BETT – Thursday 26th Jan 2017

This was a jam packed day with back to back seminars and and about half an hour for lunch, all planned that way. Definitely no missing out on anything this time around for this E-learning Developer!

F.E Learn Live stage – Digital Storytelling: Engaging Learnings: Developing Digital Literacies (session by Gordon Duffy-McGhie)

The case study was based in Middlesbrough College using a drama class with the understanding of the class issues being attendance, student engagement and students being spoon fed for assessments rather than learning.

The solution was to restructure the communications architecture to move away from the traditional model of teaching, based on content regurgitation, to peer collaborative learning. The Process is shown below:

The Process. Phase 1: Information and communication infrastructure.

  • Tackled the VLE first – moved from a folder based navigation and look VLE to a website based navigation and look VLE
  • Used students work to show case and create into journey or show case a journey using multimedia materials (videos etc)
  • Class expectations of what they’re there to learn – analytics showed previewed material increased and looked through each week of subject and interest was maintained after session. This was done using quick 1 minute videos as a hook for the students, using student work.

The Process. Phase 2: Integration.

  • Flipped content
  • Blendspace
  • Less delivery – presentation by tutor
  • Peer review as a digital story – power of the student voice
  • Formative tasks.
  • Replaced essays with short video and video planning (where appropriate) which made students be concise and more engaged due to time limit, and there to be a review of what marks and what makes a merit and distinction.

Overall the results showed that:

  • Marks went up
  • skills gained for the course – preparing them to be able to adapt in real life scenarios and potentially in future careers.
  • Class attendence went up
  • Skype interviews improved their interview skills due to students being able to hear and see how they present themselves.
  • Increased confidence with technology.

The takeaway from the session was in relation to the technology being there for learning and not learning for technology. For the tutor it became less about delivery and more about the student’s learning journey and progress rather than the destination. This meant that the students voices and opinions were crucial so it is important to encourage student speaking and communication.

Secondary Learn Live stage – Flipped Meetings: An Effective, Innovative and Sustainable Approach to Leadership Communication (session by Jon Tait)

This was a sneaky management one I wanted to look at. After listening to the session it made complete sense and was also nice to see that at one level or another we are already doing this at the college.

The problem faced by the secondary school which lead to this solution was that looking at it from a management level, face to face time is costly. Both in financial cost of people wages wise and cost of time, time which could be better spent for teachers lesson prepping and marking and for mangers actually being able to plan and act on the school’s needs (financial etc).

The whole crux of the session relied on sustainable leadership and the idea of a flipped paperless classroom applied to meetings. The case study at Acklam Grange School, which is Microsoft Showcase School, means that the software used was Microsoft based. In this case they used OneNote and Office 365 to create paperless meetings to share documents to read before the meeting and then edit within the meeting, using the meeting time to discuss the information. This meant that decisions which were previously taken lightly, as people didn’t have time to process the information given, were now thought of in-depth and the information  was effectively processed from reading it previously to the meeting. This lead to meetings being shorter but more effective with actions and outcomes.


  • Before meeting: Info given out prior to meeting
  • Before meeting: People read before meeting
  • In Meeting : pose questions
  • In Meeting : review
  • In Meeting : create action

From this meeting times were quicker, the school saved money (both in peoples time and printing costs)and higher thinking skills were used to make decisions.

The official takeaway from this experience was that face to face time is precious and that you should assess as a company and an individual whether you’re getting value for money from your meetings. Unofficially I got the takeaway that with anything relating to learning you should always apply learning theory, for example within a meeting where you’re expected to learn and understand information to be able to make a decision on it should be treated as learning rather than an exercise in quickfire thinking.

F.E  Learn Live stage – Blended Learning Consortium (session by Peter Kilcoyne)

There is some amazing work being done with this consortium, it’s an initiative where you pay so much a year as a membership fee and you get access to all the information, learning resources and discounts on learning package and content authoring tools.


Key values of consortium:

  • Good to share
  • Democratic decision making – ideas for learning materials go through a process and panel to get created.
  • Collaboration and mutual support – there’s already so many colleges in it and you get their support and input too.
  • Accessibility kept in mind – when the packages are produced they are produced with accessibility options.

The content had some great uses for tutorial provision, supporting the FELTAG initiative, absence cover, revision, adapting and badges. Especially as you get more out of it then you put in financially.

However when the purse strings are tight, it doesn’t necessarily work as a viable and sustainable option. But that is down to your institute.

BETT stage – Can VR Become a Classroom Reality? (session by Sanjesh Sharma and David Mann from Class VR)

This main stage event was great to see the different case studies of VR currently.

Uses of VR:

Visual Literacy/Realisation – Creation of real world experiences to allow for emotional learning through sensory context. For example immersing students into a world described in a book to give the student an ability to understand the experience so that they can describe it. Or showing students a worn torn country for an ethics assignment with immersive real life sights and sounds to generate an emotional connection to allow for emotional learning (the example given was a walk through the streets of Syria)

Simulations – 3D simulated working models. Examples shown were the pumping heart, where the student could walk around the heart and see how the mechanics work.

Field Trips/enrichment – Allowing students to access places they might not have been able to access before. The example shown was a virtual tour of the Smithsonian in America, which anyone around the world could access. This would make enrichment activities such as field trips more sustainable due to cost and ability to visit places.

Additionally accessibility came into play – engaging students who may previously not been engaged with the subject due to lack of practical examples or different methods of learning.

Again this technology has been stressed that the why, how, when and where of the content and pedagogy need to be thought of in it’s use. Technology for learning not learning for technology.

Not a tablet replacement

Though VR is the near future, and in some institutions a working technology at present, there is an undercurrent of mixed reality becoming an emerging future educational technology tool for a more interactive experience. However this seems to be a while off, but it’s always something to keep an eye out for.

Microsoft Learn Live stage – Badges and More: An Introduction to Teacher Training and CPD (session by Paul Watkins from Ysgol Bae Baglan)


The session hinged on the concept of time being precious (similar to the earlier session of flipped meetings) but that technological CPD was crucial to tutors and support staff to help save then time in the long run by increasing their digital competency.

Again this was lead by a Microsoft based school, so is highly situated within Microsoft technology. The main selling point was the CPD that’s freely available to anyone, where collaboration is a great way of peer learning from other professionals.

The school implemented this system, which used badges to show the full amount of CPD a staff member had done and which mini courses they’d taken. There was reported school wide success as different levels of confidence in students and staff as they interacted and responded well to the bitesized training done at their own pace, which enhanced the digital competency of the whole school and in the end saved time for tutors in the long run.

A cheeky side note, I noticed that (unintentionally?) they’d accidentally used operant conditioning through reinforcement for the face to face sessions by having chocolates, cake etc and then at the end of the year the one with the most badges/progress were publicly praised between the staff. This approach is fantastic because it encourages a competitive yet supporting community environment where technology confidence can be safely encouraged.

Microsoft Learn Live stage – Learning Tools for OneNote (session by Microsoft and Jan Lusty)

This was a fantastic case of using OneNote as a accessibility tool for students. This case study was conducted at Knowl Hill School, which is a dyslexic specialist school.

OneNote as a learning tool, in the immersive reader option:

  • Focus Mode
  • Text to speech
  • change page background for visual crowding control
  • increase font size
  • syllables breaks into syllable parts
  • Nouns

For the case study from the school it was found that:

  • Pupils enjoyed using the technology
  • Impacted positively on writing
  • Lead to less emotional distress after intervention
  • Pupils progress was more in literacy and phonological skills than would be expected
  • Made the same progress in a few weeks which would be expected in a year
  • Reading fluency and accuracy increased more than expected
  • Pupil’s felt independence for writing.
  • Made the information more accessible

From this going forward I’m sure we’ll be trialing it here, there was a lot it could do which for a tool we already have was a brilliant eye opener!

Microsoft Learn Live stage – Windows 10 in Education (session by Ben Whitfield)

This was of particular interest to me and the college as we have recently moved over to Windows 10, so to see a fully immersed school as a living case study of effective use of Windows 10 sounded hopeful.

The case study related to St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School, and though from the software side (which is the side I was mainly interested in) was brilliant, it was only fleeting and again related back to OneNote and the Office 365 cloud based apps.  The focus was more hardware based on the surface tablets which Microsoft have released, which again was great because they utilised the surface for the drawing capability. However I have to admit at this point I switched off a little bit, as the tablet devices we have at college are Apple based and a lot of the information given about the use of the Mircosoft tablet with Microsoft software was redundant as the functions for the same apps and tech change from Microsoft to Apple device.

Though some of the ideas and methods implemented were somewhat eye opening, for example they had bypassed their IT department and given full control to staff to use the store to buy apps.  Though they had set specific staff to act as admins of the system, so that they could hide and lock down the tablets for students use (so they couldn’t download what they shouldn’t be able to)

To keep the conclusion short and sweet, everything from this day can be summarised in these key points:

  • Technology for learning not learning for technology – don’t use it just because it’s there, think why are you using it?
  • Move away from traditional models – ditch the regurgitation and welcome student lead learning.
  • Embed technological skills with your students – it will help prepare them for the future by being confident in technology skills.
  • Time is precious – with increased demands in education on tutors and organisations, smaller and more accessible CPD sessions are the way forward.
  • look at what you already have and see how that can be applied – For me it was the functionality of Office 365 as an e-learning tool rather than an IT system.
  • Device agnostic systems – everywhere seemed to be either specifically and Apple school or a Microsoft school, which can cause problems when you’ve got a bit of both.

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