Striving for perfection

There’s something quite perfect about Min-Kyu Choi’s award for his folding plug design (read the story), particularly for our sector.

The first thing I thought about was a teacher in a design lesson introducing the class to ‘simple designs that we take for granted, but could we make them better?’ topic. An electrical plug is just the sort of thing that fits the bill, and I find it astonishing that no-one else has come up with something like this before. In fact, I’m even kicking myself for not having thought of it.

Some have a fear (mainly among the older generations) that technology unnecessarily complicates things; and, as a result, technology itself becomes complicated and difficult to understand. This applies mainly to computers, but also consider escalators, electric tin openers, mobile phones, etc.

Early examples of many forms of technology could possibly have fitted the bill – I’m thinking that early mobile phones weren’t very mobile. However, those early designs gave way to more compact and content-rich devices, to the point where they have wormed their way into our lives so much so that we (certainly ‘I’) can’t imagine life without them.

The very point of technology is that it helps us to achieve our goals, and once it has done that, we should keep on improving on it. The electric plug seems to have been forgotten in that sense. Yet, looking back, who hasn’t been frustrated with the three-pin monster on the end of their ultra-slim laptop computer – that it seems ridiculously out of place and cumbersome. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but serves to prove that even something so functional and simple can still be improved on and bettered.

And so it is in the classroom – technology is constantly being improved upon to make teaching easier. And soon, you should soon see a small reminder of this when you turn on your new laptop and see a folding plug at the end of the lead.

Nathan Bushell, editor

Balls announces funding increase for schools

Real-term rises in funding, financial stability for schools, and a fairer system for school funding were announced this week by the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls.

He also provided more information on how schools and the government can save money. Taken together these measures will:
deliver the guarantees to parents and pupils including good discipline in all schools and one-to-one tuition for all children in primary school and Year 7 who fall behind
meet the September guarantee to all school leavers of a place in college or training
maintain additional teachers and support staff in schools, and
take forward the Building Schools for the Future pledge to re-build or refurbish all secondary schools.

Balls said the government will continue to give extra money for deprived pupils, and wants to see that money actually reach them. However, he backed a system run locally by schools and councils, not dictated by central government. Read More...

Learning powered by technology

Earlier this month, US Secretary Arne Duncan welcomed publication of the draft US National Education Technology Plan saying: "In the 21st century, students must be fully engaged. This requires the use of technology tools and resources, involvement with interesting and relevant projects, and learning environments – including online environments – that are supportive and safe."

This plan shares many similarities with Becta's Harnessing Technology strategy, the organisation claimed, focusing its actions on five areas:
Learning – engaging and empowering learning experiences
Assessment – assessing what matters and using data to improve
Teaching – teachers' access to data, content, resources, expertise and learning
Infrastructure – available for learning when and where learners and educators need it
Productivity – redesign of processes and structures to take advantage of technology.

Arne Duncan pointed to Manor High in Texas as a success story: "Manor New Tech High School opened, 50% of its teachers had taught for less than a year. Read More...

Anytime, anywhere network access

The latest enhancement to RM’s CC4 network, CC4 Anywhere, gives learners and staff anytime, anywhere access to their network via almost any Internet-enabled device.

Community Connect 4 has revolutionised computer management for over 1500 UK schools and colleges, the company has claimed.

Making ICT management easy
The Manor Community College in Cambridge chose the Citrix Provisioning Server to manage the IT provision across the school.

The college is a mixed community school in Cambridge with 140 students. Read More...

Mobile messaging connects parents and pupils
London-based Breakthru Marketing has created a new platform that marries technology, classroom activity, and parental participation – a communication platform that connects parents and pupils with teachers via mobile text messaging (SMS).

TES iboards stimulate pupils’ learning

TES Resources is working to raise standards in education through hosting free teaching resources and sharing best practice online. One such resource is the TES iboard.

TES iboard activities are highly visual, open-ended, interactive resources, all available free online at www.tes.co.uk/tes-iboard

Subscription-free support

Netop is offering Netop OnDemand for a free 30-day trial.

Netop OnDemand provides an instant, expert support when the user needs it, regardless of location, firewalls or networks. 

Licence Dashboard – a case study
Longcroft School first welcomed young people in September 1949. In the intervening years the school has gone from strength-to-strength, including the achievement of performing arts specialist college status in 2001.

Inclusive education
RM, as part of the Skanska RM consortium, has been chosen as the preferred ICT partner for the Essex BSF programme, one of the largest in the country.

Inclusive Technology and SpaceKraft, both part of the RM Group, worked with the consortia and the schools to ensure that Essex will have the most forward thinking

Pebble to cause ripples

Interactive Education will be showcasing its new hand-held learning response system at the Education Show, stand N55, NEC Birmingham from 4th-6th March 2010.

The new handset is called Pebble as it has a streamlined design which is easy to grip, so is ideal for early years and special educational needs students.

Smart learning at BETT

Designed to engage and motivate learners from Foundation Stage through to Key Stage 3 in Phonics, ICT, Literacy, PSHE & Citizenship and English, Smart Learning’s resources are tailored to meet the needs of each independent learner.

Ambitious ideas

e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology recently launched a new programme.

Real-time school data management

Hyperspheric Solutions has launched Stars 4 Schools — School Tracking, Assessment and Reporting System – at BETT 2010. Locally launched in July 2009, Stars 4 Schools enables the flow of data from mark sheets to students’ reports and whole-school statistics.

The ease of embedded software

De-LTA is the new software from Empowering Confidence, which allows teachers to create re-usable learning objects from video material.

The company claims that 40% of students have a visual learning preference, which is usually satisfied by videos.

School AV / Digital Media Technician

Our outstanding school is looking for a vibrant person to support both children and adults with moving forward in digital communication.

The ideal candidate would display a passion for ICT and the ability to motivate others in this area with particular emphasis on:
- Managing and developing communication within and from the school including MLE (Managed Learning Environment), website and display screen
- Using film/photography, including editing, display, supporting pupils and staff
- Troubleshooting on a daily basis ensuring effective and efficient use of technology across all aspects of school life.

Call 0208 502 4947
or email: info@edurecruitment.co.uk for more information

School ICT technician

Our Client, an ICT support organisation dedicated to supporting Schools ICT systems and Networks is currently expanding and looking for additional members of staff either contract or permanent with skills and experience of dealing with Schools Networks, SIMS, CC3 / 4 and possibly experience of installations and support of Whiteboards.

We look forward to hearing from you if you are located in the South / South West London area. We also have roles similar to this throughout the UK, call for more information.

Call 0208 502 4947
or email: info@edurecruitment.co.uk for more information

Education ICT Support Service is currently looking for a Field Based ICT Engineer

You will be working alongside Schools in maintaining and developing ICT in line with the Becta Frame Work.

You will be responsible for visiting Schools and carrying out hardware, software installations, basic administration, health checks, fault trouble shooting, minor repairs and maintenance of peripherals.

Applicants MUST have previous experience supporting ICT within an education establishment and possess an understanding of Windows hardware and software, networking, educational software and knowledge of RM CC3 / CC4 is highly desirable.

Call 0208 502 4947
or email: info@edurecruitment.co.uk for more information

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Plug’s design wins award
The humble plug has become something of an icon since a new interpretation of its design won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award, beating off 90 international entries.

Min-Kyu Choi, from London's Royal College of Art, hit upon the idea after having to carry around a bulky conventional plug to charge his laptop. Read More...

Supply of IT skills outstrips demand
While the number of ICT-ready candidates is now outstripping the demand for these skills – according to the latest Technology Demand and Supply report, published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) – there is a growing demand for SQL, C#, .NET and Linux skills.

All four skill sets have now been in increasing demand for the past two quarters. Read More...

Front row seats for the winners
Students from Smithills School, Bolton, have won Northgate Managed Services’ Innovation in Action 2010 competition, demonstrating forward-thinking ways new technology can help transform their school.

Created to reward innovation and collaboration using ICT, students from the six schools involved in the first phase of Bolton’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme were invited to turn detective at a major London technology exhibition, investigating new software or equipment they would like implemented at their school. Read More..

Free instant notification software
Education software supplier, NetSupport, is offering ICTzine readers a free 75-user copy of its desktop notification product NetSupport Notify.

With a global install base in excess of 8,000,000 systems and 20 years’ experience, NetSupport is a leading provider of PC management and support software. Read More...

Do we need higher aspirations for educational furniture?

Chris Salt, from ABC Desks, explains the role furniture has to playing in learning, and offers advice on buying techniques

When purchasing – consider:

Start with the end in mind – what does the furniture needs to do & look like
IT educational furniture should be to BS EN 1729 standards
Often manufacturers need 6-8 weeks’ lead time,
Guarantees should cover at least 3-5 years – will it last even longer?
15-20 years?

Primary Podcasts
Hundreds of PrimarySite customers are creating great work for their very own school radio and TV stations.  Examples include:

• Beacon C of E Primary School’s
interview with Ricky Boleto of Childrens BBC Newsround.
• Butlers Court School,
and their ‘audience with’ Micheal Rosen the famous children's book author.
• Peterbrook Primary School’s
Let's Learn phonics TV series.
• Bowbridge Primary School’s
cookery TV programme on healthy eating.

RM Offers
RM is currently presenting a range of offers on a variety of learning resources, from PCs with free four-year warranty, to discounts on digital signage and Lego starter kits.

The company also has offers on a whole class set of miniBooks and a free notebus.

There is much more online, but hurry – offers end 31st March 2010.

Web filtering from Brightfilter
BoundaryServer is a web filtering service that provides a high level of online protection to small primary schools and other institutions right up to local authorities.

It sits at the gateway between the school network and the internet to filter content that passes through, protecting pupils from inappropriate material and safeguarding the network from harmful infections.

Keeping in touch

Schoolcomms is a school communication service. 

Designed for schools and integrated with SIMS, Schoolcomms provides fast and reliable email and text messaging – offering low cost, real-time communication with parents and carers, teachers, students and governors. 

Improves home-school contact and increases parental engagement
Saves time when following-up first day/unexplained absence
Saves money when sending information and newsletters


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