Archive for the Category ◊ ICT Co-ordinator Stuff ◊

Creating Logins
Monday, August 08th, 2016 | Author:

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to get the CSVs from the office staff and to create usernames for various different online tools that we use. This is the 2016 update of this post that is now five years old. Having just re-read the post, it is shocking to see how little has changed since I last wrote about it. Maybe it’s because no-one cares about this whole process like I do…

So, what are my requirements? Yes I am picky, but I am a paying customer too. I’ve also been ICT Leader in various roles and schools for 11 years so I know what I want! I would like:

  • To specify my own usernames – I have a number of sites that are used, I want the usernames to be the same
  • To have usernames that are school-specific and not site-specific – I’d much rather Johnny Smith could be jsmith rather than jsmith184 or whatever because the sie has 20,000 users
  • To specify my own password – Yep, security is important, but let’s start with a generic password and then teach them how to change it in September rather than giving them all random passwords which will be a pain to manage. I am also making this easy for staff.
  • To put all of my children in year groups rather than classes if I choose to – The year group changes once a year so in August, I can change the Year 4 to Year 5 and they are ready to roll. Moving them all to different classes each Summer would be a pain. I’ve tried it before and it takes ages. I do want to use classes for some things e.g. Google Apps but I can add that later.

We use a variety of online tools in school and these are the ones that require usernames/passwords for the children to access. I though I could write a bit about each one as it is such a different prospect for each tool. This isn’t just about creating new users, this is also about updating them too. For example, moving up a year group, adding that new Year 5 child or removing someone that left Year 4. It needs to be a simple process.

In our school we use:

All require similar things. They all need pupil names and they usually require a username and password. Some will ask for an email address and some would like a class/year group too. This is all done via CSV and I have prepped the CSVs ready. I have a CSV for each year group with all pupils in. Our username structure is defined as first initial and then four letters of surname e.g. iaddi. Some children have a 1 on the end if there are duplicates but it works well. We have 250+  pupils and only a handful of duplicates. Oddly, these are often siblings with forenames starting with the same letter.

Google Apps:

Create the CSV, make an organisation called Year 3 and then upload. Once created, I have groups for the pupils so that I can email them if needed. So year3@ will go to all year 3 pupils and so on. Unfortunately, you can only add 25 users to these groups at a time so this slowed me down a bit. But still, all Year 3 users uploaded and whole school done in around 10 minutes. Annoyingly, when you try and add users to a group, if they are already there it says “operation failed” but doesn’t say why. I know why, it’s because they are already a member! Grrr. Also, if you had Jake Smith (jsmit) and you’re adding John Smith (jsmit) it just moves them rather than saying that the user exists already. I found a few duplicates in our old years 6 that we hadn’t deleted yet. My suggestion? If there is a duplicate username, tell me!

J2E:

The show-off of the bunch. After uploading the users to Google, I logged into J2E, pressed the Google Apps button and it takes all of my Google users and puts them in J2E. Their support is also top-notch, they have a fab little team who reply to tweets and listen to schools.

 

Purple Mash:

This is the gold standard. I created a CSV of my whole school. I uploaded it and every user was colour-coded. Green users were new, blue were being updated (moving year groups for example) and errors were in red. Less than 2 mins and done. Wow. Best of the bunch as it gave me a clear indication of any errors or warnings.

Times Table Rockstars:

Easy. Uploaded/dragged the spreadsheet and it uploaded the new users. @ttrockstars also replied to my tweets about the process and offered ideas. Fab company with great support. *Update* TTRockstars also have the colour-coded feature to make you aware of any errors in the upload process.

Education City:

With the exception of Google, I think this is the biggest company on the list. They are present in so many schools yet adding usernames is a huge faff. I even had to phone tech support. Firstly, all users are site-specific, so Jsmith would be Jsmith174 because of how many users there are. Not ideal at all. I have started prefixing usernames with the school initials so that we can at least have something easy to remember. If it finds a duplicate username, it chucks a number on the end, so they all have random numbers on (it does start with 1 and work up, but they are not all the same). I phoned to ask for help as it seemed quite complicated and the suggestion? Delete all users (and their scores/data) and start again. Every September. Ouch. Alternative could be to not bother with usernames, don’t save scores and just use it as a game rather than a tailored tool, but that seems silly. I can export all of the data before deleting, but again, not practical.

Sumdog:

The biggest problem with Sumdog is that you can’t delete users. I mean you can, but they stay on the system for six months so you end up having duplicates you didn’t plan for! Also, despite having class sizes (year groups) of over 50 on there already, there now seems to be a limit of 50 per class. This is frustrating as it means putting all pupils into classes each year.

After various tweets, Tony Parkin suggested giving my thoughts on what makes this whole process successful. I would say…copy 2Simple or make a link to other stuff schools are using, whether this is Google Apps or Microsoft or whatever, make the link so we just have to press a button and it all copies over. Also, if there is an error message, make it obvious. Don’t put “there was an error at this time” as we don’t know what that means!

If you work for one of these companies and want to give some feedback or tell me I’m wrong, feel free to get in touch.

At least that is all done for another year…….unless we get new children in September who weren’t on these lists of course……..

PS. Yes, there are some system that link your register/MIS data but generally, these things don’t do that. Google does, but none of the others do. I want simple systems that any teacher could use.

ICT in my school Part 2
Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 | Author:

Following on from my last post where I talked about our ICT journey and where we had come from, this post will discuss our approach to Chromebooks.

I have had a Chromebook at home, as well as desktop PCs, for about 3 years. I must say that it was a freebie for doing some stuff for Google, I’m not sure if I’d have bought it myself. Over the past few years it has lived under the living room coffee table and is always there should we need to do something quickly. It turns on in seconds and the internet is there.

For those that haven’t seen them, Chromebooks are devices that look like “normal” laptops, but rely very much on the internet to access anything and to work properly. Yes, you can do some things offline, but you wouldn’t. I tried to do some work on the train once and ended up opening a glorified post-it note app and then copying the text out later when I had WiFi.  If you can guarantee internet signal, then you’re onto a winner. I’m sure the offline side has got better recently, I’ve just not needed it since.

The devices run the Chrome operating system, turn on in around 10 seconds and then to log-in, you simply enter your Google login. They generally last 6-7 hours and can be charged in around an hour too.

In school, we have 60 Toshiba touchscreen laptops and I am not a fan of them. The pad for the mouse is sooooo sensitive it ends up getting turned off so that the children use the touchscreen instead. This provides issues now and again, but some teachers seem to like them. My issue was that I wanted lots of devices across the school so that we could really ramp up the opportunities for the children. I had used Chromebooks before, I’d borrowed some from C-Learning in my previous school and seen how easy they were to manage. If they ever go wrong, you wipe them and factory reset them within 10minutes. I’ve only ever had 1 device get that bad. So after all the positives, I took the plunge and ordered 60 Chromebooks and 3 trolleys to put them in.

As I said earlier, when logging in to the Chromebooks, there is the question of signing in with a Google Apps account. We now all have those through Google Apps so the pupils can be switched on and logged in within a minute. One thing to be aware of is that there is the option of paying £19 per Chromebook to purchase a Chrome management license. This adds your Chromebook to your Google Apps domain and gives you control. Think of it like a regular server managing your laptops. I can control the WiFi, proxy, power settings, default homepage and much more from one control panel rather than from each device. The console also manages updates. Ours are set to update over the course of a week so all devices don’t update at the same time and slow own the bandwidth. I wouldn’t consider buying Chromebooks for school without the £19 license!

In school, we have started to dabble with Google Apps. I mean I have used it in previous schools and I am a Google Certified Trainer, but with so many other things happening at school, this is a slow, measured approach. We started with giving everyone access to the calendar which despite being in place for almost a year, has only taken off this term. We have now given all pupils a Google email and will start using other tools soon. A few classes have been using Google Docs and children are excited by the collaboration opportunities that it provides.

So, what are the downsides so far?

  • Publisher – People always want an alternative to Publisher
  • Printing – Our Sharp printers don’t like the Chromebooks – For the few times we will print, the children can share the document with teachers who have a Windows desktop and we can print from there
  • Everything is online. Our laptops have links on the desktop so that pupils can access certain tools and websites. We have had to be more creative with how we do that. I have a solution and that’s for another blog post!
  • It takes longer to  type the login e.g. iaddison@ridersapps.co.uk than it does to type iaddison to logon to the Windows machines. But the extra 30seconds here is saved as the machine is on in 10 seconds.

We have had them in school since the start of September and so far it is all going well. They are used for simple thing so far, but that will change as we begin to show staff the possibilities.

Oh, did I mention the price? The Samsung Chromebooks we bought were £168 including the license. Bargain. (We actually just managed to buy 45 more Chromebooks that were on offer at £134 each)

If you are looking to purchase Chromebooks, I would suggest talking to C-Learning. As far as I am aware, they are the only company that will lend out Chromebooks for users to test for free (although I must also point out that I run training courses for them too from time to time)

The next step after chromebooks involved looking for tablet devices. That blog post is here.

ICT in my school Part 1
Sunday, September 28th, 2014 | Author:

I have been at my school for just over a year and have been responsible for the ICT since February. I have had a number of schools and teachers ask questions about our approach with chromebooks and tablets so I thought it best to document what we have been doing so that I had something I could point them towards.

I think the best way to begin is for me to think of an ICT past, present and future approach. What did we have when I started? What have we got to now? and what are we about to do? This post is the past and present (well, the summer holidays) post. Over the next few days I will write the others and link them all too.  Oh, why ICT and not Computing? I think Computing is the stuff that is in the curriculum, ICT encompasses everything such as laptops for staff to work on, office computers, tablets for browsing and so on.

So, some context.

We are a federation of infant and junior schools. We have two-form in most year groups but we do have three-form in year 1 and will be three-form from Reception next year onwards. We are currently in two buildings but the small gap between us will be filled in over the next year with a new library, music room and offices. We will then shift a few rooms around, make a new staffroom and suchlike to have one building for the two schools. We also have a pre-school which sends children to us, but is not part of the school.

I started at the school in September 2013 as a Year 4 teacher. At the time, there were 60 Toshiba touch-screen laptops between Year 5 and 6. These classes had Netgear Wifi and the signal barely made it downstairs to Year 4, so we never used the laptops. I found out recently that there was also a Wifi router in Year 3 behind a desk that gave some signal to Year 3 too, but they didn’t use the laptops either. For Year 3 and Year 4, we had access to an ICT suite of 22 computers, in which usually 19 or so worked, so we had the issue of sharing computers to get anything done. The suite was perfect for Year 3 as it was next door for them so they tended to use it regularly as they could see children, whereas I was the other end of the school so we had to go whole-class or nothing. I think last year I used it five times. Every time for research purposes although maybe once we split the class in half to make a poster. Not good. There were also three computers in the library and three on the Year 3 and Year 5 landings. These tended to be used by staff or by children that were working with LSAs for example.

In the infant school, in addition to one computer per class for the teachers, there was 1 computer between two reception classrooms, 2 computers in Year 1 classrooms and 3 computers for each Year 2 classroom. There was also a Netgear Wifi router in both Year 1 and both Year 2 classrooms. The Year 2s also had 8 Toshiba netbooks. One teacher told me that the netbooks took 15 minutes to logon so he never used them.

This all meant that there is a huge lack of actual devices in the hands of children in either school with the vast majority only seeing a computer as a normal aid to learning when they reached Year 5 or 6 and even then, only a few could log on at once due to the Wifi signal. So, changes needed to be made.

I took over ICT in February 2014 and began to think of how we could approach the challenge of improving the quality and quantity of the ICt experience across the schools but also being very mindful that we needed to make an impact too. We can’t just buy things for the sake of it! I wrote about the tendering process before, but the gist is that we knew we were going to be spending a lot of money. What did we buy?

Infrastructure: First we upgraded all cabling and switches across both schools so that they were gigabit-enabled. This meant that any traffic flowing through our network would be able to flow quickly. We had quite a few mini-switches which were used to allow multiple devices to access one network point but this just caused bottlenecks. We removed all of these and added more points on the walls. This sped up logging on time for all staff instantly. We also added a fibre-optic cable to connect the two schools. We knew that we wanted one network so we needed a way for the two schools to talk to each other quickly.

Wifi: Despite not having a huge amount of wifi devices (yet), we knew that we needed to install a proper managed Wifi solution. I have used Meru in my previous two schools and never had any issues so we opted for Meru again at Riders. We also chose to go for the “ac” level rather than “n” to futureproof the system. We have added an access point in every classroom and also in both halls.

Server: Next came the server to power it all. We did have two servers but we wanted one so that we could easily manage and share files across both schools.

After some initial teething problems, mainly with whiteboards and pens not working as they should, we now have a system that we can build on. Also in the summer we ordered 60 chromebooks. To find out more about those, click here**blog post due in a few days**.

I’m hoping that now we have the tools available to us, we can start to look at using them to enhance the learning across both schools.

A Tender Process
Saturday, May 10th, 2014 | Author:

I have recently taken over as ICT Leader at Riders and this is the third time, in my third school, that I have held this role. Each time there has been investment in hardware, but this has been done in very different ways. I was tweeting a few people about a recent difficulty I was having and I suggested a blog post, they said it might be a good idea, so here it is.

In my first school, I was new and I didn’t control the budget at all. I was once asked for my opinion on what to do with some money a few weeks before the end of the financial year, so I picked a trolley of laptops and I chose which wireless system to install, but that’s about it. Spending wasn’t high on the priority list at all.

In my second school, I was ICT Leader from about 3 months before I actually started. The school had RM machines and were about to upgrade to the next round of RM machines. The wireless wasn’t working and consisted of a couple of D-Link routers that get wheeled around from here to there. I didn’t like the idea of the RM machines, I wanted something more like the home experience with a desktop rather than a “child-friendly” thing that they were offering. From the May before starting to the August saw significant spending, probably £30,000 on a new network, new server, upgraded switches and cabling, a managed wireless and also a trolley of netbooks. Many people hate them, but these were awesome. On in under 5 minutes and managed everything we could throw at them. They were such a hit, we bought another trolley worth 3 months later. This was all done on a leased basis and organised by the head teacher. Throughout the three years I was at the school, we had a few thousand now and again to buy some cameras, replace staff laptops or buy a few tablets, but not much else. It was all very much reliant on that first spend. Each time I wanted something, I spoke to our ICT suppliers and a few days later it was in school and working. Job done.

It is only now, at Riders, that ICT has become a difficult issue. It started when I took over and looked around both schools (we are federated) and realised that we needed a lot of infrastructure in place before we could think about buying laptops, tablets or anything exciting. Initial quotes put this at around £50,000 for both schools to be at a good stage to move forward with a sensible amount of kit. I was then told by our finance officer that as it went over £25k per school, there were EU laws in place that said I had to write a tender for companies to apply to be our installer. I’d never heard this before. I tweeted, not many people did this either. In two years training ICT leaders across Hampshire, no-one had ever asked me for help or advice on the tendering process. I got asked about a lot of things and purchasing was always on the list, but surely someone, somewhere had spent more than £25k in one year…right? I spoke to ICT Leaders in Hampshire via our mailing list, everyone that replied told me “get three quotes, that’s all we do”. I said this to the Hampshire finance team and was (angrily) told that just because no-one else follows the rules, doesn’t mean that I have to break them too. I was also told that if I didn’t go to tender, any IT company that finds out and hasn’t been given the chance to apply for it, can sue me or the headteacher personally. I didn’t fancy that.

This left me in a tricky situation. How do you get help on something that no-one else seems to do? Luckily Rob Harrison is an amazing secondary IT bloke of some kind and had written a tender for a project last year. I was able to get a copy and edit it to our desired spec. This took 4-5 days of the Easter holiday to do. Time was of the essence because I need to make a decision by half-term so that installation can take place over the Summer holidays. The tender was written, sent to some lovely people to read through and comment on and then sent to the head teacher.

Day 1 of the Summer term, I was excited. I thought I could send the tender to Hampshire and then we’d be on our way. Except the pages to upload the tender too can only be accessed inside school. That’s ok, I though. I was in school anyway. I clicked the link…enter username and password. I tried the variety of details we have for Hampshire-based things and they all failed. I phoned Hampshire. They appeared to say it was my fault! I tried other people, Hampshire IT help-based people, they hadn’t seen the form before so didn’t know how to access it. They all said “it works here in Hampshire offices” which didn’t help me as I was in a Hampshire school, not an office. Different system apparently.

So again, I wondered, had anyone ever completed this form?

Had anyone in Hampshire schools ever submitted a tender?

Are there schools spending over £25k and breaking rules?

Should I set up an IT company and start suing schools? (obviously I joke, but I was going a little mad at this stage)

In the end, due to time constraints, we have now decided to scale back our plans for this summer so that we can get the essential stuff done and so that we fall under the tender pricing structure. However this now means that as we fall into the 10-25k bracket, we need to complete a “mini-competition” and get three quotes and submit forms to Hampshire. Guess what? Those forms are password protected and not accessible either! I give up!

Why is it so difficult?

To sum up, what have we learnt from this? I’m not sure. I totally understand that there are procedures to follow. After all, this is public money, I definitely don’t want to get it wrong, but where is the support? Where is the help to do this correctly?

Let’s hope there is some ICT-related improvement before September.

A VLE Alternative
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 | Author:

**This isn’t all finished yet, but I’ve been asked to post my progress so far – it also gives chance for feedback!**

This post was started because many schools in Hampshire are looking for ways in which they can remove their VLE and use an alternative. So I thought I would put together a post based on the common tools within a VLE, particularly the one used in Hampshire, and then give some ideas of alternatives. Many of these alternatives will be Google Apps-based or blog-based, but there are also others too.

The main thing to remember is that choosing a variety of tools is going to take more work than buying a VLE with all of the tools built-in. However, the obvious benefit to using other tools will be cost. Many of the tools used will be free but there is the obvious cost of time in setting up some of these tools and configuring them to meet your needs. Over the coming weeks, these pages will get updated to include how-to guides and videos.

The plan is that this post will develop into something I can share with schools if they decide to drop their VLE and are looking for alternatives.

For help with blogging or Google Apps, feel free to contact me for further advice. To setup Google Apps yourself, use the guide here or just get an overview here.

Some common tasks and VLE tools:

If you have any tools that could be added to these pages, please let me know so that I can add them on.

 

Photos in school
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 | Author:

You know all of those photographs that you take in school? What do you do with them? We take thousands, in fact last year it seems we took 28,000 of them. Many of them are never edited and are simply uploaded onto the Photo drive on the server. So what happens to them?

We use them there and then to show the children and we put some on the blog either as standalone pictures or as part of a Photopeach/Animoto slideshow, but then what? Most of the pictures that we take are ‘action’ shots of the children learning and we don’t really need to keep them all year after year, but at our school we produce end of year reports made by the children and the children add their photos to this. We also like to share photos when the children leave the school in Year 6, so we would like to keep them but they are too big. The 28,000 photos from last year represents 49GB of storage space. The server we had in school 3 years ago only had 50GB of Hard Drive space, so it shows how many we have taken!

I think my top tip for cameras and storage in school is to collect the digital cameras, find the size/quality setting and change it to 3-5mega pixels. After all, how many pictures do you need to be bigger than this? This handy chart shows how big pictures can be printed and still be in good quality. So a 10MP camera will happily give good quality 20x30inch pictures. Most schools wouldn’t print colour photographs A4 size, let alone any bigger. Now if you only need them for the blog, they should be resized. But which tools can be used?

I’ve always liked using Microsoft Picture Manager as it quickly sorts one folder and lets you resize images, but what about subfolders? I don’t think it does these too, so I needed to look for something else. It took a while, but the Free Picture Resize tool (yeah I love the names of these too…) does just that.

To resize pictures in bulk, simply:

  1. Load the program and choose Batch
  2. Choose ‘Copy to my computer’ – This leaves the original large photos and makes a copy containing the smaller ones
  3. Browse to the folder where the originals are and where the copies should go – you have to make the new empty folder first e.g. “2011-2012 resized”
  4. Make sure ‘Subfolders’ is ticked and press Next
  5. Add effects or rotate etc if you need to
  6. Choose a size – 800×600 or 640×480 should be fine for printing
  7. Press Next and you’re done.
Remember that it will take a while if there are loads of photos! You can then backup or remove the original photos.
I would say that we do use some high-quality images and these do need to be more than 3MP. Last year we had canvas prints made up to go around the school, but these represent 10 or so photographs (out of the 28,000).

Download Free Picture Resize Starter: http://download.cnet.com/Free-Picture-Resize-Starter/3000-12511_4-10297789.html

Looking forward we are wondering what could be done with the photos to extend their life even further. Could we use a tool such as Picasa to share the photos online? After all, 100GB is less than $5 a month. We could happily keep a year or two’s worth of photos online, made available only to parents and pupils. This could mean that they could see them at home and download them if they wanted to keep copies. There must be photos of every child if we have 28,000 on there! I’m not sure if this is possible though due to child safety and Facebook. Although we wouldn’t have children’s names on there, what if a parent downloaded a picture from our library and posted it online but it contained other children too? The same thing could happen if they came to sports day and took photographs themselves, but we wouldn’t be helping them to do it. Maybe we try it and see if it works?

We did run a small trial after a residential the children went on. I uploaded all of the photographs to a Dropbox account and shared the link with children in that year group so that they could see them and download them if they wanted to. This didn’t lead to any issues from parents but if we did it on a larger scale, would there be issues? Obviously we wouldn’t be sharing photographs of the few children in school whose parent’s permission we do not have.

Does your school share photographs with parents beyond the blog? Can they order copies of photos that the school has taken? Could online galleries be used easily enough? What do you think?

Flexible Filtering in School
Monday, November 28th, 2011 | Author:

Recently Hampshire have released Flexible Filtering for schools meaning that it is now up to the schools to allow or block certain websites. This is a massive step forward and we have been enjoying this for a few weeks now. Now, despite many Hampshire teachers thinking to the contrary, I think Hampshire have actually been fairly lenient with blocking websites. When I talk to people on Twitter there are many websites that are blocked across the country but have always been turned on for us. This new service means that the last few sites that we want to use are now there for us to switch on.

So which sites have I enabled? Twitter, Vimeo and err…that’s about it really!

It is worth noting that Google Images and YouTube were turned on because we have signed up to the filtering service.

Having Google Images, Flickr and YouTube have been fantastic for our children and staff and so far we have had no issues of children finding, or looking for, inappropriate content. I know not every school will have the same experience, but I feel we talk to our children in an open and honest way and they know I could block it again if I wanted or needed to so they don’t bother looking for this content.

Does your LA or school have the ability to allow/block content yet? I think this should be in place for every school but I also know we are very lucky to have it here in Hampshire!

Here’s how it looks.

 Here is the category list. If you want to block auctions, just drag that category from one side to the other. The red ones can’t be allowed.

 

 Here’s a list of websites we have turned on. Small isn’t it?

 

 Simply type in the address that you want to allow. I tend to make them wildcards so *.twitter.com will allow anything.twitter.com just in case www.twitter.com doesn’t work.

Thinking Out Loud – Assessing ICT
Sunday, November 27th, 2011 | Author:

How do you assess ICT in your school? That is one of the questions I have been asking myself since starting at my school just over a year ago. It’s been on my to-do list since then and I keep pushing it downwards, until now. We currently report to parents twice a year and this involves a statement in the Spring and then a level in the Summer.

The level in the summer is a whole level and not a sub-level. For the statements in the Spring, we write some generic statements for upper and lower levels e.g. upper level 3, lower level 3, and then assign these to the children. There is also a brief description of some ICT work that we had been doing that year. This reporting is just for Key Stage 2 children.

Last year I wrote the statements for the whole school and one of my targets is to make my role sustainable. This means making the assessment process sustainable too. So where to start?

I think that the assessment process should be:

  • Easy for staff to use
  • Not too much work!
  • Laid out in such a way that the children are included in the process and know what their next steps are
  • Flexible so we can adapt it to different ICT areas as we embed  it within the curriculum
I have always found assessing ICT to be very difficult. In my time visiting schools as an ICT Mark Assessor I always ask to see a school’s assessment procedure as I have been looking for something that will work. Nothing has grabbed me so far. I’ve seen skills-based lists where the teachers tick off the boxes as the children learn to change the font size or colour, but in reality does it matter?? Surely once you get to Year 3, you want to know which children CAN’T do these tasks don’t you?

In my previous school we introduced child-speak levels from 1-5 and each child had 1 A4 sheet which had their current and next level on it. We then ticked off the objectives as they achieved them. This went so well they soon got introduced for all other subjects meaning the children were trying to assess themselves using 10+ pages of objectives. Not ideal.

So, now what?

I want something that will recognise the excellent abilities that some of my children have, challenge others to improve their learning and focus the teaching even further to ensure children are able to succeed. By this last point, I don’t want teachers teaching to the assessment procedure just to tick the boxes, but I do want them to know the progression from beginner to advanced abilities.
I read Kevin McLaughlin‘s blog post about the badge idea. This is a system that gives recognition for skills and achievements. I was thinking of making these badges linked to the National Curriculum levels so that a bronze badge would equal level 2, silver is level 3, gold level 4 and platinum level 5. I don’t feel like I need to have anything for level 1.

To achieve the badge, the children would have to meet certain criteria. Now this could be achieved as part of their ICT lessons in school or at home. So for example at the moment in Year 5/6 the children have been looking at Audacity to import audio and make a radio broadcast. They could then assess their work and decide if they are ‘applying’ for the bronze award or the gold award. This would ensure children are able to assess their own work and if we make the different badges public, they can see how to get to the next one. So surely they’d want to try and apply the skills needed to get the gold/platinum awards?

I also think it is important to include work that they do outside of the classroom too. Now I know there is the possibility that their siblings or parents could help, but is it really worth it just for the sake of a certificate/badge? We have some children that are happily blogging and commenting at home, so it would be great to award them a badge for this commitment and ability that they are showing.

The badges would be linked to the new ICT planning that we have in school so it all makes it easier to manage. One thing we need to do is record the levels as we go, so we could create a document with names down the side and topics along the top. The current award could be listed in the boxes and we just change it as the children progress through the awards.

So does this sound like a possible way forward? Is it the sort of scheme that could work? I think the children would really enjoy collecting their various awards as they work their way up the school.

The next step is to draft out an example award scheme. I think I’ll start with blogging. What would a bronze blogger look like compared to a platinum one? I am sharing this idea with the other teachers at my school on Tuesday this week, so I would love to hear any comments (positive/negative) so that I can anticipate what they might ask me!

Like I said, I am very keen for your comments. Do you think this would work? This would be public so would it be something you’d like to try in your school? Or do you already have an assessment procedure that works? If you do, what is it? How do you assess ICT?

**I do have to point out, I would much rather use intrinsic rewards within my teaching rather than certificates etc, but for this, I think extrinsic rewards would help. It doesn’t have to be a physical certificate, it could just be an online award, but still, extrinsic seems to be the best approach,