With bonfire night approaching, you may be looking for a stimulus for art or writing, or a mouse skills activity for early years. These links are for virtual firework displays – I managed to access them through the Kirklees network, but let me know if there are any problems in school. Make sure you turn the speakers up for full effect!Â
Yesterday was the â€˜main eventâ€™ at the Handheld Learning conference. The rush hour tube journey to the Brewery conference centre made me once again thankful I live in Yorkshire, and only have suffer this at conferences. The morning keynote session included presentations from a number of speakers including Graham Brown Martin, chair of Handheld Learning, and Andrew Pinder, chair of Becta. Andrew Pinderâ€™s presentation focussed on the need to increase technology use in schools. He said that at present only a small number of schools â€“ around 20% – are using technology effectively, and that we need to engage the other 80%. Becta are planning a â€˜big surgeâ€™ of activity to increase technology use in schools. Andrew didnâ€™t give any details on what the â€˜big surgeâ€™ will involve, apart from saying the Home Access Project will be part of it. He did give some further detail on the Home Access Project â€“ two pilot authorities will be selected soon to trial the project, and it wonâ€™t be rolled out across the country until they have a model for delivery.
Steven Johnson, Writer and Cultural Critic, gave a presentation about the potential for computer games in education. He showed how the structure of many computer games replicates the decision making processes we use in everyday life. He also talked about what I see as the main strength of using games â€“ children forget they are learning, and can engage with subjects which wouldnâ€™t interest them when presented in a â€˜traditionalâ€™ way. He gave the example of his seven year old son learning about taxes by playing
The afternoon session had several sessions on subjects such as games in education and virtual worlds. It was a difficult choice but in the end I went for a session chaired by Stephen Heppell, as I have heard so much about him but never heard him speak. The session was called â€˜Re-imagining Teaching in the 21st Centuryâ€™. It was extremely thought provoking. Stephen likened the current situation in education to that in finance just before the credit crunch â€“ we know what needs to be done, but are leaving it too late to act! He said we need to act now to ensure education is relevant to todayâ€™s learner. Apparently the number of home educated children is on the rise both here and in the
Several other speakers in this session talked about the challenges of changing education for the 21st century, and two main threads came out:
1. The key skills for the 21st century will be the ability to deal with change positively and handle increasing amounts of information intelligently.
2. Real change in education will not happen without a significant change in approach to assessment.
It was a strange coincidence when I got back to the hotel and heard the news about Key Stage 3 SATs â€“ at last a move in the right direction.
Dawn’s Typing Machine is designed for very young children (age 2-3) to become familiar with the keyboard. It is as simple as it gets – the child presses a key, and it appears in a very large font on the screen and remains there until they press another key. Holding down the key does not cause a whole row of one letter to appear, as it would in a word processor. I would use this with nursery children, and give them cards to match such as letters in their name. The software comes as a very small download, get it from:
Download it first and then install it to your computer.
Becta have released updated guidance on the Harnessing Technology Grant, which includes a full explanation of what the grant is intended to be spent on. The guidance also clears up the issue of what constitutes capital expenditure. Capital expenditure is defined as spending on a resource which ‘has a product lifespan beyond the financial year in which it was purchased’.
This has implications for subscriptions to online content, and schools may need to negotiate terms if they wish to use Harnessing technology Grant to pay for subscriptions.Download the full document from Becta at: