I left the annual Frog Conference at the ICC with a lot to take away…and no, I don’t just mean the free goodies!
While I’m sure that I won’t be going without mugs and coasters for a long time, the conference has radically transformed my opinions on e-safety and I’m more confident than ever to start bringing my own school into the cloud.
Up into the cloud
I was delighted to discover that Frog’s huge investment in development this year has resulted in both Office365 and Google Apps for Education becoming fully integrated into FrogLearn.
I rushed to the Microsoft stand, and I was blown away. FrogDrive and OneDrive were now integrated to a point where a student could save their work in PowerPoint 2013, which would sync to their FrogDrive (VLE storage), and it could then be opened in OneDrive and edited on any device. This is the level of integration that is really required to make cloud storage a reality in schools.
Billy Downie (@), Headteacher of Streetly Academy, then led a fantastic talk on the potential of big data to revolutionise schools. Using a combination of Frog, Google Apps for Education, and Sleuth he has engineered some of the smartest education systems I’ve seen in any school.
Staff are automatically provided with their CPD targets from a huge number of data points, and Streetly’s own tool ‘The Suite’ directs staff to personalised CPD events throughout the year. Best of all, you can request it for free in your school by asking here. Also, Slueth is used so effectively that it can predict behaviour problems before they even occur.
I seriously wonder how many schools in the country could quantify the impact of sport club attendance on the progress of pupil premium students. Let alone, how many schools have computer systems that worked this out before anyone even spotted the correlation and then had a tool which suggested improvements that seriously enhanced the progress of struggling students.
Very few talks make you feel that you are seeing an image of schools in the future. This was certainly a talk that did.
By far the most powerful session of the day was delivered by the e-safety consultants at Fantastict (@). I have never seen so many people sit forward as they argued that it was best to model the use of social media (in particular Facebook and Youtube) in the safe environment of the school rather than to let students go free in the unsupervised and private environment of their own bedroom.
After all, as they claimed, you can’t teach a child to swim without water. It was a very convincing argument, and it’s very rare that a talk can appear so straightforward and persuasive that it changes your entire outlook on social media in schools. I’ll reflect on this in a post later this week.
The excellent Tim Rylands (@) wrapped the day up by looking at an exhaustive list of educational technology that could be applied in the classroom. While the list of tools was far too extensive to write down, he thankfully included them all on his blog.
This year the message from Frog was clear. They’re not just a VLE company but they have serious ambitions to become a leader in the field of e-learning.
If you’ve got even the slightest interest in educational technology then the annual Frog conference is certainly somewhere that you cannot afford to avoid. The workshops and talks available throughout the day will leave you passionate about the potential of educational technology.by