2009, Jan 14 & 17: BETT Show @ Olympia, London

BETT website: http://www.bettshow.com/

It's a 4-day technology exhibition together with sharing in Practices. The scale and crowd were huge! Largely made up by vendors and some from the government-related agencies like Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), SSAT (Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) , etc.

The tube going from Earl Court to Olympia Tube Station was crowded. The queue outside the Olympia Exhibition Hall was long. We were early. At the registration counter, we entered the code generated when registered online. It was pretty fast, the name tag was printed. The BETT guide alone came in several versions - overall, little planners and even go down to the subject levels! Wow! The kind of customised details! OK, that's working towards personalisation (one of the BIG word that keeps coming up - well, not just for BETT, but also mp3). It's a combination Singapore's iCTLT and COMEX shows - with lots of technology vendors, but with a focus on Education, yet, it features some seminar sessions to share practices in schools. However, it's obvious - the sharing component was secondary.

Saw several "new" technologies - the first reaction was wow... interesting... as have yet seen them in our classrooms or exhibitions. Do we have similar technologies in Singapore? I wonder. Unlike those days when oversaw the ICT dept, had not received any product brochures since I joined HQ, and therefore have lost touch with the new stuff. Of course, am also mindful of issues like practicality and feasibility of bringing in some of these technologies into the classroom...

Some observations

Lots of vendors deal with learning management systems (LMS) despite the fact there are login portals and vast pool of resources available in the portals supported by the local education authorities (LEA) and government-related agencies!

  • Isn't it similar to Singapore's situation? While ETD develops resources to support the curriculum, there's a huge market in terms of LMS? It's definitely not because the resources produced by ETD were no good, but the emphasis is different - what ETD produces targets at specific initiative/implementation (eg. Baseline ICT Standards) and not to invest efforts in areas already taken care by vendors! (Well, is that strategic? Anyway, with the limited manpower in ETD, it's necessary to be strategic!)

Publicity tactics: Condition-free lucky draw was common in BETT - prizes could be notebooks! Recycleable bags were common. One unique handouts is a small packet of seeds (see picture below) - which I thought was pretty well conceptualised - simple yet with its intended message well-embedded...

Another thing that caught my attention was the revolving banner... which was raised to a height and rotated continuously. Well, it's not new and could be found in Singapore, too. But it just triggered a thought... perhaps for some display gadgets, we could include a brief note to illustrate how some simple science concepts are put into action ... It helps to illustrate the application of simple physics in real life! and could probably trigger interest and curiosity to the P6 children!

What are some technologies that caught our attention:


1. Classwatch (http://www.classwatch.co.uk/) - a system that provides real-time digital visual audio recording. The first question was, how different is this system compared to the surveillance camera system we already have in schools?

How it works: 2 video cameras are installed at opposite corners of the room so as to cover the view of the entire room. The enhancement is the audio component which could record conversations (but I've a question - the mics must be very sensitive and good in order to record what's said!).

How it could be used: Many of us would associate the surveillance camera with discipline - to catch the wrongdoing... (This way of thinking is common!) Now, with sound and having it installed in the classroom is worse... the immediate response would be - a monitoring tool! not just pupils' behaviour, but also teacher's classroom teaching! How pessimistic! Divorce from the pessimistic thoughts - the system has high potential for...

(a) Self reflection and improvement:

  • For the beginning teachers or those who need more help - Teachers could record their lessons and reflect how they could better it. Certainly, this could be done together with their mentors to review the lessons.
  • For those who are experimenting new strategies or pedagogies - That helps one to zoom into the specifics and analyse one's teaching and students' responses.
  • Perhaps such system would suggest doing away with classroom observations! Well, in the current practice, pupils are aware that their teachers have been observed, especially when the P, VP or HOD turns up for the lesson. Like it or not, their behaviour would be influenced by the presence of these people - could be better or worst. To go a step further, the teacher could record and submit the lesson that she feels it's good - that's the opportunity for us the "catch the good!". It could also be kept by the teacher in their portfolio!

(b) Publicity - perhaps for SST - we could capture good teaching moments and showcase (in particular, parents) how pupils' learning activities take place! Ah! This could be kept as evidence for SEM, too!

Really, to tap on its affordances for the above positive practices, one really has to walk the talk... it just take one person (esp. the management) to "mis-use" the system (that differ from the primary intent & use it to catch the wrong intentionally) - all would go back to square one!


2. First Class (http://www.intl.firstclass.com/)

An online collaborative platform that offers similar features that most of the service products could provide - eg. Email & instant messaging, workspaces, calendars, file storage and personal web publishing (of which, the last 2 are newer features). However, it offers a pretty different look and feel. What struck us is the newer platform that's to be launch later this quarter - Bluefield, which incorporates the social network platform - which allows the users to set up communities for collaboration and updates. Of course, it comes with blogs, wikis, comments features... and the else to upload various kinds of media into the platforms.

Click HERE to download brochure (pdf)


(3) The Flexible Classroom by ESA Mcintosh (http://www.esamcintosh.co.uk/)

Interesting concept on the various kinds of furnitures - from whiteboards to desktop designs to seats. Whiteboards and display boards mounted with rollers so that they can be pushed around... possible to have multiple boards (different kinds), layered... and pushed to different sides of the room.

Click HERE to see brochures.


(4) LCD projectors (& mounting) that spot a different look!

The LCD projector that's mounted to the Activboard+2 IWB looks stylish and cool... though most of them appear in orange! Apart from the look, the direct benefit of such installation is reduced glare and shadowing to provide optimal on-screen resolution (as mentioned in the website). Of course, not forgetting its hefty cost - around S$6,000 for just installation! More info:

Another projector that spots a slightly different look is the Hitachi's - when mounted to the ceiling. the Click link to see.


(5) Seminar, "e-Safety in Action - The EPICT - A Pilot Programme" (http://www.epict.co.uk/index.php) NB: EP stands for European Pedagogical

The overview said, "... This session shares news and information from the development and roll-out of the EPICT Licence module in e-Satfey"

... was hoping to hear some the indicators of successful implemention of the programme, not just the training that the teachers undergo, but how they apply in classroom practices. Unfortunately, the sharing seemed superficial and did not align with the title of the presentation. e-Safety is only one of the many modules offered in the certification, which covers 16 modules (from the website)

  • (i) Locating and Incorporating Online Resources (ii) Using and Creating Interactive Learning Materials (iii) Electronic Communication and Collaboration (iv) ICT and Strategic Innovation (v) Literacy and ICT (vi) Numeracy and ICT (vii) Presentation Technology, IWBs and Interactivity (viii) Publishing on the Web (ix) ICT and SEN (x) Effective Use of VLEs (xi) Digital Images (xii) Games and Edutainment (xiii) Spreadsheet Models (xiv) E-Safety (available December 2008) (xv) Creativity and ICT (xvi) EAssessment

So, basically, no gain from the session.

Nevertheless, other thoughts arise: Why there exists such certification? Everything exists due to a cause. There is a demand. This is a need Specifically,l for this digital era.

  • The certification is meant for someone who intend to be a competent educator who uses ICT as a means for teaching and learning. Perhaps, it's an ideal... but not something impossible in the Singapore context. That reminded me of the attributes listed for a Level 4 teacher... all these fit in the PD, though not enough!


2009, Jan 14: BECTA Symposium - From Personalising Learning to System Re-Design

by Professor David H Hangreaves (AD, Development & Research, SSAT)

Key points

Part 1:
  • Customisation equivalent to Personalisation, which leads to Transformation, not Improvement.
  • Just a Thought: It's about transformation, it's a change... it's not about re-dressing the old issue. How many existing systems or organisations could afford a complete transformation? The courage and the ability to deal with transitions (and issues arise from the change) and the change of mindsets.
  • Mass customisation means ... is the capability to change the design or appearance of a product or service in direct response to a customer’s needs – without incurring significant additional costs in the production or delivery of the product/service.
  • Just a Thought: It's oxymoron here - to customise to the mass?! It's still one size fit all (but a small group). Look at the streaming of our P6 students in the early years - when it was first introduced - 4 streams catering to the students of different academic/hands-on inclination. However, within each stream, there was a pre-defined set of subjects and assessment modes (eg. coursework, practical exams and the traditional pen-and-paper). To be fair, yes, the nature of the subjects have been customised... teachers have to prepare a wider range of activities for similar topics. However, if we observe how the curriculum within each stream has evolved... yes, as of today, it's towards creating more choices to the learners... henceforth, a larger extent of customisation. But, it's still not customisation.
  • Well, in mp3, there's an emphasis on Personalised Learning. Let's wait and hear more about it...
  • Personalising learning means meeting more of the educational needs of more of the students more fully than ever before
  • 9 Gateways to Personalised Learning

  • These 9 gateways are re-organised into 4 groupings (4 deeps):

  • 4 deeps according to the document (extracted from "Personalised Learning", published by SSAT):
    Deep learning
    The first ‘deep’ is deep learning. Most schools recognise that enabling students to perform well in exams is only a part of their wider educational purpose. Schools are increasingly seeking to support the development of their students as learners equipped for the 21st century world in which being a lifelong learner will be paramount. ‘Deep learning’ is best developed through the first three gateways of the personalising learning agenda: student voice, assessment for learning and learning to learn. The work of the D and R networks in these key gateways is to assess how next practice in these areas can facilitate deep learning.
    Deep experience
    The second ‘deep’ is deep experience. It is clear from our journey that student engagement is the key to better relationships between staff and students and is a prerequisite for the development of good learners who posses independence, responsibility, confidence and maturity. The answer to the question of how to engage students seems to lie in the gateways of curriculum and new technologies. The hub schools and their networks can sum up their work in these areas as discovering the best ways to engage students in a curriculum that is meaningful to them which makes the best possible use of the technology available.
    Deep support
    The next step in our journey is to create networks around the remaining areas of the personalising learning agenda. Schools feel that a new level of support is needed for students, staff and schools if personalising learning is to become a reality. The support required goes beyond that which has traditionally been provided by advice and guidance and mentoring and coaching. Both of these gateways have a role to play but ‘deep support’ goes beyond this and requires us to re-assess the way we support people in our schools. It undoubtedly will involve working in federations and will draw extensively upon the new technologies.
    Deep leadership
    At the start of our journey we were very clear in our belief that leadership underpinned all of the gateways. However, the journey has revealed that a new type of leadership is needed if personalising learning is to be successfully resourced and implemented in a school. To this end the fourth network will focus on deep leadership of the sort that will enable transformation of schools.

Prof Hangreaves went on to share

  • the 20 re-configurations for system re-design: Institutional reconfigurations: 10; Role reconfigurations: 5; Leadership reconfigurations: 5
  • how 2 schools have adapted the Deeps model in the school organisation

Part 2:

It was suggested that Everything about schooling can potentially be co-constructed. This will mean the emphasis and change... with students as...

  • Lesson observers
  • Researchers
  • Learning investigators
  • Lesson designers
  • co-Innovators
  • Continual Professional Development presenters
  • Knowledge transfer

It has also been suggested that students attach to school to observe/learn practices and idnetify positive points that teachers can improve their learning experiences through a presentation to teachers.

Some thoughts: The new role suggested for students require a mindset change to both teachers and students, and ground rules play a very critical role here, for the change to achieve its objective.

  • Well, if post this suggestion to some younger and more confident colleagues, they would probably welcome this with a "why not?" without a second thought. Yes, isn't this the right attitude to adopt, especially if we claim to be customer-orientated? Let's hear from the learners so that we could design the kind of learning experience that they learn best? So, this would be a school of thought...
  • The more experience and senior colleagues would probably feel challenged! What would the young ones, without the necessary content knowledge/skill, able to tell what's good and what's no good?! Oh yes, it's like opening up a can of worms - to invite undesireable criticism and questions. The teachers' authority to be questioned? Where's the teachers' pride when he/she has to listen to what the student on how the lesson should be delivered! Ah! Here, the teacher's ego being challenged, I think still something quite unacceptable in the oriental/asian world.
  • I've no doubt in the good rationale behind, to engage the learners to design something for themselves - it's going to be highly customised to the kind of learners we have, customised to the way they learn (which could be very different from us!). Nevertheless, we also need to bear in mind the learner's maturity and being able to objectively put their viewpoints or ideas across, in a tactful manner, with respect. This is, something which I felt is highly lacking among our youngsters!

For both teachers and students to benefit from such an exercise, I personally feel that it is necessary to effect and manage the change, which includes cultivating the appropriate attitude to both, and getting them to understand the rationale behind the whole exercise. Oh yes, saying is always easier than doing.

How about engaging parents? Yes, schools have started engaging parents long time ago, through the Parent Support Group, in particular. Nevertheless, most of the time, it's limited to services that schools can tap on parents - from supporting the lesson (eg. parent-aide in primary classroom), excursions (eg. chaperons to field trips), and providing expertise advise/sharing (eg. speaking at the Assembly). How many teachers have actually invited parents to sit in a class to provide feedback to the lesson? I doubt there's any! Yes, no matter what, I think it's the ground that the teacher guards very carefully - yes, no intruders, please! Well, will there be a day when parents also partake in lesson observation??? Oops! Is that a bit too much???

Part 3:

Professor Hangreaves also reminded us about the change in learners' profile - which is not new - when then the terms Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants were introduced by Marc Prenskey a few years ago. Our students are increasing IT savvy and they are experts in social networking and they are more adept at interactive adn collaborative platforms. But he further alerted us of the changing profile of the parents, and even teachers! The way our teachers and the parents were educated... the environment they immersed in. The NET Generation (i.e. Generation Y) are under 35... which indeed, more and more of the teaching force belong to this generation.

Some thoughts: It's not just the profile of the learners changes. That includes stakeholders (parents, community-at-large), teachers and administers! We are at the crossroad now. We are at the transition stage now...

  • The only group that has gone through the complete change is Students!
  • For parents, more and more belong to the Net Generation. They way they view learning experiences would be different - at least, the way they bring up their children would be pretty different from our generation!
  • As of the teaching staff, including the school management, it's currently in the transition stage - oops! does that mean we would not be able to see eye to eye on how to get things done? Hm... Does that also mean that these 2 groups of people - the Digital natives and the "non-DN" would have different sets of values? Oops! But who's in-charge? To-date, most of the people in the management still belong to the non-DN group. Do we foresee any problem? By the time the entire teaching force has gone through a complete change - would the system be ready? Hm... it's the people to shape and fit into the mould of the system or the system to be re-shaped to suit the 'new' generation?
Click HERE to read more:

Some popular sites of youngsters:


2009, Jan 15: Coleridge Community College, Cambridge

Some key points shared by Keith Addyman (Director of Technologies):

  • ICT is a means to help achieve excellence, innovation and collaboration.
  • Media Literacy and ICT are incorporated into subjects and assessed through the subjects. By doing so, it helps pupils to see ICT as a tool instead of being a discrete subject. Videos has also been incorporated into all lessons and subjects.
  • Students go through the following stages in video production, to tell a story: Plan > Storyboard > Shoot
  • Students' coursework are submitted online and assessed.
  • ICT Support for staff: 1 administrator who takes care of the software application system (eg. attendance, student records) & 2 technical personnel who handle the hardware troubleshooting. Teaching assistants are also made available to support teachers in content sourcing and development.
  • Staff Training: There is regular just-in-time professional development sessions aligned to the focus of the term.
  • Cross Curricular Projects: A Model for Innovation involves: Whole Staff Training > Collaborative Planning > Team Teaching > Writing into SOW > Embedding. The emphasis: One time training is not enough and staff needs to practise in order to acquire skills.
  • The use of IWB is made compulsory for lesson observations as it's one of the key technology integration strategies. To prepare teachers, one IWB is deployed to each department and a staff from each department undergoes training. They in turn train the rest in the department.
Keith also shared some implementation experiences:

  • When pupils are introduced to a technology platform (eg. email), the school should continue to use the platform in order to create sustainable practice.
  • For the 2 lessons per week, arrangement was made so that they exist as first 2 periods of the day and students can therefore work from home.
  • When accessing the work from home, students have to sign in to a chatroom at a given time so that the teacher could mark attendance.
  • While high percentage of students having access to computers/internet at home, school provides to computer and internet access for those without the facilities at home. Hence, there is no access problem to the virtual learning environment.
  • While pupils use online discussion forum, email is still used as the primary means by teachers to communicate and keep in touch with students. (eg. informing them preparation work prior to the activity via email)
  • Teachers need some coaching skills to facilitate the activities.
  • On the other hand, students feedback they prefer face-to-face interaction. Hence, he suggested perhaps students could be given an option - To discuss face-to-face or virtually.
Students in Year 7-8 also work on a Portfolio along the following flow:

Some thoughts: This offers a pretty interesting structure for portfolio, whereby the learners' work/reflection is not organised by subjects, but some emphasized attributes that each learner is expected to exhibit at the end of their learning journey with the school. Perhaps we can consider a structure along this line, using our 'student outcomes' as a guide. At the end of the day, we define broad areas our students should focus on (with the parameters), yet give them the room to express and organise (from their perspectives).


Some useful ideas from the video clips shown (http://www.parksidemedia.net/):

(a) Key stage 4 Film making (http://www.parksidemedia.net/parkside_media/KS4%20films.htm)These are work done by Year 10-11 students and used as a teaching resources for Year 7 students.

Some thoughts: This could be something that our school can consider when setting tasks for upper secondary pupils - so that their work is not just a piece of assignment, but with a larger purpose and value to it. Another idea arises from here could be - some of our SOPs could be filmed into clips and post in the site where the Induction/Orientation package is. So, such package could be multimedia too!

(b) Clever use of several clips depicting the same storyline/scene but produced by different people - for students to study and discuss how the same storyline/scene could be differently shot/depicted. (e.g. Romeo & Juliet).
Some thoughts: This is not limited to Media Critique, but it could also be used when pupils are required to carry out some "Compare & Contrast" activities.

(c) How students made use of webcams to illustrate their understanding of Science and Geography ideas


Click HERE to download school prospectus. Look out for

  • page 5: Curriculum - timetable structure
  • page 8: Home Learning
  • Some terms used - Homework club (page 8); Personal Learning Planning Day (page 9)

Other Parkside-related websites


Some thoughts: Students are given opportunities to apply ICT skills, in particular, the creation of video clips as it's a target set by the school. Perhaps, one point to note is, while a technology tool/platform is identified, it is also important to keep in mind that the task designed should not be driven by technology... technology should serve where it serves best.

Other observations on how ICT plays a part in the curiculum: (i) Pupils use video clip to demonstrate understanding - in the case of Science (ii) Pupils create an end product of a task - in the case of producing videoclip on bullying. During the sharing, it's not clear how pupils learn with ICT.


2009, Jan 15: Parkside Community College, Cambridge

The school is one of the few in Cambridge to offer one of the diploma courses introduced to the secondary school system recently - Media Studies.

  • Lesson is scheduled 1 day in a week.
  • Click HERE for more information about the Diploma Course
  • Click HERE to see video


Teddies in the Space Project 2008: In this project, 4 teddy bears were sent about 30 km above ground. Mathematical & design skills were employed in this project.

  • Click HERE to see more information


2009, Jan 16: Yewlands Technology College, Sheffield

Yewland Technology College is one of the schools under the Building Schools of the Future (BSF) programme, with its new campus opened in September 2008. It caters to students from age 11-16.

  • Vision: Our Learning, Our World, Our Future
  • There are 54 full time teaching staff & 48 support staff
  • Pupils were involved in the selection of furniture in the new campus
  • 1 day in a week is set aside as the "Project-based Learning" day, which is theme-based.
  • Ratio of Teacher to Students for Project-based Learning is 1:6
  • School is also moving into re-organising its curriculum such that related subjects are put together, in 4 major groups altogether.
  • Students are organised by ability and developed/stretched differently.

Managing ICT in the school

  • There are 2 onsite engineers/technicians to carry out maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • The turnaround time for equipment is 30 min and there are spare computers available (~3%).
  • There is also monthly report from the company that the service is outsourced to.


Some observations: Space and vibrance - the first impression when step into the campus.

  • Space - Although the entire building is enclosed by concrete and glass, it is very spacious all over the place - the corridors are very wide because it's also doubled up as learning spaces. Someone said, there isn't any corridor in the building at all!
  • Vibrance - It's the clever use of bright colours - Yellow, orange, green... and lots of white. Probably they belong to the corporate colours? Well, it also seems that the various locations are coded according to its purpose/discipline.

Computers are all over the place - wired PCs. Just wondering... it's not easy to manage - although there are technical support. Students' discipline counts! How does the school manage that? How about vandalism? I wonder... Ooops! I remember - we were told there's survillence cameras throughout the entire campus - to provide a safe environment - so... that also serves as a deterrant to vandalism, I guess.

I like the idea of using flexi-walls to create larger classrooms, of which classes can be combined for mass/inter-class activities. Given such a layout, we can

  • promote collaboration among classes - inter-class projects
  • conduct mass/special lectures/talks
  • use the 'enlarged' area for exhibition
  • use such big open spaces for the exam purposes - become mini-exam halls, saving manpower, too!
  • ... ah! it's really up to our imagination...


2009, Jan 16: Silverdale School, Sheffield

Silverdale School is a secondary school newly reopened in January this year, under the BSF Programme. Its specialism is on Languages - in which it runs several foreign language programmes.

Some observations:

  • The first structure that captured my attention is the staircase - which is a contrast to the glass and concrete. Thought that's nice. Nevertheless, after taking a second look, am pretty sure it's not suitable for the Singapore weather... 'cos it's 'open'... It becomes un-usable in rainy days.
  • Space, again, there's plenty. The main colours are blue and purple.
  • Here, there are corridors! The learning spaces are concentrated at the end each block when there's a split of the building, hence creating a 'triangular' learning space, filled with computers, round tables and chairs.
  • "Student Receptionist" - 2 students (pretty young, a boy and a girl) sat at one of the tables in the open area where the delegate was briefed before the tour. There's a label - "Student Receptionist" - on asking, we were told that they were supposed to be there the whole day, to run errands for teachers (eg. sending messages). According to the boy, some kind of training that every student will go through. Hm... if that's the case, I guess such training comes with a price - just wondering if all students are able to catch up with the whole day's work?
  • "Student of the Half Term" - seems to be a common practice among UK schools - to recognise students' efforts and performance.
  • Some useful terms - "Student Receptionist" (ah! role has to be re-defined...), "Restaurant" / "Cafe" (instead of the usual "Canteen")


2009, Jan 19: Presentation by QCA

QCA: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (http://www.qca.org.uk/) - a national body that maintains and develops UK national curriculum, as well as associated assessments and examinations.

2 items on the agenda were of our interest:
(1) How QCA deals with assessments on 21st century skills (which is very close to our hearts).
(2) Evaluation of the effectiveness of curriculum.

Big Picture of Curriculum is broadly guided by 3 key questions:
  1. What are we trying to achieve?
  2. How do we organise learning?
  3. How well are we achieving our aims?

Discipline Curriculum Innovation aims to make an impact on learners. It is based on planning systematically for outcomes through an understanding of cause and effect

  • Underpins effective curriculum design, implementation and evaluation
  • Focuses on a full range of evaluation - learner's achievements across the whole curriculum

The broad strategies around the 3 key questions:

  1. Under what QCA tries to achieve: (i) Identify priorities (ii) Record the starting point (iii) Set clear goals
  2. On organising learning: (iv) Design & implement curriculum changes (v) Review progress
  3. To check on achieving the aims: (vi) Evaluate the impact (vii) Maintain, change or move on

It uses evidence of impact to spread best & next practice on the ground. The extent of impact is an evaluation of

  • the proportion of learners affected
  • the degree of difference seen in them

Some thoughts: It seems like, instead of identify "hard fact indicators", it is going towards gathering stories - qualitative evidences. On the other hand, in SEM, we go for numbers and use stories to support as examples. Just a couple of stories would often be regarded as anecdotal. Well, we are also wary of "subjectivity" and how well one puts the story across.


Interestingly, we learnt that while learner is the Heart of the System (based on the framework), currently, assessment is used to assess the school's performance.

Some thoughts: Then, isn't it... how well to the school performs is in the mercy of the students' willingness to learn and cooperate? It ought to be high-stake not just for the school, but also the individuals as it's ultimately the experience that students bring & live with them.


Assessing 21st Century Skills

Broadly, the 21st Century skills are categorised into 2 groups:

  • Functional skills (English, Numeracy, ICT)
  • Personal learning (Communication, Application, ICT, Working with others, Improving own learning and performance, Problem solving) & Thinking Skills (Creative thinking, Enquiry, Evaluation, Information processing, Reasoning)

The 1st group could be assessed through exams.

As of the 2nd group, we were informed that the system is still under development and the set of skills is unlikely to be tested formerly. Instead, possibly, description of key characteristics as seen in context of stage of developmnet and link to complexity of task or content. It would be seen in context and not as a continuum.


Useful articles/websites (in QCA website):


2009, Jan 19: Presentation by Teachers TV

Website: http://www.teachers.tv/ ; http://www.teachers.tv/international

The video site (http://www.teachers.tv/video): comprises of clips spanning from 15 min to an hour, catering to a wide range of audience - from administrative support staff to Headteacher to Teacher and even pupils. In other words, the nature covers both professional development for staff as well as classroom use by pupils. A very rich collection, that provides a different favour, compared to what we have in Singapore (the eVideos). On the other hand, we would also need to be mindful of the context for some subjects (eg. History) and more nitty gitty things like the currency used for money.
Viewed a number of videos
Note that not all programmes can be streamed... nevertheless, some worked & could be displayed in full screen.

For Teaching Ideas:
(a) KS3/4 Maths - Shopping Mall Starters (http://www.teachers.tv/video/3345)- that provides some good ideas. Like the one describes how to find the area of octagon. It's clear and easy. The programme comes with several 'problems'... and interesting ways to solve problems! In particular, I like the one to sort difficult proper fractions in ascending order by looking at the reciprocals instead. Nevertheless, one point to note: The currency used is pounds & pence.

(b) KS3/4 Science - Periodic Table: Ferocious Elements (http://www.teachers.tv/video/3518) - As an introduction to the elements, the presenter started it off with accessories/jewellery made of elements like gold, silver and copper, about its look and briefly why they are used as accessories. It's Elements in everyday life. Also, just learnt that group 1 elements are used in the beautiful fireworks! Ah! A good recap of elements in the periodic table. Interesting :D

For Professional Development:
(a) The Primary A-Z of ... - Effective Questioning (http://www.teachers.tv/video/30793)

(b) Classroom Observation with Bayley - Modes, Medians and Means (http://www.teachers.tv/video/28889)

(c) KS4 History - Assessment for Learning (http://www.teachers.tv/video/23882)

For News: http://www.teachers.tv/news

Some programmes could not be streamed (even after registering with the website) and message like "We have detected that you are accessing this website from outside the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, rights have not been granted for international streaming and downloading of this programme." was displayed. They include:


2009, Jan 19: Presentation by SSAT

SSAT (Specialist Schools & Academic Trust) is a not-for-profit organisation that validates and accredits schools with specialist status in England. It also promotes networking and partnership through the network, iNet.

More information


2009, Jan 19: Presentation by Tribal

URL: http://www.tribalgroup.co.uk/

Its key focus and engagement involves:

  • New Learning leading to New Learning Spaces
  • Building Schools for the Future Project
  • Academies
  • New Outcomes & New Approaches
  • Changing Hearts and Minds
  • Clearing the way for Change

Mobile Learning a means to help build bridges & create accessibilty learners to tutors.

3 depths of m-Learning

  • Outreach Promotion: Awareness, raising skill checks on mutliple tools
  • Targeted learning on specific devices (low-mid-high technology; building skills; assessment)
  • Collaborative learning and play with phones, cameras, mobiles, PDAs, PCs - to create, experiment, play
  1. Pocket PC Learning resources on smarter phones (content)
  2. Phone features - Speaking & listening
  3. Content Authoring tools

Point to Ponder: What's advantage of using PDAs over laptops/tablets in school?

I think, it largely depends on the age-group of students and the intended use.

  • In terms of portability and weight, certainly PDAs has an advantage over tablet since the formerly can easily slipped into pockets and start-up pretty quickly and easily. More come with programs like office applications and features like cameras and microphones, too!
  • On the other hand, we also have to be mindful on the 'consolidated intended' use of the equipment, especially for the secondary curriculum. Certainly, our students will need more powerful equipment to access a wider range of applications and resources. Also, being older, they should be able to manage the heavier equipment. Hm... When they get their machine, will need to teach them how to take good care of it... so that it could last for at least 4 years.

Media Board: A web-based tool which lets learners build up online web pages by sending messages, pictures and audio from their phones.


Learning Score: A multimedia lesson planning tool, but also positioned as a delivery tool. Its look-and-feel is similar to that of Movie maker (or similar product) - it comes with a timeline to aid planning. There are several pre-defined categories of classroom activities and strategies. One can also insert descriptions into the "boxes" of activities. If it works like movie maker, then it would be very inituitive and easy to use (since user could simply drag and drop the items into the boxes).

Some thoughts:

  • It could also be a project planning tool for students - to documentthe progress of the entire project. Students can also park their work-in-progress... and along-the-way reflection.
  • Alternatively, students can also use the tool for their personal planning (for learning) - A habit that we would like them to cultivate - taking ownership of their own learning and managing the many different activities happening around them/they are involved in...
  • Students would probably like the interface as it's very visual and seemingly easy to use.

2009, Jan 19: Presentation by London Grid for Learning

Presented by David Mason, Content Manager

The London Grid for Learning (LGfL) is a collaborative initiative by the 33 London local authorities to provide broadband connectivity, managed services and online content for ht education community throughout the London Region (comprising 2600 schools, 74000 teachers & 1.2 million students).

In terms of infrastructure, something that we envy...

  • Connection via fibre optics (throughout)
  • Connectivity: 10 Mb for Prmary and 100 Mb for Secondary schools


6 priorities outlined to harness technology to the needs of children, learners, parents, teachers, carers, employers and all our stakeholders... among them, "Integrated online personal support for children and learners" and "A collaborative approach to personalised learning activities" pay special attention to the learners.

Extracting from the online publication:

  • Under Integrated online personal support for children, it encourages every institution to offer a personal online learning space to store coursework, course resources, results, and
    achievements. It is also working towards developing a personal identifier for each learner, so that organisations can support an individual’s progression more effectively. Together, these facilities will become an electronic portfolio, making it simpler for learners to build their record of achievement throughout their lifelong learning.
  • Under collaborative approach to personalised learning activities, several areas that need to be addressed to are identified: (i) The need of better digital resources being more widely available and more flexible learning packages that teachers can adapt to their learners’ needs (ii) The need to support innovation in the market by improving knowledge of where elearning works particularly well, and update the standards for pedagogic quality, accessibility and safety (iii) The need to keep the curriculum moving, to take advantage
    of new methods in all subject areas, and to keep demanding a better response from the technology.


There are 6 components to take care of when managing complex change - Vision, Skills, Incentives, Resources, Action Plans, Evaluation. Lacking any one of them has an impact on the overall progress and the outcome (confusion, anxiety, slow change, frustration, false starts, uncertainty) - see slide #7


eSafety is certainly a big thing in the UK education system. This has been emphasized not only in presentations by the various presenters, but also the practised in schools - through infrastructure (eg. installation of surveillance cameras, use of electronic system to sign in) to taking photographs of students at work.


Useful Resource websites


2009, Jan 20: Presentation by FutureLab, Bristol

FutureLab works with schools and government agencies in UK to develop innovative ICT resources and practices that support learning. It conducts research and development activities.

Several projects shared...


1. Beyond Current Horizons: This project looks at building a challenging and long-term vision for education in the context of social and technological change. There are 3 strands:

  • Building the evidence - to build a set of 6 scenarios to represent how schools and communities look like in future (something to look out for - Useful when we carry out the SWOT analysis - charting our plans, short & long-term goals)
  • Engaging Public & Stakeholders
  • Translating research into actions - producing tools and resources to enable educators to think systematically about potential futures for education and technology to improve current planning.



2. Greater Expectations: The project explores young learner's expectations and aspirations for their lives and learning. It's aligned to the emphasis of the national curriculum - personalised education and learner's voice.

Providing space for learners to "create" and "exist" as an avatar/character in an explorable landscape whereby they could make virtual connection from real life opportunities - to be "The Me I want to Be".


3. Enquiring Minds: An approach to teaching & learning that takes students' dieas, interest s and experiences as its starting point, and provides them with more responsibility for direction and content of their learning.

4 stages of Enquiring Minds:

  1. Initiating and Eliciting
  2. Defining and Responding
  3. Doing and Making
  4. Communicating, presenting and evaluating

Students' experiences of enquiring minds:

  • Choice: Freedom to think for themselves, a fair chance and opening their mind
  • Change in relationship with teacher: More frequent 1-to-1 conversations; changing role of teacher
  • Skills for completing the tasks


Some thoughts: See some similarity between this approach and some others like inquiry-based approach. Ultimately, it's students to own what they want to learn. Of course, each approach has its own emphasis. For instance, under IBL, the questioning and investigative components are key to the process.

Nevertheless, for such learner-centred approach, traditional practitioners always have the concern at the back of their mind - how to manage the scope - students' imagination and questions can go wild and beyond... This is really a challenge to the traditional practitioners as they are going to have lesser and lesser control over the way pupils learn...

One way to manage is to "scope". What to scope and how to scope? It is necessary to provide parameters to define the scope. For instance, students are tasked to study the impact of pollution on water life and plants in a defined area. This would help to keep the questions they ask or areas they want to investigate within what's defined in the curriculum, while students can decide to investigate the different aspects of water, plant and even soil (e.g. pH value, oxygen level).

On the other hand, students do not necessarily come with skills that enable them to carry out the activity. For instance, if students are expected to ask questions - they need to be taught of the 'how'? what are the triggers to their thoughts? Even we ourselves may not competent in that. Scaffolds are necessary, especially at the initial exposure to the approach. We have to recognise that time and practice are needed for one to slowly acquire, and eventually master the skills. It's a continuum - for teacher guided to student owned(?)... yes, we have to manage this changing learning experience that students undergo, too...


Other useful tools from the website:

2009, Jan 20: Bristol Brunel Academy, Bristol

Sharing by Armando Di-Finizio, Principal of the Academy: (Ah! It's the first one we came across known as the Principal instead of "Head teacher"!)
  • The school works towards developing good habits in all students that are sustainable. So, its the belief that good habits and character comes before academic performance.
  • The school beliefs includes (i) accepting the fact that students are children who are still developing and therefore mistakes do happen (ii) As educators, it is our duty to educate the whole child (iii) Teachers no longer has a monopoly on information in the 21st century.
  • Rubrics used to assess pupils' learning focused on 5 Hows, which includes (i) How you manage to stick to your learning (ii) How resourceful you are in your learning (iii) How you think about and reflect in your learning...
  • When it comes to grading, instead of using the usual 'bands' (eg. "Under/ Within/ Above/ Exceed Expectations), students are graded as Asteroid, Moon, Planet, Star in the various components of the task. First look, it looks refreshing... nevertheless, such novelty terms do not really last...


Some observations:

  • The first thing that caught our attention before stepping into the building are the 'blocks of words' lined up on the 2 sides of the wall... I would say, those are the 'dreams' and 'wishlists' of the students? Ah! Very real & truthful - "I wish we didn't have to take exams", "I wish I know what to wish for", "I wish I was cool", etc... A wishlist that's awaiting to come true? ...
  • What struck me is the philosophy of the school- the emphasis on pupils character/value development (er... ) over academic performance... hm... that reminds me of another school of thought - Discipline comes before anything else could happen (ie. referring to academic excellence), so that's the pre-requisite... and the belief that once the fundamental block is correctly placed, the rest will automatically fall in the right places.
  • Useful Terms: "Learning Facilitators", "Learning Families" (ie. Tutor groups).
  • FAQ for students - which we rarely see in Singapore school's students' handbook - which we normally put it across as "School Rules & Regulations".


Click HERE to see school's prospectus.



2009, Jan 21: Presentation by London Knowledge Lab

A few result projects were shared...

One of the interesting one is the use of 'table-top' technology to learn about reflection - Using Tangibles for Teaching.

- to be updated