FrogOS at Frog13

Frog13
Frog13

Last Tuesday I attended the Frog Conference for 2013. Frog are a modern and agile company and this event was exceptionally well organised with attention to the wider picture and the detail of delegate needs. Having been invited to join a panel in the afternoon discussing whether or not the ‘traditional’ learning platform is dead, I was treated to a hotel room and a lovely meal with staff and fellow contributors on the Monday evening. Thank you very much to Frog for being such generous and friendly hosts.

All talks and presentations will be available soon here I believe.

So, what are my thoughts on Frog and the announcements that were made? Well, first of all it is important to note that Frog made a great effort to place teaching and learning at the heart of the conference and any delegate would be able to attend presentations on classroom practice or on Frog features being used. I wanted to attend more presentations than I was able to. This is a good thing! Should there be any factual inaccuracies in this post, please let me know and I will correct them.

The good

  • Frog Moments App; text, images and video straight from the app to your frog drive. Could be useful.
  • Frog Drive App; think Google Drive or dropbox style cloud file storage. Potentially an excellent solution for managing files from iOS (Android was not mentioned) onto web.
  • Frog Play; visual grade book that records progress. Couldn’t quite see the detail but it looked to be pretty useful.
  • FrogOS sites look great.
  • Frog Store; a place where all Frog material can be shared. I think it is the intention that this will be like the app store or google play in that some stuff will be free and others at a cost. Quite how this will take shape is not clear.
  • PinPoint; this is a search engine that trawls specific services, e.g. Google images. Interestingly, Google require a payment for inclusion of the image search results because it bypasses their advertising system. Frog will pay this levy, which indicates how highly they value incorporating the rest of the web into their learning platform. Also, because everything is still linked to the web rather than downloaded as an image and re-uploaded into your Frog, Frog are able to track the usage of each resource. This will form part of a rating engine that will ultimately help teachers locate well-used (and therefore better quality?) resources to incorporate into their learning material.

The bad

  • I did not see Frog3 and FrogOS being integrated. For all current Frog schools using Frog3, the major concern is how will all the current Frog work be married with the new Frog? The platforms are written in an entirely different code. The former is not supported on anything other than Windows and Internet Explorer. I was a little disappointed not to see this but when I asked the question on twitter earlier today, the very charming Frogger, Lucy Evans, replied.
Lucy's response to me on twitter
Lucy’s response to me on twitter

 Followed by a further response from the ever-helpful Frogger James Shackley:

James' reply (tweets in reverse order)
James’ reply (tweets in reverse order)

So, it looks like it’s coming – watch this space!

UPDATE 28/6/13, James sent me this video link for Frog3 and FrogOS: http://vimeo.com/69091946

The ugly

  • Other than the two apps demoed on the day, I believe (please correct me if I am wrong) Frog does not work on smartphones despite being HTML5-based. It doesn’t quite render on the screen size as I documented here. Tablets are fine. This could be a deal breaker for BYOD schools that allow the smaller devices to be used in class. Although the two mobile apps do deliver some workflow functionality that will connect to Frog Drive, which have significant potential in incorporating smart phones into your Frog workflow.
  • I’m not concerned about this with one condition: I want there to be a notifications app that delivers your notifications feed from FrogOS onto your handset. Pop-up notifications, with the user able to switch certain ones on and off. For example, if a pupil submits a piece of work or contributes to a forum on one of my courses, I’m not sure I want to be pinged on my phone. However, if they send me a message of some sort, I want to know about it ASAP so my intervention can unblock their progress.

There was a lot of very positive chatter about Frog OS. It looks very impressive because of the simple means of creating content and contacting groups and curating learning. Should you be starting fresh with Frog, FrogOS is definitely worth considering.

The Traditional VLE is dead

I was also invited to be part of a panel discussion questioning whether or not the traditional VLE (as defined by Becta back in the day) is dead. The good news is Frog seem to have a clear understanding that trying to be all things to all users is not the way forward. Learning platforms need to be agile and provide a hub to help all users find what they are looking for in reference to the group of people they are working with. Be that, for example, a class, a year group, or a sports team. There are many ways of doing this but each school will need a hub of some sort where their users will first look for support. Equally, if you would like all your teachers to provide an online element in their work, you need to provide a platform which is set up for them to use. Also, the pupil population need an online presence: school council, student voice, eco-council, sports teams, clubs and societies. All these different groupings, in my experience, want a place where their audience will expect to find their content and communique. A learning platform, such as Frog, delivers this in a simple format to suit a broad range of users. Another reason for having a learning platform is that a teacher who has never used online tools before might well need a school-provided service to get started with. One of the Year Heads at my school was never a big ICT user but has used the launch of Frog in our school as a lever to design pages and update them weekly with news and events and advice for her year group. If the school did not employ a platform of some sort, this would never have happened. The welcome knock-on effect is her increased usage with her classes.

As Gareth Davies mentioned in his opening keynote, other learning platforms are stopping development. It might be they are falling by the wayside. Frog are not; they are growing. You can no longer pretend that the technology is working. You cannot keep telling teachers that this is what must be done. You must provide as flexible a platform as possible to enable your community to build and share and navigate their way through school and through learning. I am in no doubt that Frog are working hard to achieve this with FrogOS. I am anxious to see the integration with Frog 3 but they are working with urgency to get this sorted. I suspect it will not be a perfect solution but a transitional vehicle from the old to the new.

For each school, I think it is important to identify your core purpose for online provision and decide what is right for you. I anticipate we will be sticking with Frog in their mission to be the best learning platform. There are many ways to skin a cat. The traditional VLE is dead in as much as it has evolved into something lighter, faster, and inclusive of all internet-based things. However, this journey of evolution is not a smooth process and it will not have a destination. Right now, the best you may hope for is some stability whilst we teachers continue to develop effective methods of using the internet as part of the staple learning diet.

I have tried to include the most important things from my experience of the day but I will have probably missed a few. If you have any questions I am happy to answer them via the comments.

FrogOS at Frog13

ICT AUP Review

Possible AUA logo
Possible AUA logo

Summer is here! And so policies get reviewed. Next year my school will introduce two class sets of iPads, a class set of Microsoft Surface Pros and issue an iPod Touch to every teacher in the Junior School. Oh, and BYOD to 220 Sixth Form students with WiFI flooded throughout the site. More about why this combination of gadgets another time, but it’s probably enough to say we are trying on a number of strategies to see which fits best and what works in our context

So, ICT AUP review. Why?

  1. Technology use is changing (has changed!);
  2. Social media has been causing our pastoral team some headaches;
  3. We need to protect our pupils.

What are we aiming for?

  1. A document that can raise awareness of expectations and present a starting point for discussions between teachers and pupils when something goes wrong;
  2. Text that is accessible to all;
  3. To build on the sense of kindness and trust that is part of the fabric of our school.

Where are we now?

Currently we have a five page AUP of which one page is a bullet point checklist. Pupils and parents agree to abide by this policy by the pupil attending school. Pupils do not read the AUP unless they are directed to do so in ICT lessons but these no longer exist.

What do we want to change?

We want to write a policy that is as useful to all participants as possible. There are always going to be infringements and it is how these are handled that we want to make sure is effective. At the heart of the policy is the aim to protect our pupils from the potential dangers of the internet and related technologies. Five pages in inaccessible. It falls into the Terms of Service (TOS) trap whereby everyone agrees because they have to, and very few – it seems to me – feel like they have signed up to anything of, or with, meaning. So, the aim is to achieve something meaningful, simple and useful.

Thoughts and issues

The policy needs to be about people. Not about technology. It needs to help individuals self-check their behaviour, and provide a point of reference for others to use when behaviours have an undesirable consequence. I will run the draft past our very active school council to collate their opinion, as well as the various teacher committees it has to filter through. It will be included in pupil planners; should they sign it? It will be disseminated as part of the registration rota in the ICT rooms, and at staff INSET.

Inspiration

Me old edtechroundup mucker Doug Belshaw wrote this: http://dougbelshaw.com/blog/2009/06/19/acceptable-use-policy-feedback-required/, which is based on this: http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Digital+Citizen+AUA and also refers to this aggregation of resources: http://landmark-project.com/aup20/pmwiki.php?n=Main.AUPGuides. Here is an AUP written by Mark Anderson of Clevedon School which is based partly on the same principles. The latter is interesting because it uses the respect and protect principles, but it is also four pages long which includes an etiquette image and a bullet point checklist. I’m thinking it might be prudent to have something that can be more iconographic (i.e. I can make memorable visual reference via a few icons that serve as a prompt without text). Therefore, is it viable to have a one sheet doc that refers to another more detailed doc? Here is another example of an ICT AUP from down under. It uses protect and respect but it lacks the simplicity of Doug’s adaptation:

1. Respect Yourself
I will show respect for myself through my actions. I will only use appropriate language and images both within the Learning Platform and on the Internet. I will not post inappropriate personal information about my life, experiences or relationships.

2. Protect Yourself
I will ensure that the information I post online will not put me at risk. I will not publish full contact details, a schedule of my activities or inappropriate personal details in public spaces. I will report any aggressive or inappropriate behaviour directed at me. I will not share my password or account details with anyone else.

3. Respect Others
I will show respect to others. I will not use electronic mediums to bully, harass or stalk other people. I will not visit sites that are degrading, pornographic, racist or that the Academy would deem inappropriate. I will not abuse my access privileges and I will not enter other people’s private spaces or work areas.

4. Protect Others
I will protect others by reporting abuse. I will not forward any materials (including emails and images) that the Academy would deem inappropriate.

5. Respect Copyright
I will request permission to use resources and suitably cite all use of websites, books, media etc. I will use and abide by the fair use rules. I will not install software on Academy machines without permission. I will not steal music or other media, and will refrain from distributing these in a manner that violates their licenses.

By signing this agreement, I agree to always act in a manner that is respectful to myself and others, in a way that will represent the Academy in a positive way. I understand that failing to follow the above will lead to appropriate sanctions being carried out.

It’s good but it remains prescriptive. EG: who am I to tell a pupil they cannot ‘steal music or other media’ with their own kit in their own time. School resources must not be used to do so. But in saying that, I’m drawn to another line of thought about swearing on social media sites. If a pupil swears on facebook, and their profile is traceable to the school, then this is akin to swearing at the bus stop in full school uniform on the way home. We have a zero tolerance on such behaviour. We do not trawl pupils activity online but when it does get brought to our attention we need to act to protect that pupil and the school. As I discussed with my esafety-guru mate up north Simon Finch recently, the laws governing esafety are immature and it will be a decade or more before they catch up.

So, what if we do publish a one sheet with reference to a back-up detail document with all the belt and braces on it. The latter is required for legal reasons. Should an exclusion be on the cards, the school is in legal territory and needs to be covered. For me though, this is not the main thrust of what we are trying to achieve. We want to protect participants from each other, from themselves, from strangers and dangers. We need a policy in place that actually helps young people understand these possibilities when they are using technology. Maybe we need two separate documents. An AUA and an AUP. The AUA is the forward facing easy-to-read one sheet and the AUP is the detailed document that is referred to in times of need. This is similar to the school code of conduct. We have a lengthy behaviour policy which is in all the handbooks, but it is based on the code of conduct, which was written by the pupils and teachers and is displayed in every classroom.

This AUP (or AUA and AUP) will be filtered through the school lawyers as part of the review process. It will need approval from the ICT Strategy Committee, the Senior Leadership Team and the governing body. I will publish any drafts I write on this blog. All comments on policy or process are welcome.

 

Another possible AUA logo (source: http://ictevangelist.com/digital-citizenship/)
Another possible AUA logo (source: http://ictevangelist.com/digital-citizenship/)

 

 

ICT AUP Review

Repairing gadgets

cracked ipod screen

My stepson turns 17 this week.

The economic climate dictates it might not be his best haul of presents. To his credit, he has asked for things to be repaired. My experience of sourcing the cheapest way to get these repairs done is why I am writing.

 

Items:

Sony PS3

iPod Touch 2nd Generation

iPod Classic 5th Generation

The PS3 repair filled me with dread. When he bought it we had to get a total of three new ones under warranty because the blue-ray player did not work. This was the same. The disk could not be read.

I used http://gumtree.com to locate a local repair man. I rang Danny on a mobile number (FYI: 07508 698 845, he does all gaming consoles). It all seemed a bit dodgy but I ended up travelling three miles (Harrow) and having a cup of coffee in a greasy-spoon whilst I waited for Danny to repair the machine in his bedsit. He did an excellent job. £40.00.

My partner handled the iPod Touch. She phoned a company found online. It had two faults (cracked screen and only one ear working on headphones) and they quoted £51.00 + p&p. iPod was sent away in good faith. Received an email three days later to say the repair would be £170.00 because the logic board needed replacing as well. I spoke to the company and they claimed the device would not turn on even with a new battery in it. The device worked before it was posted. I felt like I was being conned because one of the options was for the company to dispose of the device on our behalf. I paid for it to be returned to us. I plugged it in and it worked, showing the battery as fully charged and the iPod worked fine. When I removed the cable it turned off. I cannot say for certain what has happened. Only it did work before it went and it didn’t when it arrived home. The company is called The iPod Clinic (http://www.theipodclinic.co.uk/FixMyiPod.aspx). This device is yet to be repaired.

iPod 5th Gen was repaired by a local company called Gizmo Repairs based in Acton, London W3 (they do online repairs too). They wanted £35.00 to replace the LCD screen which had lines across it. The repair was done the same day, but not without hitches. They phoned me to say the logic board was broken on this one as well. However, I actually showed him the device working before I handed it over. He replaced the logic board for free. This will be my stepsons new music device because my partner no longer needs it.

Repairs are better than buying new kit. The repair services on the Internet are many and, as I experienced, once the device is out of your hands, you are at the mercy of the good faith of an Internet business and you don’t know how good they are (always a good idea to search for company reviews before sending away – which we had not done). I spoke to one company who apologised for their website being out of date. It was one of 75 websites they kept. I assume this is an online service business tactic. Customers are not likely to click on any one website so make several different sites that all connect to the same service at the back-end. Then get your SEO right and Google will help make sure one of your sites is the chosen online service.

It also suggests that the world of technology consumption might slow down. Once everyone has a device that does what you need – create, store and consume digital media – people may think twice before buying new kit. My iPad 1 is fine and I do not feel the need to upgrade yet (although I would like to) and equally, the iPhone 4S is not a big enough reason to shell out the cash and upgrade from my iPhone 4. A colleague loves his Kindle but is not upgrading to Kindle Fire; however, he thinks an iPad might suit his family better.

Will you be replacing old kit with new unless there is a hardware reason for doing so?

I will be recommending the good services to all in my community, on twitter and in school.

[Image by me, in case you hadn’t guessed 🙂 ]

Repairing gadgets