Schools, Trains and Change Management

Today I was travelling back by train from a meeting in Manchester. Hot choc in hand I arrived at the platform and found that the train I was to catch had been cancelled.  No worries. Trainline App to hand (I wasn’t alone – another guy also had this) I worked out what I needed in no time. No worries.

In front of me was a chap who looked confused.  He asked another guy what was happening with the trains and he replied to say he had an app that said the next train was due shortly, quick change then onward no worries.  Chap was pleased to help and confused guy glad of the info and he hung around phone app guy in some sort of subconscious thankyou mode.

The platform soon filled with lots of other people.  One threesome couldn’t see their train on the departure board so they went off to seek a train person to ask.  There was shoulder shrugging and frowning in equal measure.

Finally the train arrived, we all piled in for one stop then piled out again at the next station to change.  The app people, including myself, stepped straight onto the connecting train on platform 3 quite confidently.  Elsewhere other voices could be heard asking the same question.

Is this the train for Preston?  Is it?  You think so?  Yeh I’m pretty sure it is.  According to this app it is yes.  Noone seems to know for sure.  You’d think they’d put someone on here to ask wouldn’t you?

Complete strangers reaching out for the right information and reassurance but sadly both were in short supply.  People were resigned to their fate now.  Doors shut and necks continued to crane looking for signs and confirmation that they were headed in the right direction.  Like a slightly smug individual I opened my laptop on a free table and got working.

Why the train story?  For me it illustrates what happens when there’s an enforced change and people have to divert from their usual trajectory.  Some people are in the know and can crack on.  Some people are good at finding out the answers and seek either authority or peers.  Passengers with access to the latest info at the point where it’s needed are able to cope with the change and even become useful to those who are less connected.

When social media is used proactively, responsively and strategically by schools to the benefit of their community it’s magical and empowering and it’s precisely why we do it; we’ve called it ‘improving the parent journey’.

For more visit Blippit Social

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.
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  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

Byte at the Museum

Yesterday I took Blippit to the National Museum of Computing – immediate neighbour of Bletchley Park.  To be invited as part of their Bytes Festival and work directly with their visiting families surrounded by such history was not half-bad.

Out of school you get such an insight into how parents relate to their children and learning as a whole.  They share insights with you quite openly and comment on your limitless patience with their child who frankly drives them nuts most of the time.

There’s noone marking, setting targets or observing when it’s just you and a family which makes for some very natural and easy steps forwards.  One young man (Year 3) made an app and learned what HTML 5 markup language was as he worked with me on the side and his mum making encouraging comments as he progressed. To say he was ‘off his seat’ with excitement when he saw his app on mum’s phone (she downloaded a QR code reader to get it) is an understatement.

Another young man’s Dad regaled me with stories of his son’s disengagement at school contrasting with his persistence, resilience and immersion in his favoured world of technology.  It’s not an unusual story and we all know children like this but seeing how he learned was interesting.  Essentially it was broadly like this

  • “listen to the expert”
  • “grab the basics”
  • “build and try out”
  • “go over bits as needed with expert again”
  • “build towards a result”
  • “publish”
  • “improve on published app”
  • “re-publish”

I’ve been lucky (no doubt about that) to teach in many different schools and environments over the years sometimes as a ‘regular’ teacher, sometimes as an ‘advisory’ teacher and more recently as the ‘Blippit Man’.

blippitio manThe ‘Blippit Man’ tag does generate extra attention and effort from children no doubt at all so my reflections are mindful of how children respond to people they view as ‘experts’ from the ‘real’ world.

This bit of shine from an external expert isn’t sustainable and so it makes what teachers and children achieve together, day in day out, all the more remarkable.

The National Museum of Computing is an awe inspiring place for anyone with the slightest interest in technology and they’re pretty rammed with school visits and tours but if you’ve not been yet, do yourself a favour and go!

[UPDATED Yr 8 added] Yr 9 Scheme of Work from The Fernwood School

[UPDATED 10th September 2014]

Just added today is a new PDF document from Alex Young at The Fernwood who’s sharing a big chunk of his Year 8 Computing resources now too via the link below. Look out for ‘!NEW! App making folder.pdf‘  in the DropBox when it opens up.

“Looking forward to another successful year of app making!”

More and more people are sharing their plans where Blippit’s App Maker is being used as part of computing.  If you have some that you’d like to share out like Alex from right here on the Blog let us know via Support@.

[Original Post Below Nov 12th 2012]

Alex Young is a relatively new Head of Dept at The Fernwood School in Nottingham who has been busy revolutionising the Computer Systems curriculum.

“We do a lot of programming based courses and other relevant topics.”

He recently started to bring together a 7 week scheme of work about apps for year 9 on Blippit and very kindly agreed to share it here with any interested schools. It certainly beats facing a blank page and while Alex will be trialling the scheme from mid-November 2012 he is adding more to it shortly.

>>Get the 2014 scheme here<<

Blippit Launch!

It’s about time this blog got started but launching Blippit has been a bit of a handful and helping users has taken priority.  From now on the blog will be where you’ll get

  1. resources
  2. ideas
  3. future stuff
  4. a channel back to Blippit as well as the website & twitter

Here’s something you maybe didn’t know:

If you need another Admin for your school to help with the role just contact support_at_blippit.co.uk (_at_ with @) with the details of that person and we’ll sort it out for you 🙂

More soon!