functions are the quizzes and polls, and there’s also a built-in grade book that houses your teacher-assessed grades and quiz results for each student.

It really is a very useful all-round tool. You could consider saving essential documents – such as mark schemes, poems being studied and teaching presentations – in the class library to give students easy access to these at any time. You could also post photos of classwork completed by groups of students or individuals so all the students can see it for best practice. You could schedule weekly spelling tests – set as multiple choice quizzes – through Edmondo which will automatically collate the results so you can easily see trends within the class’s performance.

Screen casting

There a loads of tools out there that capture your computer or device screen and allow you to record your voice while you do so. Two that are often used are ScreenR which is free and Explain Everything, which is quite cheap. The idea is that you can take a picture of your computer or device screen and then set your voice against the website or pre-prepared powerpoint. If you collate these in one place, you have a bank of instructional videos.

A simple way to use this tool is to create short instructional videos to help your students study independently or revise a topic. For instance, you might create clips outlining different writing styles or perhaps your team can work together to create clips on themes you all think are important. You could get students involved and ask them to prepare a short videos explaining poems that you have been studying as a revision tool.


One way to collate the videos created by a screencast tool is to start a YouTube channel and upload them all there. This is simply your own YouTube home page – you can style the background, upload profile information and follow other channels of interest. You can also create playlists within your channel to organise videos into topics and allow students to find them easily. If creating your own videos is not for you then you can create playlists of videos that are already out there that relate to the topics you are studying.

What about creating a channel for your department? Create a playlist for each topic on your curriculum map from myths and legends to war poetry and creative writing. All you would need to do is to drop in videos of your choice. The videos could be created by your students, staff or just found from educational sources around the web. The clips could help students get more from the topic or encourage them to read and research around the subject – a wonderful resource for years to come that you can regularly update.


There are many blogging platforms around but the two that are most popular are WordPress and Blogger. If you’re looking for the easier of the two then Blogger from Google is the one. If you want a more sophisticated platform then WordPress is probably a better choice. A basic blog allows you to have a rolling front page of updating posts and static pages accessed via tabs, often along the top of the page. It is a great record of the year for the students to look back over.

Get your students to create their own blogs and use them as digital portfolios for the year, posting up their best work. Getting feedback from a real audience as well as peers, parents and teachers is a great opportunity for development. How about creating a blog for your class? You could update the main page with homework tasks, recommended reading and updates from your classroom. Try creating a post with a task or question based on the topic you’re studying and get the students to use the comments facility to respond. They could even extend their answers by responding to one another’s comments. You could use the blog as a record of lessons by uploading presentations and photos. If a student is ever absent, this is an invaluable tool to enable them to keep up.


Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?

Click on the link to read The Best Phonics Apps for iPads

Click on the link to read Should Teachers be able to Text Students?

Click on the link to read 50 Ways To Use Skype In Your Classroom

Why is it Always the Kids’ Fault?

February 11, 2014

tristam hunt

The UK’s Educational Secretary, Tristram Hunt, has called for schoolchildren to be given ‘concentration lessons’, to fight the effects of social media and digital gadgets.

You know what this makes me want to do?

Confiscate Mr. Hunt’s phone for the day. See how he copes without his “digital gadget”.

I bet he feels naked without his “distractions.”

And it’s this rank hypocrisy that is endemic among educational ‘experts’. Here are a few examples of the prevailing double standards I am referring to:

1. They call on teachers to instruct children to become more resilient when studies show that children are far more resilient than adults.

2. They legislate against lunches that c0ntain cheese and yogurt and crisps when the average staff room often contains cakes and biscuits and lollies.

3. They become obsessed with ICT to the point where schools are expected to heavily integrate iPads and interactive Smartboards apps, but then complain that such technologies are causing our children to lose concentration.

Why do we always focus on a child’s lack of concentration and never on a teachers ability to engage? Why is it always that children have lost the capacity to maintain concentration and never that the teacher has offered up a turgid series of worksheets and unimaginative activities?

If you think the children of today are that much worse than you or I when it comes to concentration, attend a professional development seminar and observe all the bored teachers scribbling on their handouts and staring out the window.

And yes, watch as many of them will reach for their digital gadgets at some point during the lecture to catch up with any Facebook updates they may have missed.

Pure hypocrisy!

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Where iPads Fall Short in a Child’s Education

December 2, 2013




We hear a great deal about the benefits of iPads in the classroom, but not often do we get to hear about some of the negative effects:

Toddlers these days are barely out of nappies before they are playing with touch-screen toys and fiddling with iPads.

And now, it seems, they are paying the price – because when they arrive at nursery they are apparently struggling to pick up basic fine-motor skills such as holding pencils, pens and crayons.

Some nurseries have installed interactive ‘smartboards’, digital cameras and touch-screen computers to try to expose children to gadgets at an early age.

One of the learning goals in the revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is that ‘children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and school’.

Under a section on Understanding the World, youngsters must also find out about and ‘identify the uses of everyday technology and use information and communication technology (ICT) and programmable toys to support their learning’.

Some nurseries have prioritised ICT as a result and ploughed resources into improving their facilities.

Jeff Stanford from Asquith Day Nurseries – which has invested £4million in digital technology – defended the move, saying: ‘It makes children comfortable and familiar with the technology and that is extremely useful when they start school.’

But literacy expert Sue Palmer said: ‘I think what children really need up to the age of seven is real life in real space and real time, which means three-dimensional experiences.

‘We already have problems with children not being able to hold a pen or pencil.

And Felicity Marrian, from Iverna Gardens Montessori in London, said: ‘If our children are in fact the most sedentary generation ever, according to the medical authorities, and already spend more time watching television than they do in school, do we really need to add computers and other screen-based devices to the nursery environment?’

A survey of 806 parents and early years staff carried out by website found that only 26 per cent believed that being exposed to technology actually benefits children in nurseries.

Davina Ludlow, director of, added: ‘Children are increasingly exposed to an overwhelming amount of technology at an early age.

‘The use of iPads in nurseries, which are displacing the traditional methods of learning and playing activities is concerning.

‘This poll shows that the majority of people clearly want to see early education and childhood play protected from this technological creep.’

Ms Palmer who is also the author of Toxic Childhood added:‘I think what children really need up to the age of seven is real life in real space and real time, which means three dimensional experiences.


Click on the link to read 5 Great Spelling Apps for Tablets and Smartphones

Click on the link to read Are Educators Being Conned by the i-Pad?

Click on the link to read The Best Phonics Apps for iPads

Click on the link to read Should Teachers be able to Text Students?

Click on the link to read 50 Ways To Use Skype In Your Classroom

Click on the link to read Top 10 Educational i-Pad Apps

10 Best Websites for Teaching ICT

July 24, 2012

Author Ian Addison recommends his favourite online tools for getting creative in class:

Photo editing – Tuxpi Photo Editor or BeFunky
These sites allow you to take a simple photograph and then convert it into an artistic masterpiece. They provide tools to edit the photo and reduce blurring or red-eye but can also turn your photograph into a collage or provide additional effects such as speech bubbles or clipart images. The final images can then be downloaded to the computer and printed out or used elsewhere. These sites do provide additional tools for a fee, but the free elements are more than enough for most users.

Making music – Isle of Tune or Sound Nation
Isle of Tune is a site that provides a blank canvas in the form of fields and grass. A road is added to represent the path of the music and beats are added in the form of trees, bushes and houses. Once the car is driven along the road, the music is played. This all sounds much more complicated than it actually is and it is very simple to get a basic tune but using the gallery provides a selection of well-known tunes including the Harry Potter theme tune, YMCA and songs from Bruno Mars. These have been created and saved by other users of the site.

Sound Nation provides hundreds of audio clips that can be combined together to create a larger piece of music. The clips can be trimmed or repeated as necessary. Anyone can be a DJ within a few minutes.

Create a game – Sploder!
This website provides a range of characters, objects and walls that can be dragged on to the playing surface and manipulated to provide an area for the main character to explore. This is a great way to introduce game design with younger children as there isn’t any coding involved but they will need to think about the different elements that will make a good game. This includes creating a high-enough level of challenge to interest the player, but not too high to make the game impossible. This can then be used as a precursor to paid-for software such as 2Do It Yourself or free tools such as Scratch or Kodu.

Design an avatar – Unique by Rasterboy or Clay Yourself
There are lots of sites that give tools for creating a new online character. This could be saved and used as part of a display or it could be used instead of a real photograph when using tools such as email but it is their use in literacy that makes them a bit more creative. Use these sites to create characters for a story. This could be the main character or it could be the enemy, the person who has stolen the diamond. What will they look like? What features will they have? Print out the avatar and then give the children time to use descriptive vocabulary to describe their characters.

For the younger audience The Fungooms or Poisson Rouge
These sites are amazing for one brilliant reason, they give children the chance to explore, investigate and experiment with very little (if any) instruction. Often the activities on these sites require clicking, dragging or a bit of thought and young children love exploring the different games and puzzles available. These include making pop-art, learning French, counting games or playing snakes and ladders. These sites are a little bit mad, but truly beautiful. Oh, and can you go through the window on Poisson Rouge and find all eight of the hidden fruit?

A bit of help – Under Ten Minutes
And lastly, some help guides. This site has been created to aid teachers (and children) when they use different tools. Many of these are free but it also contains videos for tools such as Google Apps, ActivInspire and Movie Maker. The idea being that any tool can be shown in around 10 minutes and this is the perfect length of time to show the videos as part of a staff training session or even in a lesson. Why not point children towards the video before a lesson on Scratch or Sketch-up?

Click on the link to read Are High-Tech Classrooms Just a Lot of Hype?

Click on the link to read The Problem With IT in the Classroom

Click on the link to read There is Still Some Love for the Forgotten Class Whiteboard

Smartboards Must Become More than Just Classroom Decoration

April 24, 2012

As a classroom teacher, I see new parents taking guided tours of our school all the time. Nowadays parents find it particularly important to sign up to a school while their child is still a newborn. This means that schools are becoming inundated with requests from new parents for guided tours.

During these tours parents openly show an appreciation for the Smartboards that adorn the classrooms.

“So there’s a Smartboard in every single classroom?” they ask in amazement.

As impressive as Smartboards look, in itself they haven’t revolutionised teaching. The challengef or us is to get the technology to compliment our teaching rather than become the focus. Similarly, it is also essential that this technology doesn’t become a mere piece of decoration that manages to impress parents without actually being used for any real educational benefit:

A disruptive technology is one that radically alters an existing market – the iPod displacing the Walkman, for example, or tablets eating into sales of PCs. In the same way, new technologies have the potential to disrupt the education system, bringing about major changes in the way pupils learn and challenging the way schools and colleges are run.

… everyone seems to agree that, as exciting as new technologies are, they should not be seen as a panacea for all ills, or a short cut to more effective teaching. “We’ve seen a lot of whiteboards go into schools, and that’s good because you can have more interactive things on the screen,” says Mills. “But it doesn’t necessarily shift the paradigm of a teacher talking to kids. If done badly, all that investment can just reinforce a model of teaching that isn’t putting the tools in the hands of children.”

Teachers will need more support and resources to embrace the digital classroom idea. “When people spend so much money on the hardware and software, the advice would be you need to spend at least the same amount of money on staff training and development,” says Doug Belshaw, a researcher at JISC infoNet, which provides resources promoting good practice and innovation within the education sector, and co-kickstarter of the Purpos/ed Community Interest Company. “Otherwise you’re never going to get any effectiveness from it.”

Of course, many teachers already know the obvious: that new technologies have the potential to be a disruptive force of the good kind, breaking down barriers between schools and the wider world, the timetable and more flexible forms of learning, pupil ability and the requirements of the curriculum. They can empower children and better prepare them for life in our fast-paced online world. But we are yet to make the leap from pockets of innovation to a mainstream embrace of the digital classroom within our schools.

Children Find Ways to Outsmart Their Parents

October 3, 2011

The message to parents has been clear: Monitor your child’s Facebook page to ensure that they maintain their page in a safe and responsible way.  But there are parents who think they are doing a meticulous job of supervising their children, only to come undone by a loophole being heavily exploited to ward off protective parents:

Are you a parent who keeps an eye on who posts what on your child’s Facebook account? Perhaps you know their password and sneak a look at their messages from time to time? You may even enjoy the trusted privilege of being a “friend”.

Whatever the situation, social networking sites are a source of anxiety for parents, and now the latest trend will only add to their alarm. Children are staying way ahead of attempts by parents and schools to police their online activity And the latest ruse is a secret, fake-name Facebook account.

“Some kids will have two or even three,” says Dr Barbie Clarke, of the youth research agency Family Kids and Youth, who monitors online trends among schoolchildren in the UK.

“Their habits change and we’re seeing them progress from the obvious lie about their age – allowing them to use Facebook in the first place – to this second or third identity. It’s usually driven by Mum picking up on something from their page and raising it with them. They want privacy and they want a secret world.” She is very relaxed about Facebook use by children, saying she thinks they are generally more sensible and supportive of each other than they get credit for. “A second identity can be used for nastiness, to anonymously bully, but generally it’s about secrecy – like a secret diary, or dialogue they can have away from parents and other family members.”

Many children use school facilities to access their fake accounts. “I have two,” admits Harriet, 14.

I feel sorry for today’s parents.  With new and highly specialised technological advances flooding the market, parents are finding it much harder to adapt than their children.  No matter how hard they try to supervise and protect their children, sometimes it must feel like hitting your head against a brick wall.

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