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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Head Teacher Comment: Surveying the parental community on Facebook

As part of our managed and monitored social media service for schools (Blippit Social) we recently ran a fast turnaround ‘end of term’ survey for Lammack Primary School’s Head Teacher, Mrs Paula Duckworth.

We asked Paula to comment on the experience of using Facebook to survey parents as part of the school’s ongoing Blippit Social service.

We are so busy but we didn’t need to worry about sorting the survey – it just happened!

Surveying parents is no small task and with time being so short the challenge was how to do it in a way that may also get a wider range of parents responding.

Lammack agreed to our suggestions that they could

  1. do it in Facebook – familiar environment, save some trees
  2. include a random prize draw

With the survey built we then put measures in place to sanity check the Facebook community responses to ensure that

  • participants were actually parents/family
  • it was easy for parents to accurately and quickly respond

Questions were a mix of 1-5 range type (examples below) and free comment areas.

survey questions

Once signed off by school we looked back at previous months’ parental engagement data (included in Blippit Social) to see when parents would be most likely to respond.  We then scheduled a Facebook Update to go on to the school Page at a specific time on a specific day when we knew, based upon our historic data, that parents would be more likely to engage.

Mobile vs Desktop

On average each participant spent 4mins 14secs completing this Parental Questionnaire – which is quite quick when you see the mobile/desktop split of respondents (above)

We’ve a strong feeling that it’s because the survey was actually within Facebook that parents commented more freely and naturally than they might otherwise do.  The comments were only seen by school.  We need to do many more surveys to establish this for sure but the signs were there based on responses.

pretty chart
Example of how respondent answers are presented.

Only the school could see the responses coming in as they happened.  We got the results in Microsoft Excel  as well as ‘pretty’ PDF documents to share with SLT and Governors which will save me time.

What next?
  1. We’ll do more surveys for Heads through the Blippit Social service because we know just how hard it is to fit in doing them efficiently and effectively.
  2. We’ll be doing hashtag surveys next which are really lightweight, fast and dare we say ‘exciting’?

Fancy trying this approach like Lammack Primary?  Just get in touch with us at Blippit.

Also see:

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

Blippit IO Free Version Project Limits Change

Since we started doing the free version of Blippit IO we’ve been so pleased at the response and uptake from thousands of users.  It was the right thing to do for everyone what with time-limited trials being a headache for everyone.

This weekend we did the cloud equivalent of a full skeleton transplant with Blippit IO.  It was pretty intense but in order to enable schools who were behind older proxy servers it had to be done and hopefully it will pay off for those schools now who may not even realise the restrictions being applied to their web use.

All things for a reason though we like to think.  As part of the ‘transplant’ we also had to re-allocate a big chunk of Blippit’s resources to ensure that schools who had upgraded to unlimited everything were getting the best service possible.  We’re really pleased with the results now even though we had to skim some resources from our many lovely free Blippit users.

Thankfully the re-allocation has been managed well and the upshot is that by reducing the project cap from 15 to 10 per free school account we’ve balanced our resources out.  It’s a shame we can’t do more for our free users but hopefully groups and individuals can still do what they need to do on the free version.  We’ve updated our terms of use to reflect this change as of 19/5/16

 

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 🙂

Blippit IO – New Browser Based Version LIVE!

Schools have been asking for a browser-based version of Blippit IO so today we launched one.

You only need Google’s Chrome browser to use the new version of Blippit (UK Log In blippit.io) (AU Log In au.blippit.io) which hopefully means less hassle for you and your students.

(The downloadable Windows and Mac versions are still available via the website)

Blippit IO New Look and Feel

Blippit has also had a face lift designed to help you move nimbly around the screen while you’re making apps, block programming, coding or having a video call.

We’ve added

  • a full screen feature (top right)
  • clean and simple arrow screen management (side panel tops)

See the new look and feel for yourself by logging in or if you’re in a rush checkout the gallery below.

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Latest Updates on Blippit: April 2016

Here’s what we’ve updated, added, fixed or just improved on Blippit IO.

There are a couple more major updates coming this month but for now here’s what’s live in April.

All Blippit Users
  • Plain English name changes.
    • Old name: Comms -> New name: Inbox
  • A Quick Tour of Blippit now launches at log in for everyone
  • The Button to the Blippit Knowledge Base is now bright orange for better visibility (top right)
  • Knowledge Base articles expanded and improved
  • Bug that prevented Blippit re-sizing and displaying properly in some screen sizes fixed
Teachers/Admins CPD
  • Blippit Academy is now live with the first App Maker course available now free
    • course materials also use resources on the Knowledge Base without the need to log in
App Maker
  • Plain English name changes.
    • Old name:  Widget Pallette -> New name: Drop Zone
Blocks & Purecode Python
  • Speedier Turtle draw area to cope with longer & more complex programs
  • Background Scene Gallery added
    • Admin upload own images for themselves & share to all students
    • Students upload own images for themselves & share
  • Capture Cam feature added for users to grab the drawing area for evidence of achievement.  This is in addition to the ability to Download the code used in a project.
Admins Only – New & Live
  • A Notification pop-up tells you how many apps you have waiting to approve/decline at log in
  • Blippit (HQ & Support) can System Message all Admins via the new Inbox.
    • Our Messages will be marked with an orange dot
      • Feedback message from Admins to students will be marked with a green dot
    • Messages will be few and of the type that directly affects Blippit use as opposed to “hey how are you?”
    • This is a pre-emptive step to enabling the same capability for School Blippit Admin’s to be able to message users proactively via the inbox to help you support your classes