Snapshotting understanding

A couple of weeks ago I was challenged to provide inset for one of my regular schools to help them get more use out of their iPads.  To be honest I didn’t get around to really thinking about it until the day before, and then it was a bit late to get apps sorted so I reflected back on how I thought I should be using iPads more.

Recently as a company we’ve been recommending Prowise interactive screens, as much for the software as the hardware.   There’s one excellent feature of the software that seems a real game-changer to me and as it’s web-based, device agnostic and also FREE.  It got me thinking on how I could use it more.

Prowise Presenter is fairly simple to use and quite feature-rich compared to many interactive whiteboard programs I have tried in the past BUT the clincher for me is ProConnect.  This feature links your whiteboard to a large number of internet connected devices (iPad, smart phone, android tablet, chrome book, laptop, PC) via a simple code.  Once the devices have joined you as teacher there is so much you can do.  There is a free Proconnect app for iOS, Andoid and I believe Windows too.

You can ask a quick question, vote, use and create quizzes.  You can also share your screen out to their devices and they can annotate or create content on the screen you have shared and then hand it back again for you to share on your board.  For instant class engagement it is really efficient and easy to do.

That then got me thinking about other cheap or FREE options for class engagement using iPads:

Plickers is possibly the least high-tech (and so least technically demanding for schools).  Each pupil is provided with a unique laminated QR code which they can hold up one of four ways.  This enables pupils to show one of four choices (A, B, C or D).  The teacher uses an iPad (or other smart tablet/phone) with the Plickers app to very quickly sweep the room and it records each person’s response.  Quick and easy.  Ask a multi-choice question and capture instant responses.  Plickers is currently free to use.

Socrative is an app I looked at years ago and then forgot about or ignored.  I think it has developed a lot since then, and I will be using it a lot more.  Pupils need internet connected devices BUT again these can be anything (phone, iPad, chrome book, pc…).  The teacher logs into their Socrative ‘room’ and the pupils use a unique code to join.  The teacher can ask questions, set quizzes, take votes etc all with ease and instant capture to spreadsheet or PDF file.  Socrative is free, though they now have a pro level you can purchase for a small annual fee.

Kahoot! is a fairly new app to me.  It’s a teacher-lead game show where pupils race each other against the clock to answer questions.  The quicker you answer the higher your score.  There is a large bank of ready-made Kahoots to use, or you can make your own online.  Again, at present, this is free to use.

There are lots of alternatives to the ones mentioned here, but these are the ones I ended up sharing with the staff at this particular school, and I will be using these more in the future!


Staying safe online by being SMART

It is a modern day life skill which no-one who uses technology can afford to be without.  The internet pervades all that we do, it underpins most of the 21st century technology in our homes and offices.

From smart phones that automatically back up your photos to the cloud (something that certain celebraties will wish didn’t actually happen now) to Central heating thermostats which you can control from your iPad.  Modern devices are increasingly interconnected via the web.

21st Century technology users need to be tech-savy!  They need skills to avoid making costly or embarrassing mistakes!

There are websites which give advice and support to children and their parents such as think-u-know from CEOP. There are podcasts such as security today and there are myriad blogs choked full of advice but a good dollop of common sense and healthy scepticism would make the journey through today’s technology a far safer one for many people.

Smart people follow the SMART rules!


S – SAFE – keep your personal information safe, don’t share it with people you don’t really know.

M – MEETING – if you plan to meet people you only know online get an adult you trust to help make the arrangements AND to go with you when you first meet.

A – ACCEPTING – think carefully before accepting attachments, opening links etc.  Nasty things can come in attachments or from rouge web links, even from people you know and trust.

R – RELIABLE – how reliable is that website, that person online?

T – TELL – the MOST important rule.  If anything makes you feel uncomfortable online then you must tell an adult you trust or talk to someone at Childine or click the Report Abuse button online.  If you have a friend that you believe is being bullied you must also tell someone!\

Find out more about the Smart Rules from Kidsmart

Download a poster for your classroom or home from HERE!



Vision Mapper from Future Lab

Vision Mapper is a free web resource to support long-term planning and decision making in education. With its wide range of group activities and inspirational materials designed to inspire broader thinking, challenge your views and create realistic, achievable action plans, Vision Mapper can help you create a long-term vision and strategy for your organisation.

Vision Mapper was created as part of the Beyond Current Horizons programme, and is designed to help examine the future of education beyond 2025. It supports the UK education system in preparing for and responding to the challenges it faces as society and technology rapidly evolve.

What skills will children need for work? How might parenting and family change? What impact will new technologies have on learning? Vision Mapper provides a wide range of activities and resources to explore these issues, centred around 6 expert future scenarios. These scenarios are based on 18 month’s work in 2008-9 by a team of 98 experts and are backed by a wealth of background research, providing a powerful planning resource for educators.

To find out more visit Future Lab at or take a look at Vision Mapper directly at

Even I Can Animate too!

A gem of inspiration from BETT is I Can Animate from Kudlian.  They have JUST launched a superb app for iPod Touch (latest model) and the iPhone.  This means that owners of these devices can create simple stop-animation films using just their iPod Touch or iPhone.  The app is VERY simple to use and a joy.  If you don’t know what Kudlian do then please check out the link above.

If you have the latest iPod Touch or iPhone it really is worth investing in the Kudlian App – I Can Animate – because you can!

It’s not just me who thinks so, Ollie Bray also thinks so and has written his own blog post about I Can Animate which you can find at

Check back here soon to see some home-made esafety films being filmed using I Can Animate NOW!

Conferences for January 2011

There are a number of conferences in the next month.  Many of these have already suggested Twitter hash-tags for people to tweet with.  The value of a hash-tag is that it is a short piece of text starting with a hash (#) which is used so that it can easily be identified within the tweet and also so that it can be used as a search term within twitter so that you can quickly find all of the tweets containing the hash-tag.  This makes it very easy to follow a conference or event through other people’s thoughts but unfortunately popular (or trending) topics often get spammed because of this so be prepared for some off topic messages!

Some hash-tags to follow in January:

#lwf for Learning Without Frontiers – London (9-11 Jan)

#TMLWF11 for TeachMeet Learning without Frontiers – London (9 Jan)

#bett2011 for BETT 2011 – London (12-15 Jan)

#TEDxOrenda for the evening TEDx Orenda organised at BETT (12 Jan)

#TMBETT2011 for the evening TeachMeet BETT event (14 Jan)

Many of these hash-tags are already well in use ahead of the event and will be used well beyond the event when people are reflecting back too!


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