ICT in Subjects at #TLAB13

My notes for #TLAB13 presentation followed by the slides; all images from Google’s Stock Collection in Drive. NB: I have not edited the notes for this post.

Setting the scene:

  • SMT made decision to teach ICT through other subjects. No more discrete timetabled ICT lessons.
  • Moving to a two-week timetable and 30*50 minute lessons instead of 40*40 minutes per week.
  • ICT teacher would manage which departments and when.
  • Units of work would be decided upon collaboratively.
  • A lot of work.
  • Hard to choose a department.
  • English were restricted by having two class sets of set texts.
  • Maths by streamlining and classes following different POS.
  • Science taught two units at the same time to half a year group each.
  • ADT operate a carousel system.
  • Good depts: Geog. History. RE. Music. Latin. MfL.
  • One lesson per week from the partner subject.
  • ICT rooms had to be booked because there is no timetable. Clash with CAs meant resource management very difficult. Bid for carry cases of mobile devices was rejected.
  •  A logistical nightmare. How was I going to protect the ICT curriculum?

But. A fantastic opportunity. As an evangelist of the use of education technology to enhance learning, here I was faced with a formal opportunity to prove it – to do it rather than talk about it. Game on!

Section One: content and activities, ICT curriculum


  • Volcanoes and earthquakes. One term.
  • Google Apps for Education. Google sites. Google docs. Frog.
  • Y7. 120 pupils. Five classes. Four Geog teachers. Two ICT teachers.
  • Recreate a case study of a natural hazard. Map skills.
  • Groups of four. Pupils chose a partner and then teachers allocated two pairs together.
  • Group management roles were given. More about that later.
  • Pupils had to go through ICT admin of accounts for GAfE and school network, including ICT AUP. This allowed Geog teachers to get them started over the first two weeks. But Geog teachers found it hard having less lessons.
  • ICT content: collaboration and teamwork, referencing sources, web searching, websites, writing for the web, google maps and web tools.


  • The Covenant. Half term.
  • Google Apps for Education. Google sites. Google docs. Voki. Prezi. Other web2.0 tools. Frog.
  • Y8 120 pupils. Five classes. Four teachers. Two ICT teachers.
  • Six sections. Meet with all participant teachers to discuss what we could do. Pupils to investigate an independent line of enquiry into one of the six areas and then share them with each other through a cycle of review or presentation. Similar to Geog projects.
  • ICT content: collaboration and teamwork. Research. Referencing. Web tools: presenting/communicating information suitable to audience.


  • Set text. Half term.
  • Google Apps for Education. MS Word. Classtools fakebook. Frog.
  • Y8. 48 pupils. Two classes. One teacher. One ICT teacher.
  • Yellowcake Conspiracy – a novel.
  • Annotating google maps.
  • Fakebook profiles.
  • Word processed reports.
  • ICT content: web2.0 tools, social networking and esafety, word processor and templates, writing online, formal report writing, spell-checking etc.


  • Fielding & striking techniques. Term.
  • 12 flip cameras. Windows Movie Maker Live. PowerPoint. Frog.
  • Y7. 120 pupils. Five classes. Three teachers. Two ICT teachers. Only one ICT lesson.
  • ICT content: filming and editing video. Annotating still images.


  • Composition for media. Term.
  • Y8. 120 pupils. Five classes. Two teachers and two ICT teachers.
  • CuBase. Scratch, Google presentations. Frog.
  • ICT content: music composition with CuBase, Scratch programming language.

Overall the simpler individual work like that done in English or Music was much easier to achieve. For the collaborative projects – and scratch programming games – it was always striking a balance between ambition and achievement for each pupil.

Section Two: group work, pedagogy, assessment, management tools, evaluation

Group Roles

Time Manager: meeting deadlines, checking everyone is on task and getting their job done.

Content Manager: which sections are being done by whom. They should plan deadlines for content to be done by in consultation with Time Manager.

Layout Manager: design, colours, fonts should all be consistent throughout the site. References must be accurate.

Functionality Manager: when building websites it is necessary to check that everything works properly for visitors.

For the next project we added Project Manager to help co-ordinate everybody and to make a clear lead/person to talk to if you were worried about anything.

It was excellent to call all the managers of one type out of the room for a two minute briefing. For example, all the content managers could share how they were managing their role and making sure the content was being covered. Equally, in the RE project, we were able to do the same with all those across the groups within one class studying a particular line of enquiry. We could do this because there were two teachers present.


Team teaching can be great fun but sometimes it can be very hard.

And there are times when feel rather exposed and vulnerable in front of your colleagues.

To combat this I wanted to make sure I was teaching well. I investigated learning objectives, SOLO taxonomy, group work and project based learning. Most of this was done through blogs and books, some of the authors are presenting today.

Core principles of the classroom for ICT in Subjects

  • Pupils knew what they doing next
  • Every pupil to receive verbal feedback about their work every lesson (two teachers after all)
  • Instructional material was always available through the VLE.
  • Pupils struck a balance between ambition and achievement.
  • Peer review, and improving work to achieve quality, was to be included wherever possible.


  • Frog VLE was used where appropriate for pupils to upload files to be marked.
  • Certain planning pieces (e.g. for Scratch game plans) would have to be signed off by a teacher.
  • Comments were made on Google Docs where appropriate to help the pupil move on to the next step.
  • Difficult for the ICT teachers because their class would change from project to project so hard to get to know the individuals and their work well.
  • ICT teachers do not have to write reports or go to parents evenings or provide tracking data.
  • There will be an ICT exhibition towards the end of the academic year, showcasing the work. Still planning this but ideally I would like the pupils to show their parents their work following an introduction where some pupils showcase their ICT experience for the year. Not sure the former part of this is viable so back to the drawing board. How do we present an ICT exhibition without WiFi?

Management Tools

To keep in touch with participant teachers, I used a google spreadsheet with a worksheet for each class/teacher. I would make a master copy which would then be copied out to each class. Problematic because of two-week timetable which meant the order of lessons could be different for each class between their ICT lesson (A) and their non-ICT lesson (B): ABBA, ABAB, BABA, BAAB. Therefore, a large degree of flexibility was necessary at all times.

It was a challenge to get participants to fill in the spreadsheets with the content of their (non-ICT) lessons.

Few responses to emails. I had to make sure that both me and my ICT colleague were following everything up face-to-face.


As research project for my MA I have used the evaluation process of ICT in Subjects to find out if the school is doing KS3 ICT the best way it can to inform future decisions about whether or not to continue or return to discrete lessons.

The research involved pupil questionnaires, teacher questionnaires and documentary evidence in the form of academic tracking data over four terms.


1. Comparing academic achievement in the participant subjects, 83% of pupils did better in the participant subject test after ICT in Subjects. [NB: this analysis requires further verification as there are many potentially influential factors]

2. Many participants felt that ICT benefitted their learning.

3. Some participants wanted to return to discrete ICT lessons where they learnt about computers.

4. Some liked the new way of learning ICT whilst in another subject.

5. Despite several opportunities, not one pupil said the use of ICT was a bad thing.

ICT in Subjects at #TLAB13

Assessing the Integration of Technology in Learning Part 1

It is all well and good discussing or planning the integration of technology in a school, procuring devices and implementing your chosen device platform, but how do you measure if these big plans have had any impact? What are your success criteria? Is it enough to celebrate the individual wins without somehow analysing the broader picture for the entire cohort?

This is the first of a handful of posts aiming to research and analyse modus operandi for assessing the integration of technology in a school. My MA research project is based around the evaluation of teaching ICT in subjects, which is related to this enquiry. But before I talk about that, let’s look at what constitutes assessment of technology integration.

Most online discussion talks about learning being transformed through technology. More recently, it seems to me, this dialogue is breaking out into a wider discussion about meaningful learning and not necessarily about technology; but maybe that’s just where I am drawn in my journey as an educational technologist. I am not against discussion about the advantages technology can bring without learning being transformed. The practical workflow benefits to deploying one-to-one devices across a school, because of savings on text books and photocopying alone, is a simple reallocation of resources, and if a school can manage that shift then surely it brings their working practices in line with modern times. For me, this splits the enquiry into two major categories (the sub-lists could contain many more items):

  1. Application and administration
    1. implementing technology to ease the collation of files and data within the organisation;
    2. administrate statutory rights such as attendance registers and health and safety procedures;
    3. creation and management of digital resources for teaching and learning;
    4. teacher and pupil centred workflow including simple communications;
    5. toolset: email/messaging, document management system, office tools, MIS.
  2. Transformation of learning
    1. remote real-time collaboration inside and outside the classroom/school;
    2. access to the wealth of information on the web;
    3. real world connections that facilitate analysis, synthesis, evaluation and abstraction of learning;
    4. access to devices, individual control of devices, learner choice of toolset.

The Assessment Models

Prompted by reading Miguel Guhlin’s review of Models of technology integration, I started to think about the best existing method or model for my school. Clearly some American districts are in a more advanced position than my school in taking the one-to-one plunge. But is such an assessment model necessary in an 850 pupil school? The four models offered up by Miguel are:

  • SAMR: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition;
    • simple rubric to identify how technology is used in learning;
  • LOTI: Levels of Technology Integration;
    • a slightly more detailed (six levels as oppose to four) look at the use of technology in lessons;
    • I recommend a quick look at the sniff test and HEAT observation form;
  • TIM: Technology Integration Matrix;
    • the matrix is the most detailed of all the models;
    • Pitches five levels of technology use (entry –> transformation) against five characteristics of a learning environment (active, collaborative, constructive, authentic and goal directed);
    • the matrix link is interactive and every point on the grid is supported by video examples of classroom practice;
    • the detail seems helpful but overly verbose.
  • TPaCK: Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge
    • looks at how TK and PK and CK intersect with each other;
    • seems useful for more strategic discussions about learning design and the implementation of ICT in a school, and possibly teacher professional development requirements.

    The four models being discussed
    The four models being discussed

As part of teaching KS3 ICT through other subjects this year, I need a method for measuring the success of how the technology has been used. Also, we are busy writing our new ICT strategy which will not prescribe one-to-one deployment but investigate it by initialising a BYOD project for Sixth Form and two class sets of tablet devices to be operational within only two departments. I need a way to assess if these projects are a success or not. All the models listed above incorporate a spectrum equivalent to substitution to transformation with slight amendments here or there. My instinct is to keep it simple, but to learn from others endeavours to achieve a working model.

My own evaluation of ICT in Subjects involved questionnaires to a sample of participant pupils coupled with an analysis of their academic attainment data in the participant subjects. This was then triangulated with participant teacher questionnaires to check the findings from their point of view. It is about blending opinion-based and empirical evidence to discover the benefits or drawbacks of this curriculum model. The results showed that, despite several possible opportunities, pupils never once questioned the use of ICT to enhance their learning. They did indicate that some activities were better than others. 83% of the academic data analysed showed a positive impact on their performance. That statistic is a big deal but I’m not going to make any great claims because the data needs further analysis and cross-referencing before it can be relied upon. The next step will be to evaluate the ICT based activities according to one of the substitution models. So, which one should I use? Miguel developed the work of Kim Confino et al (2010) to make a Classroom Learning Activity Rubric. This matrix of rubrics also adapts the TIM approach, but it puts the SAMR categories as the levels of technology use. This is appealing because the less categories there are, the easier it is to disseminate the use of the model, and my use of it, to others in my school.

Next steps

I’m going to read these matrices in more detail and try applying them to the ICT learning we have done in KS3 to date. This will give me an idea of how practical actually doing this is, and whether or not it is worthwhile. Also, I will be looking into the NAACE ICT Mark to see how they measure the integration of technology into schools.

However, to end this post, I want to readdress the first of the two categories mentioned at the beginning: application and administration. I am writing the strategy document with three other people: a governor, our Systems Manager and a parental advisor. In our extensive discussions about what we want to achieve, we were clear that the benchmark for our investigation into BYOD is simply providing web access to pupils during lessons. This is sufficient to justify initial investment so that we can learn about the pitfalls and positives first hand. This TechCrunch article is about a startup making big strides in America to ‘measure the impact of technology spending on student learning’. I am not alone in understanding the need to measure the large investments currently flowing through many educational organisations. Is it enough to analyse the impact on workflow or must we include learning transformation? This comes back to being clear and faithful to the school’s core purpose: aspire to excellence in education. And, it is important to highlight that the transformation of learning is not the remit of an ICT strategy, it is the remit of a teaching and learning strategy which an ICT strategy should be defined by and directly support. If you become a one-to-one school, you are potentially changing the way all learning happens. So, whereas I do want to be able to measure the success of the integration of technology in a school, which by implication includes any impact technology has on learning, do I have to measure the quality of all learning? Is it really possible to separate the two? If not, should the ICT stakeholders be acting as an arm of the teaching and learning body or independently in ensuring their provision of technology in the learning environment? Maybe this is the rub. Maybe when ICT becomes the core productivity tool of all learning (after the brain?) the school has to accommodate the massive overlap between the two. Our strategy is not immersive one-to-one as of yet so we don’t need to worry about this right now, but we do need to prepare for how it might work in our school.

If you are making any strides into this area, please do say so, and I would love to know any thoughts you have about what I have shared here.


Assessing the Integration of Technology in Learning Part 1

Northern Grid Conference 2012: I’m coming Home

I am delighted to have been invited to present at the Northern Grid Conference for Learning and Technology 2012 in Newcastle. Twitter feed for the conference is here.

There will be lots of excellent teachers and educators presenting and sharing classroom practice. I will be talking about – and showing examples of – peer review.

It is very important to help prepare young people for online life as well as offline. My focus is going to be on using peer review as a good starting point for replying to online posts – blogposts, tweets, facebook statuses, videos, animations – by encouraging pupils to be purposeful in their approach to their peers when reviewing their work. By using online tools to peer review, we can learn how to write constructively and critically. Similarly to teaching, empty praise can be as unhelpful as heavy-handed critique. It is important to be kind, be specific and be helpful (phrases *borrowed* from Ron Berger’s three public critique rules as cited on this excellent blogpost by Tait Coles).

The drive of my talk is that writing blogposts and tweeting – and the like – are only the start of building an online profile. Online productivity only comes when you start commenting and talking to others and develop the conversation; you build knowledge together and build invaluable connections. For me, it is this conversation that is authentically redefining learning. It is the source of motivation, engagement, and ultimately ignition into outer-classroom-space.



The links for my presentation are: bit.ly/PeerReviewNGconf12. I will link to my presentation once it is complete.

I hope all/some people in the audience take away three things:

  1. an idea of transformation (SAMR)
  1. confidence in peer review
  1. inspiration to try this tool or similar

I’m looking forward to meeting many new faces on Friday – back in the Toon where I lived for three formative years until I was ten. It will also be a great pleasure to catch up with familiar faces. Mines a pint.

Northern Grid Conference 2012: I’m coming Home

ICTinSubjects PortFolio: Embedding a wall into Google Sites

Lino.it embedded in Google Site


I am busy trying to construct a template using Google Sites as PortFolios for pupils to showcase their progress of the ICT learning we will embark upon via other subjects. There will be no physical space to store work and each class will have ICT lessons from either of the two ICT teachers and potentially six other subject specialist teachers throughout each year. There is a lot to discuss about PortFolios, but for now I thought others might like to see this embed in Google Sites at work.

Initially I tried using http://popplet.com/ and embedding a page that PortFolio visitors might use as a feedback wall to leave a comment for the pupil. However, popplet are having trouble creating code compatible to GSites. So, I thought of Lino.it – (http://linoit.com/). [the note in the middle of the LinoIt pictured is the popplet exported as a *.jpg file] LinoIt embeds straight into the Google Sites page HTML block. What’s more visitors can add a sticky note to the lino without leaving the Google Site.

Use Lino directly in the Google Sites page embed

I am still thinking through how the Google Sites PortFolio might be used for visitor and collaborator comments, pupil reflections etc. Google forms is a strong contender for the peer review to facilitate the learner amending work in light of evaluative comments made by others (the audience). When a guest comment in made it is published immediately. This might be problematic because inappropriate and spam comments can be made. However, when anyone else posts to the canvas, an email is automatically triggered so the learner is notified and the comment can be deleted.

If you are using Google Sites as a portfolio I would love to hear from you.

A quick demo of how to embed LinoIt into Google Sites is given in the video below.


ICTinSubjects PortFolio: Embedding a wall into Google Sites

Email reply creates Comment in Google Docs

Okay. This is pretty cool functionality…

It starts like this:

Comment in Google Doc

Google Text Doc. You highlight some text and insert a comment which appears down the side. Nothing happens. The comment sits there and that’s about that really.

Highlighted text from the GDoc with the comment below it, delivered via email

But, when someone replies to your comment. It triggers an email to the original commenter. You can see the original comment I made: *this is a bit vague*

Reply to the email to send comment reply

If you reply to that email the message body becomes the next response in the GDoc comment thread.


Comment conversation in Google Doc

Simple and awesome. After I tweeted this, Mark Allen replied with a similar feature:

Mark AllenMark Allen ‏ @EdintheClouds

@daibarnes Students share Docs comment-only with teacher. Teacher’s interventions and student’s response visible in revision history. #awesome


Google Apps for Education offer some great tools that can really boost your teacher or learner workflow! None of these big systems are perfect but if you cherry pick the best features as learning tools, you can end up with a great pedagogical toolset.


Email reply creates Comment in Google Docs