Monthly Archives: May 2009

Ofsted and VLEs

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Having endured two Ofsted inspections over the last 1/2 term, one at Buckingham Primary and one at the Royal Latin School, I am shocked at how little both teams have valued the online provision.  At Buckingham Primary, one of the teachers even had to explain to the lead inspector what a VLE is!  I am not making this up – the lead inspector did not know what a VLE was!  Both inspection teams were given an account to login and explore the provision, but neither team used the account at all.

At Buckingham Primary School, every child is given the chance to contribute to the school council via forums, polls and questionnaires.  Additionally, the council meets formally to decide the agenda for the online council.  However, the inspection team were concerned about the lack of any formal election of school council members – so much for ‘Every child matters’!  Why couldn’t the team celebrate the fact that every child has a voice?

The inspection at the Royal Latin School was a pilot for the new inspection regime; I anticipated that the team would, therefore, be very keen to find out how the online provision has impacted upon learning.   The lead inspector did come along to our ‘Oscars’ evening and an inspector visited one of my lessons, during which pupils were creating movies using Flash.  Was this celebrated (or even mentioned) in the final report?  Not at all.

At both schools, pupils from across the school use the VLE to supplement and enhance their learning.  Pupils collaborate in forums, teachers prepare online quizzes, and the VLE is used to generate an audience for pupils writing, artwork, movies, music and much more.  The impact on the school community is considerable.  Were Ofsted interested?  Barely.

Personally, I don’t think that schools will invest precious time and increasingly precious money on their online provision until there is a section of the SEF specifically looking at this area.  If this was to happen I am sure that currently reticent schools would have to improve their provision, ending with a more enriched curriculum for all!

Hot Potatoes or Moodle quiz?

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Hot Potatoes

Hot Potatoes

I’ve just got back from a training session with a group of teachers who, generally, have been ‘reluctant’  Moodle users.  Despite being enthusiastic about ICT in general, they have taken some convincing that Moodle is worth spending the time on!  However, today I introduced using Hot Potatoes to create quizzes and crosswords and they loved it!  By the end of the session they had all created at least one quiz, some with images and hyperlinks, and uploaded the quiz to Moodle.  This brought real meaning to the gradebook and how it can be used to monitor pupil progress.

Simple, easy to use and quick – surely just what the teachers need?

Making quizzes in Moodle, on the other hand,  can be time consuming and confusing, especially for users who are new to working online.  Alright, the quizzes can be shared across course, but big deal, a Hot Potatoes quiz can have background images!  Hot Potatoes runs offline, with the quizzes being uploaded at a later date.  This is inconvenient in that software needs installing, but it does mean things run quickly and smoothly.  The crossword, cloze procedure and mix features are very useful too, the crossword in particular being popular with students.

In case it isn’t obvious, I currently believe that Hot Potatoes, combined with the excellent Content Generator Scorm compliant penalty shoot out for fun, is the ideal combination for teachers to make online quizzes for Moodle.

I do, however, keep an open mind.  I am keen to see what Moodle 2.0 upgrades are made to the quiz.  I’ve also explored using the Word template for making Moodle quizzes;  I think it’s good. but not as good as HP!

Hot Potatoes is available from:  http://hotpot.uvic.ca/

RLS Oscars – a great night!

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A great time had by all!

After working on making movies using a variety of applications for the last 1/2 term, The Royal Latin School last night celebrated in style with its own ‘Oscars’ ceremony.  The event was attended by well over two hundred excited parents and students.    We watched short extracts from films nominated for eight different categories.   The full version of the winning film for each category was then displayed, with students encouraged to make an acceptance speech!  Finally, the parents voted for the best overall movie using ‘Voting System’ handsets (ninety of them!) and the headteacher awarded the winning shield.

All films entered into the competition were posted onto the school’s moodle based website.