Category Archives: Awards

Journey’s Just Beginning

This time last week I was putting things in my suitcase, considering the British weather and casual dress code, and almost glad I was driving to Windsor and didn’t have to also worry about weight.

It was a beautiful, warm day on Tuesday when I got into the car and headed south. Not even the stop-start traffic on the M25 could take the edge off the mix of nerves and excitement at what lay ahead. The schedule looked full on – but I’d never been to a professional residential event to compare. I felt like a fresher heading off for fresher’s week, either way, hoping I’d fit in and not look decidedly dim amongst all the talent.

I’d been in the door two minutes before someone stopped me to ask if I was Kit, and the eternal question of ‘have we met before, or just on Twitter’ began! I was really glad to have participated in Tuesday night #ADEchat since my application, as I could recognise quite a number of faces both of class of 2017 and alumni. Putting them all physically in one room later that evening with both live hosting and questions on Twitter was at times mind-boggling. As the week went on, I felt I had underestimated how many people had met in person before – through working at RTCs, or from becoming AETs etc. To hear that this year’s Academies were smaller to help people network, I felt quite relieved, as although I said hello to so many people, I couldn’t help but feel I was grazing the surface quite often.

The workshops on Wednesday were one of the parts I was most looking forward to. It was great fun to try and work out how to get Spheros to flash or dance in time to music, and the long exposure light trails I’d seen in a Twitter photo were more tricky to film than code in the end. (Although we have earlier generation Spheros at school, I hope we might be able to apply the concepts with Tickle or similar, until we can budget for some updates.) The Lego robots were intriguing and I definitely enjoyed the crossover of subjects with computing.

It had been a really hard choice to pick workshops, and I was glad we were able to sneakily switch. I’d been using Clips quite a bit on the lead up to Academy, and a heads up at breakfast suggested my other shortlisted choice of Designing Educational Resources would definitely be worth going to instead. The talk was a kick up the backside for me – it was practice I knew but wasn’t putting into action. I’ve been so preoccupied with the content, accessibility and the basic design and low file size to get books produced swiftly in the first 12 months, I’ve not been pushing the boat out design-wise. With us replacing our original iPad stock this autumn (goodbye iOS 9 at last) and some increased storage on each device, I can afford to be slightly less strict with myself on the export size, and certainly I will need to start using the larger resolution images.

The showcases and stories shared from Wednesday onwards had us laughing, gasping, cheering, photographing and filming. I really hope they might be published again online as it would be very good to watch again and absorb them properly. There were so many interesting insights, ideas and experiences in there that would be applicable to colleagues across our 7-18 age range.

Thursday’s final workshop session of coding apps with Xcode was great. Although we jumped from bit to bit, it was an excellent overview and insight into what could be ahead if we are able to acquire Macs/MBPs in our computing department to trial. I’d also gone along to the fireside chat the previous day, but as we were not able to use Swift last year, I couldn’t offer experiences. However, I hope we’ll be able to integrate it as another language soon.

That afternoon I was pleased to join up with Sebah and Linda to begin a set of Clips on BookWidgets – something we each used but for different reasons! Within an hour and a half we had pulled together two clips from scratch, using Keynote for some additional content. Once the dust has settled, I look forward to figuring out a couple more to add to the collection – and BookWidgets were rather pleased at our efforts.

On Friday, with final showcases, instructions, presentations and photos it was all over, though I knew the journey was just beginning.

#BookWidgets #ClassroomClips

Apple Distinguished Educator 2017! #ADE2017

I’m in!

I let out an excited squeal when the email arrived from California. I’d just got home from school where I’d been working solidly in the Easter holiday peace when it arrived (us Digital Design Creators still toil while corridors fall quiet).

With only 9 months of work behind me when I made my 2 minute pitch video, I thought I was an outsider.

Still not come down from the ceiling – what a Monday!!

Sharing our Apple Story

It’s been a fantastic couple of days at Bedford Girls’ School. As an Apple Distinguished School we were proud to host over 100 educators from Finland, Poland, Denmark and Greenland. The delegates had come over to the UK to visit BETT 2017, and also visit other schools who use Apple technology to improve teaching and learning.

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As part of the visit we gave some short presentations on our iPad story, as well as how we use iTunes U and iBooks to support learning. I was nervous but excited to explain my part of the strategy as Digital Design Creator.

The highlight of each of the visits was the opportunity to take a group on a learning walk, which is a tour of classrooms. The timetable for lessons remained unchanged and the visitors were joining ordinary lessons across a range of year groups and subjects.

Jo MacKenzie, our Head, also wrote about the visits. The girls were really excited to share what they got up to, and how iPads changed their education.

Not only did we all learn a lot about how other schools approach technology and learning, but we swapped ideas and discovered how anything from the school day structure to how marking and feedback is handled differs.

BGS Apple Distinguished School Story

Following Bedford Girls’ School’s approval as an Apple Distinguished School in late 2016, we published our story to the iTunes Bookstore.

The application process for an Apple Distinguished School is to complete an iBook covering 5 particular areas, using a particular template base. Once an ADS, you are invited to publish the book (subject to extra approval and vetting from Apple for use of product images, logos, etc.) to allow others to read.

You can download the Bedford Girls’ School book here.

Sharing Our iPad Story with Local Schools

In conjunction with Apple Education, we welcomed some guests from schools from our county and neighbouring counties today, to share our iPad story.

We explained how we used the iPads, iTunes U and iBooks amongst many other tools to enrich learning, and took our guests on a tour of some lessons.

Some of our guests had sets of iPads, others were considering Microsoft, but we all had common ground in the challenges we face.

FSB Business Innovation Award

Biggleswade Chronicle

We had a photographer from the Biggleswade Chronicle visit to take a photo of the team at Biggleswade. It felt like we were at a wedding, carefully positioned to make up the shot in one end of the office where we normally receive visitors.

The photographs were following the recent Federation of Small Businesses Award for Business Innovation. Onvert, our Augmented Reality app and platform had won its category on June 13th at a ceremony at Mansion House in Old Warden, Bedfordshire.

Attached is a scan of the Biggleswade Chronicle by Sam Vernon.

L-R: Kieran Sawyer (Development), Abhishek Bose (Marketing), Jason Higgins (MD), Me (Project Management), Alex Hollyman (Development), Ljudmila Serdjukova (Marketing), Simon Newton (Design), Tony Nutley (Design), Trudie Clement (Management).

Staff at a website design and marketing firm are celebrating after they received a top award.

Biggleswade-based Harmony was given the accolade for Business Innovation at the Bedfordshire Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) awards on Wednesday last week (June 13).

Judges at the awards – which took place at The Mansion house at Old Warden Park, Shuttleworth – were impressed by the company’s new Onvert product.

The product – which is available as a free app and as a more sophisticated paid-for version – turns two-dimensional artwork into three-dimensional designs when viewed on a tablet or smartphone.

Managing Director, Jason Higgins said: “Onvert almost came about by accident really – it was something that we were experimenting with but it has really caught on. Since we launched it we have had interest from a number of blue chip firms.”

The increased demand for research and production has also meant expanding the company, based at Connections House in Station Road.

Jason added: “We now have five more members of staff here and 11 employees in total. The new staff are working one of the offices here which was previously vacant and which we were thinking of letting to someone else.”

Onvert is an Augmented Reality technology which allows users to see three-dimensional projections which designers can implement in their online advertising.

Jason said: “It really does give designers a new dimension to what they do and much more flexibility.”

David Gloven, general manager of headline sponsor Mercedes-Benz of Bedford praised the ‘amazing’ quality and breadth of entrants in the awards. The FSB is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms.