Editorial #172 – Fifteen fabulous free edtech tools

In this week’s Connected Learning Centre newsletter: find out about a new report on CS education around the world, get a free great big climate lesson, learn how to use your whiteboard like a ninja, be playful by design, discover 15 fab free edtech tools to use in your classroom, try Conway’s magical pen...and more...

Editorial & Blog posts

Editorial & Blog posts

Get AI savvy in school
Get AI savvy in school
School leaders, teachers and young people need to understand the opportunities, concerns and promises of artificial intelligence in the school sector. Sarah Horrocks (CLC director), Peter Lillington (CLC learning and...
The power of partnerships: how schools can create unforgettable cultural learning experiences
The power of partnerships: how schools can create unforgettable cultural learning experiences
The creative use of digital can provide unforgettable cultural learning experiences on site, in person and in a blended form. Caitlin McMillan, lead partnership and programme officer, City of London...
Top tips for effective and engaging teacher CPD
Top tips for effective and engaging teacher CPD
The context for teacher CPD has changed hugely in the last two years. Here’s what we’ve learned from running successful in-person, online and hybrid professional development development for teachers 
How to support personalised learning with technology
How to support personalised learning with technology
Teachers and school leaders are bombarded with products that claim to help personalise learning. But what does that actually mean and how can tools help?  At the Empower2Learn project we’ve...
Three brilliant digital English activities to try in the classroom
Three brilliant digital English activities to try in the classroom
At the CLC, we talk a lot about how technology can be used to support extraordinary learning across the curriculum. With our ‘English and digital technology forum for primary schools’...
Five ways to refresh the computing curriculum in your primary school
Five ways to refresh the computing curriculum in your primary school
Over the last two years, technology has become more integral than ever to schools. Digital has been at the heart of remote and blended learning, and at the CLC we’ve...
Get started with teaching game design in the classroom
Get started with teaching game design in the classroom
Teaching game design in class is a great way to help students to learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively. CLC’s Rowan Roberts has put together  a handy...
CLC’s highlights of 2021: from Tate and Westminster Abbey projects to robots and Scratch
CLC's highlights of 2021: from Tate and Westminster Abbey projects to robots and Scratch
We recognise what an incredibly tough year it’s been for teachers in schools this year. We’ve seen the dedication, patience and commitment of teachers and school leaders keeping education going,...
Tools for personalised feedback and assessment in primary schools
Tools for personalised feedback and assessment in primary schools
In the third of our blogs focusing on personalised learning, CLC learning and teaching consultant Peter Lillington considers the role that digital platforms and tools can play in relation to...




The CLC podcast episode 13: What is blended learning?

Presented by: Caitlin McMillan (teaching & learning consultant, Connected Learning Centre)

The phrase ‘blended learning’ is everywhere at the moment, but what does it actually mean? And how can educators make use of blended approaches going forward?

In this podcast, educators from the Connected Learning Centre discuss the different definitions of blended learning, pulling out the various strands and approaches that can be taken in the classroom.

Hear about the CLC’s BlendEd programme of free resources and support and learn more about how schools across northern Europe are approaching blended and personalised learning.

This podcast also rounds up some of the CLC’s exciting CPD opportunities on offer to teachers in the coming weeks, including the Computing and Online Safety conference and the BETT show.

If you’d like to hear more about the Empower to Learn project referenced here, check out our podcast with Katarina Sperling, project partner and International Project Coordinator at the Department of Education, Norrköping.

The CLC podcast episode 12: personalised learning in the classroom

Personalised learning in the classroom has become a hot topic, especially with the move to remote and blended learning. As lockdown hit, schools and educators were increasingly asking how to do remote learning in a way that really helps teachers have a personalised dialogue with students and enables feedback.

In this podcast, educators from London CLC, along with Katarina Sperling from the Department of Education in Norrköping, Sweden, tackle this exciting subject through the lens of the Erasmus+ project Empower2Learn (E2L), which has been looking at different approaches across Europe.

Hear about stories of promising practice which can help that personalisation process, including how a Swedish school developed a digital portfolio that made learning more visible to parents and a London's school's successful use of SeeSaw.

This podcast also rounds up some of London CLC's exciting CPD opportunities on offer to teachers this term, including virtual sessions around assessment and feedback,  a new to computing subject leadership course and a digital security for schools briefing.

Plus, early news of a new national programme of support to make sure teachers have the right tools and skills and pedagogy they need to ensure children can continue learning whatever the circumstances, and developments with the Tate Exchange programme for schools.


The CLC podcast episode 11: Creative uses of technology for home learning
The CLC podcast episode 11: Creative uses of technology for home learning

How are schools using technology in creative and innovative ways to stay connected to children and parents? In this podcast, recorded at the 2020 EdTechX Summit, London Connected Learning Centre's Caitlin McMillan talks to a head and a teacher from two London primaries about how they are maintaining a sense of belonging and teacher presence during lockdown. Ideas shared range from responding to the register with an emoji and five-minute tours of Peru to phonics tasks and dance routines from a class puppet called Chocolate Chocolate Button!Caitlin McMillan, teaching and learning consultant, London Connected Learning Centre

CLC Bett show
London CLC podcast episode 10: What not to miss at Bett 2020

In our first podcast of 2020, get insider info on this year's Bett education technology show. We recommend the talks to catch and the people to see across the four days.

We also offer their top tips for surviving the show, based on years of Bett experience and the thousands of steps we've walked through the exhibition halls.

You'll also find out more about our own Bett sessions - a whole day of professional development across six workshops on Friday 24 January. Find us on the Professional Development Stage in North and South Halls:

  • Pedagogy and future software developers with Scratch, with Rowan Roberts
  • Storytelling with digital technologies with Sarah Horrocks and Caitlin McMillan
  • Enhancing primary history and geography with digital technologies, with Peter Lillington and Caitlin McMillan
  • Technology in early years with Sarah Horrocks and Louise Wade
  • Schools – saving time, working smarter, with Peter Lillington
  • Leadership of technology and digital strategy with Sarah Horrocks and Peter Lillington
London CLC podcast episode 9: art and technology – what goes on at Tate Exchange?
London CLC podcast episode 9: art and technology - what goes on at Tate Exchange?

What happens when you give nearly 200 primary school children the freedom of a floor of Tate for two days? Creativity, learning and fun!

In this podcast Sarah Horrocks, London Connected Learning Centre’s co-director, and Caitlin McMillan, a London CLC teaching and learning consultant, discuss the annual Tate Exchange programme, in which a floor of the famous London gallery is given over to Tate Exchange associates to curate.

As long-standing Tate Exchange associates, in February we worked with 170 pupils from 20 schools to deliver our Making Moves workshop. Activities included digital sound manipulation, robot programming, animation, film and puppetry.

Hear in the podcast from children and their teachers about the experience and their highlights.

Sarah and Caitlin also look ahead to next February's Tate Exchange project, which will involve not only London primary schoolchildren but also children from Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark as part of the Co-Think Erasmus project. Together they will explore concepts of power, next year's theme, through art and making, both digital and analogue.

This podcast also rounds up some of London CLC's exciting CPD opportunities on offer to teachers this term, from a special project with First News to our ever-popular Primary Computing Conference.

London CLC podcast episode 8: Linda Liukas, Hello Ruby creator, on computational thinking and the coding backlash
London CLC podcast episode 8: Linda Liukas, Hello Ruby creator, on computational thinking and the coding backlash

Recorded in Tampere, Finland, Linda Liukas, creator of the Hello Ruby resources, discusses computational thinking, different practices across the world, her experience of the coding backlash and how her illustration and storytelling background helps her explain concepts.

Rowan and Sarah chat to Linda Liukas in Tampere.

Plus, London CLC's Sarah Horrocks and Rowan Roberts, who spent a day working with Linda in workshops at a school in Tampere, talk Co-think, the Erasmus project looking at inclusive teaching of computational thinking and different approaches in different European countries.

London CLC podcast episode 7: Discussing our TechPathways London programme with Mark Martin aka @urban_teacher
London CLC podcast episode 7: Discussing our TechPathways London programme with Mark Martin aka @urban_teacher

This episode of our podcast looks at London's digital industries and opportunities available to educators through our new TechPathways London project. Mark Martin (@urban_teacher) joined the conversation to give us some insights into how he works with industry to inspire his pupils.

Mark is perhaps better known to his 27,000 followers on Twitter as @urban-teacher; he’s also the co-founder of UK Black Tech, winner of the 2019 London Business Award…oh, and a computer science teacher in a Lambeth secondary school.

Listen as he shares his passion for connecting his students with digital careers and his commitment to bridging the awareness gap between young people in South London and the tech opportunities on offer locally, whether that’s the games industry or a bank looking for apprentices.

“Talent is everywhere. But the barrier is access and entry into these roles. Everyone needs to be in the room for these conversations. It’s common sense but to make it happen is a challenge,” says Mark.

Caitlin McMillan, TechPathways project coordinator, and Christian Turton, co-director of the London Connected Learning Centre, also discuss the digitisation of every career path and how having digital skills is an access point to a huge range of different jobs. The whole breadth of digital covers everything from animation to marketing, user experience to film and TV production It’s not just programming! They explain how TechPathways London aims to bridge the digital skills gap in London with the help of partners such as Google, IBM and the BFI and with free courses for educators.

London CLC podcast episode 6: what makes a critical learner in the digital age?

What’s a critical learner? What are the skills children and young people need to develop in order to question and safely engage with information they come across online? How can educators support them to develop these critical skills?

In this podcast experts from the award-winning London Connected Learning Centre look at the latest research to explore what’s different about criticality when it comes to digital, discuss the tools educators need to feel confident teaching information and media literacy in a digital sphere, and share how to help children to become more aware of the collection and monetisation of their data – all the while taking care not to raise the level of mistrust and disengagement in our current age of information crisis!

It’s a fine line to tread but in the podcast we hear about specific activities teachers can do with children of all ages to help them to understand how web pages are produced, how photos and videos can be manipulated and how easy it is for anyone to put anything online – and that with publication come responsibilities. The take away message of the activity is that people exist behind the web pages we browse. For every piece of text we read and every image that we see, someone has made a decision about putting it there and so, inevitably, there are choices, biases and personal opinions involved that need to be recognised.

The podcast draws on the acclaimed talk the London CLC team gave in the main arena of the Bett Show earlier this year, as well as the work of the News Literacy Network, of which London CLC is a member. The News Literacy Network brings together research organisations and those on the ground, such as educators and journalists, in a shared mission to empower and equip news consumers of all ages with the critical skills they need in the digital age.

Find links to all the resources and organisations covered in the podcast in the show notes below.

London CLC podcast episode 5: digital exclusion and entitlement
London CLC podcast episode 5: digital exclusion and entitlement

According to the recent Carnegie Trust report on digital inclusion, Switched On, 10% of households have no access to the internet and 11.3 million people in the UK lack digital skills. This has far reaching impacts. Increasing numbers of basic services, from benefits to housing, are accessed online, not to mention job searches and shopping around for the best value goods and services. Digital skills and access are becoming fundamental to participating in society, accessing services and connecting with friends and family.

“I’ve learnt that it’s never too late to start using a computer whether you’re 35 and want to brush up on your IT skills or 85 and want to learn how to switch on a computer. It’s always such a pleasure to see people gaining some new knowledge.” – Digital Champion

This podcast explores this critical issue - and how it can be tackled - through the lens of Lambeth's three-year Digital Champions project. Run by the London Connected Learning Centre it offered free training and support for all things digital. The course was co-created with its users and took place where they were: children's centres, libraries and job centres. The project also trained up learners on the programme to be paid digital mentors to deliver the sessions - people who could say "don't worry, I used to be where you are, I did it - you can do it too". The project was a huge success, delivering more than 2000 sessions, reaching more than 1200 people, and seeing significant increases in knowledge and confidence.

In this podcast you'll hear how this was achieved along with the views of some of the Digital Champions and those they mentored.

“What I enjoyed most about being a digital champion was being able to share my knowledge and being able to impact the community in which I live.” – Digital Champion

Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

- 15:30
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.


The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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