STEM App Maker Projects in the Emirates 2018


The new United Arab Emirates Design & Technology Curriculum is well under way with STEM themed app making projects and fabulous learning happening in schools such as this leading girls’ school.

The attention to detail in these apps is very noticeable, as is the thought that has gone into the preparation for the learning, supported and emphasised in the new teacher & student handbooks.

Here are some images of the girls’ work from the classroom where students are seen presenting to peers the key features, content and design considerations.  It’s nice to also see the creative use of Google Forms in a number of the apps (screenshot of one app below showing use of Google Forms).

Considering that the UAE only began using Blippit in mid-January 2018 we’re even more impressed with the rate of progress!  Congratulations to everyone involved.

Emirati App STEM App feedback app feature

Congratulations students!


Is social media disconnecting us from society?

Digital human

One of the major criticisms of social media is that it’s disconnecting us, as individuals, from society and from real physical interactions.

But if a key element of ‘tribe’ is communication and connectivity then the digital world arguably holds unlimited bounds for tribes.

If the internet has heralded the death of distance, what do these new kind of tribes look like? And do we relate to each other in different ways now that so much of our lives are lived online?

In this episode of The Digital Human (BBC Radio 4.), Aleks Krotoski asks if rather than separating us, the digital world is helping us revive old tribal connections.  It’s a fascinating way to look at schools and their parental communities for many reasons so do have a listen.

Blippit goes live for the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education


The curriculum for schools in the United Arab Emirates is changing rapidly in response to the UAE Vision 2021.  Critically the UAE wants to be among the best countries in the world by 2021 and for us its been a pleasure to work colleagues at the Ministry of Education to make Blippit part of the new Design & Technology curriculum.  The pace has been remarkable.

“…the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda emphasises the development of a first-rate education system, which will require a complete transformation of the current education system and teaching methods. The National Agenda aims for all schools, universities and students to be equipped with Smart systems and devices as a basis for all teaching methods, projects and research.” Read: First-Rate Education System

Personalised Blippit

The MoE has an Office 365 integrated sign in for their schools to use with Blippit to make life easier.  Uniquely, theirs is a bespoke Blippit App Maker cloud that’s only accessible to schools in the UAE to bring performance enhancements and meet their data requirements.


Design & Technology

A new publication has been created thanks to teachers in the UAE supported by MoE colleagues & advised by us.  Teachers will now follow and use this publication thanks to their in-country training at the start of the new year.

As the schools in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Northern Emirates  get to grips with the App Maker and begin their learning, we  looking forward to seeing how they progress with their new digital skills, explorations of app making, coding and creativity.

Not enough teachers & parents know about ‘Guided Access’ on iPad / iPhone

‘Guided Access’ is not new but just speaking to parents & teachers it seems to me that not enough of them know they can temporarily restrict their iOS device to a single app – perfect for those occasions where their children may ‘borrow’ their phone/iPad or even just be on their own device if they’re lucky to have one.

Apple describe Guided Access as “helping you to stay focused on a task while using your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Guided Access limits your device to a single app and lets you control which app features are available.”

  • Disable areas of the screen that aren’t relevant to a task, or areas where an accidental gesture might cause a distraction
  • Disable the hardware buttons

Here’s how you do it in a video I shared recently with schools we support via our Blippit Social services on Facebook.

Double tap this video on a mobile device to fill your screen.

If you want a more generous option that gives a user more rope, take a look at apps like Our Pact.

How do reluctant writers respond to writing in the Blippit App Maker?

For years we’ve kept the app writer as a completely open ended tool so that people aren’t immediately channeled in to predictable and boring pathways like trying to create a restaurant app.

The result is has been that teachers are able to, for example, focus on their own curriculum subject areas like vikings to extend, consolidate and publish the children’s learning to the whole world with a literacy focus.

A few weeks ago one teacher we worked with (year 4 & 5) told us about a reluctant writer of hers and the impact that writing in Blippit’s App Maker had on him.  You can listen to her here…

Here’s a quick view of the apps once they were published to our App Store on Planet Blippit.

Icons made by Freepik from is licensed by CC 3.0 BY



The Social School Award 2017

Social School Award

The Social School Award was just launched on 11th May at the Lancashire Association of School Business Managers Conference.

The Social School Award is designed for schools who have embraced social media for connecting, promoting and engaging with others in lots of different ways.

A collaboration between John Bidder and David Mitchell over the last year has led to what is now such a wonderful opportunity for any school who has taken the initiative, led the way and come up with new & innovative ways to communicate.

If you want to get started and see whether your school could apply for this exciting Award that rewards your boldness in recent years you can start with the 5 step self assessment process today.

David Mitchell
David Mitchell
John Bidder
John Bidder

Book your March 2017 Workshop place & boost parental engagement via social media

Blippit Social Bolton Workshops

Book a place for this March & April 2017 at one of our face-to-face school-based afternoon workshops and amongst the latest good practice for schools,  you’ll learn what hundreds of parents had to say about what it’s like to have children at a school where social media is proactively used.

These are unique insights that we’ve turned into actions that you can take away and use in your own setting.

Bolton School Workshops

St Paul’s (Astley Bridge) CE Primary – Bolton St Catherine’s CE Primary – Horwich POSTPONED Eagley Junior School – Bolton
Eventbrite - Best Practice to Boost Your School's Parental Engagement via Social Media Eventbrite - Best Practice to Boost Your School's Parental Engagement via Social Media POSTPONED

Kearsley West Primary – Bolton
Eventbrite - Best Practice to Boost Your School's Parental Engagement via Social Media

We’ll not just be sharing this unique parental insight with you.  As part of the workshop you’ll get the latest good practice for boosting meaningful engagement and advice on Facebook’s new focus on ‘video’.

It’ll be fun (yes that’s allowed) and we’re also going to introduce you to some new apps that’ll reinvigorate your timelines too!

All School Based

Online booking is now open for 4 Bolton school venues.  More dates will follow in other areas too. These are half-day sessions that include resources and refreshments for £69 +vat  Existing schools who have our Blippit Social service already can choose the free ticket option 🙂

Visit  information on Blippit Social in general.

Infographic vector designed by Freepik

Supporting information for schools on co-CEO Alex Zhu last year said:

“Today the very proposition of the app is not about creating music videos. It’s not about lip-syncing. It’s about a social network,” Zhu said. “It’s a community. People want to stay because there are other people. ”  Full Article on UK Business Insider

The app is intended for teens not tweens but last year found itself in a social media whirlwind triggered by a Dad’s story who discovered his daughter had been receiving grooming messages from a user profile designed to deceive.

This week, one of the primary schools we support got in touch to say they were contacting parents in writing to advise on the inherent risks associated with the app for younger children.  The age limit is 13+ BUT the trap here is that we all get overly focused on this age limit.

Seeing as it’s ‘you’ reading this post then the chances are we’re preaching to the converted and you know that this is as much about being aware what our children are using, open conversations and knowing how to manage privacy as  much as any age limit.

Useful to watch

We quickly made this video to be shared with schools to help parents understand how to control just how visible and reachable they are on  This is all common sense stuff and applies to other networks too as you’ll already know.

Useful to read

Webwise is the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre which is co-funded by the Department of Education and Skills and the EU Safer Internet Programme. has this for parents


Convey confidence & competence to school website visitors in just 3 letters – SSL

Here’s something that not a lot of people know.

There’s a goal in mind for the web and that is to enable every website address to begin with https:// instead of http:// so that the data that passes between site and sender/visitor is encrypted.  Google are big supporters of it amongst others.

Here’s something that not a lot of people know either.

This is the how the various web browsers that people use globally compare and yes, back there in the distance is Internet Explore & Edge with Chrome beating way out in front.

browser stats for dec2016


Why are these ‘pub trivia’ facts important?

Well, at the end of January this year, Google’s latest version of Chrome (v56) (the dead popular one) will ultimately start telling visitors to your school website whether it’s secure or not.


What are the benefits of going secure?

  1. When you’re logging in to your school website to update it with new content, an encrypted secure connection (Secure Socket Layer Certificate) comes into it’s own.  SSL means that when you enter your username and password to update the site for example, the login information travels securely to it’s destination making access to your website even more secure.
  2. Noone wants Ofsted raising their eyebrows when they visit your site – life is hard enough complying with DfE information requirements – and every little helps. (there is no requirement for SSL from DfE or Ofsted as of 17/1/17)
  3. Your parent & carer community will see ‘SECURE’ being directly associated with the school which has to be good.
  4. In 2011 Google announced that they were making changes to help secure sites do better in searches and to date this has remained the same.

What can your school do about it?

Your web site host will have a very easy and quick method of applying a security certificate to your website thus making it secure for visitors and site managers.   It’s pretty rare that the school tech support would touch this job so unless they’re the person who built and hosted your website we suggest leaving them well alone.  This Google site has a technical guide for how to implement an SSL so if your tech is the person they may want this link.  Schools who have a Blippit Site are already compliant with SSL in place.


Our suggestion would be to get the ball rolling tomorrow with a quick email to your provider saying:


We’d like you to apply an SSL certificate to our school website please. We’d like to do this for 12 months initially and need this in place by February or March at the latest.  Can you let us know what we need to do on our part to do this e.g. forward an email from the certificate issuing authority to you when it comes?


<School Who Knows What They’re Talking About>”

What happens if we don’t get a security certificate applied to the school website?


You can carry on as you are and everything will stay the same. The main issue is that the world’s most widely used web browser will start telling visitors that your site is not secure and in this day and age that’s probably not what you want.

Good luck & support a more secure web!

Further Reading:
LetsEncrypt runs the certificate authority that issues free SSL certificates so cost is no longer a barrier to using HTTPS and both Google and Mozilla to actively promote and recommend the use of HTTPS as standard.