Export Explain Everything to Google Drive

Created for our Year 7 students who are creating their own eBooks about computer systems using Book Creator. The girls completed an Explain Everything presentation about non-volatile storage and then exported it as a video to add to the book. At the end of the course their completed eBook will be graded.

We added the video to their iTunes U course to help.

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.

ISC Digital Strategy Group Conference 2016

This year’s Independent Schools Council Digital Strategy Group conference was held at Microsoft’s UK Campus. The Conference theme was Digital By Design, Digital By Default. 

I had the opportunity to attend on behalf of the school, to listen to a variety of presentations both in person and via Skype from abroad. We also saw some live demos of collaboration with Microsoft’s tools, naturally, as we were on their turf.

There were many speakers during the day, but in summary from my notes:

Mark Steed spoke on teaching in the Middle East. 95% of Dubai schools are for-profit, which has introduced commercial drivers to education. Schools are concerned with ROI, economies of scale, and keeping staff costs down, which in turn impact school size, facilities, teacher qualifications and the amount of contact time.

This approach has meant schools have invested in blended learning to enable limited contact time, and also make use of video conferencing.

He predicts that for-profit will become the global norm to fill the gap in demand and supply for education. It will become a luxury to be taught by a specialist, superstar teachers will be demanding high salaries in the secondary sector while primary teachers shall be supported by robots as it will always require human interaction. Finally, he predicts VR will disrupt secondary education.

Vaughan Connolly spoke about how the future of professions, employment and schools are changing. He drew comparison to Moore’s Law, and reflected that we tend to over-estimate short-term impact, and under-estimate long-term impact.

Throughout the day several speakers referred to the development of artificial intelligence, Connolly referencing a Wilcocks and Lacity study which found that technology liberates people in the short term, to allow humans to do what humans do best.

Miles Berry shared examples of projects and the impact of problem based learning. As my focus is on computing, Berry’s talk felt very relevant, though at BGS we are already implementing creative and computational thinking in the computing curriculum. It was also useful to look at KS4 and KS5 computing, and the perspective of universities for potential computer science undergraduates.

Ian Phillips followed with further practical examples of computational thinking in action with the BBC Microbit. He had challenged his students to find a problem in life they couldn’t solve and then to work together to present a solution at open day, encouraging playfulness, curiosity and deep learning. One of the students gave a confident presentation about their experience and how the opportunities had led to great success.

Andrew Storey spoke of his school’s misfortune of a sinking building being turned into a great opportunity to design a new learning space. Modern learning spaces are flexible, placing students at the centre of the lesson. Storey explained how they went as far as training their students for 6 hours on how to be efficient in the classroom with technology.

Following this we had the opportunity to hear from overseas educators via Skype. James Mannion discussed sharing successful process with neighbouring school districts, turning teachers into problem solvers rather than dictating a solution. Bill Brennan discussed support networks between schools, encouraging adults to break out of their comfort zones with a smile.

Cat Scutt asked us to consider how we delivered teacher CPD, and whether we applied our use of technology for teaching students to how schools developed their staff.

We also heard about the Bloodhound Project, and had a chance to try out Microsoft’s HoloLens, which displays a blended VR overlaid on the real world, to the point it appeared a person was stood amongst us in the room which we could walk around and through while we explored human biology.

Meeting Tanmay Bakshi & Programming in Swift

Today we were very kindly invited by Apple to meet Tanmay Bakshi, a 13-year-old developer from Canada who is the world’s youngest IBM Watson programmer. IBM Watson is an intelligence engine which handles artificial intelligence amongst other things – a sort of super computer.

Tanmay is on a mission to reach 100,000 new developers to inspire them to code, by the time he is 15. He inspired us with his story: he created a very popular time tables app aged nine and by age 12 he was working with IBM and Apple.

James Potter (Director of Digital Strategy at BGS) and I brought a small group of girls from the computer science club down to London on the train for the day. After a presentation from Tanmay, we joined a workshop.

In the workshop Tanmay led us through how to create our very own iOS apps with Swift. We created one which would predict whether a person would be male or female based on their name. To do this, we trained IBM Watson with 7,000 names. Although we didn’t quite have enough time to finish our app in the session, we tested Tanmay’s app with one of girls’ names, curious at what Watson would predict. After a few hiccups – the app eventually returned the correct answer.

Pythagoras Published

The first BGS Mathematics multi-touch book is now available to download on the iBooks Store.

Pythagoras is an introduction to studying Pythagorean Theorem, suitable for KS3. Who was Pythagoras? What is the Theorem? How can we use it?

The book will guide you through at every stage with worked examples and questions to complete. The book is full of interactive elements, videos and illustrations. Accessible scrolling view supported.

Download Pythagoras for free from the iBooks Store

Computer Systems Published

Our first Computer Science multi-touch book is now available to download for free on the iBooks Store.

Designed for Year 9 students, we explore the different parts that make up a computer system, and how they all work together to allow you to do anything from write a novel, analyse the human genome and allow you to watch hours of cat videos on YouTube…

Download Computer Systems for free

Discovering Biology Published & Vectors in iBooks Author

The Bedford Girls’ School Year 6 Biology revision guide has been published to the iTunes Bookstore. It has been renamed ‘Discovering Biology’ and covers cells, microscopes, senses, skeleton, muscles and microbes suitable for keystage 2 or 3 learners.

Download Discovering Biology for free on the iTunes Bookstore.

Under the bonnet, the book demonstrates the turning point in my workflow from constructing diagrams using Adobe Photoshop to using iBook Author’s vector tools.

Whereas the interactive diagrams require a raster image (the microscope was illustrated in Photoshop for example), I now construct the illustrations embedded into the pages without augmentation entirely with vectors within iBooks Author. (Muscles illustration is entirely drawn with vectors within iBA.)

The software doesn’t currently support importing SVG etc, but I was pleased how easy it was to draw. The only drawback is that it can crash out, so I’m conscious to save very regularly. Hopefully an update will resolve the stability (I feel I’ve submitted more than enough reports!)

GCSE Computer Science Quizlets

It’s very quiet at school. As a full-time member of support staff, I’m working through the summer while the students and the majority of staff are on holiday.

Between creating books (and catching Pokemon on my lunchtime walks) I’ve created a class full of GCSE Computer Science definitions on Quizlet for James Potter (Director of ICT).

BGS begin their first year of Computer Science GCSE in September, which is excellent news. It’s been really interesting to see the curriculum while creating these sets. I’m glad ‘proper’ computing has returned.

One Cat's Adventures in Technology and Teaching