When Sal and Anna met Russell

Why do people pay £4000 for a stand at Bett and then have no idea what they are going to do there?

‘We’ll tell people about our products, they say’ but then you see them standing there looking a little anxious, clutching their expensive glossy brochures, willing people to stop and talk to them.

There has to be a better way and indeed there is as Anna Pedroza, owner of PR agency Anna Pedroza Communication, and I explained in our interview with Russell Prue. Click on the bar above the picture and have a listen,

Check out Anna’s blog :  https://pedrozacommunications.co.uk/blog/how-to-secure-pr-during-bett-2019/




Not just a pretty picture

An overview of a whole topic at a glance

Bett Award finalists Matchware offer top tips for introducing mind mapping into your school
Matchware (stand C142), a Bett Awards finalist in the Higher or Further Education Digital Services category, is looking forward to showing Bett visitors the latest version of their software MindView, the industry leader in mind mapping,

Often described as a visual thinking tool, MindView encourages learners and teachers to structure information in different ways so they can see the whole, the different parts and the connections in between.

It is well known that the visual approach of mind mapping can help the 10 to 15% of the population who have dyslexia or associated Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), but it is also a wonderful tool for EAL students and those still to develop full fluency in English who will find that the visual representation of knowledge is so much easier for them to understand and recall.

To help schools and colleges not yet up to speed with mind mapping, Matchware’s manager David Kidd offers these top tips for introducing it into the classroom:
• Fire up your students: MindView is an excellent notetaking and idea generation tool classroom that encourages students to brainstorm and organise ideas for written documents and presentations. As a starting point choose a topic where students have prior knowledge or strong opinions and can collaborate.
• Think visual: Young people switch off if they are listening for too long. Mind maps often work better than linear presentation slides but for maximum effect incorporate pictures, colours, different fonts or text styles to make the ideas stand out.
• Expand and contract: Remind students that they need to crystallise their thoughts into a word or key phrase, a picture or symbol, a vital skill in an age where we are all overloaded with information. Then show them how to build on key words to create fuller accounts or more detailed work, gathering examples and evidence.
• Stretch the mind: Mind mapping helps us to gather, sort, structure and create in different ways. It also is a great aid to memory and learning. Once you have a fairly detailed mind map, switch off the screen and ask students to recall sections.
• Use MindView in the flipped classroom: It is often hard for students to evidence the work they have done before coming to the classroom and for students new to English it is a good way for them to process and interact with language and build their comprehension skills alongside curriculum learning.
• Try mind mapping as a planning tool: Teachers tell us that they use MindView to help with lesson planning, report writing and for curriculum planning, using the built in Gantt chart and Office integration. This gives them a clear visual overview of what needs to be covered.
• Make MindView a regular feature in the classroom: Mind mapping should not be a one-off. Plan to use it regularly for several weeks so it is seen as an accepted strategy in class and not as something special.

There are so many advantages to incorporating mind mapping into teaching and learning. Find out more from the MindView team on stand C142 at the Bett show https://www.matchware.com/mind-mapping-software

Ends

Press contact:
David Kidd
Matchware Ltd
T: 020 8439 8220
E: david.kidd@matchware.com




Making an impact with music technology

 

Music is no longer just about playing instruments or singing. Many careers now require  young people to be familiar with industry standard music technology and this is where so many schools fall down.

Not so Gable Hall in Essex, a performing arts school, part of the ORTU Federation, where almost every year group routinely uses the technology for composing, performing and recording.

This has paid off. As well as achieving academic success – a 100% pass rate in Music GCSE – students have gone on to greater glory with Louisa Johnson winning the X Factor in 2015 and Ruti Olajugbagbe winning The Voice UK in April 2018.

‘The profile of music and our students’ success is largely attributable to the excellent facilities. We try to get every year group to use the technology and get them doing sequencing and composing on the computer,’ said Faye Beamish Head of Music, Ortu Gable Hall. ‘It is really important that the technology is seamless so lessons run smoothly and the young people can just get on with making music.’

Their technology is supplied and managed by Counterpoint Ltd, and means that the students are building the skills they will need when working in professional recording studios in the future. It also gives the staff and students confidence: ‘When the music technology works in the classroom – put simply – we can then focus on what we do best,’ said Beamish.

As well as producing stars of tomorrow – or even today- Ortu Gable Hall runs a roadshow every year where the students go out and perform their best work in local schools putting into practice what they have learned in the classroom. This helps to build student confidence performing in front of large audiences.

They have been shortlisted in the Impact Award category of the BETT Awards 2019. See their video entry here – bettawards.com/impact-award-2019-finalists/




Nationwide search for the very best EdTech schools

Edtech 50 Schools is on the hunt to find UK schools that are using education technology to make the greatest difference to pupils, staff and parents. Schools can nominate themselves, or be nominated by a third party, and the deadline for entries is Friday 18th January 2019. Successful schools will be featured in the Edtech 50 Schools publication and be invited to a House of Lords reception celebrating edtech in schools.

Edtech 50 Schools kicks off with a nationwide tour of some of the leading edtech schools in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland including Seaview Primary School in Belfast, Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern in Cardiff, and Acklam Grange Teaching School in Middlesborough. These pioneering schools, and others, will be helping to launch Edtech50 Schools and to spread the word across the whole of UK.

Edtech 50 Schools is organised by the Education Foundation and CEO & Founder, Ty Goddard said: “It is a key moment for edtech. Earlier this year, the Secretary of State for Education was clear that the power of technology could provide significant support to help students learn, reduce teachers’ workload and save money. There is great potential for edtech to help make a difference but it needs to be the right technology, implemented effectively, and with good support for staff. The Edtech 50 wants to shine a spotlight on the schools leading the way, which we hope can inspire other schools.”

Award-winning edtech expert and ex teacher, Mark Anderson, joins Ty Goddard on the tour. The duo are taking to the road in a camper van to meet school leaders, host roundtable debates and speak directly to students and teachers.

Mark Anderson said: “I work with schools daily to help them get the very best they can from the edtech they have access to. The Edtech 50 Schools tour is about shining a spotlight on the schools in the UK that are doing amazing things every day to support, enhance and transform teaching and learning with technology to help children get the very best out of our education system.”

You can nominate a school for the Edtech 50 Schools by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/edtech50schools Nominations close on Friday 18th January 2019. Following this, an independent judging panel will select the top 50 schools, which will be announced in April 2019.

Edtech 50 Schools is supported by Intel and partners JISC, NetSupport, and the Independent Schools Council Digital Group.

ENDS




AWARD nominations – Recognising those who change lives and build futures

Looking for awards to celebrate the achievement of some of those who work with children and young people?

The UK office of an Israeli charity called WIZO (www.wizo.org) has just launched its 3rd annual Commitment Awards which recognises people committed to using their skills and opportunities to address the needs of others. They are looking for individuals who can be of any race, religion or gender and nominations close on Wednesday 31 January 2018 so get your skates on.

The nomination process is quick and simple – just one form which you can download here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_s72CMa3fS6ZWtRVWpETXMxRFE/view

There are a total of 15 categories but here are some that might be of particular interest: Commitment to Education – Early Years’, which acknowledges an organisation, institution, teaching professional or childcare provider in early childcare and education services. Nominees will have generated exceptional spirit and energy in providing better experiences for children and families and will have made an outstanding contribution to the early years.

‘Commitment to Vocational Training’, which acknowledges an individual, programme or centre for education with a proven record of encouraging and believing in students who cannot easily be integrated into a regular educational framework. The successful nominee will have given students the tools to develop individual talents, reach their potential and to leave school to become skilled employees.

Commitment to Strengthening Parenting Skills
This Award recognises a practitioner, programme or facility that has been successful in educating, nurturing or counselling parents, giving them the support and tools to strengthen their parenting abilities and ensure family welfare.

‘Commitment to the Betterment of Others’, which acknowledges an individual aged 16-25 who has given time, selflessly, to make a difference to the lives of those around him/her. Examples could include those who have run fundraising events, worked on community-based projects or made time to leave a mark on someone else’s life.




Hip hop dance stars turn out to support Autism with Attitude street dance group

Big names in hip hop, many of them from the highly acclaimed TV show Britain’s Got Talent, have signed up to a benefit night for Autism with Attitude street dance group from Hillingdon Manor School. 

Boy Blue Entertainment, UMA, Definitive, IMD, Unity and all girl trio Code 3 who were semi-finalists in 2017 have all agreed to perform at the Broadway Theatre in East London on January 20th 2018. “It’s a fantastic line-up of mainstream and special needs acts,” said their dance teacher Jonathan Baron. “Some of the most influential dance companies out there are lending their support.”

Autism with Attitude, a talented and successful street dance group based at the Uxbridge school, have made history by being the first ever special needs dance group to get to United Dance Organisations (UDO) European Championships. This year the championships are being held 11-13 May in Kalkar in Germany.

The organisers are looking at the logistics, finding a local hotel close to the venue and trying to make sure everything is as calm and organised as possible so that the students, who are all on the autistic spectrum, can give of their best.

The first step is to raise money for the trip and Jonathan has been using his industry contacts, networking and taking the students to perform and participate in different events. “This is huge,” said Jonathan Baron. “We are taking 12 to 15 young people with autism over to Germany to perform in front of an international audience. All the artists I have spoken to are really proud of Autism with Attitude and are keen to show their support by giving their time and energy to make the fundraiser a success.”

Some of the students have never been abroad before but they are no stranger to the world of dance performance. They are all highly trained and work hard to build both their physical abilities and their people skills. They know that the staff at Hillingdon Manor School expect them to be ambassadors for autism, showing what young people with disabilities can achieve.

Autism with Attitude have certainly made an impression on the world of hip hop dance and will be meeting some of their idols. “Boy Blue are one of the most renowned companies in the UK,” said Jonathan. “Our students study them for GCSE; now they’re performing on the same bill.”

The performance will take place at 7:00 pm Sat, 20 Jan 2018 at The Broadway, Broadway, Barking, IG11 7LS.  Tickets are priced at £13.00 ( £9.00 concessions) and can be booked online at https://www.thebroadwaybarking.com/sales/genres/community/autism-with-attitude-fundraise




Tourist in Thailand

Last November I won the CIPR Award for Outstanding Business Education Journalism 2015 for a series of articles about Apps for Good, a scheme that gets primary and secondary pupils to create an app, plan their pitch and show how they would bring it to market. I already had a trip to Hong Kong and Australia in my sights and decided to use the prize money to visit Thailand on the way home.

I soon learned that April is not the best month to visit Bangkok. With temperatures of 38 degrees and high humidity, I spent my time scurrying between the tourist attractions and anywhere with even a hint of air con.

thailand4I found that £500 goes a long way in Bangkok as my prize paid for four nights in a hotel, a half day guided tour of the city, canals and temples plus a full day visit to the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi to see the famous Bridge over the River Kwai, the Allied War Cemetery and Museum and a trip on Death Railway followed by an elephant ride.

Along the way I talked to locals and discovered a little about life behind the tourist sites. Thailand means Land of the Free and celebrates the fact that this country is the only one in south east Asia which has never been colonised by a foreign power.

Some of the anxieties expressed by Thai people are very similar to concerns in the UK right now. They respect their King – now the longest-reigning living monarch in the world- but are not so sure about his heir, so much so that there is talk of changing the law to allow his sister to take the throne.

Immigration is a key concern. Many complain that the Chinese have bought up property as an investment and as prices have risen, young people cannot get on the housing ladder. The average age for marriage is now over 30.

They also worry that legislative changes to the rules on migration for countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will allow free passage of other nationals into Thailand, especially from the Philippines. ‘Filipinos speak better English than Thais,’ explained my guide Michael, ‘and they are also noted for their good voices so they are likely to corner the market in professional singing jobs.’

The minimum wage in Thailand is just £5 per day but the top jobs which many young people aspire to are as plastic surgeons and cosmetic dentists. This is a country where looks count. The most popular anti-ageing cream is Snail White. Yes, it really is made from snail slime and is also reputed to be very good for acne, rashes and reducing the appearance of scar tissue. I didn’t buy a pot. Some things just don’t travel well.




Thank you, Ma’am!

HelpKidzLearn from Inclusive Technology is an award winning collection of software for people with the most severe disabilities. Not only is it a vital resource for learners in the UK, but also it is proving to be a firm favourite in the United States and 148 other countries. Now its success has been crowned by the Queen. To mark her 90th birthday she has given Inclusive Technology the most prestigious International Trade award in the UK – the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2016.

Martin Littler, Chairman and CEO of Inclusive Technology, has been a pioneer in the field of technology for children and adults with severe learning disabilities (SLD), profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) or those without speech who need alternative or augmentative communication (AAC) who perhaps can only make a single voluntary movement or sound.

hklLast month the HelpKidzLearn development team received the 2016 Education Resource Award for Special Educational Needs including ICT for their work on harnessing Eye Gaze  technology to meet the needs of learners with complex needs. Eye-gaze technology is the closest equivalent we have to thought-operated hardware so far, and is already surprisingly affordable. Inclusive Technology’s myGaze costs just £875 and is having an impact not just on children but on adults as well.

Just looking around a computer screen moves the mouse pointer and gazing at an area performs a click with no physical effort needed. Support workers can now use eye gaze to identify where the user is looking when different images, prompts or questions are asked, giving an insight into what users can see, what they are interested in looking at and some indication of their understanding skills.

Sean Carroll, IT/Assistive Technology Consultant at Sensation Communication and Technology Solutions, describes its impact: ‘James has sat in his chair since he was 19 with very little to occupy himself with, and even when at school I don’t think his independent access skills were attended to very much at all.’ Now with an Eye Gaze tracker James is able to access some online games and his parents are delighted to discover evidence of new skills.’

Yesterday Martin was on TV with his colleague Sandra Thistlethwaite who is a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, and Dan Woodman, deputy head teacher at Richard Cloudsley School in London. They were talking to the presenter of London Live about the impact of the technology on children’s lives. ms and xx

‘Children need to play, have fun and communicate,’ said Martin, ‘but this technology also lets children who are non-verbal use on-screen symbols and words to build language, create messages and take part in conversations with families and friends. The award is a huge pat on the back for our team of developers, teachers and therapists.’

Martin and his managing director Sukhjit Gill will collect the award at a Buckingham Palace reception on July 14, 2016.

 

 




Groupcall – a lot of texts, a lot of help

I recently spent an afternoon with a group of teachers at The Thinktank in the heart of Birmingham learning about the latest advances in Groupcall technology. The teachers were from primary and secondary and were there to find out about Groupcall Messenger 5, the latest version of the Parental Contact system that reads pupil and attendance information live and in real time from the school’s Management Information System.

gc1Groupcall is used by more than 5,000 schools.  It is inextricably linked with Sir Bob Geldof, one of the co-founders, and was set up with the aim of improving communication between schools and parents. I knew that but during the afternoon, courtesy of Steve Baines, International Business Development Manager, I learnt a whole lot more.

Here are ten things you may not know:

  1. Every single second 193,000 texts are whizzing round the world
  2. Messenger lets schools send text, voice or email messages to parents’ mobile phones or landlines. In Scotland they use a lot of voice messaging, and believe voice gets a better response. With Messenger schools can record a voice or use an automated text to voice facility
  3. A text can have a maximum of 160 characters. This is the default limit and is based on the notion that a text is supposed to contain roughly the same amount of information you would fit on a postcard. Longer messages can, of course, be sent but increase costs accordingly
  4. Messenger 5 features e-cards so schools can create certificates which are sent via email and can be printed out. There are templates for Merit Awards, Thank Yous and Well Dones but staff can make their own if they have a basic knowledge of HTML
  5. Messenger lets schools translate messages into 64 languages. These are the Google Translate alpha languages. Of course, you’ll be flummoxed if they send the reply in the home language
  6. On average once you press Send it takes 13 seconds for the message to reach a parent’s phone
  7. The History section of Messenger 5 shows who has received the text. This can be useful if parents claim hey have not see a text or email
  8. Messenger 5 will let parents send notification of a child’ absence via text so if a child has been sick all night, parents can send a text instead of hanging on and trying to send a message by phone in the 830 to 9 o’clock slot
  9. Xpressions is a FREE app for parents that will work on Android, iPads, iPhone or other smartphones. Imagine a school trip. A teacher can send a text message to parents direct from a smart phone instead of notifying the school and getting them to relay a message. This makes communication more immediate
  10. OFSTED is very keen on engaging parents and Xpressions is a fine example of push technology that will integrate with other systems such as Show My Homework, FasTrack

 

 

 




Award winning software from Sonocent proves to be a great conference tool

Naace is the association for everyone who cares about ICT, whether they are teachers, researchers or technology companies so it was entirely appropriate to see Sonocent Audio Notetaker being used in the audience.

merlin's notes with ano2

I sat next to journalist Merlin John whose site is essential reading for anyone with a passion for technology and how it is used in our schools and colleges.  He was taking notes on a talk called ‘You have Mobile Devices- Now What?’- given by Darryl LaGace, Executive Vice President of Global Business Development at Lightspeed Systems and as I glanced across I couldn’t help noticing that Merlin was using Audio Notetaker.

merlin‘The microphone on my laptop is good enough to pick up the sound in a conference setting like this,’ said Merlin. ‘I like to make rough notes and then get the exact quote from Audio Notetaker. It is so easy to home in and find the part you want.’

Merlin recently published my article about Audio Notetaker’s success at the BETT awards and their tie-in with Dragon Naturally Speaking. It is so nice to know that he is now using it as a tool to help him in his daily work. He commented on Twitter: ‘AudioNotetaker use it a lot. My favourite for transcription’.