WrightICT eNews

February 2016

Welcome

Welcome to the latest issue of WrightICT eNews.

Articles and further snippets via my website, Twitter and Pearltrees.

Forthcoming Events

Naace Annual Conference: Making IT Better. Thursday 24th March, Marriott Hotel Leicester.


J2E5 Course. Wednesday Feb 24th at Parkstone Primary. 1.15-3.45 pm.


Understanding your data protection responsibilities. Thu 17th March 2016. Leeds Trinity University, Brownberrie Lane, Horsforth Leeds LS18 5HD.

Animation

Hue have released a newer version of their popular gooseneck video cameras. It has a larger and heavier base, a welcome as the old one could topple. As well as using this for animation it passes muster as a visualiser and web-conference camera. It has built in LED lights too, ideal for animation and also comes with its own software, Hue Intuition.

I've always felt animation on a tablet was problematic as by pressing the button to take a picture you're in danger of moving the very thing you want to keep still, the camera. Hue do a tablet holder which clamps to the table and solves this problem.

Details of all the products are available on their web site.

I got a copy of the animation software bundled with my camera as a BETT show offer, but it'd be worth asking the question if you order.

An alternative camera is available form Kudlian software at £20.

Lego figures are great for animation, but an alternative are Stikbots, though I got mine cheaper from eBay. The free app looks quite good and I particularly like the zoom function on it. Saves moving that camera.

It might sound a great idea to make your own from plasticine in the spirit of Creature Comforts but it isn't as easy as it appears. I know from experience.

J2E Developments

Two major developments on the J2E Toolkit front are the addition of data handling modules and integration with Google Apps.

The EYFS/KS1 module is a branching database, (Though I have a couple of branching database tasks that challenge KS2 and beyond), whilst the KS2 addition is a more traditional database. I think these are excellent additions to the software. A video showing these can be seen here, but please be aware that the software has developed further since his video was made.

The plan is for these to be released around Easter.

Google Apps for Education. This integration provides schools with a software solution from EYFS to staff all with one log-in. There is still some development work to be done, but the demonstration at BETT and a chat with the advisor from Guernsey and J2E left me confident about the future.

A flyer about the Toolkit+, as it is being called is here.

Although the BBC Microbit is destined for Y7 pupils only, J2E have added an emulator into J2Code so pupils can run a MicroBit virtually for a slightly different coding output.

Learnpad Folio Tablet

The world isn't short on tablet choices for the classroom, but the LearnPad Folio caught my eye as it possesses a 21.5-inch screen. Well, at that size it would! It's Android, but for many tasks and apps, this won't matter as a lot of content and apps are cross-platform. It comes with a stand for upright work/demonstrating and a keyboard.

It's multi-touch too, so has the potential for collaboration.

I was taken by the possibility of having one in a class for group work/research or small scale demonstrations.

LearnPads have software that allows teachers to add and remove apps via a management console.

It is available from £399.

Rising Stars

Switched on Computing. An alternative Y6 set of units will be available after Easter. The reason is that feedback on the current Y6 units, where the entire year is centred round the planning, creation, research and marketing of an app has been mixed, in a sort of Marmite way. The new units will be more in keeping with the Y1-5 style of half-termly units. I'm afraid I can't be more specific at the moment as there wasn't anything to see or take away, so it's a case of watch this space.

Incidentally, I'm currently using the Y6 units at a school and I have mixed feelings about them.

Switched On Minecraft. Tapping in on the Minecraft phenomenon, this resource is designed to assist teachers with a set of resources and lesson plans to use across the curriculum. It isn't intended a a substitute/replacement for Switched on Computing. A sample pack can be downloaded here.

Maths Through Computing. These 4 free resources are designed to help children develop numeracy skills. You'll need to create a Rising Stars account if you don't already have one to access the files.

Pobble

Pobble, formerly known as Lend Me your Literacy is a global blog designed to allow teachers to showcase children's work to an 'online classroom wall'.

Whilst most blogging is class-based or pupils having individual blogs and computer generated, this is different as the blog entries are samples of written work, snapped by the teacher on phone or tablet and published.

You can have limited access for free and rights to publish for £9, £12 or £15 per month depending on how you much you'll publish.

It did cross my mind me that groups of teachers could use this as an online moderation tool. I know teachers need to meet in person on occasions, but think there's mileage in working together online on this sort of activity.

Pobble365.com is a free creative writing resource. Each day a photo is published along with writing tick list for KS1 and KS2 and other related writing ideas. If you want to share your writing, then you'll need to join Pobble, but you can just use it as it stands.


Pobble have offered a free writing workshop to a group of Hull schools, so if you're interested, please get in touch and we can arrange this. SLA subscribers will be guaranteed places, the rest can take their place in the queue!

TTS

I'd hoped that the TTS bluetooth data loggers would be at BETT, but it seems I'll have to wait until Mid-2016 for these. A pity as they sound wonderful. No wires and an app that lets any number of devices connect and collect the data. Still, some things are worth waiting for.

The Talk Time range of cards has been added to with a new premium range. These are more sturdy, have replaceable batteries, 60 seconds record time and the facility to lock your recording. Just like the old ones, only better.

To go with the BlueBot, there is the Tactile Reader, using tiles to build a program.

Yo! Bot. This robot uses your SmartPhone/iPod as its controller via a free app.

I've mentioned the weather station before, but now I've seen one! Quite compact and still excellent value. What quite excites me, sadly? is the potential to download local weather data from that and import it into the forthcoming J2Data.

And finally on the TTS roundup there are 3 Scratch related products that bring a physical input and output into play. They are the InO Bot at £99.95, the Scratch Controller at £19.99 and the Rainbow Matrix at £59.95.

Flash Sticks

Sometimes you see something that just wows you and then you think how it can be used. Well, Flash-Sticks was that for me. I was a tad confused when the staff member scanned my foot but when it came back and told me that it was a black men's shoe, in French, I was impressed. I downloaded the app and merrily scanned a few random objects and so far it has recognised and translated a can of Coke, a silver iPhone 6, a biro and Teresa Howlett's black ladies strap-on ankle sandal. I've now run out of free scans, but at £2.30 a month, cancel anytime, I might just keep on scanning.

The usefulness is obvious for language learning and the firm sell packs of Post-Its, pre-printed with a range of everyday objects. Seems a handy thing to have access to if you have EAL pupils. Try it, you really have nothing to lose. The app is free.

3D Printing

I think 3D printing is something think they want and then when they see it, they know they do! Previously prohibitively expensive I spotted a 3D Printer for just under £300. It's the Da Vinci Jnr. A review is here.

Having spoken to a couple of people, the considerations are: time to print the design and running costs. As a rough guide, a tractor about 4x4x4 cm was about £1 and 45 mins to print. A model of a skull about fist-sized was 13 hours, so not really practical in a class of 30.

I'd also add in the ease of use of the software as some CAD packages are a tad daunting. TinkerCad looks to have an easier entry point than some others.

Quel coincidence! Just as I was thinking of sending the flyer out, an email arrived announcing some new software that promises to be the 'world’s simplest 3D design software’. You can view items in their gallery here.

So, what would you print? Small items for enterprise, self-designed characters for an animation or consider something like Kide?

And no, I haven't bought one yet!

Educate Against Hate

The DfE has launched a new website providing practical advice and information for parents, teachers and school leaders.

Created with consultation from organisations such as Childnet and the UK Safer Internet Centre, the website includes useful information on

  • How parents should talk to children about extremism
  • Warning signs of danger
  • Steps concerned parents can take.

TootToot

Mentioned many flyers ago, this product is now free for 12 months due to the firm receiving sponsorship.

An explanation of the product is here, but when I saw a demo at BETT I did think of how effectively it could replace the ' incident book' approach in place in so many establishments.

ICT4C Corner

Well Safer Internet Day is looming on us and just in case you have missed it, it takes place on Tuesday 9th February. It is a fantastic opportunity to get students staff and parents involved in Internet safety.

If you haven’t thought about joining in, it isn’t too late to sign up by visiting http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2016/play-your-part and downloading the education packs with a range of useful materials

This year the education packs aim to help young people to celebrate diversity online and so lead to a kinder, more respectful and inclusive internet, raising awareness about the issue of online hate. This is explored through a range of resources including posters, assembly presentations with scripts, drama activities, quick activities, full lesson plans and even films!

The films will be available as part of SID TV, and will help young people celebrate diversity online and give them the tools to understand and respond to online hate. The films can be found at http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2016/sid-tv
If your school, youth group or other organisations is running an activity for Safer Internet Day you are encouraged to join the Safer Internet Day supporter list. Registration is now open and settings will receive a Supporter Certificate when they complete the registration, to display in their school or workplace.

If you are thinking of using ‘Smartie the Penguin’ from Childnet, there is a new resource available to support this available on YouTube aimed at young children called “Red and Murphy talk to Smartie the Penguin about Helping Your Friends Online”

As for parents you could arrange for a delivery of Vodafones Digital parenting Magazine which is available for free from http://www.theparentzone.co.uk/digitalparenting but you must order over 60!

To register as a Safer Internet Day supporter visit http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2016/supporters

Snippets

Pyonkee. This app is about as near to the original version of Scratch that you're likely to get.

OhBot. Unlike other robots, this one doesn't scoot round the floor. Instead it moves its head, eyes and mouth. It has a Scratch-like programming language. It costs £120 for a kit to assemble and £150 if you want yours done for you.

Tesco Healthy Eating Trail. Nothing to do with Computing but they were at BETT showing this project. As well as a range of materials, (4-5, 5-7, 7-9 and 9-11 yrs), they offer store-based activities and will, so the lady assured me, subsidise transport to your local participating store.

Classkick. An app that lets teachers prepare activities, hand them out to pupils and keep an eye on progress. What set this one apart for me was the ability for pupils to anonymously ask for help or for them to help each other should the teacher decide.

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