FrogOS at Frog13

Frog13

Frog13

Last Tuesday I attended the Frog Conference for 2013. Frog are a modern and agile company and this event was exceptionally well organised with attention to the wider picture and the detail of delegate needs. Having been invited to join a panel in the afternoon discussing whether or not the ‘traditional’ learning platform is dead, I was treated to a hotel room and a lovely meal with staff and fellow contributors on the Monday evening. Thank you very much to Frog for being such generous and friendly hosts.

All talks and presentations will be available soon here I believe.

So, what are my thoughts on Frog and the announcements that were made? Well, first of all it is important to note that Frog made a great effort to place teaching and learning at the heart of the conference and any delegate would be able to attend presentations on classroom practice or on Frog features being used. I wanted to attend more presentations than I was able to. This is a good thing! Should there be any factual inaccuracies in this post, please let me know and I will correct them.

The good

  • Frog Moments App; text, images and video straight from the app to your frog drive. Could be useful.
  • Frog Drive App; think Google Drive or dropbox style cloud file storage. Potentially an excellent solution for managing files from iOS (Android was not mentioned) onto web.
  • Frog Play; visual grade book that records progress. Couldn’t quite see the detail but it looked to be pretty useful.
  • FrogOS sites look great.
  • Frog Store; a place where all Frog material can be shared. I think it is the intention that this will be like the app store or google play in that some stuff will be free and others at a cost. Quite how this will take shape is not clear.
  • PinPoint; this is a search engine that trawls specific services, e.g. Google images. Interestingly, Google require a payment for inclusion of the image search results because it bypasses their advertising system. Frog will pay this levy, which indicates how highly they value incorporating the rest of the web into their learning platform. Also, because everything is still linked to the web rather than downloaded as an image and re-uploaded into your Frog, Frog are able to track the usage of each resource. This will form part of a rating engine that will ultimately help teachers locate well-used (and therefore better quality?) resources to incorporate into their learning material.

The bad

  • I did not see Frog3 and FrogOS being integrated. For all current Frog schools using Frog3, the major concern is how will all the current Frog work be married with the new Frog? The platforms are written in an entirely different code. The former is not supported on anything other than Windows and Internet Explorer. I was a little disappointed not to see this but when I asked the question on twitter earlier today, the very charming Frogger, Lucy Evans, replied.
Lucy's response to me on twitter

Lucy’s response to me on twitter

 Followed by a further response from the ever-helpful Frogger James Shackley:

James' reply (tweets in reverse order)

James’ reply (tweets in reverse order)

So, it looks like it’s coming – watch this space!

UPDATE 28/6/13, James sent me this video link for Frog3 and FrogOS: http://vimeo.com/69091946

The ugly

  • Other than the two apps demoed on the day, I believe (please correct me if I am wrong) Frog does not work on smartphones despite being HTML5-based. It doesn’t quite render on the screen size as I documented here. Tablets are fine. This could be a deal breaker for BYOD schools that allow the smaller devices to be used in class. Although the two mobile apps do deliver some workflow functionality that will connect to Frog Drive, which have significant potential in incorporating smart phones into your Frog workflow.
  • I’m not concerned about this with one condition: I want there to be a notifications app that delivers your notifications feed from FrogOS onto your handset. Pop-up notifications, with the user able to switch certain ones on and off. For example, if a pupil submits a piece of work or contributes to a forum on one of my courses, I’m not sure I want to be pinged on my phone. However, if they send me a message of some sort, I want to know about it ASAP so my intervention can unblock their progress.

There was a lot of very positive chatter about Frog OS. It looks very impressive because of the simple means of creating content and contacting groups and curating learning. Should you be starting fresh with Frog, FrogOS is definitely worth considering.

The Traditional VLE is dead

I was also invited to be part of a panel discussion questioning whether or not the traditional VLE (as defined by Becta back in the day) is dead. The good news is Frog seem to have a clear understanding that trying to be all things to all users is not the way forward. Learning platforms need to be agile and provide a hub to help all users find what they are looking for in reference to the group of people they are working with. Be that, for example, a class, a year group, or a sports team. There are many ways of doing this but each school will need a hub of some sort where their users will first look for support. Equally, if you would like all your teachers to provide an online element in their work, you need to provide a platform which is set up for them to use. Also, the pupil population need an online presence: school council, student voice, eco-council, sports teams, clubs and societies. All these different groupings, in my experience, want a place where their audience will expect to find their content and communique. A learning platform, such as Frog, delivers this in a simple format to suit a broad range of users. Another reason for having a learning platform is that a teacher who has never used online tools before might well need a school-provided service to get started with. One of the Year Heads at my school was never a big ICT user but has used the launch of Frog in our school as a lever to design pages and update them weekly with news and events and advice for her year group. If the school did not employ a platform of some sort, this would never have happened. The welcome knock-on effect is her increased usage with her classes.

As Gareth Davies mentioned in his opening keynote, other learning platforms are stopping development. It might be they are falling by the wayside. Frog are not; they are growing. You can no longer pretend that the technology is working. You cannot keep telling teachers that this is what must be done. You must provide as flexible a platform as possible to enable your community to build and share and navigate their way through school and through learning. I am in no doubt that Frog are working hard to achieve this with FrogOS. I am anxious to see the integration with Frog 3 but they are working with urgency to get this sorted. I suspect it will not be a perfect solution but a transitional vehicle from the old to the new.

For each school, I think it is important to identify your core purpose for online provision and decide what is right for you. I anticipate we will be sticking with Frog in their mission to be the best learning platform. There are many ways to skin a cat. The traditional VLE is dead in as much as it has evolved into something lighter, faster, and inclusive of all internet-based things. However, this journey of evolution is not a smooth process and it will not have a destination. Right now, the best you may hope for is some stability whilst we teachers continue to develop effective methods of using the internet as part of the staple learning diet.

I have tried to include the most important things from my experience of the day but I will have probably missed a few. If you have any questions I am happy to answer them via the comments.

Marking work electronically in Frog

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As part of ICT in Subjects, my department is working with the Music department to create scratch games and/or animations with music and sound effects composed in CuBase.

First lesson is to recreate the famous pong game in scratch. So, I set a Frog assignment (Quick Issue Work) to all five classes so 125 pupils could hand in their file to be scored out of 3 [0 = no file; 1 = struggled; 2 = complete with errors; 3 = complete] plus a comment.

froglogo

Below is a video of the marking process of one file. Frog is not very good at this yet. I wonder if Frog4OS will be any better at this. Frog4 runs on any device because it is coded in HTML5, and so will remove limitations on usage – people expect a VLE to work properly on any device (maybe not handhelds) or in any modern browser. Frog3 is guaranteed to work only on Windows running IE.

The marking does work but there are a lot of clicks involved. In Moodle, all the grades and files and comments would be accessible from one page which makes the process much faster and allows easy copy and pasting of comments. Also, you cannot release (return to pupil) marks for pupils that have done their work before the deadline. I made a big mistake as shown in the video – knew it as I did it: d’oh! – by assigning the same assignment to all five classes. This means we will not to be able to release the marks until all pupils have submitted.

Anyway, if interested, watch the video and please let me know about your experiences of marking work in Frog3 or Frog4.

 

Creating Frog SOLO taxonomy rubrics

Frog training is here again! We have three sessions over the two opening INSET days and then fortnightly after-school directed time for the first half term. That is a total of nine hours training time.

There are a few questions I need to answer and this post addresses some of my thinking so far – your input is very welcome, be it to tweak what’s here or to start again.

Questions:

  1. How to differentiate the training for every teacher?
  2. How to collate evidence of achievement?
  3. How do we best use the resources at our disposal?

1. Differentiation

My inclination is to use SOLO taxonomy as outlined here by Pam Hook and here on a handy MentorMob.

Here are my first attempt at the rubrics:

What do you think? Remember my aim is to make sense to the teachers participating in the training. An explanation of SOLO will accompany this rubric sheet. Comments welcome.

2. Collate evidence

The easiest way to exploit this opportunity may be to have a minimal expectation that each teacher screenshots everything they create and uploads that as evidence of their achievement to a Frog assignment. It might be better to ask them to paste all images into a presentation file and upload the single file. Obviously, the presentation file can be any they choose, and annotations and/or written comments are optional.

How would you feel if you were asked to do this by your school?

3. Resources

All training is delivered via instructional video as showcased here. We have seven ICT rooms and six Frog Champions. Last time each Champion was lead learner in one room, and each teacher logged into a pupil computer with the same training account. However, over the course of nine hours training, teachers will need to be at their own laptops. Since there is no WiFi in my school, and there are two separate physical domains, teachers can not use their laptops on the network anywhere other than at an allocated teacher network access point. So, is the best way forward:

A – lead learner Champion with teachers allocated to a pupil room (NB: a lot of their resources are already uploaded on Frog);

or

B – teachers go to their laptops (or teacher machine at front of each classroom) in their work areas (some communal, some private offices) and Champions float around the school discussing progress with their allocated learners.

I guess a blend of the two will emerge but we are most likely to start with model A because it is most effective to get people started working together. They might emerge into drop-in centres so individuals can choose their preferred working environment.

You

Your thoughts on all, or any aspect of this, are very welcome. Doing this stuff for all my colleagues always scares the marrow out of my bones.

  1. Is SOLO a good idea and are my rubrics ok?
  2. Is there a better way to collate evidence? Should we collate evidence of training achievements?
  3. Should we go for the classroom approach or let teachers learn independently in their own space?

 

 

Frog is evolving

Frog gets re-coded = FrogOS

Frog is evolving

Frog has had an overhaul –  a makeover – a rebuild – a redesign. Things retain their structure it seems but functionality looks to have improved beyond recognition. This means Frog could be really quite something – more than what I have come to expect of VLEs. Only a taster video of FrogOS has been leaked so far. I wonder if the learning tools underneath have received some treatment – that would make me very very happy. Even if not, the new code will facilitate much more innovative and potentially powerful learning tools than the old.

2 minute video from MD Gareth Daviesblog to tickle your taste buds:

More to be announced at the summer Frog conference.

Frog arrives for St Benedict's teachers

Frog INSET: Rollout to all teachers

Frog arrives for St Benedict's teachers

This morning we ran a three hour INSET introducing all 82 teachers to Frog. Planning for this session may be read about here.  The video below shows the training materials developed to showcase Frog at the same time as providing learning guidance.

The training was a success with many compliments and positive feedback from our excellent staff. Much praise goes to our lead learner Frog Champions (six in total) who led one classroom each. But it wasn’t perfect…

Images of the resources used (click to enlarge, video at end of post shows more):

Section of the Frog Lesson Plan

Self-Evaluation and Feedback Form

Training website: A page of PDF resources

Training website: Example of video page

Successful things to note:

  • Videos were very well received;
  • Video annotations with arrows and text were important;
  • Sorting audio/headphones on all PCs was also important (all learners were silent and focused during training);
  • Keep the presentations to whole staff to a minimum – we did ten minute intro and fifteen minute plenary;
  • Differentiation was an absolute must – ours seemed to work well.
Things to improve upon:
  • Some of the resources were ordered incorrectly (d’oh!);
  • Some learners watched the video then did the activity rather than pausing. Clearer instruction required;
  • Some learners like badges (physical ones) and others do not;
  • Nearly all learners like mugs and lanyards are popular too;
  • Remember to set permissions on folders so learners do not accidentally move them;
  • More time; As a school staff we would have benefitted from more time to start creating resources and discussing how Frog will be used.

This is the first Frog INSET we will run. There is a planned dedicated session in September before it is launched with the pupils. Between now and then we will run workshops with staff wanting to achieve their aims for using the platform. But this was a big deal – first impressions count for a lot and I hope we have made a very positive impression on as many of our staff as we could. This was also my first time using Frog and it showed – a bit.

Video:

I would like to publicly thank the following who contributed in some way:

@frogtrade support staff (Edd! helped me via the support desk) – they were great – when we employed MoodleDo years ago, the relationship I developed after the bills were paid with Dan Humpherson was priceless – I get the feeling that similar support will happen with Frog (although Dan would fix any thing at any time as fast as he could possibly muster, far beyond the call of duty – he’s now working for the awesome and innovative Love Clean London);

Daniel Jennings who works for Frog;

Paul Benson, a Frog teacher/coordinator – just like me;

James Michie and David Didau for help clearing my head on learning objectives as discussed here;

Pete Lee, just left a Frog school for a new post but had some great ideas;

Steve Margetts, another Frog teacher/coordinator;

And, Frog Champion who looked over all the materials as fast as a text message could travel, David Brooks.

Overall, a good day. Positive. Result. There wasn’t enough time to discuss learning, but everyone was a learner for the day and seemed enthused by their new Frog.