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

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.

Part 2: Learning with Year 2 about the Vikings, non-chronological reports and app making

The last literacy-focused app publishing lesson with Year 2 happened last week. Both during and after the lesson we learned a lot about how the writing process was affected, even in more reluctant writers, by the addition of app publishing.

Though the focus was so clearly writing improvement, when the children were asked, the prospect of Mummy or Daddy having the app on their phones was also featuring large in their minds.

You can get the Viking App Template from Blippit Academy and get The Year 2 Project app from Planet Blippit.

Listen now to part 2 with Assistant Head & Literacy Leader Mrs Emma Smallshaw, from Salesbury Primary in Lancashire, in action with her Year 2 class and reflecting afterwards with John Bidder from Blippit about the process as a whole and next steps.

You can also read and listen to Part 1 of this project and if you prefer YouTube you can catch the project playlist here.

Part 1: Learning with Year 2 about the Vikings, non-chronological reports and app making

We’ve been focusing on how the process of improving non-chronological report writing could combine with publishing a mobile app using Blippit’s App Maker.

One of the most striking factors was the effect of telling the children that their app would be seen by the world; this would include mum & dad on their mobile phones too.  We’ve always believed in the positive effect of having an authentic audience and what was clear was that these children, at such a young age, were highly motivated at the thought.

What you’ll get a sense of in the video is the absolute focus on literacy and writing improvement.  What was less easy to capture was the willingness of the children to ‘fix’ their writing to make it better.  This is the ‘norm’ for these children it seems and dealing with being told that there’s ‘a problem with’ some part of their writing was not a problem for them.  You can get the Viking App Template from Blippit Academy.

Listen to Assistant Head & Literacy Leader Mrs Emma Smallshaw, from Salesbury Primary in Lancashire, in action with her class and reflecting afterwards about the process so far.

You can also read and listen to Part 2 of this project and if you prefer YouTube you can catch the project playlist here.

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!

The gallery was not found!
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.

You've got that yucky feeling? Blippit chat to Kidsafe

This week Blippit Social met up with NW based Kidsafe for a chat about safeguarding, child exploitation and the importance of not keeping experiences inside that give a child a ‘yucky feeling’ as Kidsafe describe it.

Blippit Social’s approach & beliefs about the importance of schools having a social approach to parental engagement complement Kidsafe’s work well which is why we’ve some interesting ideas bubbling in the pipeline now that will mean good things for schools in the future.

blippit social and kidsafe
“They know it’s a puppet!” Jude Walker from Kidsafe with KS.

Systems that simplify: Airhead, GroupCall IDaas, Google Edu, Microsoft Azure & RM Unify

One log-in is enough for most people – it’s certainly enough in schools when your brain is spinning and creaking with a million other things.  On the market just now are a growing number of technical solutions that are designed help you and the children sign in only once (or thereabouts) and get access to all your stuff from anywhere.

social log in
You’ll have seen how with some sites you can log in using your details from Twitter, Google, Facebook.  It’s pretty clever and it makes life simpler in the non-school world.  Unfortunately it’s less straightforward, or rather there’s more to consider, to enable this sort of authentication in schools.  Google has an impressive solution to this mentioned later in this post.   On a practical note,  having a log in option for younger users via social media is contra to the policies of pretty much all providers.

With the dream is always to make life simpler for users (while simultaneously keeping things fully usable, secure & customisable) here’s a whistle-stop tour of some available and proven systems that are here to lower technical friction and free up your brain space for learning.  They’re in no particular order other than alphabetical.


 

airhead

AirHead caught our eye at BETT 2016 as a very nicely done and deeply integrated web based desktop.  Your apps follow you whatever device you’re on and there’s some clever stuff under the hood that allows children and teachers to greatly reduce the number of times they have to log in to different systems.  If you want to bring in behaviour, attendance and all that gritty stuff you can do that too with all the big MIS systems listed here.

 

Google Apps for Education

Google has taken simplification to heart and wrapped some of the most powerful web based productivity tools around it you’re likely to see.   Want children to work/write/draw/survey or whatever together online in real time?  This will tick those needs off very nicely and wherever you or your children are working it won’t matter.  Well worth exploring if you’ve not already done so as us the Chromebook – a technology of which we’re huge fans hence the Chrome Extension we built of Blippit IO.

 

IDaas

If you like the tech, then one of the smartest fish under the waterline is GroupCall’s IDaaS (Identity Management for Education).  It’s a bit like the magic golden thread that ultimately lets you zip seamlessly and share data securely between systems.  Purely for education it has to be a good thing.  It does more but check them out for more info on their website.

 

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure may be starting to appear on your peripheral vision if you’re not directly involved in tech at school.  Your network support experts will be well aware of it.  One among the many things Azure does is to integrate lots of tools and services that are commonly used across your organisation such as email, where you keep your files and securely manage single login to multiple systems. Microsoft is operating a more open shop these days and MS non-fans may want to check out what is now being catered for under Azure.  Chat to Virtue Technologies in Skelmersdale – they know Azure well.

 

RM Unify

RM Unify is a single sign-on method that curriculum tools such as Blippit allow teachers and children to gain access with.  School users log in to RM Unify just once.  If user details are updated at school level this is synchronised automatically across all other systems including Blippit if necessary.  No more “I’ve forgotten my password!” & plenty of customisation at a local level so schools can point to bought and free stuff at will.  It’s also a shop window so if you’re using RM’s MIS you can try, buy and deploy from the browser very easily.


Going back in time…

Protopage

In 2005, yes that’s 11 years ago, I came across and played with a web based information dashboard/desktop product called ProtoPage.  It’s not so much for schools but the whole web based customisable desktop ‘thing’ is right there and has been for the last 11 years. Worth a play if only to fix in your mind, should it need fixing, what a powerful thing having web based desktop can be.