In last week’s blog post we mentioned some bigger picture considerations and context as schools plan for the next academic year, and we’ll revisit some of these themes in the autumn. But now, in this final week of term for many schools, and with some already closed, it only seems right that the focus should be on the more immediate change of pace. We wish rest and relaxation for all, at least for a while, and it’s a chance for us at the CLC to reflect on our experiences of the past few months.
From robots to Scratch
We’ve been working quite intensively with schools this week and this month, running our final batch of schools workshops for the academic year and this has ranged from our physical presence in the classroom running our robot challenges, to mention one popular choice, where the value of hands-on physical experience, collaboration and opportunity for creativity and problem solving has been reaffirmed, to remote delivery of our Scratch and Scratch Jr coding challenges, successfully working with children as young as Y1 in partnership with their class teachers. This calls for a very specific blended approach that requires bite-sized presentation of learning and adapting to ongoing feedback about how the activities are proceeding, moment by moment.
From the restricted vantage of the webcam perched on the teacher’s desk it’s been possible for us to see how some of the class has settled to the tasks, how well students are collaborating with each other, and use some check-ins such as hands up, thumbs up and partner talk. On the other hand, the audio element of the video calling is not designed for picking up children speaking at the back of the classroom so close collaboration with the teacher in the room has been vital. Seeing children come up to the camera near the end of the session to demonstrate by holding up their ipads what they have done through focussed application (sometimes in hot and sticky rooms) is a particular reward for us as presenters.
Meanwhile the flow of new initiatives and things that will have an impact on our ever-evolving programme of work with schools and for schools to consider themselves has not ceased.
DCMS Online media literacy strategy launch
Last week saw the launch of the DCMS Online media literacy strategy, which we broadly welcome, and which makes for interesting reading. Its scope is England and all ages, not just school-aged students. However, there is much that is relevant to the wider blended education environment, in the context of the online harms legislation, knowing who and what to trust online. This includes the ever present issue of misinformation and disinformation, and moves around safety by design, and the Age Appropriate Design Code with which companies in scope will have to comply from September. Commonly known as the Children’s Code, the latter sets out 15 standards of age appropriate design.
This National Literacy Trust blog from Fay Lant is really helpful in identifying some key points from the DCMS strategy for headteachers and schools to consider. We’ve been delighted to work with Fay as part of the News Literacy Network over the last three years, and more recently presenting and on the panel in the online National Literacy Trust conference Literacy by Stealth day 3.
Risky digital design
In the same domain with a clear online safety slant Revealing Reality has just published a report for 5Rights Foundation, How digital design puts children at risk. This will repay close reading for anyone involved with educating children and young people about the digital world and indeed through digital media, and as schools plan future blended and remote learning and online safety promotion they may wish to take account of which behaviours we want to promote in an educational context. We’ll look at some of the findings in more detail in a future blog.
Returning to Scratch and its eminent suitability as a tool (safe by design) for teaching computer science and computational thinking in a face to face, blended as well as remote context the latest official international Scratch Conference took place virtually on Thursday 22 July afternoon and evening, not ideal timing for UK teachers. We plan to report on some of the highlights after the summer break.
There was a rare summer appearance for the Bett awards ceremony and, as proud finalists in the support and service to schools category (having won it the previous two years running), we are pleased to congratulate the winners, Plum Innovations.
This year we directly or indirectly reached a staggering two million learners globally. Thank you to all the children, teachers and educators we’ve worked with this academic year, virtually and in person and in the UK, Europe and Jordan. All your efforts and achievements in the face of such adversity have been inspiring.