ICT in Subjects at #TLAB13

My notes for #TLAB13 presentation followed by the slides; all images from Google’s Stock Collection in Drive. NB: I have not edited the notes for this post.

Setting the scene:

  • SMT made decision to teach ICT through other subjects. No more discrete timetabled ICT lessons.
  • Moving to a two-week timetable and 30*50 minute lessons instead of 40*40 minutes per week.
  • ICT teacher would manage which departments and when.
  • Units of work would be decided upon collaboratively.
  • A lot of work.
  • Hard to choose a department.
  • English were restricted by having two class sets of set texts.
  • Maths by streamlining and classes following different POS.
  • Science taught two units at the same time to half a year group each.
  • ADT operate a carousel system.
  • Good depts: Geog. History. RE. Music. Latin. MfL.
  • One lesson per week from the partner subject.
  • ICT rooms had to be booked because there is no timetable. Clash with CAs meant resource management very difficult. Bid for carry cases of mobile devices was rejected.
  •  A logistical nightmare. How was I going to protect the ICT curriculum?

But. A fantastic opportunity. As an evangelist of the use of education technology to enhance learning, here I was faced with a formal opportunity to prove it – to do it rather than talk about it. Game on!

Section One: content and activities, ICT curriculum


  • Volcanoes and earthquakes. One term.
  • Google Apps for Education. Google sites. Google docs. Frog.
  • Y7. 120 pupils. Five classes. Four Geog teachers. Two ICT teachers.
  • Recreate a case study of a natural hazard. Map skills.
  • Groups of four. Pupils chose a partner and then teachers allocated two pairs together.
  • Group management roles were given. More about that later.
  • Pupils had to go through ICT admin of accounts for GAfE and school network, including ICT AUP. This allowed Geog teachers to get them started over the first two weeks. But Geog teachers found it hard having less lessons.
  • ICT content: collaboration and teamwork, referencing sources, web searching, websites, writing for the web, google maps and web tools.


  • The Covenant. Half term.
  • Google Apps for Education. Google sites. Google docs. Voki. Prezi. Other web2.0 tools. Frog.
  • Y8 120 pupils. Five classes. Four teachers. Two ICT teachers.
  • Six sections. Meet with all participant teachers to discuss what we could do. Pupils to investigate an independent line of enquiry into one of the six areas and then share them with each other through a cycle of review or presentation. Similar to Geog projects.
  • ICT content: collaboration and teamwork. Research. Referencing. Web tools: presenting/communicating information suitable to audience.


  • Set text. Half term.
  • Google Apps for Education. MS Word. Classtools fakebook. Frog.
  • Y8. 48 pupils. Two classes. One teacher. One ICT teacher.
  • Yellowcake Conspiracy – a novel.
  • Annotating google maps.
  • Fakebook profiles.
  • Word processed reports.
  • ICT content: web2.0 tools, social networking and esafety, word processor and templates, writing online, formal report writing, spell-checking etc.


  • Fielding & striking techniques. Term.
  • 12 flip cameras. Windows Movie Maker Live. PowerPoint. Frog.
  • Y7. 120 pupils. Five classes. Three teachers. Two ICT teachers. Only one ICT lesson.
  • ICT content: filming and editing video. Annotating still images.


  • Composition for media. Term.
  • Y8. 120 pupils. Five classes. Two teachers and two ICT teachers.
  • CuBase. Scratch, Google presentations. Frog.
  • ICT content: music composition with CuBase, Scratch programming language.

Overall the simpler individual work like that done in English or Music was much easier to achieve. For the collaborative projects – and scratch programming games – it was always striking a balance between ambition and achievement for each pupil.

Section Two: group work, pedagogy, assessment, management tools, evaluation

Group Roles

Time Manager: meeting deadlines, checking everyone is on task and getting their job done.

Content Manager: which sections are being done by whom. They should plan deadlines for content to be done by in consultation with Time Manager.

Layout Manager: design, colours, fonts should all be consistent throughout the site. References must be accurate.

Functionality Manager: when building websites it is necessary to check that everything works properly for visitors.

For the next project we added Project Manager to help co-ordinate everybody and to make a clear lead/person to talk to if you were worried about anything.

It was excellent to call all the managers of one type out of the room for a two minute briefing. For example, all the content managers could share how they were managing their role and making sure the content was being covered. Equally, in the RE project, we were able to do the same with all those across the groups within one class studying a particular line of enquiry. We could do this because there were two teachers present.


Team teaching can be great fun but sometimes it can be very hard.

And there are times when feel rather exposed and vulnerable in front of your colleagues.

To combat this I wanted to make sure I was teaching well. I investigated learning objectives, SOLO taxonomy, group work and project based learning. Most of this was done through blogs and books, some of the authors are presenting today.

Core principles of the classroom for ICT in Subjects

  • Pupils knew what they doing next
  • Every pupil to receive verbal feedback about their work every lesson (two teachers after all)
  • Instructional material was always available through the VLE.
  • Pupils struck a balance between ambition and achievement.
  • Peer review, and improving work to achieve quality, was to be included wherever possible.


  • Frog VLE was used where appropriate for pupils to upload files to be marked.
  • Certain planning pieces (e.g. for Scratch game plans) would have to be signed off by a teacher.
  • Comments were made on Google Docs where appropriate to help the pupil move on to the next step.
  • Difficult for the ICT teachers because their class would change from project to project so hard to get to know the individuals and their work well.
  • ICT teachers do not have to write reports or go to parents evenings or provide tracking data.
  • There will be an ICT exhibition towards the end of the academic year, showcasing the work. Still planning this but ideally I would like the pupils to show their parents their work following an introduction where some pupils showcase their ICT experience for the year. Not sure the former part of this is viable so back to the drawing board. How do we present an ICT exhibition without WiFi?

Management Tools

To keep in touch with participant teachers, I used a google spreadsheet with a worksheet for each class/teacher. I would make a master copy which would then be copied out to each class. Problematic because of two-week timetable which meant the order of lessons could be different for each class between their ICT lesson (A) and their non-ICT lesson (B): ABBA, ABAB, BABA, BAAB. Therefore, a large degree of flexibility was necessary at all times.

It was a challenge to get participants to fill in the spreadsheets with the content of their (non-ICT) lessons.

Few responses to emails. I had to make sure that both me and my ICT colleague were following everything up face-to-face.


As research project for my MA I have used the evaluation process of ICT in Subjects to find out if the school is doing KS3 ICT the best way it can to inform future decisions about whether or not to continue or return to discrete lessons.

The research involved pupil questionnaires, teacher questionnaires and documentary evidence in the form of academic tracking data over four terms.


1. Comparing academic achievement in the participant subjects, 83% of pupils did better in the participant subject test after ICT in Subjects. [NB: this analysis requires further verification as there are many potentially influential factors]

2. Many participants felt that ICT benefitted their learning.

3. Some participants wanted to return to discrete ICT lessons where they learnt about computers.

4. Some liked the new way of learning ICT whilst in another subject.

5. Despite several opportunities, not one pupil said the use of ICT was a bad thing.

Assessing the Integration of Technology in Learning Part 1

It is all well and good discussing or planning the integration of technology in a school, procuring devices and implementing your chosen device platform, but how do you measure if these big plans have had any impact? What are your success criteria? Is it enough to celebrate the individual wins without somehow analysing the broader picture for the entire cohort?

This is the first of a handful of posts aiming to research and analyse modus operandi for assessing the integration of technology in a school. My MA research project is based around the evaluation of teaching ICT in subjects, which is related to this enquiry. But before I talk about that, let’s look at what constitutes assessment of technology integration.

Most online discussion talks about learning being transformed through technology. More recently, it seems to me, this dialogue is breaking out into a wider discussion about meaningful learning and not necessarily about technology; but maybe that’s just where I am drawn in my journey as an educational technologist. I am not against discussion about the advantages technology can bring without learning being transformed. The practical workflow benefits to deploying one-to-one devices across a school, because of savings on text books and photocopying alone, is a simple reallocation of resources, and if a school can manage that shift then surely it brings their working practices in line with modern times. For me, this splits the enquiry into two major categories (the sub-lists could contain many more items):

  1. Application and administration
    1. implementing technology to ease the collation of files and data within the organisation;
    2. administrate statutory rights such as attendance registers and health and safety procedures;
    3. creation and management of digital resources for teaching and learning;
    4. teacher and pupil centred workflow including simple communications;
    5. toolset: email/messaging, document management system, office tools, MIS.
  2. Transformation of learning
    1. remote real-time collaboration inside and outside the classroom/school;
    2. access to the wealth of information on the web;
    3. real world connections that facilitate analysis, synthesis, evaluation and abstraction of learning;
    4. access to devices, individual control of devices, learner choice of toolset.

The Assessment Models

Prompted by reading Miguel Guhlin’s review of Models of technology integration, I started to think about the best existing method or model for my school. Clearly some American districts are in a more advanced position than my school in taking the one-to-one plunge. But is such an assessment model necessary in an 850 pupil school? The four models offered up by Miguel are:

  • SAMR: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition;
    • simple rubric to identify how technology is used in learning;
  • LOTI: Levels of Technology Integration;
    • a slightly more detailed (six levels as oppose to four) look at the use of technology in lessons;
    • I recommend a quick look at the sniff test and HEAT observation form;
  • TIM: Technology Integration Matrix;
    • the matrix is the most detailed of all the models;
    • Pitches five levels of technology use (entry –> transformation) against five characteristics of a learning environment (active, collaborative, constructive, authentic and goal directed);
    • the matrix link is interactive and every point on the grid is supported by video examples of classroom practice;
    • the detail seems helpful but overly verbose.
  • TPaCK: Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge
    • looks at how TK and PK and CK intersect with each other;
    • seems useful for more strategic discussions about learning design and the implementation of ICT in a school, and possibly teacher professional development requirements.

    The four models being discussed

    The four models being discussed

As part of teaching KS3 ICT through other subjects this year, I need a method for measuring the success of how the technology has been used. Also, we are busy writing our new ICT strategy which will not prescribe one-to-one deployment but investigate it by initialising a BYOD project for Sixth Form and two class sets of tablet devices to be operational within only two departments. I need a way to assess if these projects are a success or not. All the models listed above incorporate a spectrum equivalent to substitution to transformation with slight amendments here or there. My instinct is to keep it simple, but to learn from others endeavours to achieve a working model.

My own evaluation of ICT in Subjects involved questionnaires to a sample of participant pupils coupled with an analysis of their academic attainment data in the participant subjects. This was then triangulated with participant teacher questionnaires to check the findings from their point of view. It is about blending opinion-based and empirical evidence to discover the benefits or drawbacks of this curriculum model. The results showed that, despite several possible opportunities, pupils never once questioned the use of ICT to enhance their learning. They did indicate that some activities were better than others. 83% of the academic data analysed showed a positive impact on their performance. That statistic is a big deal but I’m not going to make any great claims because the data needs further analysis and cross-referencing before it can be relied upon. The next step will be to evaluate the ICT based activities according to one of the substitution models. So, which one should I use? Miguel developed the work of Kim Confino et al (2010) to make a Classroom Learning Activity Rubric. This matrix of rubrics also adapts the TIM approach, but it puts the SAMR categories as the levels of technology use. This is appealing because the less categories there are, the easier it is to disseminate the use of the model, and my use of it, to others in my school.

Next steps

I’m going to read these matrices in more detail and try applying them to the ICT learning we have done in KS3 to date. This will give me an idea of how practical actually doing this is, and whether or not it is worthwhile. Also, I will be looking into the NAACE ICT Mark to see how they measure the integration of technology into schools.

However, to end this post, I want to readdress the first of the two categories mentioned at the beginning: application and administration. I am writing the strategy document with three other people: a governor, our Systems Manager and a parental advisor. In our extensive discussions about what we want to achieve, we were clear that the benchmark for our investigation into BYOD is simply providing web access to pupils during lessons. This is sufficient to justify initial investment so that we can learn about the pitfalls and positives first hand. This TechCrunch article is about a startup making big strides in America to ‘measure the impact of technology spending on student learning’. I am not alone in understanding the need to measure the large investments currently flowing through many educational organisations. Is it enough to analyse the impact on workflow or must we include learning transformation? This comes back to being clear and faithful to the school’s core purpose: aspire to excellence in education. And, it is important to highlight that the transformation of learning is not the remit of an ICT strategy, it is the remit of a teaching and learning strategy which an ICT strategy should be defined by and directly support. If you become a one-to-one school, you are potentially changing the way all learning happens. So, whereas I do want to be able to measure the success of the integration of technology in a school, which by implication includes any impact technology has on learning, do I have to measure the quality of all learning? Is it really possible to separate the two? If not, should the ICT stakeholders be acting as an arm of the teaching and learning body or independently in ensuring their provision of technology in the learning environment? Maybe this is the rub. Maybe when ICT becomes the core productivity tool of all learning (after the brain?) the school has to accommodate the massive overlap between the two. Our strategy is not immersive one-to-one as of yet so we don’t need to worry about this right now, but we do need to prepare for how it might work in our school.

If you are making any strides into this area, please do say so, and I would love to know any thoughts you have about what I have shared here.



Editing Google Presentations on an iPad mini – Appser

This is a big deal for schools using Google Apps and iPads. I discovered appser on twitter today, an app for editing google docs on an iPad like it was a desktop.

Google Apps (for Education or not) are pretty popular amongst educators working online. And so, for some, are iPads. But the two do not work well together – there are major limitations. I imagine this app is exploiting new features of Google Apps and maybe they will become native soon, but until then, presentations do not play friendly with iOS. So, let’s see if that’s about to change.

These images are my first foray into editing a presentation using appser. The captions detail what is being tested. Only main features are addressed. Appser starts like Google Apps in any browser with the black bar across the top and Drive open displaying your docs. It basically behaves like the desktop version of Googles productivity suite. The images are deliberately small – the captions say what’s going on – nearly everything appears the same as the desktop/browser version.


Editing text boxes: click into the box and then press the keyboard button bottom right to show the keyboard.


Some times an error message appeared. It crashes. Each time you refresh the doc it shows that another user is viewing the document (but that’s only you a minute ago).


Inserting an image behaves the same until you have to access your camera or camera roll. All good.


The camera roll appears like this. Same as the wordpress app on iOS.


Here is the image (screenshot of google earth volcano). All good.


Image can be resized and moved with your finger.


You can rename the file the same as on the desktop version.


When choosing a new theme, the crash happened again.


But the theme did change at second attempt. And, if you touch and hold, like copy and paste on iOS, you get the sub-menu for Google presentations.


Another crash when changing the animation of the image. Did not get this to work.

Overall, this app is doing a good job. The crashes (total of six whilst making this quick pres.) mean it is not good enough to rely on yet but it is free! The crash messages are annoying and have something to do with offline docs needing to be manually reset. I couldn’t find an answer to this.

To scroll you have to use two fingers, which is unique to this app IME, and you have to remember to do it at first. At the time of writing, there are no editing features available for presentations via Google Drive or via the Google Chrome app. So, if you are a GAfE school and have some iPads, maybe you should put this app through it’s paces. I liked it so much, I wrote this.

Update: Appser was removed from the App Store in January 2013. I couldn’t find an explanation as to why. The company applied an upgrade to v2.0 and it was removed as documented here on AppShopper: http://appshopper.com/productivity/appser-for-google-docs. It displays in iTunes as not available in UK Store but I believe this is showing similarly in all regions.

Found the company post about the removal (http://www.doxout.com/1/post/2013/03/farewell-appser-for-google-docs.html):

We are removing Appser for Google Docs from the App Store. From now on, you won’t be able to download it anymore.

We know that some of you really loved it. We loved it, too. We needed it. But, there is only that much we can do on top of Google’s app. Appser can never become a top-of-the-line product. And what’s the point of working on it if it can never get there.

Therefore we decided it’s in everyone best interest to cease development and remove the app from the store.

On a lighter note, we just updated Presentation Note and are working on some really cool products that will launch later this year.

Stay tuned!

Alas and alack, it’s not coming back!

And my Workshop at the Teaching and Learning Conference #TLAB13 will be…

ICT in Subjects: IT’s actually happening

Dai is currently delivering Year 7 and Year 8 ICT lessons by team-teaching with other subject specialists; there are no discrete ICT lessons. So far this year it has been the Geography, English, RE, Music and PE departments that he has taught with. Units of work are collaboratively planned to find innovative ways of accessing and delivering the ICT curriculum whilst enhancing, and where possible deepening, pupil learning in the partner subjects. This workshop will exhibit the results of this work, lessons learned and pleasant surprises, with a range of ICT activities designed to enhance the subject specialist learning. It will provide you with ideas for activities that have been tested and evaluated in the classroom. Dai is using the evaluation of this way of teaching ICT as the action research project for his MA in Leading Innovation and Change.

Computer Game Storyboard Design

I’ve just finished creating these resources – when I say creating, I mean copying from @dogtrax blogpost with permission kindly given by Kevin – so I thought it a good idea to share it with others.

Two documents, made in MS Word and uploaded to Google Drive. In lessons, pupils will be able to use an online copy, an offline copy or a hard copy.

1. Storyboard design template with a table for the game design workflow designed by Kevin.

2. An exemplar of the storyboard design filled in.

I might amend these files after I have used them but I like the simplicity of it all. Once again teaching Scratch, I am surprised and pleased by how engaged so many pupils are. This year, the year eights have started by making their own PONG game by copying the script. Then onwards to PIMPING my PONG by improving cosmetics and gameplay and levels and other objects to bat around the screen and more sound effects. They will compose their own sounds using CuBase with their music teachers, and explore recreating sound effects like they do on radio plays. These will then be imported into their own games or animations. Hence the storyboard design tool above.