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

Supporting information for schools on Musical.ly

Musical.ly 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 Musical.ly.  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.

Musical.ly 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

Source: https://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php

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.

secure

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:

“Hi,

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?

Thanks,

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

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

Nothing!

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.

NHS Blippit App Maker Project Partnership – Refer to Pharmacy

NHSRefer-to-Pharmacy allows hospital pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to refer people directly to their community pharmacist for free NHS services such as the New Medicine Service or a Discharge Medication Review.

We’ve been working with Alistair Gray, Clinical Services Lead Pharmacist at East Lancashire Health Trust, on an idea to help spread of the word about Refer-to-Pharmacy.  After an initial chat, Alistair quickly saw the potential of having an app, that he had complete control over,  to aggregate sources of news, project updates, video, talks/events and so on for anyone wanting to know more about the project.

Bonus Brochure

With an hour’s training he very quickly made a really convincing job of the first ever ‘Refer to Pharmacy’ app and incredibly within 24 hours a QR Code and link were added to the latest print run design of the new R2P brochure. We feel confident that having an eye for detail, Alistair’s app will continue to evolve – in fact it’s at version 11 at time of writing!

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Every Success

Blippit is really happy and proud to support awareness raising of such a great project with it’s roots firmly in the NHS.  The fact that Refer-To-Pharmacy is being picked up internationally now too is a really positive sign.

Award time for Patient Safety

Refer-to-Pharmacy is a Patient Safety Award winning initiative; being the recipient of the Best Emerging Technology or IT award at the 2016 Patient Safety Congress.

Does your organisation have a project?
We’re in talks about a few other projects supporting the strategic goals of large organisations just now and we’ll hopefully be able to share more in time.  If you are from a large organisation, such as the NHS, and have strategic goals that could be supported in a similar way please contact us via support@blippit.co.uk with your idea.  If your organisation has established links to education already and would like to discuss an app making project or competition concept for schools we’d be happy to talk.

10 Improvements to the App Maker

Our improvements today are all about usability & accessibility on the App Maker. These will be arriving late in the day (Friday 23rd Sept) for most schools in all countries 🙂

  1. New platform wide Font for easier reading (pic)
  2. Trimmed and simplified language in Widgets descriptions
  3. Icons added to improve interface & familiarity with widgets (pic)
  4. Widget Tips made easier to read for IWB and laptop users (pic)
  5. More space to write your feedback to children in app feedback
  6. More feedback when moving a widget in the Drop zone
  7. LITE gets the Switch Control Panel removed to make life simpler for Office 365 Education and Google Apps for Education & RM Unify schools
  8. You no longer get logged out when you change your password
  9. Teachers choose what happens to a .blip project template (pic)
  10. Blippit arrives faster on screens now via HTTP/2 (tech)
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Linking the real world with the classroom just got easier with Blippit

We are starting to talk with organisations outside of school to explore collaborative projects that unlock knowledge and skills in the work place to build bridges with schools.

The projects that we’re most keen on just now have a clear learning legacy in the form of reusable digital app & code project templates that will continue to benefit schools after a project formally comes to an end.

We see a big opportunity for willing organisations to create, amongst other things, their own collection of project app templates that would be downloaded/uploaded & remixed/developed by students from the company website, Planet Blippit or wherever works best.

Wrapped around these projects are some other nice ideas such as beaming expertise into the classroom using Blippit’s school network friendly secure video conferencing tool ‘Spotlight’.  We want to put learning truly in the Spotlight and let children benefit from having a professional and critical audience from beyond their usual environment.

If your organisation would like to talk about an education project idea do get in touch with us via support@blippit.co.uk with initial ideas/questions.

New App Maker Templates – make, share, remix, download & upload apps

faster, smoother starts
Say goodbye to a blank app project starting point!  New features to support faster, smoother and easier lesson starts, assessment and collaborative working are now live for all schools.
Here’s what you can now do
  1. Save a great project starter app as a project template and share it out directly within Blippit to target year groups/classes or individuals for any subject or colleague to use.
  2. Save time year on year with planning and preparation
    • save, store and re-cycle templates
    • make templates to support different abilities and share to targeted students with differing levels of scaffolding in place within the app template
  3. All users can now download an app at any stage of development.  This is useful for assessment purposes in that you can have different versions of the app saved to show how it has developed over time
  4. Download an app from Planet Blippit (see how in this video) and upload it to your own account for re-mixing before you share it out to targeted class groups
  5. Teams of students working collaboratively can plan and develop an app project together then download the basic app and share an exact copy to each member of the team to develop different versions based on that design.  This is done with the new app template upload/ download feature available to all users.

Here’s one video about how the teacher can now really easily share their own project in the app maker as a template for other children to work with and learn from.  More videos on this topic are in the Blippit Knowledge Base.

 

Planet Blippit

As you can see every app made by a student or teacher user now has an extra link so that others can download and remix the app if they want to using their own Blippit App Maker account.  No other tool can open a Blippit App to remix and develop it further.  All apps are teacher approved and all apps carry an audit trail in their About section to show the origins of the app project.

Planet Blippit Downloadable Apps

 

Office 365, Google Apps for Education & AirHead may keep you cool under pressure

passwordFor many people, logging in to multiple web based services is a real pain in the backside.  In schools, when you add in the pressured pace of life and dynamic nature of the environment, the pain can really stack up.

It’d be very cool to just have one log in that spoke to every other system as access was needed aka a ‘single sign-on’.  But as Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker in Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.”   Logging out of systems suddenly becomes very important.

How could Office 365 or Google Apps for Education help life in school?

Lots of schools now choose to adopt one or the other platform (& sometimes bits of each) because it means they’re in a good position to get one step closer to the dream of single sign-on.  One unique username (often an email address) and password will not only get each person into Office 365/Google but even better is that they can use these same credentials to log in to other systems too.

Take Blippit as an example

Schools using Office 365 or Google Apps for Education can now use their school details to log in and get busy making apps, code projects and so on.  We make a simple change on the school’s Blippit account and then that’s it.  There’s no more extra account creation, management or delayed lesson starts while someone sorts out their password.  Any password changes that happen are triggered through Office 365 or Google and when this happens it doesn’t affect any other system, including Blippit.

If your school uses Blippit IO and wants to reduce the number of tech admin jobs for colleagues as well as the number of usernames and passwords children/teachers have to remember then visit these two ‘how to’ articles for Office 365 or Google Apps.  Start saving time, energy & blood vessels today.

AirHead

Blippit IO is also available on AirHead which, when you first have a go with the free version, allows you to enter your Blippit IO username & password then securely remember it for wherever you are and whichever computer you’re using.  It’s a superb way to begin to experience the convenience of simplified sign on.  Dig deeper and you’ll also find that AirHead can offer your school a different way of making children’s and teacher’s lives a lot easier because it also integrates with Office 365 and Google Apps for Education among other things.

  • Find out more about having AirHead in your school

Google Apps for Education Single Sign On for Easy Blippit Access

Blippit is introducing a powerful new single-sign-on option for Google Apps for Education school users globally and ‘yes’ this latest enhancement is a free addition for all schools.

If your school already uses Google Apps for Educators (GAFE) to access various tools, such as email, Google Docs and so on you will benefit from this simple way of signing in straight away.

With GAFE

  • your school log in for Google Apps for Education is all you need to use Blippit
  • faster and smoother starts to lessons so more time for app making, computational thinking & collaborating
  • one less username and password to remember

What is Blippit?

We’ve got a HQ in England and Australia which means people don’t always know what Blippit is when search engines or other schools send them our way so here’s the low-down on what we have got going on in our coding and computational thinking journey.

  1. App Maker 
    Drag and drop or do some mark up language then publish your apps to Planet Blippit with your teacher’s approval and individualised feedback.
    .
  2. Blocks
    Drag and drop block programming to stimulate those computational thinking brain cells and even see the Python code behind the scenes. Create projects personalised to scaffold learning concepts for your children and much more to promote collaboration.
    .
  3. PureCode Python
    The next step along the coding journey from Blippit Blocks with a focus on text based programming using Python. Start with a blank Turtle project or create projects yourself to scaffold learning concepts for your students to use.
    .
  4. Spotlight
    The simplest and safest web based video conferencing tool available designed to support learning where experts are brought ‘virtually’ in to class or where classes link up to share learning. School firewall friendly.
Try Blippit out with the Google Apps for Education Login Integration

Here’s how to do it if you want to find out more and link your school’s Google Apps with your school Blippit account. Just click the button.

Log in with Google