High praise

Some things are just too good not to share, such as this comment from Jane Weller of Cheam High School‘s Maths dept.

Absolutely brilliant! I’ve never known my class so engrossed in a lesson. They worked almost in silence on the survey I’d set up, then were challenging each other on the multiplication & division tests. I can’t stop telling people about it!

Jane has written a really nice Learning Styles survey. I’d like to show it off to you, but so far she is keeping it in her private area on Yacapaca, so you’ll just have to imagine what it might look like – assuming your learning style is predominantly visual, that is.

Jane is moving to Overton Grange school in September. Something tells me they are in for a treat.

eAssessment training days

A particular pleasure recently has been to observe the increasing trend of early Yacapaca adopters seeking to induct colleagues. It is an extra level of validation when somebody thinks that what you are doing is good enough to share with their friends. And I’m a sucker for flattery.

These pioneering adopters tend to learn by tinkering about. They don’t just not need formal training, they don’t want it. So we don’t didn’t offer it.

Now things have changed. The teachers who are joining Yacapaca on the strength of the recommendation of a colleague are typically more pragmatic people. They want to know how they can do assessment more effectively, using less of their own time, using an online system.

To meet that need, we have set up a series of four one-day eAssessment training events around the country. The aim is to give a strong enough grounding that you can use Yacapaca as a day-to-day assessment tool in any subject. We will cover both the objective (multiple choice etc) and subjective (ePortfolio & short text) sides of the system.

  • Birmingham – Friday, July 7th.
  • Milton Keynes – Monday, July 10th (run in conjunction with Milton Keynes LEA and focusing on PSHE)
  • Swansea/Port Tabot – Friday, July 14th
  • Guildford – Tuesday, 18th July

Cost £95.00 including lunch
to book call Chalkface on 0800 781 8858
or email sonia_n@chalkface.com

Day Plan

The day will cover Yacapaca from start to finish:

Day-to-day usage

  • Adding students and additional teachers
  • Selecting and setting tests
  • Analysing results (including advanced analysis)

Authoring your own tests

  • Creating different question types (multiple choice, cloze, survey)
  • Managing your question bank
  • Constructing multiple tests from a single bank

Writing for publication

  • Writing stems with clarity
  • Options that that facilitate guessing and ‘gaming’, and how to avoid them
  • Writing formative feedback that best facilitates learning

ePortfolios and Short-Text resources

  • Basic setup of the ePortfolio module
  • Setting and monitoring tasks
  • Authoring portfolio tasks
  • Converting MS Word worksheets into interactive online resources
  • Writing ePortfolio resources for publication

The group will be kept small to ensure personal attention to each delegate, so early booking is advisable.

If you are planning to purchase a Yacapaca site license for your school, we can also provide this same training course on-site. Currently we won’t charge for this, but will require you to help us market the event to teachers from other schools near you.

ePortfolio integration

This evening we are uploading the next major improvement to Yacapaca. The ePortfolio is now integrated into Yacapaca for both teachers and students.

Teacher module

As teacher, you will see a ‘gateway button’ in the Yacapaca banner. This will take you into the ePortfolio module. You will find most of it self-explanatory, but please do refer to the ePortfolio Instructions if you get stuck.

There are assessment tasks on the system already for DiDA, the GCSEs in Applied Business and Health and Social Care, and ICT for ABE. But over and above that, it really is extremely easy to create your own ePortfolio tasks.

Student module

The student ePortfolio module is integrated via a new button in the top left of the banner. This leads to a list of all ePortfolio assignments, from where the student proceeds into the specific task. That list will be empty until/unless you set some assignments.

We’re not charging a bean for the ePortfolio until September, so if you want to know what the possibilities of ePortfolio working are, now is the time go and have a play! It has so many creative possibilities that it’s really up to you how you want to use it.

Individualised learning + VLEs = no time left to teach

I’m not quite finished with BECTA’s matrices yet. There is another aspect of their philosopy that worries me even more than their apparent obsession with corporate VLEs. Consider this from the Learning Platforms Matrix

Level 4: Tools provided facilitate the development of interactive schemes and units of work for pupils to work through at their own rate or access individual materials as required. Pupils’ responses and submissions are fed back into the Management Information System (MIS).

…and ask yourself who is supposed to develop these interactive schemes of work? And then, from the same source, read…

Level 4: Staff create electronic materials and allocate to pupils. Pupils access and use specific electronic materials that have been allocated to them according to individual or group needs.

…at which point the other shoe drops. Yes, staff create materials. That would be you, dear reader, would it not? But it gets worse…

Level 4: Pupils design their own learning programmes with support from teachers.

…you are now committed to producing individual materials, for individual students to their own specification! Oh Ted Wragg, where is your caustic tongue in our hour of need?

How long is it going to take you to write a complete set of learning materials for each student? A lot longer than your contracted hours I fear.

Now here’s the heart of it.
Individualised learning + VLEs = no time left to teach.

The sorry truth is that BECTA just has not done its arithmetic. As a result, we are about to watch a re-run of the “human becomes slave to the machine” tragedy that we thought we’d left behind with the end of the 20th Century.

There is another way, but as the old joke goes, you don’t start from here. Instead, start by posing the question “What tools would leave teachers more time to actually teach?” I have strong views on this which I have exercised elsewhere, but for now I shall leave you to speculate on your own answer to that question.