In discussions with Ian Billups, the managing director of INCERTS about how to harness the collective wisdom of the teachers who use his outstanding assessment system, we got to talking about Web 2.0, and what it all meant. He pointed me to this excellent article by Tim O'Reilly, that examines in some depth the phenomenon that is Web 2.0.
It is somewhat technical in nature, but leaves the reader in no doubt that the approach of organisations to the web has to radically change from the past. I would contest that this included schools. Green Park Primary School have decided to use a blogsite instead of a traditional school website. The ICT co-ordinator writes to me that "parents and children are fighting over the home pc in order that they can make comments on the day's activities at school". The headteacher writes that the blog project is "really exciting and has unbelievable potential". How often have you heard comments like that about a school website?
For me, the essential component of Web 2.0 is that the person accessing the web is also a contributor. A school website becomes much more than just articles posted by staff and children; it becomes a genuine collaboration with the whole school community (and other web communities).
For more information on turning your school's website into a dynamic and thriving community, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To see INCERTS in action come to one of the Northwest regional roadshows starting this week.
I was shocked to read this article on BBC Education about a website where children could anonymously rate their teachers. One of the recent winners of the Teaching Awards was highly commended for his use of feedback. At the end of each lesson, children were invited to rate that lesson on their way out via a little device with buttons on. This strikes me as being significantly different from the ability to make general comments about a teacher's competency with no evidence, and no accountability. If you want to check whether this site is accessible via your LEA broadband network try: www.ratemyteachers.co.uk .
I picked up this very neat countdown timer from a thread on the Naace primary forum. It has a number of useful features, including the setup of preset timers (5 minute, 2 minute, or whatever). I particularly enjoyed the ability to use any piece of music as an alarm.
Get it from Cool-Timer
For loads of other free resources and software try http://del.icio.us/creativeict
Smart Notebook 9.5
I have been playing with Smart Notebook 9.5. It has an excellent new feature: namely the ability to link objects to sound. You simply click on an object and link it to a soundfile and it will play in your notebook. The sound file could be a piece of music; it could be the word that you have just clicked on spoken aloud; or any pre-recorded piece of sound. It gives you the ability to make your own interactive big-books; your own phonics activities; music activities etc.
If you have still not upgraded your version of Smart Notebook to 9.x, you are really missing out on a fantastic piece if software. Get it here.