Wednesday 20 December 2006

When do changes stop being Pilots?

When I talk to people about our project they usually say "So, is this a pilot?" My answer is the same, "No its not a pilot, its a change to a way of working."
As Nicholas Negroponte says at TED, we have moved past pilots. So when does a pilot shift to being a change?
I feel that we have reached a pivot point and we are ready to shift our perspective from paper with some electronic based material to electronic based material with some paper.
The plans we are putting place are all their to support education and the curriculum. Nothing is particularly new or radical.Its using it as the main delivery medium.
As I usually say say at the end of my entries...... so what do you think?
I really mean this. Please come back with comments, criticisms, observations, points, questions

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Sunday 17 December 2006

The International views

I have been looking at resources and reports from around the world of schools using Tablet PC's or UMPC's.

A simple Google search produced so many reports that it has taken me a while to sift through them.

I am going to attempt to summerise the some of the ones which stood out to me.

The Vermont Slate

This is a small Vermont boarding school which is using Tablet PC's extensively. Mark Payton has been Blogging on the project since March '05.

I have found the questions, thoughts and solutions here to mirror my own and have even pre warned me about problems that I hadn't considered.

Eschool News

I have found this to be a bit of a Mine. Lots of digging produces some Diamonds, like Ray Kurzweil's interview

Tablet PC's in Singapore Schools

This is a full evaluation of tablet PC's in 2 Singapore schools.


Its no wonder that one of the big names in Tablet PC's has its say too

Do you have any more?

Monday 11 December 2006

Conference XP

As Andrew Brown as said Collaboration is a vital component to a curriculum for excellence.
I think this is where the Apps that come with IWB's have had the biggest advantage. They have been exciting and active. Where presentations from PowerPoint have been scripted and lifeless. In the Campus Technology online Mag they talk about breathing the life back into Classroom Presentations. Its an excellent article.
The Client we have been assessing the use of is Conference XP. Though I am really excited by the whole Glow shared whteboard space.
The concept of everyone in a classroom having access to the same space at the same time is very exciting one and one of the main reasons for this project...... but not the only one.
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IC3 Getting the foundations right

IC3 is Certiport's Computing Fundimentals certification. Its run in scotland by prodigy

The parts which attracted me to this assessment and certification system are the Benchmarking and Mentoring systems.

These allow us to see what each individual can already do (Benchmark) and then supports the indivuals to work on the skills they are weakest at. Therefore we won't have pupils who have missed out of the basic skills and at the same time we won't have pupils bored and unchallenged for S1 and 2.

Any two of these units would give the pupils a PC Passport at Int. 2

To see a video of how this works have a look here.

The basic standard have 3 Modules covering Internet and Computing, hence the name.

The 3 are:

IC³ 2005 Standard (Complete Objectives)

IC³ — Computing Fundamentals

Computer Hardware

Computer Software

Using an Operating System

IC³ — Key Applications

Common Program Functions

Word Processing Functions

Spreadsheet Functions

Presentation Software

IC³ — Living Online

Networks and the Internet

Electronic Mail

Using the Internet

The Impact of Computing and the Internet on Society

As I say in all my blogs.........What do you think?

I really am very interested in what you think and in particular any issues you think we have missed.

Thursday 7 December 2006

No IWB's here

Several people have come back to me and asked where I get my confidence that IWB's are not the future of education.

One place is Djanogly City Academy, Nottingham.

I first became aware of the school in a Teacher TV programme called 'ICT: A vision of the future'. I have since been in touch with Sanjesh Sarma (from the video) and spoken to him about the use of Tablet PC's and wireless networks. I would dearly love to go down and visit the school but I haven't done so yet.

I wouldn't say that seeing the approach that Djangoly use changed my mind but it did affirm what I was thinking

Video: Future School uk

What do you think?

Tuesday 28 November 2006


David Weinberger is Blogging about a presentation on the $100 laptop.

This whole whole idea fires the imagination in so many ways

Developing countries leapfrogging the developed world in terms of educational access?

What are your thoughts?


Help me understand

I has been using feeds for a little while now but I am just beginning to realise the power of metatags in technorati.

I added a feed to my aggregator for Islay. It seemed reasonable to see what other blogs are out there talking about the place where I live.

The feeds I am getting are very ........unusual in nature.

What have I got feeding into my aggregator?

Monday 27 November 2006

OLPC - One Laptop Per Child

Nicholas Negroponte has talked at TED about the One Laptop Per Child Programme.

Now we are starting to see more details come out with the user interface. This is an extremely exciting project in which I recognise lots of the reasons for what we are doing here in Islay High School.

Sunday 26 November 2006


Look and be amazed

Thursday 23 November 2006

Origami - UMPC


Origami was the code name for the UMPC.

Link for above video

There is a daily increasing wide range of these types of devices

The UMPC is the device we have identified has giving us most of what we want to give into the hands of the individual pupils.

We want the different learning styles to be catered for. As well the 'normal' read/write style, Visual and Auditory . The UMPC deals with all of these learning styles so long as the course material is designed with these in mind.

The idea is that instead of have pages and pages of photocopied notes with the occasional blurry image in it. We would have the notes held on a server and then picked up by the pupil when required. These notes would contain the text + colour images + Video + animation/flash + sound files. The individual pupil can then use the inking capabilities to add their own notes or highlight important passages or they could even attach voice notes to them.

With the research I have done it indicates that this will deliver the material in a format more likely to include the natural learning style of an individual pupils.

The UMPC is by no means a perfect product but (as Rob Enderle says above) it will evolve. We need to get a structure in place which allows for this evolution to happen within education, for the benefit of individual pupils.

The key is NOT the UMPC. The UMPC is simply a conduit which allows a greater range of learning styles to be catered for across the curriculum.

The real key is the conversion of the courses from paper based to digital. This is where the skilled teacher must have their own input and control over the content. For this reason we plan to bring in consultants from NISAI to sit with the class teacher and support them in the conversion  of the teachers own courses and aid with the inclusion of the correct media.

Sunday 19 November 2006

Google Sketchup

 We have been developing the use of Google Sketchup.

I think this is a good way of introducing the concept 3D drawing.

We have been using Pro/Desktop for a few years. This a great application but has a sever learning curve to get you going. Even with the help of the CADinSchool site.

The pro/desktop application from PTC is a full CAD package. In schools this can be bought for £90 for 300 licence's. As you can see this alone makes it an interesting package but you can only get it at this price if you complete the training.

Do you think this a model for the future? Educational use at a reasonable price but only if you have invested the time in learning how to use the app properly.

Google Sketchup I saw as the way of introducing this professional level CAD work in S1/2 but the senior courses are using it too. Do I stop them? Do I direct them to use a much more complex application? So long as the results are what they design and not simplify their designs to make them easier to draw.

The framework to introduce Sketchup in S1 is to take a woodwork model they have already made and redraw it on the computer.

In S2 after drawing the school we are investigating old villages on Islay and starting to draw the buildings in Sketchup. The next part is to place these old villages on Google Earth. The pupils have responded extemely well. They are starting to realise how large the population of Islay was (15000 compared to 3500 now). 

Friday 17 November 2006

Choosing Tablets

Tablet PC's are much more expensive than an equivalent laptop. So why not just get a load more laptops?
The reason for going for Tablets is that they are the main computer for that member of staff. The teacher can prepare work, simplify the administration, as they can do with a laptop but with a Tablet PC they can use it for a secondary job.
We decided to use the tablet to act as an interactive board (Along with a projector of course). As the teacher writes on the the tablet it appears on the screen. The teacher is not in the way of the projector and the image can be as big as the screen allows. The teacher can bring in video, sound ........ in fact anything that the interactive whiteboard can do a tablet can do as well. With the added advantage of not being limited by the size of a board.
This then makes the total cost (Tablet and Projector) less than the cost of an IWB (Interactive Whiteboard), projector and computer to run it. It also means that the technology much efficiently used. Less time sitting switched off as its used for more than one purpose.
Our next stage is to install wireless projectors. These will then mean that the signal from the tablet will be carried to the projector without a cable. Freeing the teacher to be anywhere in the classroom.
Once the pupils have the UMPC's then anyone's work can be put up on the screen.
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Islay High School - A future?

This post has been transfered over from
Well I have finally admitted that I DO need to Blog about what is happening in Islay High School (I think its rapped Andrew)
As a School of Ambition and Excellence we are some way down the route of these 4 strands
1. Developing the leadership potential and capacity of the whole school, Staff and Pupils
2. Introducing Vocational Courses to the curriculum
3. Removing the age and stage restrictions from the certificated courses.
4. Developing the use of ICT to support the curriculum
I am heavily involved with the ICT strand so that is what I will be talking about mainly. Though, of course, the other strands will be brought in as well.
So what are we planning in the ICT Strand?
Every Teacher has a Tablet PC
A wireless network
Wireless Projectors in every teaching area
A presentation space in the Assembly Hall
A Media Server
A Class Server
Existing courses digitised
S1 'Benchmarked' for IC3 Giving them individual curriculum in S1/2
Once these are in place then give every pupil a UMPC computer
All of these are in Partnership with Microsoft and Dell. Maybe more partners in the future
We have just started down this route. I am sure we will have lots of challenges ahead.
I am hoping anyone who reads this will come forward with ideas and suggestions.
So what do you think?............