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

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

 

Improve response rates mid year on Ofsted Parent View Questions & other surveys too!

FlierIf, like us, you know that it’s ‘a bit challenging’ sometimes to get parents to fill in the mid-year Parent Survey that you’ve created based upon Ofsted’s Parent View form, this may be an innovative approach that will go down well.

FREE TO BLIPPIT SOCIAL SCHOOLS!
This is very low friction from a parent point of view because school is already engaging parents via Facebook so delivering and completing the survey actually ‘in’ Facebook makes the process nice and easy.

Data collection and collation is all taken care of too.  The moment a parent hit’s SEND your data is saved and automatically presented for easy interpretation by SLT & Governors.

NOT A BLIPPIT SCHOOL?
Prices for non-Blippit Social schools are listed below.


FAQs

No. This was just an example of a survey that we created.  You can survey parents on any topic you need to at any time
Yes. You can have unlimited space for comments.
Easily done – give out a school code/password to each family by text or letter and make entering that code a part of the survey.
A survey can be set up to cater for either.
We can include a compulsory question for people to enter their full family name so as not to rely on a Facebook profile names which may in the odd case be less helpful. Knowing who has responded and who hasn’t will be much simpler. Participation in surveys can also be incentivised via FB – i.e. we can use a prize draw feature to generate a random winner as a ‘thanks for participating’.
This is a free and ‘on demand’ service to all schools who use our Blippit Social service.  Schools who don’t use our Blippit Social Service can buy in ti Social Surveys at the rates below.  (Small school discount of 20% applies if you’re a Nursery, Infant or Juniors only school)

  • up to 10 questions  £  59
  • 11-20 questions      £  69
  • 21-30 questions      £  79
  • 31-40 questions      £  89

  1. Here’s how it would look on your school Facebook Page timeline except customised to your school
    Parental Survey on Facebook
  2. Below is one version of a survey which would normally just be seen in Facebook so that parents don’t get stressed moving off to another website but for this blog post we’ve placed it here as well.  You’re welcome to fill it in to get a feel for it 🙂

Head Teacher's Pet (Alpaca my bag now)

Some things are meant for sharing and some things aren’t. When your audience is parents it’s not unnatural to think once or twice about what you might share. However, an Alpaca in the Head’s Office? No brainer. It makes “dog in the playground” seem very pedestrian.

alpaca ma bag

This Alpaca went on tour around the classes with the wonderfully Doolittle-esque Head Teacher Dave McPartlin and in terms of memories for the children you can only imagine them re-telling the day’s events when they saw their families later that day.

alpacainclass

Isn’t it refreshing that in the prevailing climate of risk avoidance and health & safety we have an ‘Ofsedicially’ Outstanding school prepared to take in large South American mountain dwelling creatures in the name of enrichment & probably a few other things too…including fun?

On the face of it it’s slightly bonkers.

Conventional wisdom might say

  • do it, but don’t make too big a fuss as parents might not ‘get it’
  • do it and feature the visit in the next school newsletter at the end of the month
  • do it and pop a photo on the school website

Unconventional wisdom might say, do it then share it on Facebook the same day so that mums and dads might actually believe their children when they get home!  Today that’s exactly what happened. Unconventional wisdom won and the response from parents at Heysham St Peter’s CE Primary was very good.

euronews polar bear

By coincidence in the news two days ago another large furry mammal was spotted in London – specifically a Polar Bear.  Wait.  A massive polar bear in London down in the Tube (and later other places too) with small children? What could possibly go wrong?

For me, social media engagement is about stories and in my talks round and about the place with groups of Heads that’s what I delve in to in more detail.  Whether it’s stories about an Alpaca in the Head Teacher’s office or Polar Bears on the London Underground it doesn’t matter too much. Every person and place has a story to tell so why not share it? You’ll might be surprised at the reaction.

Contact us for conference talks and workshops.

Green Park Primary School – Change for all the right reasons

Yesterday, thanks to a random tweet about Chromebooks by Green Park Primary computing lead Pete Rafferty (@Raff31), I had the great pleasure of spending a morning there with the children, teachers & Head Teacher Mrs Hains.

teachershowing-2

One of the areas I’m always really interested in is how schools make things happen, why they happened in the first place and what’s the outcome at the end of it all.  The time spent in year 3 & 6 was so interesting that many things, though not necessarily in this order, shot through my mind
  • if Ofsted walked in now, unannounced, where would they put themselves & how would they begin to understand what was happening
  • technology is often seen as an isolator of children; a shutting down of a child to those around them. Not so particularly in the Year 3 lesson. The level of conversation leading to division of labour and ongoing review of improvements was really quite special.
  • the children can choose the right tool for them; they use a white board to jot down the essence of information from a web page then the Chromebooks to edit and add it into their work. Less & less copy & paste
  • distributing leadership across the class is a much-hammered phrase down the years but when the teacher ‘believes’ and hands over the reigns it’s a powerful thing in a one-to-one situation
  • shift happens; peer review/AfL is non-threatening here and being shared to the big screen is no biggie
    • children invite others to collaborate on their work including the teacher
  • risk taking is a gradual process but clearly the Head has, with teachers, nurtured a culture with Pete that mistakes happen but that’s life and so long as they’re learned from that’s fine.  The lesson is not to not take risks again.
  • they’ve done it the right way round; network wireless infrastructure is bolstered to take the demands of busy children & teachers
  • lives are touched by tech where it’s advantageous for it to be so e.g. Google Drive enabling job shares to work seamlessly on report moderation

overheadnotes-2

Miss Lewis-Brown (Yr 3) was the guide and the side not the sage on the stage.  Capturing notes on her iPad during the lesson and I believe filing them away using Evernote it was pretty inspiring that though the technology was so conspicuous it wasn’t the star.

On tech note, I’m a big fan of Chromebooks in schools for some practical reasons to do with reducing

  • technical support burden on ICT people i.e. you can forget about updates & antivirus
  • waiting time when people log in to the Chromebooks i.e. you’re talking about seconds
  • cost overheads and worries about ratios e.g. you’re looking at around £160 ex vat per Chromebook
  • the digital divide i.e. some of these children asked for a Chromebook instead of an iPad this Christmas

class-2

Managing ongoing change that leads to the kind of images you see here takes nerve and leadership but it’s definitely achievable.  With the support of the Head, Pete has gently guided his colleagues along a path driven by need and potential which I could imagine influencing the secondary school provision.  One of the feeder schools has in fact recognised this already and is laying the ground with Office 365 where the children’s collaborative working skills will be transferrable.  Just some of the challenges will be in
  • exploiting the opportunities Office 365 this has to offer
  • nurturing digital leadership as a desirable attribute in students
  • ramping up the network infrastructure services in a larger setting (££)

questions-2

By coincidence the BBC published a story today about a campaign by employers that puts a value of £88 Bn on soft skills.  Food for thought.

Guest Post: Porchester Junior School

Guest Post from Simon Widdowson. Follow @Xannov
See all of Porchester’s Apps on Planet Blippit including from this year…

  • British Trees – A branching tree database app to identify trees by leaf type
  • Helpful Maths – A student-voice app containing student made videos to teach maths

At Porchester Junior we tried out Blippit in late 2012, and used it initially to create a new version of the school app (we had created an iOS version, and an Android version previously), but the Blippit approach had clear benefits;

  • Creation – designing the app is, quite literally, child’s play. Simple Drag & Drop elements make adding pages a breeze.
  • Editing – in our previous iOS / Android apps a change to one part of the app required a rebuild and (for iOS) a resubmission before those changes could go out to parents. With Blippit, we can change as frequently as we want, and those changes are instant, the moment we hit the ‘publish’ button the updated app is available for all to see.
  • Ownership – the school owns the app, the school can edit the app, the school can take the app offline if needed. We are not at the mercy of any design company or app store.
  • Universal appeal – Creating a single app with Blippit works on a range of mobile and tablet devices. It means with the least effort we can reach the maximum number of users.

Webpage for our new school app can be found here; School App information on School Website

QR Code for the Porchester app
QR Code for the Porchester app

Our ICT / Digital Learning coordinator has been testing Blippit to destruction, and seeing just what can be achieved with it. We’ve looked at including video (from Vimeo), audio (from AudioBoo), as well as embedding HTML5 image slideshows, and have now incorporated these aspects into our school app.

We’re also looking at how to link app to app – making a seamless transition between the two. This will be used on a large scale project with our upper school children – where we are looking at linking all of their created apps into a single ‘master app’. More on this after the Easter break…


Project One: Monarchs and their Royal Houses

One of our Upper School classes of Yr5/6 pupils are currently learning about databases in their ICT lessons, and are building a database of the Kings and Queens of Britain since 1066. Once they have completed this, if we have time, they will be asked to create their own app for the King(s) or Queen(s) they entered into the database. We will try and link them all together.

This project is now live. You can download the app to your phone/device here;

 PJS Monarchs
Link to our Monarchs app

To enable this project to be completed quickly, I made a few changes to the idea of how it would work;helpsheet

  1. I prepared several of the linking apps beforehand (the “front page”, as well as all the ‘Royal Houses” apps)
  2. I tried out a single Monarch app, and once I was happy with the look and feel of it, I created a 2 sided pamphlet for the children to work through with a simple guide to completing their app
  3. For some of the sections within their app they would be presenting the same information (the link to ‘credits’ for example), and so for this I provided them with an RTF file on the school network with the code in. They simply needed to copy and paste it into the right area of their app.
  4. Along with RTF of the code, I also placed all the images that would be needed in a specific folder. This meant that the pupils knew where to go to find the image for their app, and avoided the timeless void of searching the internet for an image they thought would look good!

Screenshot

By specifying a theme to use, the children’s apps blended seamlessly into the apps prepared beforehand, and when you use the finished app you actually do not realise that you are jumping between 52 separate apps. A useful tip for anyone wanting to create a large project with many members, all working at separate times, or in different locations.

The children worked really well on their task, and although I had a group of only 9 children working with me, they completed all 41 apps within a single morning at the school. They did feedback that the guide pamphlet was really helpful – especially the screengrabs within it. It allowed them to follow a set, logical pattern and once completed once, they got the hang of it and were soon racing through subsequent apps with ease. Several of the children commented how easy it was to complete an app as a result.

The only issues we encountered were with one child who struggled to switch between rich text and HTML view in some of the widgets when entering code, and a few times where our network timed out the connection to the Blippit server. Fortunately when this did happen, the child was able to recover most of the work they had done as it saved work automatically.


Project Two: CYO adventures

Following on from the idea of linking separate apps together, I’m working with a small group of children on the old fashioned ‘Choose your Own’ stories. Remember those books you read that had a choice at the end of each page… “you come to a fork in the road, turn to page XX if you choose the left path, or page XX if you choose the right path…”

We’re looking at children creating apps for each “page” of the story, submitting it, publishing it, and then using its unique reference code to revise their apps and link the choices you can make at the end to the next app.

For example…

  • App 001 Walk along a path, choose to go left (App 002) or go right (App 003)
  • App 002 Turn left and come to a bridge. Cross it (App 004) or go past it (App 005)
  • App 003 Turn right and come face to face with a wolf. Run away (App 006) or stand still (App 007)

The only problem we can see is that all the ‘pages’ (the apps) would be viewable in Planet Blippit, and so we’ve made a request to be able to “hide” apps from discovery by others.

More information as we start to piece this idea together…

Oh, and as before with the Monarchs project above, I’ll prepare a piece of text to place in the footer of each app that the children can just copy and paste, and suggest the same theme is used throughout to give the impression of a single app being viewed. In addition, we’ll have a default icon image that the children will be able to load into their app too.

Here’s a test idea for how it could work. You’ll notice that the front page has the potential to act as a library for many different CYOA tales that are created.

 CYOA_QR
CYOA QR Code

I’ve approved each app – and in doing so that has issued each one with a URL. The end of each URL has a unique ID, and they were noted and recorded for each chapter, allowing the student to return to each app and add the ‘Click here’ link that allows the story to work.

I selected three “guinea pigs” to work on their own CYOA tales to test out this idea. One of them went on holiday, and has been off school for the past fortnight. One of them keeps forgetting his planning sheet and hasn’t finished all his chapters! But my third guinea pig has been a star, and worked really hard on his story. He’s completed his plan, and end of chapter options, created an app for each one, added a credits page and a thumbnail image that points out that each app is part of something bigger, and published them all.

After a little bit of checking, correcting wrong ID’s, and looking for grammatical errors (capital letters always look good at the start of sentences!) each app was re-published and re-approved.

The final step was to create a link from the CYOA app index page so that all could read it. Why not give it a go – use the QR code above and then read ‘The Planet of Choice’. It’s a voyage into the weird and wonderful imagination of one of our pupils!

…and a final idea.

Why keep to creating a CYOA tale with text on each app when you can imagine a different approach?

  • Using an app like Hokusai for the iPad a range of sounds could be recorded and mixed together to create a realistic ambient background for each chapter. The audio itself could be placed on top of the background sound, and then the whole file uploaded to a service like AudioBoo where each ‘chapter’ could then be embedded into an app quickly and easily.
  • Using iMovie on an iPad, pupils could quickly and easily record short video clips (in different locations maybe) that could be uploaded to a site like Vimeo and then embedded into an app to create a visual CYOA story.

These are just a few ways that we have been trying out Blippit within the school, and there are plans in place to ensure that it is used in the new school year to enhance work carried out across a range of subjects. We hope that sharing our experiments has been useful to others.

Blippit Spring Uplift Pre-Release Notes [LIVE 2/4/14]

We’ve been taking on board your feedback and so here are the latest improvements to Blippit rolling out this week.  We’re aiming for nost schools to have this entire list live as a FREE uplift by Thursday 3/4/14.

Blippit Admin New Features

  • Turn off/on CAPTCHA for logging in!
  • One less login to remember for Admins. Log in as Admin User then just switch to being a user & vice versa just like Blippit on RM Unify; no logout required (see screenshot below)
  • Students can now keep working as you monitor ‘live’ from your computer
  • Monitor students apps without them having to submit & be locked out of an app
  • One click bulk approval/decline of multiple apps
switch to user mode
Screenshot of where the link to switch roles between admin and user can now be found

 

Blippit User Goodies

  • E-mail address is no longer required or seen when starting an app
  • Writer Widget improved to offer more opps for exploring coding
  • Writer Widget improved to offer full screen editing
  • Writer Widget adds an image from another web location
  • Media Widget for YouTube
  • Media Widget for Vimeo
  • Media Widget for SoundCloud
  • Improved Image Widget with option to add a link
  • No more waiting for your app to unlock.  Don’t submit your app for assessment; just keep working & improving while your teacher reviews it from wherever they are

Bug Fixes

We’ve *just* (2/4/14) implemented a solution to an issue affecting triggered by some proxy servers in schools that caused a pop-up to repeatedly appear saying confirm stay/leave on a page.

  • that makes MakeWaves Widget now waits for you log in to it without triggering an error message
  • Admins can update their own passwords! This is linked to their User account.
  • Writer Widget in Internet Explorer 11 now saves properly

Lastly

  • We’re working hard on more truly unique features & extras to make using Blippit “even betterer” 😉
  • Your feedback is what helps us develop the right tools and we have a group of beta testers coming together to make sure we don’t wander off and do something silly. DM or say hi via @justblippit if you’re interested in beta stuff too!
  • Thank you!

 

Baaaaalippit Spring Update

New Blippit Media Widgets [now live!]

Blippit_App_Maker-3

Sharp-eyed Blippit users will see two new widgets above.  Even more sharp-eyed users will spot that the image widget has had an enhancement too to enable your image to become linked to another web address very easily.

New YouTube & Vimeo Widget

Usually people take the embed code from their videos in YouTube/Vimeo and paste them in to our Writer Widget.  You still can take this approach but if you’re short on time or skill we’ve just made it a whole lot easier. Just grab the link from the share area and paste that into Blippit’s Video Widget and everything is taken care of.

New SoundCloud Widget

SoundCloud originates from very similar principles to Blippit in that it’s inclusive and enabling.  As a tool the focus is on music and sound so if you’ve got music in your veins then it’s a perfect opportunity for you to take your work mobile.  Check out their Apps too on the various app stores; just search ‘SoundCloud’