Archive for June, 2013

As a part of my schools ongoing quest to improve standards we are looking at how feedback is given on a regular basis and in particular the quality of verbal feedback.

One of our media teachers spoke of her issues as her work is mostly digital and feedback was usually verbal and if this was to be checked she would not have the evidence of it.

One solution I thought of was to use technology to record this evidence and to attach it to her digital work.  This then led to the use of Voice Thread.Voice Thread

Voice Thread is a great online tool (also available on mobile devices)  It allows for the upload of various files for anyone to then give feedback on.  Feedback can be given as audio, text or even video.

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 17.46.04

Simple to use you just insert the media into the page and then click comment.  the work will display on the screen and a video will record, click comment and choose your comment type and it will add into the timeline.

The real beauty of this is when you share it with others.  They can also add feedback to the video and it all gets stored on the same file and can be built on.

For example.

Take a picture of a poster that a student has created in a lesson.

Upload this to Voice Thread

Click comment

Give feedback on the work

Share the work with the student and get them to comment on your feedback.

This is almost endless in its applications in education, giving a place where staff and students can comment on work to make improvements and build a sense of collaboration into project work.  important to build in your rules of feedback first though.

Not only is this recorded to show it has been done but the impact on work could be huge.  If you look at Austins Butterfly, the power of simple but effective feedback can be seen.  This adds in an extra layer to the process as the feedback is also stored to be reviewed at any time.


Here is a link to me using Voice Thread to explain Voice Thread


Over the last few years my passion for digital innovation may have made some people think that it was all about the technology.

This is far from the case

In my quest to look at how technology can work in schools, it has always been deeply rooted in teaching and learning. Others have made it much more eloquent and have linked it to educational research but I try to keep it simple.

New technologies enhance teaching and learning. Fact!

When implementing any change in my classroom the impact on students is always at the heart of anything I do. This is critical as it is not about my passion for using digital tech but about how it can inspire students to learn in their own way. To engage them in the curriculum and to ensure they want to continue learning outside the classroom.

Lots of schools have implemented 1:1 programmes and not necessarily thought about the teaching and learning that goes with it. Examples of GREAT practice can be seen @chepstowschool and @clevedonschool, both have the Teaching and Learning at the heart of what they do and I am sure there are many others in this same mould.

Why is this important?

Simply because students need to see that these changes in approach are being done to support them, staff need to buy in to something that shows that it makes a difference and parents need to see that it is not just a gimmick.

I spent today at the Frog conference, I am openly a sceptic about VLE’s as they were introduced poorly to me so I had no buy in. I did see today that they had huge potential, in the right context, if managed correctly and if left to be used as teachers feel it helps them. More than that though I saw today that if you start with teaching and learning and then use the tech to enhance it, then it is harder to resist.

I feel at times that I get seen as ‘the guy who wants us all to have iPads’ though this is mostly true, the reason behind why I want them is not always seen.

As a student myself I questioned the relevance of why I was learning certain things. Students today do that all the time. Yet do we always give them a legitimate reason? Passing an exam by the way is not good enough. I try to teach students in a way that they can see why they need to know it. Co constructing learning to create links to the real world outside the classroom. This is what I endeavour to pass on to staff in school. That getting students engaged in the learning, by bringing THEIR world into the classroom, will ultimately result in them progressing further. It is not enough to just teach the curriculum, it will not inspire every student. Teach it in a way that engages them, allows creativity and speaks their language and see the difference it makes.

This is where the tech comes in.

To create a world class educational experience the technology allows the teaching and learning strategies to be enhanced and enriched, giving learners a choice of ways to create learning, to demonstrate knowledge and a greater audience than just their teacher.

In my classroom I use technology to help students progress by giving feedback that can be accessed online to help at home, I give access to reading, videos and audio for students to review and reflect on in their own time. I create opportunities for students to be creative with their presentation of knowledge, in a way that suits their learning choices. I give them a broader audience through the use of blogs or creating apps. Basically I try to move my teaching to meet their needs and to bring their world into school.

Examples include
Making apps
Creating videos
Video analysis
Creating ebooks

In conclusion, to enhance teaching and learning and to engage students, digital technology can be used as a tool to help achieve it. Whatever way you choose to make a difference, think about your context, consult the students, inspire the staff and make things relevant, but remember

Do nothing, convince yourself that no change is needed, and the danger is that things will stagnate.



Last night I was asked to present at my local schools internal inset on my journey with iPads. At Chepstow School in Monmouthshire they have been embarking this year on a project to determine the impact devices would have on teaching and learning.  Led by Jamie Goddard (@jamiegodzy) they have had staff bid for use of a class set of iPads with an Action research focus to look at things such as flipped learning to the impact on SEN.

First of all, I have to say I was completely taken aback by the level of engagement from the staff team and how much they had done in such a small space of time.  The projects were thorough and were showing some excellent results and were clearly well thought out to meet the needs of the schools specific learners.  this was not an example of copying what was happening in other school but a well thought out strategic approach to ensuring the iPads had maximum impact.

I presented on my own journey, how I had taken my own iPad and looked to embed it in my practice to engage learners, inspire students and staff and to create more dynamic ways for students to engage in their learning.  Not from a specific subject point of view but as a way any department can evolve their practice to not just teach a syllabus but to make it relevant and inspiring to learners.

The overall feeling from the evening was that these tools (and that is all they are) are really shaping 21st Century practice.  Learners are provided with an opportunity to base their learning around their own skills and to embrace new ways to do things, with a confidence that is both new and exciting.

It has always been my belief that the world we live in moves at such a pace that we as educators need to be not only one step ahead but to also create opportunities for students to be adaptive learners.  To continually strive to do things in new ways.  In this way they will be able to easily adapt to the ever changing world that they go into from school and will be best placed to face these challenges.

Chepstow is really striving to achieve this and I am honoured and excited to be a part of their journey (if only from the outside)  To find out more contact @jamiegodzy or @chepstowhead on twitter.

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