About this blog

 
About this blog
                                
Welcome to our LP+ blog, where you can join likeminded professionals in discussing technology, and how it’s enriching the lives of millions through education worldwide. We love nothing more than sharing expertise, experiences and best practice – in fact,  along with a few entertaining anecdotes from industry guru’s and articles on the latest industry news, these are exactly the type of posts you should expect to see here.  We know, it’s very exciting! To make sure you don’t miss out on any updates, remember to subscribe today.
If you would like to contribute as a guest blogger, please feel free to get in touch with your ideas. You can do this by emailing info@lpplus.com
 

 Previous Posts

 
  
Making E-Safety Engaging
Using Keywords and Phrases to Boost Traffic To Your School Website
COMPETITION TIME: Linx Tablet Giveaway!
Managing Coursework and Assignments on LP+4
#Tips4BETT
Three Ways To Increase Traffic On Your School Website.
LP+365 Launch
LP+365, Empowering Schools To Maximize Their Investments in Office365.
Welsh Government Signs 3 Year Extension With Learning Possibilities.
Creating Inclusive Learning Environments.
#ThrowbackThursday Rohin Mistry Celebrates 10 Years at Learning Possibilities! 
#ThrowbackThursday Education Investor Awards.
The Renewal of Hwb+: The all Wales Learning Platform.
Facilitating Collaboration, Facilitating Learning.
Why Information Security Standards make sense to School Leaders
Transparency in Student Learning
Independent Learning
Always amazing, when it comes together!
Saving schools money
February 08
Making E-Safety Engaging
Words by Mr Daniel Cooper, Richmond Park Primary School in Carmarthenshire. 

The growth of digital technology is quickly becoming as common as pen and paper in classrooms with every passing day. It's an exciting time for education, especially education in Wales, with the publication of the Donaldson report and the eagerly awaited release of the digital framework in 2016. One of the key terms to emerge from this report is the expectation for children and teachers to become 'digitally competent'. Despite not fully knowing the extent to which this will affect teaching and learning, or even what the exact definition of digital competence will be, I think it's important that all schools make the necessary preparations for this framework over the coming year. 

My prediction is that a significant percentage of the framework will be linked to e-safety. In an ever-changing digital world, it's almost impossible for educators to stay completely up to date with all the latest apps and websites. For me, our role is to make children aware of the generic dangers which online materials can present, but more importantly, to help children make safe judgments for themselves when working with a range of digital materials. 

This is what led me to create an e-safety project which won the National Digital Learning Pupil Award in 2015. I used Mozzilla Webmaker X-Ray Goggles software (download this on https://webmaker.org/en-US/goggles) to edit a BBC news webpage. This software provides the user with the power to easily edit any website. Therefore, I decided to re-write the BBC article to make is about a hacker called Doctor NoTeach, who was hacking into school and Hwb+ websites (this fitted in perfectly with our Heroes & Villains topic and had the children engaged immediately). Having read the article together as a class, the children thought the story was real and that the objective of the lesson was to ensure that they created strong passwords to prevent their own accounts from being 'hacked' by Doctor NoTeach. Children all agreed that the page was real and reliable because it had the BBC copyright symbol, all the links worked, it looked real, etc. I asked the children to go home and read the page again (as it was hosted on our Hwb+ site) in preparation for a lesson to write a persuasive letter to Doctor NoTeach about the effect hacking into these sites has on the users. 

6692380bbcpage.PNG
Above: a screenshot of the BBC page created as part of the e-safety project at Richmond Park School. 

The most exciting thing happened the following day as children came into school fully motivated, engaged and desperately wanted to speak to me because they claimed the webpage was fake and had their suspicions that I created the page myself. They wanted to evidence this, therefore I asked them to create a presentation in 'Explain Everything' on the iPads and to annotate and illustrate any evidence they found (which provided me with further digital evidence of their worked linked to the literacy framework). To my delight, their evidence included a Google search about Doctor NoTeach which showed no results, a tiny link at the top of the fake page (which I hadn't even noticed) stating that the page was created using the X-Ray Goggles tool, a search on the BBC website for the news story, etc. Success, the children independently made their own choices to investigate the reliability of the digital material without me prompting them to do so. 

DrNoTeach.PNG
Above: A class of pupils fully engaged in learning about e-safety. 

Children were so immersed in the project that they wanted to create their own e-safety resources to make the rest of the school aware of the importance of e-safety. This included a munsic video with original e-safety lyrics, an e-safety page on Hwb+, etc. 

We are fortunate because there are so many free tools available to us as educators which can help us make a serious subject like e-safety both fun and engaging for the children. Some of my favourites are: 

   http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus - a website about the fictitious 'tree octopus' which all children in my experience have thought was real at first. 

   http://ifaketext.com - a site which allows the user to create fake text messages and make them appear in various formats, e.g. Whatsapp, Vodafone, etc. 

   https://howsecureismypassword.net - a site showing how safe a child's password is and how they can make it safer. 


If there's one thing you take away from this blog, let it be that teaching e-safety doesn't have to be boring; the key component is creativity. 
January 27
Using Keywords and Phrases to Boost Traffic To Your School Website

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Above: There are many ways in which you can boost traffic to your school website. Keywords and phrases is a good place to start. 
 
Did you know that the majority of traffic on the internet is actually driven by the big Tycoon type search engines? Although there are others ways in which you can generate traffic, search engines offer the primary method for most internet users.   
 
One of the great things, as you'll know about search engines is that they provide targeted results. By this, we mean that they provide results (traffic) that people are looking for based on key words and phrases they type into their search. If your website isn't optimised for this purpose then you're sure to be missing out on a lot of traffic.  
 
Search engines need search engine optimisation (SEO) to pick up your site effectively, and to provide you with suitable traffic from the web.  With this in mind, you need to make sure that the right aspects of SEO are available to search engines on your website, to prevent your site from being buried under thousands upon thousands (and thousands) of results.  
 
If you're new to SEO then you do have a lot to learn, but we've put together a few tips to help get you started with keywords and phrases.  
 
Choosing The Right Keywords and Phrases.  
As important as it is to get traffic to your website, the crucial thing is to attract the right kind of visitors. After all, there's really no use in attracting people who are looking to get their online shopping done if you're real focus is to engage your school community.  As well as affecting the type of traffic, using the right keywords within your website can mean the world of difference regarding where you're website is placed in search engine results.  
 
Choosing the right keywords and phrases can be tough. Though it might at first be a smashing idea to put 'primary school' at the top of your list, this would probably not be as profitable in relevant traffic as 'primary schools in Hertfordshire' or 'primary school on Elstree road', neither of which would probably beat 'KS2 Schools in Hertfordshire' or 'local school Elstree road'. We're not suggesting that in this scenario you would cross out 'primary school' from your list, but to expand your traffic you must expand your thought process – think outside the box.  

Using Your Chosen Keywords And Phrases – Everywhere.  

Once you've found your keywords, try to fit them into page titles, page descriptions, headings, page content, and URLS. But do remember, no one's after gobbledegook. The aim is to fit as many in as possible while still making sense, and not becoming overbearing. Ready to accept the challenge?  

 
Here are a few ideas:  
 

Newsletter Headings: 

Rather than giving a newsletter a heading like Newsletter 8th January 2016, instead try thinking up a snappy heading based on its contents. For example, the main story in the newsletter could be the success of the schools Christmas play, so the title could be along the lines of: Successful Turnout for Christmas Nativity At Elstree Road Primary School. In this title, Successful, Elstree Road, Primary School, and School could all be keywords and phrases, and therefore this is likely to be scanned and picked up under search results containing these words.   
 

Page URLs:  
When creating a new page on your website, say for example an About Us page, typically the done thing is to copy the page name into the URL, so the URL would read something like www.elstreeroadprimaryschool.co.uk/pages/aboutus.aspx   
In this case, a search engine would read the domain – elstreeroadprimaryschool.com and up to About us. This means that on the event of someone typing in about elstree road primary school into a search engine, it's probable that this page would come up in their search results.  

If you don't have a custom domain applied to your website then you'll need to be a little more strategic with your URL titles.  
 

For example, in above scenario, you could look at calling the page About Elstree Road Primary rather than About us.  This then adds the school name into the URL ready for search engines to analyse. 

 
Page Content: 
You don't want to visibly flood your page with keywords, though having said this you need to try to fit enough in so that the search engines will pick it up.  Keep a list of your keywords to hand when writing content, and see what you can fit in here and there.  
 

These are a few tips to get you started, the only way to move forward is to have a go at this yourself.  

Thanks for stopping by, stay tuned for similar posts coming soon.  

January 18
COMPETITION TIME: Linx Tablet Giveaway!

Here at Learning Possibilities we're very excited about Bett 2016. So much so that we've decided to host a competition!

We're giving away a Linx 810 8 inch tablet in black on Windows 10.

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What do you have to do?

For your chance to win, all you need to do is tweet about your favourite feature on LP+365 using the hashtags #bett2016 and #lp365.

Do you love the engaging class dashboard that allows quick and easy access to industry leading software? Or perhaps you're impressed with the countless help files on the inbuilt support site?...Maybe you want to explore the assignments tool because, well - it just looks so simple? Or could it be that you're jumping up and down in excitment about the structure of the solution as a whole? 

If you're new to LP+365 then pop by our stand at the event, or watch this quick video to find out more.

Professor Stephen Heppell will be drawing the winner at random on Thursday 21st of January at the LP+ stand (C300 in The Micrososft Village).


 

January 11
Managing Coursework and Assignments on LP+4

Here at Learning Possibilities, we wanted to take an opportunity to discuss our assignments tool with you, to make sure that you're getting the most out of your LP+ learning platform.  

In creating this tool, we wanted to give you an efficient, organised and simple way to distribute and manage homework and assignments at secondary level.   
 
From a Teachers perspective  
 
teacher.PNG 
Above: A view of the Assignment List tool from a teachers perspective.
Teachers will have the ability to manage coursework and assignments through an easy-to-use tool that centralises relevant information into one personalised view, enabling teachers to better manage their workloads. 
 
From a Students perspective. 
 
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Above: A view of the Assignment List tool from a students perspective.
Students will have the ability to manage their own coursework and assignments, with a to-do list, clear deadlines and a summary of previous work. As with the view for teachers, each student will have a personalised view, enabling them to easily take control of their own individual learning journeys.  
 
 
Stay tuned for similar posts coming soon, and in the meantime feel free to contact our Help Desk for any further information.

 

January 06
#Tips4BETT

Every year there is one of the largest education tradeshows in the world held at ExCeL in London. BETT is a fantastic experience but it can be made better by listening to the experience of some of the veteran attendees.

A few years ago the hashtag #tips4bett was used on twitter to share these tips and it was curated by the late Dave Coleman (@davecoleman146). This year I thought it was time to resurrect the hashtag and to share again.
 
The list of tips below has been collated from Dave’s original curated list (no longer available on his blog but I managed to get it from a combination of the Way Back Machine, Facebook and search for the hashtag on twitter) and Ian Addison also provided a ready list of tips from an old blog post. Some have been tweaked to get into the 140-character limit, or to make relevant to ExCeL.
 
Over the next two weeks we will be drip feeding these tips out onto twitter again and see if they spark some new ideas as well. From the #BettChat session hosted by Dan Roberts and the Digital Leaders of Devonport High School for Boys (https://storify.com/grumbledook/digital-leaders-with-danjjroberts for the archive of the session), it is obvious that tips would be handy for Digital Leaders who are attending too, so we believe more tips will be added as well.

 

We will try to update the blog on a daily regular basis, attributing wherever possible. We might not curate all tweets, mainly because there are duplicates, and we would like to thank those who responded from the list below and granted permission for us to tweet out their tips.

@tweetlpplus, @LPPlus_louise, and @LpplusTiger / @Grumbledook

 
Anon
If using an iPhone, take a backup battery device, USB charger and mains charger.
@4goggas
If an online app runs slowly during demo, you can bet it’ll do worse on a school network. Avoid, despite sales pitch
@grumbledook
Alternatively arrange for others to see sessions you can’t get to so you at least have some feedback on things
@merlinjohn
Be cool. Keep mind open/suspend prejudice so you get pleasant surprises. Avoid conflict and paper. Duck n dive. Weave
@grumbledook
Try to arrange with others you know to see similar demos so you can compare notes. Good to get different viewpoints.
@ianaddison
Change your avatar to a proper pic and/or add your twitter name to your badge so we know who you are
@grumbledook
Explain to colleagues that BETT is not a junket, but prep for the expedition to the south pole! Fun but taxing!
@deepexperience1
Hide the barcode on your badge or face a barrage of phone calls every Friday afternoon
@orunner
Take photos not brochures
@orunner
Has anyone said bring your own sandwiches yet … or take out a loan in order to buy lunch
@chrisrat
I guess the most important thing is to try and enjoy it. If you don’t, Bett is a loooonnnggg show.
@digitalmaverick
Take lots of stickers with your details on them easier than filling in lots of forms with your tel no & email
@chrisrat
If you want to save your back, a small backpack!
@chrisrat
Along with a pinch of salt, take an open mind
@lisibo
Fill pockets with raisins – they’ll fight off hunger pangs and work better than bread crumbs when finding way back out
@chrisrat
Plan, plan and plan again. If you don’t it can take days of wandering to find your way out!
@chrisrat
For exhibitors: stop staff members wearing perfume/ aftershave – if you are a large stand, it can be Boots
@lisibo
If you fail to wear comfortable shoes + get blisters, there’s a chemist on the main road that sells blister plasters
@lisibo
Wear comfortable shoes – your feet will thank you (with thanks to @chrisrat for the reminder of last year’s agony
@claireashton
Drink lots of water, don’t wear much – it’s really hot in there, get some fresh air, exercise in the hotel at night
@iusher
Wandering halls aimlessly is either (a) exhausting & pointless or (b) serendipitous – frequently both (the best tip!)
@claireashton
As a visitor avoid taking stuff off stands, other than pens, sweets and the odd mug. Bags of lit are dumped outside
@grumbledook
Don’t be worried if you don’t recognise folk. Not everyone looks like their avatar. Some would worry you if they did
@lisibo
Meet up with virtual friends for moral support – helps you not to be freaked out by size of it – in my experience!
@grumbledook
Use a vidcam/phone to make 30 seconds comments to listen to later. You could also send yourself SMS about stuff!
@grumbledook
Use a camera to photograph things that excite you. Get the stand name/number as more stand details from show mag
@grumbledook
Don’t be scared to leave space in your plans. Many stands have great demos so that you may decide on the day!
@rayfleming
Make sure you’ve spread your seminar viewing schedule to last the day. Better than all AM sitting and all PM walking
@rayfleming
Don’t wear new shoes. Better old, scuffed and comfortable than new and shiny – and painful by day
@billgibbon
Try at least to smile at the stallholders, even if not interested in what they have to offer. They’ve got a hard job
@deerwood
Don’t take a bag of any sort. If you see anything good, note details on your phone and get back to them afterwards
@dannynic
Forage for food amongst the stands. Can last the day on mints, sweets and some stands even gave away water last
@billgibbon
Don’t think you can see it all in 1 day. Plan what you want to see, but allow time for some surprises
@billgibbon
Don’t rely on hearing your phone if you’ve arranged for a contact – put it somewhere where you’ll feel it vibrate!
@dannynic
Grab as many free pens as you can to last you the rest of the year
@dannynic
Coordinate with friends to find out who’s giving away the best freebies
@billgibbon
Carry a bottle of water – talking a lot at a louder level (it’s very noisy) will do your throat in.
@billgibbon
Wear your most comfortable shoes – the floor is really hard
@theokk
Bring a wifi dongle and corkscrew
@dtester
Take a sturdy rucksack to put the brochures + info THAT YOU WANT in, know why you are going and focus on that when there
@iusher
Better to come away with a couple of good, useable, ideas for use at school than 2GB memory sticks. Seek the former out
@dannynic
Don’t grab every single flyer and brochure you are offered. You’ll end up weighed down
@iusher
[1] pre-register so you can get your badge mailed to you [2] bring a chair [3] bring lunch so you don’t get ripped off
@grumbledook
if you get to @bett_show early then tweet a pic of the times of demos from certain stands for others to see.
@will789gb
why only 30 sec for a BETT video pitch? post direct to Youtube? or Vimeo for an edit? creative commons assumed
@grumbledook
When arranging to meet others also send link to the map from the @bett_show site. Some stands move from year 2 year.
@ianaddison
Book a ticket. It helps to have one as you get in quicker. The Bett website is here so go on, go and sign up.
@ianaddison
 Plan your time. Why are you there? What do you want to see? Who do you need to go and speak to?
@ianaddison
In ‘£ tough times’, what will you take back to school? £xx covering your class, so go back with something to show
@ianaddison
Plan rest stops. Coincide with seminars. Listen to folk like @ictevangelist, @trees2066 and @lanky_boi_ray
@ianaddison
Research. There are some wonderful show-only deals but you need to know normal price to negotiate the best deal.
@ianaddison
Check with your staff. If you are going for you, consider the whole school. Lit coordinator? SEN? Ask for ideas
@ianaddison
Look at the seminar list for the Learn Live and Arena. Some are great and well worth it.
@ianaddison
Check out what seminars are running at key stands such as Microsoft and the Microsoft Village.
@ianaddison
Make business cards. Perhaps old fashioned but a handy way to share name, position, school, blog and twitter name.
@ianaddison
Your phone will run out. Have charger, power banks, etc. Some stands allow you to charge your phone whilst chatting.
@ianaddison
Check tube trains. The DLR is 'fun' to make changes on, but getting onto it in the 1st place can be as insteresting.
@ianaddison
Food is available outside in the main corridor, but to save popping out have a ready snack / drink.
@ianaddison
Display name/twitterID/avatar so people can spot you. On badge, jumper like @dughall or face paint like @grumbledook.
@ianaddison
If you need a friend arrange to meet at certain stands. Some gravitate to @brainpop, 2 simple, etc.
@ianaddison
Get your bearings. Bett is big/can be scary. Walk round and use the map/app to see key stands, e.g. Microsoft Village
@ianaddison
It can be like a theme park. At lunch the café's are busy. Snack means you can eat a bit later/earlier - avoid rush.
@ianaddison
Sensible clothes. Unless with important people, presenting, sales you can be comfortable + still be professional.
@ianaddison
Wear shoes that you can walk in for 8 hours. Take a jacket you can carry when you get hot. Cloakroom means queue/cost
@ianaddison
Don't get offended by Twitter. You will meet people who follow you + you don't know them and vice versa. Don't worry
@ianaddison
Don’t worry if you miss people/don’t get to chat. Can't see everyone. There is next year, other events or twitter.
@ianaddison
Don't worry about pushy people. Politely take leaflet or tell them you are not interested/move on.
@ianaddison
Sit down for 5 mins and empty bag of things you don't need. There is rubbish out there but also hidden treats.
@ianaddison
Don't worry about not following plan. Things will catch your eye or you joined a competition for classroom kit.
@ianaddison
Don't worry about not tweeting everything. More important that you see things. Tweet/blog afterwards instead.
@ianaddison
Enjoy yourself. Yes, it is big/overwhelming but enjoy it. This could be due to meeting people, but it is all fun.
@ianaddison
Attend at least one LearnLive session if you can.
@ianaddison
Freebies available, but don't go crazy. Don't take *all* the pens. Take one, look at products but don't take all
@ianaddison
Tweet people to say hello in your free spots. Use the hashtags. You will find new followers and they will find you.
@ianaddison
Follow up on any free trials you have. Chat with companies if you need a bit more time.
@ianaddison
Look up about the TeachMeet, and go back and look again at materials mentioned in the presentations.
@ianaddison
Blog afterwards. It gives you a good record to help with going again in future years.
@grumbledook
Plan your travel once you get into London. Getting to the DLR is half the fun, then working out the right train.
@grumbledook
Get on DLR at Tower Gateway or Stratford for no changes to Custom House. If at Bank, swap to Beckton train asap
@domnorrish
Important supplier? Arrange to meet off deafening show floor so you can hear what they're trying to tell you about

 

Update - 15/01/16 : And some updated tips from our friends at http://www.EduGeek.net

@EduGeek
Bring gel Insoles, Water ,Snacks, hand gel, Strepsils for those on a stand, Layered clothing so you can cool down
@EduGeek
Get Hand gel, A supply of lemsip, etc. at home for the inevitable BETT-flu that strikes exhibitors the following week
@EduGeek
 by end of dayPrioritise who you want to see before going, see them first.Wander round w/o a plan and risk forgetting
@EduGeek
Stickers with details printed on them - saves having to fill out so many forms for extra info or to enter competitions
@EduGeek
Be at the Edugeek/Smoothwall stand at 12 noon for Pizza
@EduGeek
Take a decent bag with padded handles to assist in lugging around all the booty. #bringingbootyback @itbadger
@itbadger
Make sure that U dump any literature that comes with booty in bins to avoid wasting booty space.  #bringingbootyback
@EduGeek
We also have a couch on the stand if you need to rest your weary bones without being pushed to buy something
@EduGeek
If you do need to find a stand (easy to lose your bearings) come and see us and we shall point U in the right direction
@EduGeek
If U are stationary/walk slowly, don't do this in middle of walkways, stick to the sides or chaos builds up behind you
@EduGeek
Check out if there is free Wi-Fi there (usually from @ruckus). Saves on 3G / data
@EduGeek
EduGeek Members can get their *new* AFK badge, lanyard, etc. when they visit the Edugeek stand
 

 

January 05
Three Ways To Increase Traffic On Your School Website.

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Understanding why people visit your website can help you in evaluating its effectiveness. 

Does your school website offer its visitors what they're looking for? Take a look at the analytics for your school website to find out what pages visitors are accessing, and how long they stay on these pages for. If you have a high bounce rate, this suggests that people are visiting your website, and are not finding what they're looking for.  

We've put together a quick and simple list to help you get back on track.  
 
What are people looking for when they visit my school website?  
Generally, the most common reasons that usually prompt the public to visit websites are as follow:  

 

  • They are looking for information.  
  • They are looking for contact details.  
  • They are looking to get involved.  

 

So how does this apply to a school website? Keep reading to find out... 
 
What information should I keep on my school website?  
A website is the perfect place to store and manage public information that you wish to share with your school and community.  Typical examples of the types of information that you would expect to find on a school website might include:  

 

  • School news & updates (newsletter) 
  • Term dates  
  • Noteworthy dates and events 
  • About us/Overview of the school 
  • Information on school ethos 
  • Breakdown of staff i.e. a list of who teaches which year group 
  • Information on governing body 
  • Prospectus and breakdown of extra curricular clubs and societies 
  • Inspectorate Reports 
  • Facilities at the school  
  • Contact details 

 

In some cases, you may find that your local county offers you guidance on or even has specific instructions on the type of information that you should include on your website. It's worth checking with your school information and services department at your local council for further information on this.   
It's also worth remembering that whilst some of the above can be published on your website and left for a long period of time without an update (About us, school ethos etc.) your website will get more views and hits if the majority of the information available to visitors on your website is updated on a fairly regular basis.  

 

While the thought of managing your schools website to this extent may seem tricky, let us assure you that the trickiest part is getting things up and running, updating your content should take half the time once you know what you need to publish. If you have a public website powered by Learning Possibilities then get in touch to find out how we can help you in setting up and maintaining your school website.  
 
Where on the school website should I publish our contact details?  
 
Research by kissmetrics tells us that even when people will not contact your school straight away from viewing your website, a phone number will endenger a feeling of trust from your visitors.    
If you're schools public website is fairly easy to navigate around from a visitors perspective, then you should really set up a page that solely contains contact details for your school. This could include:  

 

  • Main contacts at the school (such as the name of the Head, Deputy Head, and contact at the Office/Reception). 
  • Telephone number 
  • Email address 
  • Postal address  
  • Map of area pinpointing school 
  • Links to social media channels 

 

In addition, you might want to think about adding a telephone number, email and postal address to the footer of your website, so that these appear on each page available to visitors.  

 

How can visitors to our school website get involved?  

 

You may think it difficult to decide how you can get your school community involved with the goings on at your school through a website. Well, you'd be surprised... 
 
The first step is the information that you have available to them. It may be that you're lucky enough to already have a very responsive school community who are easy to reach and communicate with. If this is the case, or even if you're struggling to get people involved with school events, then it might be an idea to start switching up your newsletter a bit.  
 
Rather than simply reporting on school news, try spicing it up a little by sharing fun stories from school trips; providing your school community with an insight to what takes place during lesson time; publicising fundraising activities including links to official donation pages (such as justgiving or MyDonate); Posting about up-and-coming school events to encourage volunteers; or even  by posting the occasional competition or awards announcement for high attendance and so forth. As long as the content coincides with your schools voice, and could not be deemed offensive, then there is no reason as to why you can't be creative. Posting weekly announcements on your newsletter will soon attract a regular and loyal following. You may also find that you attract local press and support from local businesses.  
 
Other ideas to help get people interested and involved where they can, include providing feedback surveys for parents, posting regular announcements from the head, and allowing your school community the option to rate your school and leave comments – which we suggest are monitored and regulated in case of spam.  
 
So there you have it. Three ways in which you can increase traffic on your school website. Once you have the basics covered, there are plenty of other things you can have a think about. These include search engine optimisation, sharing your website on social media and even through improving the design of your site. 
 

 

December 11
LP+365 Launch

devices alone.png

Tuesday 1st December 2015 was quite an important day for Learning Possibilities as a company. We had the pleasure of inviting customers, colleagues and peers to the launch of our latest product, held at the Microsoft UK headquarters in Reading.

 
Sat in the audience, listening to presenters from Microsoft, Learning Possibilities and schools, it was hard not to feel the buzz about the difference LP+365 could make.
Mark Stewart started the ball rolling, looking at how Office 365 is extending how technology is used, and how partners build on that. Office 365 is ever changing and growing, and this is a powerful aspect that users love. (TS - I have to admit, I am loving Sway right now … fills in so many of the gaps I need without the sea sickness of Prezi!)
 
Mehool (Learning Possibilities CEO) was up next, talking about how Learning Possibilities was born out of an office meeting to look at how you change education via Teaching and Learning, not just bricks and mortar. The whole concept of the platform fits in with those making the most from Flipped Learning and it is good to see schools using it this way. We can see the impact of various tools Learning Possibilities already have through the work in Wales https://youtu.be/NEYj9ibQSJk and at Bett Asia where visitors were extremely impressed with how well LP+365 could fit into exciting things going on in their schools.
 
Stephen Heppell (Learning Possibilities' Chair and Chair of ETAG) followed up, starting with a historic look at technology and networks of learning. It was amazing to think, listening to him, that Prestel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prestel) and Telecom Gold was being used to share information and chat in schools all those years ago. Then schools slowly went on to other projects, many of those were funded by partners (e.g. Tesco SchoolNet 2000, SchoolsOnline 1995/96 - sponsored by Microsoft, IBM, Admiral, ICL) and not Government partnerships. Partnerships such as these have driven innovation. Some innovations are learner-led and that should not be forgotten either. Of course, it is worth saying that all these are included in considerations by the Education Technology Action Group report (http://etag.report/) where things like, "online learning is an entitlement" and "Cloud-based computing enables… access anytime, anywhere and any device" are mottos?
 
Jonathan Muir (Learning Possibilities' Head of Business Development) bounded onto the stage, eager to show the new platform off. The site has 2 simple dashboards. The first gives you your personal notifications in one central place; recent emails, documents, assignments and so on. The second is the class dashboard, with class specific area such as announcement, calendar, discussions, class notebook and so on. To be honest, it is such a simplified interfaced it looks smooth and easy to use.
 
Denise Phillips (Maths and Computing Logical Thinking Lead at Townhill Junior School) followed on having used LP+365 with her class, and looked at the difference just 1 week on the platform had made. Denise had been impressed with Office 365 tools and how they could be part of student-led learning which made her approach us about how she could use it by working with us. We were happy to put her on the pilot for LP+365 and support her by adapting what she did in class.
 
Chatting through the changes to her lesson structure, by using LP+365, it was obvious that the peer-support on using the tools and the collaborative working between the children was significant, even in their first lesson.
 
The feedback from the children really made me smile. You could tell that they found it intuitive, were keen to use it, they could easily choose the tools they needed to do their work, it was engaging and it gave them a purpose and audience to write for.
 
Denise was smiling as she provided a raft of quotes from the children too. "This is really easy! Can we use it all the time?" "Can I log on again at lunchtime and add some more?" "This is really 'grown up'… I love the way everything is in one place!" "Can I get this on my phone?" "Can I have my login and then use it at home?... I can show my mum then." "I usually hate writing, but this actually makes me like writing - don’t' tell my teacher!"
 
Denise explained how the children were exploring the tools in LP+365, and it was heartening to see the children wanting to drive their own learning. It was clear that Denise saw LP+365 as a tool to facilitate a pedagogical shift. Denise's entire presentation went to show that teachers, talking about good tools and good practice, is really inspiring.
 
A brief overview was then given by Jonathan of the LP+365 Roadmap, with improvements and enhancements to assignments and the LP+365 mobile app.
 
The day was rounded off by Microsoft UK's Director of Education, Steve Beswick.
who spoke about Microsoft's commitment to education and the UK as growing, with the announcement of a UK Data Centre for their Azure Cloud, the technology that runs Office 365, and a Global Alliance, with Learning Possibilities, being a Microsoft Education Partner
 
So, all in all, a very busy afternoon (not including the networking afterwards) and a day where all of us in the company can feel that we have accomplished a significant task: launching a simple, intuitive Learning Management System that we can already see engages learners, makes teachers' lives easier and is cost effective.
 
I can't wait to talk to more schools using it.

 

November 17
LP+365, Empowering Schools To Maximize Their Investments in Office365.

​​Post Written by Louise Dawson

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Microsoft and Learning Possibilities, the UK’s leading cloud based learning platform provider, will be launching LP+365 at BETT Asia 2015.

Over the past 12months, the team here at Learning Possibilities have been working closely with Microsoft to create industry leading technology on the Office 365 and Azure cloud. With the countless late nights, hundreds (and hundreds) of hours of development work, and school led focus groups that have taken place while building LP+365, we are proud to announce that the product has been launched at Bett Asia 2015 today.
Bringing educational value to a schools Office 365 tenancy, our contemporary solution has an engaging and simple interface that will enable schools to easily transform Office365 into their own schools’ LMS. 
Office365 tools are increasingly becoming the go-to tools for schools across the globe to empower teachers and learners with means that will enable them to excel in teaching and learning, while being able to document their progress for their own personal and professional development. The interface that LP+365 brings to these tools is attractive, easy-to-use and highlights the most popular and beneficial tools for education.
As part of the support package, and to ensure that all schools can really utilize the many benefits that LP+365 has to offer, educators will have access to ADOPT: The award winning framework published by Learning Possibilities – selected as the national learning platform maturity model. 
Not forgetting that schools worldwide are investing in mobile technology, Learning Possibilities are also launching the LP+365 Mobile app that will enable students and teachers to access their favourite Office365 tools offline, allowing learning anytime, anywhere with or without internet connectivity. 
Look out for a preview app that will be FREE to download from the Windows App Store in November.
Learning Possibilities sponsored the Gala Reception for Bett Asia on 16th November in Singapore, and are exhibiting at the Bett Asia Summit on 17th and 18th November on stand 22.
If you’re planning on attending Bett Asia 2015, make it a must to stop by stand 22 for a demo of LP+365, and to find out what we’re about. 
If you aren’t able to attend Bett Asia 2015, you can RSVP to our Official UK Launch by clicking here.

 

October 22
Welsh Government Signs 3 Year Extension With Learning Possibilities.

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Education, as we all know has changed dramatically with the intervention of technology. Furthermore, we see teaching and learning progressing with technology as each day goes by. 

For those of you who don’t know, Hwb+ is the ‘All Wales Learning Platform’. Following recommendations in 2012 from the taskforce ‘Find it, make it, use it, share it: learning in digital Wales’ chaired by Janet Hayward, Head at Cadoxton school in South Wales, Learning Possibilities were selected following a highly competitive tender process to deliver Hwb+.

Meeting Government security levels, with the means for bilingual access and tools to support individual and collaborative development, the platform meets many requirements that are set to help schools in developing and transforming teaching and learning as individual establishments, regionally and even at a national level. 

In a recent video by Microsoft to showcase the progress that has been made regarding education in Wales, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology at the Welsh Government, Julie James suggests that the ability to understand technology is a core value to achieving opportunities both professionally and personally.

“Digital Technology is a really important enabler. We understand that our school children need to understand Digital Technology, and they need to be what we call digitally literate.”

Three years into the contract, on the year of renewal, we’ve seen a successful rollout, and already that Hwb+ is being embedded into thehearts of schools across Wales​.

Over at Ysgol Pencae in South Wales, staff report that Hwb+ has resulted in an evident enhancement of literacy skills obtained by learners. In recent tests 33% of a year 2 class achieved outcome 6 (level 3) for literacy. While the school cannot attribute this to technology alone, staff at the school imply that Hwb+ has been a substantial factor.

A neighbouring school, Barry Island Primary were commended by Estyn (The Welsh school inspection service) for offering excellent learning experiences to their pupils, in particular for using highly innovative and effective practices in developing Hwb+ learning. 

We’ve seen numerous awards presented to Richmond Park Primary school in Carmarthenshire, for their highly effective and thriving work surrounding the topic of eSafety, partially hosted and managed by the school on their Hwb+ learning platform.

The Hollies School, a special school in Cardiff who were named as a Hwb Centre of Excellence, used Hwb+ to host Cross Consortium Moderation Wales: a national collaborative project for moderation of special school pupil work for educators associated to special schools across Wales.  In hand, enabling teachers to share practice via continual professional development.

A very recent project to take place was the Black Gold 2015 Collaboration project that was hosted and managed on Hwb+, by Teacher, ICT, Literacy and Assessment Coordinator, James Protheroe at Darran Park Primary. This project involved 16 schools, and was the first of its kind worldwide. 

Further North, Mererid Llwyd, at Welsh medium secondary school, Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, was awarded for her admirable and successful work improving literacy using tools in Hwb+.

Looking back on the past three years, we can evidently see that Hwb+ is enabling teachers and learners across Wales to produce some highly commendable accomplishments that will continue to support and develop Welsh education for the foreseeable future.

Visit our Press Release to find out what Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis said on the renewal.  

Click here​ for more detail on how Mehool, CEO at Learning Possibilities thinks Hwb+ is contributing to Digital Wales.

Click here to view the short video by Microsoft of progression of digital learning in Wales.​

October 05
Creating Inclusive Learning Environments.

​Blog by Ross Linnett, CEO & Founder, Recite Me.

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Many things have happened to me since I completed my education well over a decade ago. The two most important were being diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 22 and the smart-technology boom.  Both of these
events ultimately led me down the path of becoming an entrepreneur, running an accessible Cloud-based technology company.

During my school and university education none of my teachers or lecturers picked up on my dyslexia. I definitely displayed many of the typical characteristics of people with dyslexia such as letter confusion in reading and writing as well as traits like poor time-keeping and organisational skills; but I suppose that those days not so much was known about the condition and I had developed my own coping strategies.
 
Thankfully our education system has come a long way since then and children with special educational needs are far better supported than they have ever been. We now know a lot more about learning difficulties like dyslexia. An estimated 10-15% of students have dyslexia and according to the governments own figures, 30.6% of state-funded primary school children at the School Action Plus level have speech and language communications needs.
 
Learners with dyslexia are usually supported with a laptop in the classroom and colour overlays for worksheet hand-outs. Not many people know that we all have an optimal reading colour combination for some its black text on a white background, the standard default, but for many others and especially people with dyslexia it could be white text on a black background or black text on a pale blue or yellow background, or some other combination. If you find the right combination for you, you can increase your reading speed by up to 25%.
 
When I got my dyslexia diagnosis my life changed. Overnight. It was as if someone came in and turned all the lights on. I was given a computer with some specialist software on it, which enabled me to access the reading and writing of documents in a way Id never managed before. Then I went to work and realised that the software and kit Id been given was only on my computer at homeit was a solution that was costly to install and meant it had to be installed on every computer device that I used. Not exactly a practical or portable solution.
 
What I really craved was a mobile solution, something that worked for me no matter what computer or device I was using. The mobile internet was starting to take off and suddenly information was all around us, in a much more instantly accessible format. The entrepreneur in me awoke, I knew there had to be an assistive technology solution that would work in the Cloud. I wanted every website and document I viewed to offer me the custom-settings I need to access the information.
 
The software didnt exist, so I set about inventing it myself, persuading many non-believers along the way. The technology behind Recite Mes accessibility and language toolbar is very sophisticated, but easy to use. It enables website users to change pretty much everything about how they access the information on the page, from the font style and size, colour contrast, or having the content recited using the text-to-speech function.
 
However, not all information we need to live, work and learn is web-based (yet) and reflecting on my experiences in education and in the workplace I knew we needed to create a software solution that worked with desktop applications that could be used to make the classroom a more inclusive learning environment.  Include Me is a holistic technology solution that can be used to support students or pupils with learning difficulties as well as those with English as an additional language or with mild-moderate visual impairments.
 
Our softwtware makes digital content like websites, desktop applications and documents accessibile to all learners at every stage of their education. Using up-to-the-minute technology we provide innovative solutions such as digital colour overlays for learners with dyslexia, which can be applied to any document type, and our phonetic speller is a great tool for children or young adults with language and reading difficulties.
 
With all the advances in Cloud-computing no learner needs to be left behind, technology has the power to transform our education system and create inclusive learning environments for all.
 
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