Qualifications & Curriculum Authority: The Qualifications & Curriculum Authority is currently developing a website using pupils' work and case study material to show what the national curriculum in history looks like in practice. The examples will illustrate the standard of pupils' work at different ages and how the programmes of study translate into activities. Teachers will be able to use the website for comparing the performance of individual pupils against a common standard within and across the key stages, and as a basis for developing a departmental/school portfolio. It could also be used to plan units of work, classroom activities, and assessment tasks that relate to the standards set out in the national curriculum. For full details see this article by Jerome Freeman.
Certificate in Online Education and Training: Developed by the Institute of Education, this long established course has now been restructured as two choices: either the 10 week international online option from 30 January 2004, or the 4 week online course plus 5 separate days in London from 26 April 2004. .All the tutors have many years of experience as online tutors and trainers. The Certificate takes a critical approach to both old and new technologies for on-campus as well as for distance students. It provides opportunities to investigate in depth the nature of new media and online discussions to assess their role in the creation of virtual classrooms. Crucially, it offers the experience of being an online student and thus a starting point from which to observe the advantages and problems of course design by new media, in collaboration with a wide range of informed peers.
ICT Awards: Becta is inviting entries to the 2004 ICT in Practice Awards. Building on the success of previous years, Becta will be using the Awards scheme to develop evidence about effective practice using ICT, to gauge how this is impacting upon teaching and learning, and to share this information with the wider teaching community. Categories include: Inclusion (foundation/primary, secondary and post-16), Teaching (foundation/primary, secondary and post-16), Innovation and Change, Leadership Teaching (foundation/primary, secondary and post-16), Advice and Support, Learning Assistance (foundation level/primary, secondary and post-16) and New to Teaching. Each winner will receive £2,500, with £2,500 going to their school or organisation. Runners up will receive £500, with £500 going to their school or organisation. The nominations will be open until 25th July 2003.
eLearning Awards: The eLearning Awards Top 100 list is now available on the eSchola site. The Top 100 entries are now being evaluated by national experts. More than 600 project teams submitted entries this year. After the evaluation, a group of internationally recognised ICT experts will select the winners. Winners will be announced in August and the prize ceremony will be held in Geneva on 9 October.
Education with Attitude: From the use of online communities to handheld computers to pen-based drawing tablets, the staff and girls at Loreto Secondary School in Ireland are delivering on demonstrating how ICT can have a powerful affect on second-level education. Over the past year and a half, their “Education with Attitude” project has produced a number of innovative “digitally-enhanced” learning activities. Whoever said, “Girls don’t take to technology like boys” never set foot in Loreto, St. Michael’s. The overall aim of “Education with Attitude” is to leverage the power of ICT to entice and challenge students in ways not possible with traditional school-based media. The spirit of the project is about taking risks, learning from mistakes and benefiting from a more active learner approach to education.
Teachers Online: The July edition of Teachers Online has just been published. It offer you some ideas for encouraging pupils' interest in the topic of Europe. The feature, Get into Europe, has details on how to work with European partners, as well as fun games on subjects such as European history. It also has a selection of activities from the TRE to help develop pupils' understanding of modern foreign languages and more. As always, Teachers Online provides all the latest news and events in the world of ICT.
Homework: The Parent Centre is for all parents and carers who want to help their child or children to learn. It is here to offer you support, information and advice about your child's learning and the English education system. This Department of Education website provides information on key features of good homework practice, case studies in primary, secondary and special schools and the benefits of parental involvement with homework.
Applemore College: The 24-hour School is a facility that has been developed by students at Applemore College. They conducted their own research and came up with a solution that allows all staff and students to access their home directory and shared drives on the college’s network from any PC with an Internet connection, using a web browser. Staff and students can download their work files from college to their local computer and then upload the work back to the school network. It has major advantages as the user only needs to be connected to the Internet for a minimal period of time to download files, rather than having to remain connected while working. Therefore, students have access to their schoolwork and various resources at any time from anywhere.
WritersServices provides handouts formatted ready for use by students and course tutors. The subject matter, selected from the 1000+ pages on the site, covers many aspects of writing technique and the publishing business. There are pages covering information technology including health and safety issues. The pages have been written by UK-based experts for the website. The site hosts an active discussion forum and there is a free showcase for new writers. Audio trailers will be added in the autumn of 2003. Over 200 books and pieces of software for writers are reviewed in the WritersBookstall.
European Quality Observatory: European Schoolnet is a partner in building up a European-wide observatory for quality in eLearning. The mission is to establish a comprehensive European information and support space for quality in ICT-based training, learning and education. European Quality Observatory (EQO) first newsletter is available from its website.
BlackboardJungle is an online tutor directory, covering the whole of the UK and catering for all subjects and ages. The website has tutors offering their services in all school subjects and in music and languages. Also, help with business subjects and post 16 education is offered. BlackboardJungle also features advertisements from parents and students seeking tutors.
WorldWideWales: The project is part of a nationwide initiative to attract more people to spend time in this amazing country, to increase international awareness of Wales, and to bring Wales into focus within the educational curriculum. This website now has the largest ever presentation of Wales via a single Web portal, and boast more than 200 interactive mini-movies on things Welsh, everything from Rhyl to Ruthin, Rhys ap Gruffydd to RS Thomas, and the list is still growing. The website intends to become the largest ever Welsh language online information resource too, as more than 100 of the films are scheduled to go out in Cymraeg in time for the National Eisteddfod.
Curriculum Online is an online catalogue of priced and free digital learning products to support the teaching of the Curriculum in England up to and including Key Stage 4. The catalogue is provided by the DfES as part of a programme to give £330m, between 2002 and 2006, to maintained schools in England to spend on software and web services. The funding is known as electronic Learning Credits (eLCs) but is paid as cash to LEAs based on the number of schools in their area and the number of pupils at those schools. Each maintained school is entitled to £1000 as a starting point plus nearly £10 for each pupil at the school. Independent schools with maintained places will not receive the £1000 baseline figure but will receive the pupil allocation of nearly £10 for each maintained place.
New Media Awards: The New Statesman New Media Awards 2003, in association with SchlumbergerSema, focussed on how new media technology is used to make a difference in public life. The key themes of this year’s awards were "innovation, efficiency and accessibility". The winners of this year's awards are: Best School Internet Project (secondary): King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys. Best school internet project (primary): Saint Ambrose Barlow School. Best e-government project: Essex Grid for Learning. Safety on the net: Kid Smart.
Controlling Difficult Classes: John D. Clare argues that when you find yourself having difficulty with a class – you need to go back to first principles. His sensible advice is organised under the following categories: (1) Teach well; (2) Start every lesson in the pupils’ experience; (3) Give the class your full attention; (4) Agenda; (5) Administration; (6) Task Difficulty; (7) Concentration time and changeovers; (8) Silent Working; (9) Social Engineering; (10) Threats and bribes; (11) Autumn Leaves; (12) Divide and Rule; (13) Persistence.
Bullying Online: This website provides help and advice for parents who are tackling bullying. The site explain, step by step, how to tackle the problem and what happens if you take legal action. Bullying Online has been approved as a National Curriculum content provider and the site is recommended by the DfES, Victim Support, 65 UK councils and more than 20 police forces.
SMART: The SMART Education website has been created by staff from the Faculty of Education at Canterbury Christ Church University College. It is designed to support the needs of teachers, pupils, students, lecturers and everyone involved in education generally. SMART Education is conducting research into the use of SMART Boards in Education and a number of SMART Board Case Studies have been included on this website.
Microsoft Update: The Blaster worm exploits a critical Remote Procedure Call (RPC) DCOM flaw to infect vulnerable Windows machines. The Blaster worm will infect vulnerable Windows PCs, often causing them to repeatedly crash as soon as they are connected to a network. The worm will attempt to download malicious code and run it. The worm has no mass-mailing functionality. Estimates of the number of machines infected by Blaster vary but its generally reckoned hundreds of thousands of machines have caught the worm. Symantec, for example, reckons that 188,000 machines were infected by yesterday afternoon, with the US and UK leading the way in pox-ridden PCs. Protect yourself from this worm by visiting the Windows Update website.
Digital Video Awards: Following the success of last year's awards, Becta (the government's lead agency working to promote the use of ICT in education) has launched the Digital Video Awards 2004. The awards offer students of all ages an opportunity to showcase their creative skills in digital film making. The Awards aim to celebrate excellence in the creative use of digital video and to inspire students and teachers to exploit the full potential of this exciting technology. All students across the UK, between the ages of 5-18 are encouraged to enter their digitally edited films in the awards. All entries should be creative, imaginative and linked to the curriculum. The Digital Video Awards 2004 are open for entries until 31st October 2003.
Star Learning: This Australian website designed for Early Childhood, English as a Second Language and Students at Education Risk. It comprises 4 sections - Skills, Themes, Activities and Resources designed to assist learning. Skills (PowerPoint presentations for each skill); Language Skills (Alphabet, Consonant Blends, Dolch Lists, Digraphs, E-Readers, Final Consonant Blends, Vowel Blends), Maths Skills (Counting, Counting by, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Time); Themes (Facts, Games, Web Cam, Clip Art) and Activities.
Campaign for Digital Rights: This website is run by a group of citizens who are concerned about control over digital media. In particular, CDR is worried about proposed laws, regulations and technological systems that will make digital media more expensive, less useful, less diverse and less democratic. Its main target is the European Union Copyright Directive. CDR is concerned about how this legislation will impact on education. For example, it is argued that if certain big copyright owning companies have their way, libraries won't be able to lend out digital media in the future.
SALIDAA: This digital archive covers South Asian literature, art, theatre, dance and music in England and features collections of materials by individual artists and organisations. Collections include creative writings, images of art works, photographs, leaflets, programmes of events, stage and costume drawings of theatre and dance performances, press releases, CD and record covers. On this website you can browse through collections by subject area: literature, arts, theatre, dance, and music and read about the development of these art forms.
New Media Writing: What can you create that can't be done in print? Are you interested in exploring new kinds of narratives? Do you want to develop your writing in a digital format? Are you a digital artist wishing to work with text? TEXTLAB is a free 5 day residential workshop being held at Nottingham Trent University (10th-14th November). This week-long workshop is the first of its kind in the UK, offering writers and artists an opportunity to work together intensively in a supportive creative and critical environment to develop new media work.
ICT Advice for Teachers: Need specialist advice? The Ask an Expert service provides teachers with the opportunity to put questions direct to a panel of experts. Each month the website looks at two new themes, one focusing on ICT in the curriculum and the other being a more general topic relating to ICT in education. In September the general theme concerns ICT and the transfer of pupils between primary and secondary. The second topic looks at how ICT can improve learning in history?
Comenius: The new call for proposals for 2004 has been published. This is an annual document published by the European Commission which draws attention to any programme changes and outlines the new priorities for the 2004 application year. Some of these priorities are horizontal, which means that they apply to all areas of Socrates, while others are action-specific. The new horizontal priorities are the following; Preparation for the enlargement of the Union; Sustainable Development; Stability and security and the future challenges to education and training systems and lifelong learning.
Becta is the Government's lead agency for ICT in education. Working to support the development of ICT in education throughout the UK, Becta's unique contribution is to combine knowledge of the needs of education with an understanding of the power of technology. Findings from Becta's research activities and reports published on behalf of the DfES are targeted at all those interested in educational research. This site also provides a gateway to organisations, publications, websites and databases in the field of ICT in education.
Archive Awareness Month: September 2003 is a month long promotion of celebratory events across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Local and national archives, large and small, public and private will open their doors to hold a host of special events celebrating and promoting the wealth of archival treasures. To find out what's going on during archive awareness month, simply click on any region of the map provided or alternatively, choose a region and/or an audience category from the menus below the map, then click on the search button.
National Archives: Launched in April 2003, this website brings together two existing organisations, the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission. Over the next 12 months, the National Archives will combine the services and expertise of both the PRO and the HMC. It will be a national resource for anyone interested in, or with responsibility for, documents relating to British history: whether for professional research reasons, as an archivist or records manager, for school or learning projects or, simply, for personal curiosity and a unique day out. The National Archives has one of the largest archival collections in the world, spanning 1000 years of British history, from Domesday Book to government papers recently released to the public. You can see this collection at Kew or view certain documents online.
ICT and Education: Is your school proud of its Internet safety systems? Are you using ICT in an exciting or innovative way? Have your whiteboards made a significant difference? We are always on the lookout for good case studies to post on the ICT Advice site which demonstrate effective practice and which would help others to integrate ICT into teaching and learning. If you think you are doing something innovative or just good sound practice then don't hide your light under a bushel - share your story with others and help to inspire. Contact Becta via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fulfilling the Potential: Education Secretary Charles Clarke recently launched 'Fulfilling the Potential - Transforming Teaching and Learning through ICT in Schools', a booklet clarifying the directions that schools should be moving with ICT and e-learning, and the outcomes they should be seeking. The publication of this booklet signals the next step after the National Grid for Learning Programme (1998-2002). Clarke argues that the success of the strategy depends on the close liaison with subject associations. The document can be downloaded from the DfES website.
Education in Finland: Recent research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suggests that Finland has the most successful education system in the world. This Guardian article looks at this system and points out that: (1) All schools are comprehensive. (2) Children go to the same school from 6 to 16. (3) All children are taught in mixed ability classes. (4) Children do not take national exams at any stage between 6 and 16. (5) The school inspectors do not publish their reports. The reports are instead feedback to the teachers in order “to help staff develop”. (6) There are no school league tables in Finland. (7) Only 3% of children drop out of education at 16 in Finland.
Where's My Peg: Save The Children is the UK's leading international children's charity working in more than 70 countries. The organization is behind the Where's My Peg website. The purpose of this website is to help children prepare for the big day when they start school for the very first time. This website has been produced after extensive consultation and trials in schools throughout the UK.
Curriculum Online Content Advisory Board: The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) have set up a Curriculum Online Content Advisory Board to advise the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on the performance of Curriculum Online and the development of a comprehensive range of online digital learning resources for schools. The Board will be Chaired by Owen Lynch, Chief Executive of the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), membership will include representatives from the DfES, Ofsted, DCMS, and the DTI as well as educationalists and industry. Membership may be expanded in future in relation to need. The Content Advisory Board will play a key role in ensuring that Curriculum Online is able to offer a consistent, coherent and comprehensive set of curriculum resources and materials for teachers and pupils.
ICT Strategy: The education secretary, Charles Clarke, has announced that the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) will have a new role. Last week he said: "I now want Becta to take on a more strategic role, this change represents a shift from being mainly a delivery-focused organisation to becoming a strategic partner with the Government in taking forward and developing our wider objectives for ICT in education."
ICT Advice Conferences: Becta, in partnership with the subject associations, has developed a calendar of events and activities to support the use of ICT in subject teaching and learning across the curriculum. So far the following conferences promoting effective classroom practice have been arranged: History (18th October, 2003), Primary Education (8th November, 2003), Geography (20th November, 2003), Design & Technology (21st November, 2003), Art & Design (January, 2004), English (February, 2004) and Science (March, 2004).
Nielsen/NetRatings: According to Nielsen/NetRatings, the UK has the highest number of children online of any European nation, with some 4.5 million youngsters accessing the Net, compared to over three million in Germany and 1.5 million in France. In all, there are more than 13 million young people in Europe online, four million of them under the age of 12. According to Tom Ewing of Nielsen/NetRatings: "As the Internet matures, the demographic profile of users moves closer to the European population as a whole and what we're seeing now is families using the Internet more. It's likely that this is linked with the growth of broadband access – perhaps when they're not paying for access by the minute, parents are likely to let children use and explore the Web more."
Comic Relief: Red Nose Day 2003 was the most successful ever, raising an incredible £60 million! Since 1985 Schools across the UK have helped Comic Relief raise over £310 million. From the Comic Relief website you can obtain some free online teaching resources and ideas that have been written by teachers for teachers. You can also download Powerpoint presentations and access online stories. There is also the a teaching pack that provides ideas for PSHE/PSE, RE, Geography and English.
Save the Children Education Unit: Save the Children was founded in 1919, as a response to conditions in Europe immediately following the First World War. Save the Children works to ensure that all children get access to good quality education by tackling poverty, helping communities run schools, training teachers, developing education policies and curricula, supporting flexible learning schemes, developing educational opportunities for very young children, and providing education for children caught up in emergencies. The Save the Children's Education Unit works across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to promote global child rights education and offers a range of free and priced materials and services to teachers and youth workers.
Empire and Exploration: The Historical Association and Becta are jointly running an online inset "Empire and Exploration" on the 7 November 2003. The online INSET will focus on using ICT to support the teaching and learning of history in Key Stages 2 to 5 and will provide classroom materials and teachers guides available to download and use. Resources and ideas will cover such issues as the Roman Empire, Tudor voyages of exploration, and everyday life in India under British rule. There will also be online presentations from key speakers and experienced practitioners about using ICT in history. This INSET will look at: how ICT can bring original sources to students; how ICT can be used to create online exhibitions; how ICT can get pupils using maps creatively; how ICT can get pupils to compare empires of different eras; how email can get pupils from different schools (and maybe even different countries) to share their thoughts about empires past and present. There will also be opportunities to put your questions and comments to the speakers and to share ideas with other history teachers via a straightforward online discussion system.
Information Society: United Nations Cyberschoolbus and European Schoolnet are jointly organizing a special event for schools from September to December 2003. Through a series of online activities for age 8 and up, teachers and students will examine the impact of information and communication technologies on human rights. These activities will focus on the universal right to learn and exchange information, as described in articles 19 and 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) takes place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 10 to 12 December 2003. This is an opportunity for schools to develop partnerships with other schools from different regions of the world. In December, registered schools will be able to interact (via video conference or the Internet) with a Head of State attending the World Summit.
Google Code Jam 2003: Do you have exceptional programming skills? Can you make computers perform like silicon puppets with just a few well-expressed commands? Are you at ease when faced with a hard stop and a group of peers evaluating every line of your code? Here’s your opportunity to display the grace of the true professional in a reward-rich environment. Google is looking for engineers with the programming skill to rewrite the world's information infrastructure. The Code Jam 2003 is one way that Google hopes to find them. Prizes include free trips to the GooglePlex in Mountain View, California, substantial cash awards and possible employment with Google's engineering department.
European eLearning Awards: An Irish project about the coastline from Skerrydoo to Carrickfadda has won first prize in the eLearning Awards 2003. In awarding the Irish project first prize, the judges said that the "project served as a great inspiration and source of ideas that may be replicated". Second prize went to Italian project Panta Rei (Water Mission) and third prize to Iceland's Learning Science Through Play. Following the tradition of the eLearning Awards, the ceremony took place during the annual European Schoolnet EMINENT conference, held this year in Geneva. Prize money totalling 17,000 euro was presented to the winning teams at a glittering evening ceremony in the city's Grand Théâtre on 9 October 2003.
Electronic Schoolbag: New technologies enable us to develop new school activities that we were unable to organise in the past. The software, cartable électronique, is designed to support all sorts of school activities. It lets teachers create a network in which students from all over the world can collaborate in teams on subjects related to literature, culture and economics. The students learn to communicate in a foreign language (English, German, Italian, French), both in written form and orally (with video conferencing), to work with people from different cultures, to respect one another and to behave responsibly. The first electronic schoolbag project involved 54 virtual classes composed of 523 students from Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, United-States, Spain and Sweden. This is an intercultural, interdisciplinary project involving 22 teachers of English, German, Italian, French, economics, accounting, mathematics, marketing and management.
Comenius Week 2003: The Comenius week (10-14 November 2003) will enhance the positive aspects of international cooperation in education and create festive meeting opportunities for teachers and pupils. In Brussels, about 250 pupils and teachers will take part in creative activities, showcase their projects and attend experience-sharing workshops. Here is a short overview of some of the planned activities: Tour of Europe in One Hour (will give the children a chance to discover and practise three languages, other than their native language, and also to discover minority languages in Europe); Karaoke (a number of songs from French, English and German catalogues will be selected and taught to the children); EuroReporter (each child to meet and "interview" another child in English, French or German and asking them to present their "Comenius Project").
Gifted and Talented: This website provides guidance for teachers, coordinators and others involved in teaching the gifted and talented in the context of an inclusive curriculum. The general guidance now includes information and case studies on providing for gifted and talented 14 to 19 year-olds. Material is provided for those teaching English, Mathematics, Science, Design & Technology, ICT, History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages, Art & Design, Music, Religious Education and Physical Education.
Celebrating Cultural Diversity: A one day conference to celebrate good practice in the use of ICT to cross cultural boundaries in UK schools and community organizations is to be held on Friday 21st November at the Westwood Conference Centre, Coventry. The conference is hosted by the British Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) and is part of the Netd@ys 2003 project. This project aims to harness the potential of ICT to facilitate communication between cultural groups, and has been encouraging organizations working with young people to communicate their experiences through the use of digital technology. For further details on the Netd@Ys project or conference, please contact Becta on 02476 416994 ext 2250, or email email@example.com
New Directions in the Humanities: The Second International Conference of New Directions in the Humanities will be hosted by the Monash University Centre in Prato, Italy. What is the role of the humanities in thinking the shape of the future and the human? Anthropology, Archaeology, Classics, Communication, English, Fine Arts, Geography, Government, History, Journalism, Languages, Linguistics, Literature, Media Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Sociology or Religion - these are just some of the many disciplines represented at the Humanities Conference. The focus of papers ranges from the finely grained and empirical to the expansive and theoretical. Participants are also welcome to submit presentation proposals, either as 30 minute papers, 60 minute workshops or jointly presented 90 minute colloquium sessions. For those unable to attend the conference in person, virtual registrations are available, which provide access to the online edition of the conference proceedings. Virtual participants can also submit papers for refereeing and publication in the International Journal of the Humanities.
Schools of the Future: Education is a recognized priority not just for the Government, but also for society as a whole. It is the key to preparing the nation for the expansion of the knowledge economy and its increased demands for skills and human capital. Despite their importance to successful education, many school buildings are of poor design: dull, uniform and with an institutional look. To succeed in raising educational standards and improving attainment levels we need to examine how to make our existing schools better and ensure that new school buildings are of good design and well built. This TeacherNet website contains case studies of schools which are thinking ahead and planning information on design issues and the building process.
Online Education and Training: This long established Institute of Education course has been restructured as two choices: either 10 weeks online from 30 January 2004, or 4 weeks partly online partly at 5 separate days in London from 26 April 2004. All the tutors have many years of experience as online tutors and trainers. The course takes a critical approach to both old and new technologies for on-campus as well as for distance students. It provides opportunities to investigate in depth the nature of new media and online discussions to assess their role in the creation of virtual classrooms. Crucially, it offers the experience of being an online student and thus a starting point from which to observe the advantages and problems of course design by new media, in collaboration with a wide range of informed peers.
Schoolzone was awarded the DfES contract to evaluate digital learning resources earlier this year and has, since June trained nearly 300 teachers as evaluators and begun the evaluation process with over 100 titles. The aim of the project is to support teachers by sharing good ICT practice and in so doing encourage them to use ICT as part of their normal teaching. Evaluations are available on the COL site and on Schoolzone. Additionally, Schoolzone lists 40,000 free web-based resources for schools which have been reviewed and categorised by UK teachers.
RDN Virtual Training Suite: The Resource Discovery Network (RDN) provides access to more than 70,000 Internet resources for the learning, teaching and research community via a series of subject-based information gateways. These are: ALTIS - hospitality, sport, leisure and tourism; Artifact – arts and creative industries; BIOME – health and life sciences; EEVL – engineering, mathematics and computing; GEsource – geography and environment; Humbul – humanities; PSIgate – physical sciences; SOSIG – social sciences, business and law. The resources are selected and described by subject specialists to ensure their quality and that they are suitable for education. Additional value-added services such as free subject-focused Internet training tutorials (RDN Virtual Training Suite) and newsfeeds are also provided.
BETT is the annual international event that encourages and extends effective use of ICT in education. There are numerous opportunities for professional development including the seminar programme and the Policy in Practice area offering practical advice on implementing education policy and funding. Next year's BETT show is taking place at Olympia, London (7th-10th January, 2004). Seminars include: Transforming Teaching & Learning with ICT (Lesley Price), The Learner of the Future (Bill Howe), Creating an e-Confident Education System (Tony Richardson), ICT and Learning Style (John Galloway), World Ecitizens (Christina Preston), Research & Evidence in an eLearning World (Malcolm Hunt), History Online - What are the Cultural Content Providers Doing? (Tom O'Leary) and Effective Pedagogy & ICT (Neil McLean).
Specialist Schools: Music and Humanities specialisms have been added to the existing list of eight specialisms. These will be available to schools which apply for specialist status from October 2003 onwards. The new Humanities specialism will be based around the key subjects of history, geography or English. Taking one or more of these as core subjects, schools will have the option to add the subjects citizenship, humanities or religious education to make up a full complement of three specialist subjects. Schools will be able to choose one or more core subjects and up to two subsidiary subjects as the target-setting subjects within the specialism. For example: history, religious education and citizenship or geography, history and humanities or English, history and geography. The first Humanities Colleges will begin operating in September 2004. Full guidance for the specialism is available in the current edition of the Specialist Schools Application Guidance see the Specialist Schools Trust website.
Extending Schools for Adult Learners: In 2002, NIACE published 'Schools are for Adults Too: Schools, Adults and Communities in the Learning Age', a policy discussion paper to coincide with the government's advice on extended schools. Following pilots, there is to be a model in each local education authority area by 2006, and LEAs will receive funding for promoting and coordinating the development. But many other schools will also be looking to extend their service to their communities and there is a national expectation that over time all schools will do so. An extended school may draw on many different forms, but opportunities for adult learners should be an integral part of the strategy. By becoming local learning centres, schools will not only be able to contribute to the needs of their community, but help to create a culture of learning which will improve children's performance. They will need to work in partnership to succeed. What help and support can schools call on, and what can partners contribute and gain? Next month NIACE is organizing three conferences to discuss these issues: Gateshead (2nd December), Leicester (4th December) and Preston (9th December).
ESD: Education for sustainable development (ESD) is an approach to the whole curriculum and management of a school, not a new subject. It has its roots in environmental education and development education. As a result, many of the building blocks of education for sustainable development are already present in every school. This website has been designed to help teachers, curriculum coordinators, school managers and governors to develop approaches to education for sustainable development.
National Curriculum Online: This site links every National Curriculum programme of study requirement to resources on the Curriculum Online (English, Mathematics, Science, Design and Technology, ICT, History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages, Art and Design, Music, PE, Citizenship, Religious Education and PSHE) This site also has information about the National Curriculum from the teacher handbooks and guidance and ideas on teaching.
Groupware Tool for Schools: European Schoolnet has just released a new groupware tool for schools, which has been specially customised for children and teenagers. It was produced as part of the Zap portal for children and teenagers, which is launched by the European Collaborative Learning Environment (EUNCLE) research project. EUNCLE is a project supported by the European Commission's Safer Internet Action Plan.
Celebrating Cultural Diversity: A one day conference to celebrate good practice in the use of ICT to cross cultural boundaries in UK schools and community organisations is to be held on Friday 21st November at the Westwood Conference Centre, Coventry. The conference is hosted by the British Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) and is part of the Netd@ys 2003 project. The conference will be a day of celebration and showcase the interactive digital work of young people from diverse cultural backgrounds who have been able to express themselves through this project.
BBC Digital Curriculum: Last month the European Commission approved the government’s plans to give £150 million to the BBC to produce free teaching resources. The new service will act as a central repository, allowing teachers to select, organize and personalise materials. There is no doubt that this initiative will dominate e-learning in Britain over the next few years. One of the reasons that the European Commission has approved the plan is that at least 50% of this material will have to be produced by non-BBC organizations. The BBC is holding two one-day for independent producers on the 24th and 25th November 2003 in west London to discuss these issues.
Schools Website Directory: This directory was first published on the web in 1996 under the SchoolNet UK banner. Later it became part of BT's Campus World website, and then part of Anglia Multimedia's AngliaCampus. Recently the directory has been re-engineered as a web enabled database and all data has been re-verified In the last two months, all 3644 school websites have been visited and catalogued. All English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish state secondary schools which have a website, have now been included in the database. The directory currently contains 5469 UK school websites.
Teachers' TV: A new television station for teachers will be launched in Britain next year. The station will be funded by the Department for Education and Skills but run by Education Digital, a consortium of a production company, Brook Lapping, Carlton Communications, and the Institute of Education in London. The DfES will set educational objectives, but will have no editorial control. It will broadcast for 18 hours a day on Sky, Freeview and NTL. Some material has already been commissioned. This includes a "changing classrooms" makeover programme and a stand-up comedy competition for teachers.
Seed Project is one of the European Schoolnet's School of Tomorrow Projects. Seed began in universities - but the plan was always to introduce it to schools. Seed is a project that has the aim of "seeding cultural change in the school system through the generation of communities engaged in integrated educational and technological innovation." It is currently running in forty schools in Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Textbooks in Iraq: In 1973 Saddam Hussein ordered that all school history books should be rewritten from the Ba'ath Party perspective. Soon after the United States occupied Iraq they began to search for "educators" who could be trusted. Eventually a team was appointed to rewrite history textbooks for Iraq's 5.5 million school-children. Faud Hussein, an academic who had been living in exile, was brought in and placed in charge of producing revised textbooks. Over the next few weeks he hand-picked 67 teachers to rewrite the textbooks. He admits that the team "considered anything anti-American to be propaganda". It is believed that the first of these new history books will be published next month.
Teachers Online Newsletter: This monthly newsletter contains the latest ICT-related news, gathered from the leading educational publications. The December edition of Teachers Online celebrates the winter season with a feature on religious festivals throughout the year. It also contains ideas for classroom activities for younger and older pupils. Finally, if you plan to head for distant pastures this holiday season, the newsletter has route planners and some online sources of cheap flights.
WSIS: The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 10th to 12th December 2003. Through a series of online activities teachers and students will examine the impact of information and communication technologies on human rights. This is an opportunity for schools to develop partnerships with other schools from different regions of the world. On 10th December, 2003, Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web, will be sending an email to all the schools registered to the World Summit for Information Society activities on human rights from the computer he used to invent the World Wide Web.
ENIS is the European Network of Innovative Schools. ENIS schools have been selected as some of the most innovative schools in their home countries when using information and communication technologies for teaching and learning. Each ministry has a ENIS Coordinator who is responsible for the national network of innovative schools. This person lays out the agreed European criteria and procedures in his/her own ministry, and identifies how they can be integrated into national policy.
Entitled Workforce Reform: The school of the future need employ just one qualified teacher. The controversial suggestion is contained in a Department for Education and Skills paper that sets out priorities for the next phase of school workforce reform during 2006-8. Entitled Workforce Reform - Blue Skies it was circulated on 11 November 2003 to all the organisations that signed the Government's Workforce Remodelling Agreement. The report says that schools are able to operate under new "freedoms" brought in by the workload agreement. Suggested ways of exploiting this new situation includes: teacher numbers being cut to pay for more support staff; other staff being bought in from agencies or coming in on secondment; support staff being supervised by one qualified teacher only – the headteacher; and reducing overall teacher numbers to pay for a better adult-pupil ratio.
National Literacy Strategy: Ofsted yesterday published its latest report on the government's national literacy and numeracy strategies. David Bell, chief inspector of schools, warned that the government will continue to miss its primary school improvement targets. The report points out that eleven-year-olds' English scores have been stuck at 77% (reaching national targets) since 2000. Bell claims that the main reason for this is that "too many teachers still had too poor a grasp of English and Maths to help struggling pupils." The chief inspector called for more training for teachers to boost their subject knowledge and teaching techniques.
Hinde House School: This is England's first school for the entire 3-16 age range, where children can enter part-time in the nursery and stay until they have completed their GCSEs. The school is a result of a merger of two existing schools in an economically deprived part of Sheffield - a failing primary school, Bracken Hill, with its neighbouring secondary, Hinde House, which had also been in special measures. While education secretary, the local MP, David Blunkett, authorized £15 million to be spent on the project. Another £4 million is being found under the private finance initiative.
EUROCALL: The European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning (EUROCALL) was established in 1993. It is an association of language teaching professionals from Europe and worldwide, which aims to promote the use of foreign languages within Europe. It also helps to provide a European focus for the promulgation of innovative research, development and practice relating to the use of technologies for language learning and to enhance the quality, dissemination and efficiency of CALL materials.
E-Omogeneia: The Greek Ministry of education, with the cooperation of the Research Academic Computer Technology Institute, has launched the e-omogeneia initiative (omogeneia means “Greeks in a foreign country”). This includes a web portal that connects all participant Greek schools abroad. Registered users can communicate each other through forums and there are many useful data that could be retrieved, like laws, information about the Greek studies abroad etc. A powerful tool (Centra) gives the opportunity for synchronous training for those school’s teachers. For the moment, there are several schools that get every week, two hours online synchronous training for their teachers through Centra.
CIS London Recruitment Fair: The Council of International Schools (CIS) is a not-for-profit association of schools and post-secondary institutions working collaboratively for the continuous improvement of international education. The Resource and Information Service supports schools in gaining access to a current, worldwide knowledge base through promoting research and disseminating information. The London Recruitment Fair takes place at the Thistle Hotel, Marble Arch (5th to 8th February, 2004).
International Student Debate: The Education Forum is organizing a series of student debates on international issues. The debates will be in English but it is hoped that those running the different language sections (German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Greek) will also offer similar debates. It is a project that lends itself to the very able student. Debates like this will enable bright students from all over the world to intellectual challenge each other. There will be two parallel debates: one for students and one for full members. The first topic will be Education and Nationalism. Please register if you are interested in joining this project or want to take part in any of the other debates taking place on the International Education Forum.
The Irascible Professor: "Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself." This Chinese proverb is quoted in the article on good teaching by Nils Clausson. It is one of the many interesting articles on teaching that can be found on this excellent website run by Dr. Mark Shapiro, a professor at California State University-Fullerton. Begun in 1999, the prime purpose of the site is to provide intelligent commentary on the nature of education. Most of the articles are written by Shapiro but also includes several gems by guest commentators such as Peter Berger and Felice Prager.
Future Classrooms: Could better classroom design help teachers to use their time and energy more effectively? A number of schools are to find out thanks to a scheme where a £10 million grant will allow schools design and build their own classrooms. Some schools intend to provide enhanced staff facilities for planning, preparation and assessment. Other schools plan to construct e-learning and resource centres for staff and pupils.
Spring Day in Europe 2004: Thousands of schools will take part in Spring Day in Europe on and around 23 March 2004. Spring Day in Europe is a unique event for European pupils to learn about their neighbours in an enlarged Europe and make their voices heard in the debate on key European issues. The event is organised by European Schoolnet in collaboration with the European Commission. This year Spring Day in Europe will have a special focus on enlargement, as ten new countries will become full EU members on 1st May 2004. To mark this historic change in the European Union, all schools in EU member states, acceding countries and candidate countries are invited to debate and learn about the future of enlarged Europe. Almost 2000 primary and secondary schools have already registered for the event on its website.
Australian Flexible Learning Framework is a unique, world-class initiative designed to create and share knowledge about flexible learning and to support its take-up in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. It is hoped that by making the VET sector more flexible, the Framework will contribute significantly to Australia being a global leader in education and industry. As well as the development of innovative online products and services, projects under the Framework cover professional development opportunities and the design of the technological, enabling and regulatory infrastructures that will facilitate the establishment of a flexible learning approach.
Scout Portal Toolkit: This new website allows groups or organizations that have a collection of knowledge or resources they want to share via the World Wide Web to put that collection online without making a big investment in technical resources or expertise. For a resource portal site to be worthwhile it has to provide significant functionality for the average user looking to locate or learn about valuable online resources. The Portal Toolkit provides a number of site features intended to meet this need. This includes Cross-Field Searching, Resource Annotations by Users, Intelligent User Agents, Resource Quality Ratings by Users and Suggested Resource Referrals.
MyDoom: An email worm known as MyDoom, which masquerades as an advisory message from a computer technician, is the worst internet virus since SoBig last year. It was first spotted on Monday in a file sent from Russia. Over the next few hours over 1.5m copies had been intercepted. Like other email worms, MyDoom requires a user to open the attachment before it can infect a machine. Many of these emails is labelled "Test" or "Status". Sean Richmond, technical support manager for Sophos, said yesterday that the MyDoom worm turned an infected computer into "a zombie", which could be programmed without the owner's knowledge to attack the website of SCO, which is in dispute with the Linux community.
14-19 Learning: The 14-19 phase is important for student choice and progression. The QCA's new 14-19 learning website aims to cover all aspects of planning, teaching and learning within the 14-19 phase. It includes guidance and case studies on the implementation of Curriculum 2000, as well as new material. One section deals with teaching the new advanced level subjects. This will soon be supplemented by specific guidance, including teaching and learning at A level. This website gives support and guidance in managing the phase successfully and helping students get the best from their experience.
Cancertalk: The Cancertalk programme, part of Macmillan’s programme for schools, began as a response to requests from educators and medical practitioners for materials that would open up debate among young people on the issues that may confront them if they are affected by cancer or any other serious illness. The programme has been developed by practising teachers, students, educationalists, cancer specialists, and psychologists. Children with a creative flair are being encouraged to take part in Macmillan Cancer Relief's Cancertalk Week from 9 to 13 February 2004. School children and young people will participate in various Cancertalk activities such as holding an assembly, designing a poster, writing a short play or thinking up a campaign to develop their understanding of cancer related issues.
Inside the Black Box: Raising the standards of learning that are achieved through schooling is an important national priority. In recent years, governments throughout the world have been more and more vigorous in making changes in pursuit of this aim. This has included imposing national standards; target setting; enhanced programs for the external testing of students' performance; initiatives to improve school planning and management; and more frequent and thorough inspection. In this article, Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam, argue: "Learning is driven by what teachers and pupils do in classrooms. Teachers have to manage complicated and demanding situations, channeling the personal, emotional, and social pressures of a group of 30 or more youngsters in order to help them learn immediately and become better learners in the future. Standards can be raised only if teachers can tackle this task more effectively. What is missing from the efforts... is any direct help with this task."
Blended Learning is learning which combines online and face-to-face approaches. Is blended learning a cop out or the best way to offer flexible learning choices to students? Is teaching online different to teaching face to face? Do students really want to learn fully online? Are these questions premature when most teachers don't have access to computers for their classes? These are some of the questions that these contributors to the International Education Forum debate try to answer. If you have views on this subject, register with the International Education Forum and join the debate.
World Wide School: This website is dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of educational material. Morrie Wilson started the World Wide School as a way to explore the possibilities of distance learning. He is especially interested in providing a wider range of opportunities to those who have difficulty accessing traditional education. The site has been developed by Bulldog Beach Interactive and the comprehensive, interdisciplinary courses are written by Synapse Learning Design. The World Wide School courses are free but you do need to register in order to access the material.
The Web We Want: In this time of globalisation we verify the truth of the Butterfly Effect more and more frequently. In other words, a chain of events can have a crisis point at which tiny changes (such as the fluttering of a butterfly's wings) are liable to grow out of all proportion. This website is open to contributions from students from all over the world. It is being edited and managed by students with the aim of publishing young people's opinions about their situation, interests, problems, hopes and wishes.
Specialist Schools: The new Humanities-based specialism will be based around the key subjects of history, geography or English. Taking one or more of these as core subjects, schools will have the option to add the subjects citizenship, humanities or religious education to make up a full complement of three specialist subjects. Schools will be able to choose one or more core subjects and up to two subsidiary subjects as the target-setting subjects within the specialism. For example: history, religious education and citizenship or geography, history and humanities or English, history and geography. The first Humanities Colleges will begin operating in September 2004.
14-19 Reform: Mike Tomlinson's interim report calls for a root and branch overhaul of the curriculum and qualifications for 14- to 19-year-olds. It proposes absorbing GCSEs and A levels into a new system of diplomas, which would allow students to continue specialising in their chosen subjects, but would also require them to have the numeracy and communication skills needed for modern life, and to demonstrate other skills such as the ability to work in a team and to study independently. The proposals would sweep away the present qualifications framework and would introduce a system of diplomas at four levels: entry, foundation (roughly equivalent to GCSE grades D-G), intermediate (at the level of to GCSE grades A*-C) and advanced (like A levels or advanced vocational courses). The aim would be to create "a flexible ladder of progression" which all students could climb, with each level leading on to those above, and vocational courses valued equally beside academic counterparts. Students would take courses when they were ready rather than at set ages.
TIPD: The Teachers' International Professional Development (TIPD) programme was introduced by DfES in May 2000. The programme provides opportunities for teachers in England to develop their teaching skills by experiencing best practice in a number of key themes through short-term international study visits. Such visits also aim to create valuable international links between schools, facilitating international school partnerships and the sharing of information on a global level. TIPD will provide 2500 places per year between 2000 and 2006 and the programme is delivered for DfES by 3 providers: the British Council Education and Training Group, the League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers, and the Specialist Schools Trust. Each Local Education Authority (LEA) in England has its own allocation of places.
Global Gateway: This new international website, enables those involved in education across the world to engage in creative partnerships. It is a one-stop-shop, providing quick access to comprehensive information on how to develop an international dimension to education. On this website teachers can find a partner school in another country and access teaching materials on international education. It also shows how you can work with school leaders worldwide and provides information on the latest international research. There is also a selection of case studies on the website.
Global Curriculum Projects: This British Council website explains how up to £1,500 is available for schools in the early stages of school partnership. This grant allows at least one teacher from each school to visit their partner institutions. The scheme supports partnerships between the UK and countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Up to £6,000 is available from the British Council for more established partnerships looking to embed a global dimension within their respective curricula through joint activities and projects.
Playing for Success: The Department for Education and Skills Playing for Success initiative is establishing out of school hours study support centres at football clubs and other sports’ grounds. The centres use the environment and medium of football, rugby and other sports as motivational tools, and focus on raising literacy, numeracy and ICT standards amongst KS2 and 3 pupils who are struggling a little and often demotivated.
Exam Results: Pupils from every ethnic group have improved in their GCSE/GNVQ results, according to figures released this week. Schools Minister Stephen Twigg welcomed the data, which clearly shows how pupils are doing in all Key Stage tests and GCSEs, broken down by ethnicity, gender, English as an additional language, special educational needs and free school meals. The data broadly shows the following improvements with the percentage of pupils getting five or more grades A* to C at GCSE/GNVQ: White (51.3 per cent), Black Caribbean (32.9 per cent), Black African (40.7 per cent), Indian (65.2 per cent), Pakistani (41.5 per cent), Bangladeshi (45.5 per cent) and Chinese (74.8 per cent).
Milestone or Millstone?: Performance-related pay was introduced in schools in England in 2000. Ultimately 97% of applicants were successful, effectively creating a substantial across-the-board pay rise for teachers. According to a survey carried out by Ted Wragg at Exeter University, the scheme has had virtually no effect on the way they teach in the classroom. Most teachers surveyed for the analysis of performance-related pay in schools said that after going through the process required to secure a salary rise they were still teaching in exactly the same way, but they had improved their record-keeping to make their next application easier.
Differentiation: In the "Handbook for the Inspection of Schools" published by Ofsted, differentiation is defined as: "The matching of work to the differing capabilities of individuals or groups of pupils in order to extend their learning." Whether a class is setted or mixed ability, it will have a range of different abilities. In their published reports Ofsted has made it clear that differentiation involves recognising the variety of individual needs within a class, planning to meet those needs, providing appropriate delivery and "evaluating the effectiveness of the activities in order to maximise the achievements of individual students". This excellent article by John D. Clare of Greenfield School takes a comprehensive look at this important issue.
ICP Online: International Confederation of Principals (ICP) had its first meeting in San Diego, California, in February, 1990. The organization's mission is to encourage closer relationships among principals of all nations, promote and enhance the image and professionalism of the principalship. It also attempts to foster school curricula that encourage international understanding and good will and a respect for human rights and dignity across all races and cultures. In holds regular meetings and conferences in order to promote international cooperation.
Collaborative Learning Project: This project was established in London in 1983 and supported by the Inner London Education Authority until 1988. It is now a non-profit making educational trust: a support for a network of teachers working with children at all ages and in every subject area. The main objective of the project is to promote inclusive education for all. The project particularly concerns itself with the inclusion of minority ethnic, and other disadvantaged children and those with special needs. It addresses issues of curriculum access, the development of interactive, cognitively demanding and motivating activities and the matching of learning to the needs and abilities of all children.
GCSE Revision: The GCSE booster pack provides a set of materials offering guidance for teachers and school leaders on organising a revision programme and preparing students for the GCSE examinations. The GCSE booster pack contains resources suitable for all GCSE students, but they are particularly aimed at those who are predicted a grade D and need support to achieve grade C at GCSE. The pack contains a series of leaflets for both teachers and students in eight of the most popular subjects: English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Science, French, German, Geography and History.
Becta Extra: Becta's regular online magazine with a mix of news and features to keep readers up-to-date with Becta's activities. The March edition includes information on the Becta Seminars at the Education Show, Becta's Digital Video Awards 2004, Demonstrating Transformation, Beyond the Fringe: Online Debate on E-learning and the Effective Use of ICT in Subject Teaching (Primary).
Whole-School Issues: Some issues and topics such as health and safety, behaviour and child protection affect the entire school community. TeacherNet has launched a new section of this site bringing these issues into one place, so that they can be tackled in an integrated and inclusive manner to achieve valuable benefits for the whole school. The material is designed for teachers, support staff, managers and governors to pupils, parents and the wider community.
Talking Teaching: Where do you go to share thoughts, problems and suggestions on issues facing you as a teacher? Where do you draw your inspiration or hear from colleagues facing similar challenges and finding solutions? Maybe within your school staffroom or from the headteacher, but we believe that there is an opportunity for teachers to create an online support system for teachers outside the single school community. Moreover, we believe that you’ll want to be part of it. A partnership of the Teaching Awards Trust, Learn and BT has come together to provide the stimulus, tools and infrastructure for this online community for UK teachers.
Innovations in Online Learning: During the early 1990s, many of those interested in the impact of information technology liked to talk about "paradigm shifts." Despite its attainment of cliché status, the concept of a paradigm shift is a powerful one. Most who were once skeptical of the impact of the Internet on the ways we do business in all facets of society now recognize that our paradigms are, in fact, shifting. Colleges and universities are now offering thousands of online courses and, in the process, are ostensibly altering centuries-old methods of teaching and learning. Some would argue that this represents a paradigm shift. This is a question that Carol A. Twigg tries to answer in this fascinating article.
Safe Surfing Guide: The enormous power of Internet learning comes an equally enormous safe surfing challenge for teachers. To help this challenge, Easynet has reiterated its strong commitment to responsible use of the Internet in schools with a specialist resource for teachers, The Safe Surfing Guide. The guide answers basic questions about safe Internet use in schools, and also provides teachers with in-depth advice on how to manage classroom use of online resources such as email, chat rooms and instant messaging. You can download the guide from the Easynet website.
All Refer: This website is a hub of good reference information containing outstanding database of articles and reference materials. Students, teachers, and researchers can depend on it for information that is authoritative and up-to-date. AllRefer has extensive information from trusted sources on over 100,000 articles covered under earth & environment, history, literature & arts, health & medicine, people, philosophy & religion, places, plants & animals, science & technology, social science, law, sports, everyday life, and more.
Thinking Skills in Primary Schools: Since the explicit inclusion in the National Curriculum, interest in the teaching of thinking skills has burgeoned in the UK. Thinking skills approaches are emerging as a powerful means of engaging teachers and pupils in improving the quality of learning in classrooms. However, as programmes to enhance thinking have grown in popularity, differences in understanding of the nature of such 'skills' and the best way to tackle the underlying issues in the classroom have both widened and deepened. The aim of this website therefore is to provide information for classroom teachers working in primary schools in the UK about thinking skills programmes and approaches that are currently available.
Study Support: This government website offers information on all aspects of study support, such as guidance on establishing and managing study support activities, good practice, and how study support can bring real benefits in terms of improving attainment, behaviour and attendance for those who participate. It is hoped it will act as an online resource to support anyone with an interest or involved in out of school hours learning - schools, teachers, Local Education Authorities (LEAs), other study support providers, and parents.
Schemes of Work: This DfES Schemes of Work website has a brand new look. As well as updating the original design that had been in service since 1999, the DfES have reorganised the content and improved the way you move around the units and supporting information. Three new sections have been introduced as well: information on planning how to use the schemes; examples of adaptations teachers have made to unit to better suit their particular teaching needs; and information on combining units practically.
Online Exams: Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) yesterday signalled the imminent end of the conventional paper-and-pen exam when he predicted that all youngsters could be taking their national tests, GCSE and A-level exams on screen at a computer in just five years' time. Boston claims that as well as responding to "tick box" questions, students will be guided through interactive problems. It has even been suggested that students could even be asked questions about coursework from home using mobile phones.
Second World War Project: The International Education Forum is setting up a question and discussion area on the Second World War. It is hoped that a large number of people with first-hand experience of the war will agree to answer student questions and to take part in debates about the conflict. We are especially keen to get people from a wide variety of different countries to take part. For example, it would then be possible to have people from several different countries answering questions on subjects such as air raid shelters and food rationing. If you are interested in taking part in this activity either email me via the forum or post your comments on the International Education Forum.
Teachers Online: A typical monthly newsletter contains the latest ICT-related news, gathered from the leading educational press each month. The newsletter also lists a diary of events including the online and offline events of the ICT Advice service and those of the leading educational associations offering advice and support to the classroom practitioner. New relevant print and multimedia publications are highlighted and informative web reviews showcase the best new sites and additions to the tried and trusted favourites.
Education Survey: Bliss, the magazine for teenagers, claims it has just carried out the most comprehensive study to date of teenagers' views on their own education. Maths teachers were labelled as the "most evil" with a quarter of all votes, followed by science teachers (20%) and language teachers (17%). Overall, only three in ten secondary school pupils think they are getting a "very good" education while science, maths and languages are singled out as the "worst taught subjects", according to this survey of 2,000 students.
Schemes of Work: This the Department for Education and Skills website has a brand new look. As well as updating the original design that had been in service since 1999, the DfES have reorganised the content and improved the way you move around the units and supporting information. Three new sections have been introduced as well: information on planning how to use the schemes; examples of adaptations teachers have made to unit to better suit their particular teaching needs; and information on combining units practically.
New Economics Foundation: According to a study carried out by the New Economics Foundation, primary schoolchildren are a lot happier than their secondary counterparts. The study looked at two measures of well-being in more than 1,000 youngsters aged 7 to 19 attending Nottingham schools. The study claims that the well-being and overall happiness of young people drops drastically when they switch from primary to secondary school, with significant effects on their personal development. It finds that a third of children are so badly affected by the transition that they become vulnerable to mental illness.
Sasser Virus: A new computer virus began spreading rapidly across the internet last night. A Russian programming team called the Skynet Anti-Virus Group is responsible for the Sasser worm. It is also sending out an email claiming to offer an antidote to the worm. When users open the file attached to the email, they are infected with another virus called Netsky. The Sasser worm is not spread via email. Instead, the worm searches for computers connected to the Internet which do not have the latest security updates loaded and downloads itself to the machine's hard drive. Users who have firewall software installed and switched on, or who have chosen to receive automatic security updates from Microsoft, are unlikely to be affected by the Sasser worm.
Independent Schools Council: The latest details on private education in the UK were published yesterday. Children attending independent schools make up 7.1% of all pupils. This is a 0.1% growth on last year. This is the slowest growth-rate for many years. The main reason for this was a 9.6% increase in fees. Average fees are now £3,074 a term. Boarding fees are up to £5,909. A large percentage of these children come from abroad. Continental Europe contributes 28% of foreign pupils with Germany being the largest single source.
Directgov: The government has launched its latest attempt to give direct online access to countless local and national services. This includes Education and Training (higher education, including qualification, courses, colleges, online resources, and advice); Employment (information on finding a job, training and careers); Health (an attempt to answer questions about health concerns); Home and Community (information about housing options, buying and selling a home, renting and letting, affordable homes, planning and repairs, safety and security, community issues and the local environment): Motoring and Transport (information and services about motorists, travel abroad, travel in UK, travel safety and commercial vehicles).
Government Websites: Stephen Twigg told MPs last week that the government is spending more than £9 million a year on education websites. The Department for Education and Skills spent £5.3 million on eight websites. Others costing a lot of money includes Curriculum Online (2.4m), British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (£1.3m), National Grid for Learning (£1.1m), National College for School Leadership (£673,000), Teacher Training Agency (£517,000) and Qualifications & Curriculum Agency (£380,000). A DfES spokesman defended this level of spending by arguing that: "the departmental website is one of the largest and most heavily used in Government."
Collaborative Learning: The partner schools involved are Anderson and Brae High School (Shetland), Graf Freidrich Schule (Diepholz, Germany), Nara Women's University Secondary School (Nara, Japan) and Langa and Wittebombe High Schools (Cape Town, South Africa). The project also aims to build on the increasingly trans-national nature of education systems and curriculum development through exploring collaborative learning and teaching. Initially this will focus on German Higher/Advanced Higher, History Advanced Higher and Maths Advanced Higher. Groups of 16 and 17 year-old students from partner schools in each country meet annually to socialise and discuss topical issues. The students stay with families of pupils at the school and attend some classes. The first Global Classroom convention was held in Shetland and will be there again this June.
Ofsted: A summary of an unpublished Ofsted report was leaked to the Times Educational Supplement last week. Questionnaires returned by more than 2,000 Ofsted staff suggests that one in five claims to have been bullied or harassed at work in the past 15 months. Two out of three staff said they felt unable to speak freely at work or share ideas about changing the way work was done. Less than a quarter (24 per cent) said they thought the management style was one that encouraged staff to do their best. Almost two-thirds said objectives changed so frequently that they could not get work done.
China and the Internet: China has a population of over a billion. So far only 70 million of them are online. That is just over 5% of the Chinese population. This is about to undergo a dramatic change. Five large Chinese companies have just announced that they are about to go public and expect to raise $1bn between them to expand their activities online. Registrations of Chinese websites is up 100% from last year. Economists have argued that if China is to become the world's economic superpower, it will have to expand its online activities. One expert said recently: "If people aren't thinking about what is about to happen when China logs on, they soon will." He adds that "if everyone in China went online at the same time, it would bring the whole net down".
School Improvement: The number of websites relevant to the area of school improvement has been expanding at a rapid rate in the last few years, so much so that it is now very difficult to make sense of and to be able to act upon, the vast amount of information available. A recent attempt to search the World Wide Web, using a popular search engine and the search term ‘school improvement’, led to the identification of over six million web pages: even when the enquiry was limited to the United Kingdom, over 400,000 sites were identified. How does the busy educational professional (or interested parent) find their way through this mass of school improvement-related websites, some of which contain extremely useful advice and resources, while others are largely useless and irrelevant? This NFER report aims to assist in this task, to help with the process of identifying useful school improvement websites and to make some brief suggestions as to how these can be used.
School Safaris: Demos, the influential UK think-tank, has just published a report urging schools to organize weekly “safaris” for its pupils. The report’s authors, Gillian Thomas and Guy Thompson argue: “Out-of-classroom learning should not just be about one-off excursions to museums or galleries, though these are clearly also of value. School safaris should occur on a weekly basis in all schools, and could involve children learning about trigonometry by going on fun-fair rides, or doing a geography lesson within an airport arrivals lounge.” This report comes at a time where formal school visits and field trips in the UK have declined in popularity as a result of increased insurance premiums and union advice to teachers to avoid them because of fears of accidents and litigation.
Al-Rowwad Center: Aida Refugee Camp accommodates about 4,000 people (around 650 families) who took refuge to it in 1948 and later in 1967 from 35 different villages in Palestine as the result of the two Arab-Israeli wars. This camp, like the other 21 camps in west bank and the 8 camps in Gaza strip, as well as the other camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, was established with tents as an emergency and temporary camp, but have been transformed to a permanent stage of refuge. Al-Rowwad Center is an Independent Center for artistic, cultural, and theatre training for children in Aida Camp trying to provide a "safe" and healthy environment to help children creativity and discharge of stress in the war conditions they are forced to live in. The camp provides access to computer training.
Ekumfi Schools Project: During August 1997, 12 Newcastle University Civil Engineering undergraduates began the construction of a library/resource centre for the village of Ekumfi-Atakwa in the Central Region of Ghana. The building was designed by Kate Eldon, Master of Engineering student specialising in Structural Engineering as part of her 4th year dissertation. The students helped raise funds for the project by undertaking presentations at Tyneside schools. £25,000 was raised which was sufficient to purchase the construction materials in Ghana. Right now, a double decker London bus is taking children from the 47 primary schools in the Ekumfi District to the John Knapton Library in Ekumfi Atakwa.
AusTeachers: Donna Eaves has created an online staffroom for teachers. At AusTeachers you will find a plethora of information relating to a wide range of educational issues divided between the following easy to understand categories. The School (general educational issues); The Classroom (advice, tips and information about general classroom issues); The Planning Folder (practical ideas for your teaching); The Library (a catalogue educational resources); The Newsletter (details about competitions, school events Australia-wide and the AusTeachers site); The Staffroom (a Discussion Forum for teachers to discuss a huge range of educational issues). The AusTeachers website is a great opportunity to meet other teachers and to get involved in the sharing of experiences and knowledge with teachers at all levels of education.
E-University: In February 2000, David Blunkett, announced the establishment of UKeU, Britain's first e-university. The government spent £62m on the project. However, it was a commercial venture as the plan was to run and deliver e-learning to students around the world. A £20m contract was given to Sun Microsystems to build an e-learning platform for UKeU. This decision was questioned by experts in this field who pointed out that you could buy off-the-shelf technology at a fraction of the price. The Sun Microsystems platform was so bad that only 215 of the university's 900 students used it. This week it was announced that the Higher Education Funding Council for England is currently dismantling UKeU, the company set up to run the project and is seeking to sell its assets.
Curriculum Online: Last year the Department for Education and Skills spent £2.4m on the Curriculum Online website. Research shows that despite this spending, the website is still unpopular with teachers. The government has therefore decided to pay Flow Interactive to give it a makeover. There are now subject-specific home pages, which include news and features. Resources have also been divided into more hierarchies relating to topics. The website allows you to search through 1000s of multimedia resources. It is still a mess and it is very surprising to discover that it is on the short-list for the Government Computing/BT Syntegra Awards for Innovation.
Cooperative Learning: The Macclesfield Performing Arts Network is a group of schools in the Macclesfield area. They have all made a commitment to educate their staff and pupils in the use of co-operative learning techniques. Based on the work of Dr Spencer Kagan, cooperative learning is a way of delivering your course content. Pupils work in teams of four rather than as individuals. The teams are mixed gender and ability. Lessons are designed such that all members of each team participate simultaneously using cooperative structures, ensuring 100% class participation during any task; from a question and answer session to a revision lesson. Each member of the group is accountable to the rest of their team for the work they produce.
Social Market Foundation: According to the think-tank, the Social Market Foundation, oversubscribed schools should use a secret lottery to allocate places, ending middle class queue jumping. It argues that a ballot or a lottery is fairer than the current system in which parents buy expensive houses in the catchment areas of popular schools. The SMF report says: "The concern is that effective school choice has become the preserve of the middle classes, who can afford to buy into the catchment areas of the best schools. This can be quantified through the so-called 'house price premium', whereby being in the catchment area of a good school can add tens of thousands of pounds to the value of a property, which has the effect of crowding out the poor." The report also proposes radical changes to the role of local education authorities by giving schools freedom to expand according to demand from parents.
Waste Online: In the UK we produce more than 430 million tonnes of rubbish per year. The majority of this comes from industrial processes and business, with over 25 million tonnes being created in our homes. The main problem with rubbish is that we keep producing more of it every year. For example, the amount we produce in our homes is said to increase at a rate of 3% per year. This doesn't sound like much, but that means we'll be doubling the amount we produce today by 2020. Where will we put this rubbish? What happens to it once it's taken away from our rubbish bins? What happens to it in the long-term? The education section of this site has advice on how this subject can be studied in the classroom.
UK Web Archiving Consortium: There is currently no legislation obliging people to submit copies of websites to legal deposit libraries. Six organizations (British Library, National Libraries of Wales and Scotland, the National Archive, the Wellcome Trust and the Joint Information Systems Committee) have established the UK Web Archiving Consortium. The objective is to store about 6,000 websites for posterity. Mark Middleton, who is managing the project, claims: "We will be identifying sites that have political, scientific, social or artistic interest for the nation and for future generations."
MindWeavers: The idea for MindWeavers started in the middle of 1996 following the discovery that many children with a specific language impairment (SLI) had problems in perceiving simple sounds, particularly sounds that changed rapidly in time. Subsequent research has shown that children with a variety of learning problems, including SLI, autism, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder, have identifiable physiological signs of hearing problems in the central auditory pathway of the brain. However, other research showed that intense auditory training could help, or even cure these problems. MindWeavers received investment from the University of Oxford and from Oxford Innovation Ltd and is based at the Oxford Centre for Innovation in Mill Street, Oxford.
Right to Choose: The education "Right to Choose" package is the latest Conservative policy to be launched as the party tries to take on Labour over public services in the run-up to the next election. The plan would give every school grant-maintained status, making them able to control their own budgets and choose to select pupils by ability. Unveiling his party's plans, Michael Howard called for good schools to be freed from the "strait-jacket" of central control. He said Conservative policy would be based on: parents' right to choose a school; giving teachers real freedom; and opening up education to new providers. There are already more school places than there are pupils but the Tories want to raise the surplus further by creating 550,000-600,000 extra places.
Tomlinson Report: The Tomlinson working party report on 14 to 19 learning is due out tomorrow. However, it is expected to say that in future all England's teenagers will have to demonstrate English and Maths skills to get a new school diploma. The tests of "functional" literacy and numeracy are the latest effort to address complaints that children might have GCSEs but cannot spell or add up. Everyone would need these core skills to get one of the new diplomas being proposed by the Tomlinson working party. The final report will also seek to raise the esteem of vocational qualifications. It is likely to propose that youngsters could take specialised options within a diploma framework of subject strands - such as engineering and technology or social sciences.
Google Print Project: Google has launched an experimental program that indexes excerpts of popular books, blending the content from these works into regular Google search results. Google Print differs from Amazon's recently introduced Search Inside the Book program, which makes the full text of books available online to readers. By contrast, Google is indexing only a small excerpt from each book. If you want to purchase the book, Google provides links to the book's description page at major online retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million. To use Google Print, just search on Google as you normally would. For example, do a search on a subject such as "Books about Ecuador Trekking," or search on a title like "Romeo and Juliet." Whenever a book contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book in your search results. Click on the book title and you'll see the page that contains your search terms, as well as other information about the book. You can also search for other topics within the book. Click "Buy this Book" and you'll go straight to a bookstore selling the book online.
Search Inside the Book: This Amazon website allows you to search the full-text of more than 33 million pages from over 120,000 printed books. More than 190 publishers are participating in the program, including Wiley, Time Warner Book Group, Simon & Schuster, and Random House. The service is easy to use. Simply enter your search terms into any Amazon search box. In addition to the usual results listing authors and titles, you'll also see short snippets labeled "excerpt from" and the hyperlinked title of the book where your search terms were found. Click on the title link you'll see a scanned image of the page with your search term(s) highlighted. Amazon is using optical character recognition technology to find words embedded in the scanned images. Scanned books are fully browseable. You can move forward or backwards one page at a time using links above the page image. You can also move forward by simply clicking on the page image.
Indymedia: Last Thursday a court order was issued to Rackspace, an American-owned web hosting company in Uxbridge, Middlesex, forcing it to hand over two servers used by Indymedia, an international media network. Indymedia hosts sites, news and radio feeds for anti-globalisation groups and other campaigners for social justice. It is unclear why, or to where, the servers have been taken. The FBI acknowledged that a subpoena had been issued but said this was at the request of Italian and Swiss authorities. Indymedia said some of the 20 sites knocked out by the raid were restored from back-up copies soon after the originals were taken. Others, such as Antwerp, Belgrade, Liege and Lille, took longer to restore. Indymedia said some of its local affiliates lost data because of the seizure. The raid was condemned by the International Federation of Journalists which called it an: ""unacceptable and intrusive international police action". The servers were returned on 13th October.