Let’s get Digital in 2019

New Year hosts a plethora of personal and professional goals. Some easier than others to commit to. When we look at statistics, 63% of resolutions are broken within the first month. There are varied factors that contribute towards this majority percentage but all is not lost when keeping in mind the end goal.

Here are the top 5 Teacher New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Stay Positive
  2. Revive Classroom routines
  3. Work-life balance
  4. Give more personalised time to Students
  5. Keep on top of marking

Whilst these may strike as everyday practice of most Teachers, how do we ensure we are productive and proficient at keeping on top of them all?

A Cloud-based learning environment has the potential to help tackle the teacher workload, invigorate the curriculum and help with the work-life balance without being to much of a monumental change for a school to adopt new ways of thinking, working and learning.

Be Specific – A vague goal will automatically program failure because you won’t know when you have achieved it.

Specific target – Move all files and folders to an online platform.

In practice and outcome – As a Whole Staff, use your Cloud-based service (Office 365/G-Suite), to collectively move all your important files, folders and stuff into the cloud. It is simple to do, it’s just saving it to a new space that is accessible anywhere, anytime on any device. Once this is complete, all documents and presentations become live. This means that teachers can collaborate on the same planning document at the same time, without being locked out or having multiple versions saved.

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Set Tangible deadlines – When you’re setting a goal, be sure to set a deadline too! It ensures a collective mindset on what it is you are trying to achieve.

Specific target – Record presentations to promote anywhere, anytime learning.

In practice and outcome – Within PowerPoint and Slides, you are now able to record your entire presentation, including any annotations/notes you made during the learning process. Having these saved in a virtual library (back to your online shared folder space) means that students can access the resources they need, if they were to miss a lesson. This virtual library will grow over time and give a transparency to parents about what is being taught in the lesson so it can be used at home before test/exam period for revision. Imagine, an entire years worth of learning, all stored online and at your and the students fingertips.

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Don’t forget the plan! – If you are considering moving to the cloud, it is always best to think first about the goals you want to achieve. A cloud solution needs careful consideration and planning before implementing. Our Cloud Solutions Consultants at LGfL are committed to providing as much help and support to schools who are looking to migrate their school to a cloud-based solution. Email training@lgfl.net for more information on getting started.

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GSuite: Reimagine the Writing Process

There are so many great ways to really enhance the writing process when using G Suite for Education. Whether you are brand new to using G Suite, or a Google Classroom ninja, this short blog post will give you some ideas as to how you might help learners with their writing (and even save you time in the process!).

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a fantastic tool that helps streamline your digital workflow! Instead of making photocopies of worksheets, or getting students to scribble in their books, you can use Google Classroom to generate digital copies of your worksheets (or simply blank documents) for every student in your class. You can then see all the student work (live and in real-time!) in one place and give live formative feedback.

Google Docs

Google Docs is the word processor in Google Drive. It’s the G Suite equivalent of Microsoft Word and because it lives in the cloud, there are some great additional functionalities. Here’s 5 features that should enhance the way you work with your students:

1) Live comments

Select any text and add your comment! Students see these in real time and in context of their work. They can reply to your comment, edit without having to redraft the whole section, and easily track changes and comments over time.

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2) Voice typing

Voice typing is built in to any Google Doc; find it in the ‘Tools’ menu. It’s a great way for students (and teachers) to get what’s in their head into writing. It’s an incredible accessibility tool for SEND learners – take a look at some examples of the formatting that’s possible:

3) Draftback

Every Google Doc has an inbuilt Version History where you can track how a document looked at different points in time – great for evidencing student progress and developing student metacognition. Even better, there is a great free Chrome Extension called Draftback which allows you to play back a document as it was written! This is really useful when supporting students – and even looking for plagiarism!

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4) CheckMark (marking codes)

CheckMark is a great free Chrome Extension that allows you to use marking codes that you may use in your school (‘C’ for capitalisation, ‘sp’ for spelling etc…) in a Google Doc. Once you’ve enabled it, simply double click on a word and a magic box appears above it. Then choose which comment you want, and it will automatically add it as a written comment without you having to type a thing – a real time saver! It even counts how many times you’ve made the same type of feedback!

5) Video feedback

After you’ve given your students’ their feedback, they will need to act on it and (hopefully) improve their work. Sometimes students are able to act on your feedback when you sit down and discuss it with them. Unfortunately this isn’t always possible with a class of 32 students in the contact time you spend with them. A great way around this is to leave your students some video feedback using the extension Screencastify.

We hope that you found some of these suggestions useful! Please leave us a comment if you try one of them out!

Collaborating in the Cloud

Collaboration between staff at a school is extremely important. Inefficient collaboration processes can have a significant impact on teacher workload. When dealing with many different students, delivering an ever increasing and evolving curriculum, whilst handling loads of data, it’s really important that we work well as a team.

There are many ways that this is commonly handled in schools. The table below outlines a few, along with some of the limitations:

Traditional solution Limitations
A shared staff area on an on-site school server Whilst everyone can access their files in school, it becomes more complicated to do so when at home or not on site.
Sending email attachments to groups of staff This normally means that each staff who opens the file gets their own copy. Any changes they make aren’t automatically visible to everyone else.
A notice board in the staff room with pupil information Information can only be accessed when in the room, and is visible to any visitors on site.

Cloud Solutions

By using an online cloud platform such as G Suite for Education or Office 365, these limitations can be easily mitigated.

With both platforms, documents are saved in a file drive that can be accessed on any device with an internet connection. Think of this as a virtual USB stick with unlimited storage that you don’t need to physically carry (or lose!😮), but instead just remember your username and password!

Email attachments quickly become unmanageable when there are more than 2 people collaborating. When you share documents in cloud platforms, everyone can simultaneously access and edit a document and every key stroke is automatically saved. This means that everyone is always accessing the most current version.

With cloud platforms you can have multiple simultaneous editors – no more ‘File in Use’ messages

With cloud platforms, your files are kept secure by default. You have the power to grant access to individuals, groups or make files public and restrictions can easily be put on particularly sensitive files to prevent accidental data loss.



Collaborating in your Cloud Platform

Office 365

OneNote

Teachers are able to provide real-time feedback to students by typing directly into each student’s private notebook. The Collaboration space encourages students to work together as the teacher is delivering the lesson, collating a wealth of new subject knowledge. By searching for tags, teachers are able to provide instant feedback during the lesson to those students struggling.

Microsoft Teams

Teams is a digital hub that bring conversations, content and apps together in one place. Teachers can create collaborative classroom environments that give every student a voice and chance to contribute towards project-based learning.

Skype in the Classroom

Connect with classrooms around the world to work on projects, explore different cultures and build greater compassion and empathy for one another. Skype removes the walls of the classroom and unlocks new learning opportunities and outcomes that they just wouldn’t achieve through a textbook. Available for free at education.microsoft.com

G Suite

Team Drives

Team Drives allow seamless collaboration across multiple files. They are great for departments or year groups, and different people can have different levels of access. They make tasks like collaborative lesson planning an absolute breeze!

Chromebooks

Chromebooks can be simply configured so that all files are not saved on the device, but instead automatically in the users Google Drive. This means that any user will always get exactly the same files and experience no matter which device they sign in to and no matter where they are in the world.

Google Sites

Google Sites are a great way to build an internal staff site with really useful information that can be easily updated. You can easily specify exactly who has access to the site, and use this as an alternative to public noticeboards.

Top tip: Add a live chart from data in a Google Sheet to a Google Site and users will always see the most up to date info every time they access the site! Great for behaviour charts!

Why go Cloud?

Cloud Computing has been one of the biggest buzzwords over the last few years but surprisingly, it’s likely that we have all been using it for more than 10 years now! Gmail, Office 365, Facebook and Skype are all examples of cloud solutions that we have probably experienced. We may not think about these products in this way but the simple cloud principle behind them gives us easier access to our everyday like school email account, documents and student information. An added benefit to this cloud-based scenario is it is availability on any device, anywhere, at any time which is great for teachers who work in different ways!

Productivity in the cloud is ever-evolving and the latest innovations are making everyday applications that we use in the classroom even more mobile and collaborative. With the combination of training, support and LGfL TV, moving to the cloud can effectively tackle the teacher workload and manage simple tasks like setting assignments for students. It would also allow teachers to work collaboratively, more seamlessly.

As an example, let’s take a Medium term plan. We have all experienced trying to open a document at the same time our partner teacher does during a planning session. Multiple versions get saved onto the staff drive and USB pens, copy and pasting issues…it becomes difficult to work with and plan effectively this way! By using a cloud-based platform, teachers are able to work on a document collaboratively, in real-time! The document is automatically saved to a shared folder and it gives teachers back so much more time to focus on other tasks. This makes using a cloud-based solution as easy as keeping up with your personal life on Facebook.

Moving to the cloud can often feel daunting and knowing where to start, an even greater challenge. LGfL can provide training, best practice and technical support to help you migrate to the cloud seamlessly. Our dedicated Learning Resources Consultant’s not only support you with getting the most out of your cloud platform, but assist on curriculum mapping and building a digital transformation framework to develop your schools cloud journey.

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How can the Cloud transform your School?

Flexibility – From a Teaching and Learning perspective, using cloud-based software means you are able to finish that report on the bus into work, provide live feedback to students in class and bring their latest progress data into the school hall for parent consultations. The anywhere, anytime approach really provides teachers with their classroom at their fingertips.

Security – Rest assured that your data in the cloud is much more secure than what’s hosted on a tower under your desk or in your server room. With certain applications within your cloud platform, as a Teacher, you are able to control what the students are able to access to make their experience safe and secure.

Capacity – Even now, schools spend a lot of budget on resourcing and managing infrastructure which may be out of date. With cloud computing, that’s no longer an issue. Now, you can focus on how the solution provides a shift in productivity, collaboration and progressive technologies.

Cost – Using a cloud technology can reduce maintenance fees. No more servers, software, and update fees. Many of the hidden costs typically associated with software implementation, customization, hardware, maintenance, and training are rolled into a transparent subscription fee. LGfL provide training, absolutely free and can be customised to the need of schools, on an individual basis.

It’s open –The Internet and your cloud platform will allow you to connect services to each other with seamless integration. This means that you can centralise your information and access it from anywhere in the world, on any computer or mobile device, at any time.

For more information on using a cloud-based platform and training, click here.