The Self Review Framework (http://matrix.ncsl.org.uk) is an extremely useful tools for schools assessing their level of ICT in eight areas. It is also the application form for the ICT Mark. This page also contains a link to the Learning Platforms Functionality matrix (under ICT Infrastructure) which is designed to help schools identify their readiness for Learning Platforms.
The South West Grid for Learning Media Gallery is a developing tool which aims to overcome the two problems with children using Google Images: breaking copyright and the possibility of coming across unsuitable images. The gallery contains pictures, sound and video, all of which can be saved into your favourites, and if you register you can upload your own content for children to use throughout the South West: by doing this, you are guaranteeing either that you hold the copyright or that you have the permission of the copyright holder for children to use it.
Online surveys March 21, 2008
Setting up an online survey allows data handling to stretch beyond the classroom. You or your children can set up surveys and questionnaires with a wide variety of questions and ask people to fill them in either by emailing them a link or by putting a link onto a web page (or blog/ wiki). The survey tool will then collate the results and present them to you in a variety of ways. http://www.surveymonkey.com/ is a good free example.
To complete my survey on the usefulness of different online tools, including the tools which will come within Merlin, please click on this link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=3WxA0fMl31Ibbruroi6nug_3d_3d
Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site. Once you have registered and downloaded a special toolbar to your computer, if you find a website you want to remember you can save the link to your own Del.icio.us bookmarks page. Anyone you give the address to can then look at your links, or you can add them to your Del.icio.us network so you can see each other’s links as they are changed. The uses in school are clear: create a set of web links to sites connected with your topics (or Maths games or whatever), give your Del.icio.us address to the children, and they will be able to access these sites easily with no typing of URLs anytime, anywhere.
The Big Day Out is a set of modelling activities aimed at Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, though many are suitable for older children. The online communication element is where children can email what they’ve done in a “postcard” or, at school, send their work to a class scrapbook where they and their teacher can add comments. To use the scrapbook feature, you need to be at school and the teacher needs a password (which Anna can provide for Swindon schools).
E-safety March 18, 2008
As soon as schools encourage children to use the Internet more, and especially to use Web 2.0 tools, they are more likely to do it at home. This is, of course, fantastic: what teacher doesn’t dream of children who choose to do extra writing for fun. However, while at school we have systems in place for keeping children safe, there could well be no such systems at home. Advice for schools is given by Becta (http://schools.becta.org.uk/index.php?section=is) the South West Grid for Learning (http://www.swgfl.org.uk/safety/). Basically, schools’ responsibilities fall into these categories:
Responsibilities, policies and procedures: schools should have an E-safety co-ordinator (who should be a member of SLT), an Acceptable Use policy for staff and pupils (such as the example one provided by SWGfL), an Internet Safety Policy and a section on cyber-bullying in the Anti-Bullying Policy
Technological tools: schools should have a firewall, filtering, anti-virus software and a monitoring system. (All of these are provided by SWGfL, though schools can choose to monitor Internet use on their own sites if they wish.)
Internet safety education: schools should ensure that staff, governors, parents and children are aware of e-safety issues and what to do about it.
There are increasing numbers of websites to give you guidance and to guide parents and children, many of which are linked to from http://www.freeict.com/index.php/E-safety. Particularly valuable is http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/, which includes the marvellous Cyber Cafe for Key Stage 2 children, with resources for Key Stage 1 coming soon.
The question is: how much should children be taught about how to behave safely and, just as important, respectfully, online, and at what age? Will it be taught as part of ICT, PSHE or another subject? Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment, and have a look at the e-safety elements of the Swindon ICT Medium Term Plans (Online Communication section) in the SwindonWiki, and let me know what you think.