Open Thinkering


Month: October 2007

Numeracy improvements thanks to the good doctor

Brain Age 2

BBC News reports that the numeracy and concentration skills of a class of primary school children have increased ‘dramatically’ due to playing Dr Kawashima’s More Brain Training on the Nintendo DS. The pupils played for 15 minutes before lessons every day for 10 weeks and their progress was measured against a similar group.

Although, of course, the Hawthorne effect could said to be at work here, I think there’s probably more to it than that. I have regular sessions with Dr Kawashima, as evidenced by my Life in a Day video – and it really does sharpen you up! 😀

How educational technology should change

Web 2.0 Conference

Tim Holt has an America-centric – but nevertheless useful – go at educational technology leaders in a recent post entitled Dear Ed Tech Leaders. You should read Tim’s post, but to summarise giving it my own unique twist:

1. Conferences should be free

I’m off to a conference during my half-term on Tuesday/Wednesday this week. I’m really looking forward to it, but it’s costing my school over £500 (including train/hotel) to send me, which is scandalous. Granted, it’s run by companies rather than the government, but I see it as fairly essential for my professional development.

2. Regional conventions

There are some meet-ups, but no real ‘conventions’ in the true sense. Yes, the SSAT do some work in this area, but it’s all very formal. Where’s the grassroots? Where’s the structures within which teachers can collaborate and innovate?

3. Free information

This is something I suspect governments and organisations around the world are guilty of: trying to shackle knowledge. That’s a very 20th century way of doing things. Why would you want to pay to get into the ‘inner sanctum’ (i.e. join organisations, societies, etc.) when there’s better information on the Internet for free?

4. Change your message and your audience

Instead of talking to nodding dogs who already do what you’re suggesting, why not get in educators who may not even have heard of what you’re talking about? It’s not the safe option, but it will drive education forward a lot more quickly. That’s what’s all about – delivering pedagogically-sound educational technology solutions to those who haven’t heard. To put it another way, we’re spreading the word rather than keeping it as a ‘secret’ amongst a select few. 😀

5. You have to show us how to actually use all this stuff

This is where pedagogy comes in. It’s not good enough just to show teachers how blogs work: you need to show how they can work with students. I try and do this by reflecting on my practice over at If you’d like help with anything I’ve done or seen that may be of relevance, then please get in touch!

(via Stephen Downes)

Becta warns UK schools off Microsoft

Joey and April working on their keyboarding skills

Becta, the government agency tasked with improving learning through technology, has warned schools away from signing licensing agreements with Microsoft reports the BBC. After reporting the company to the Office of Fair Trading a spokesman warned schools to install Office 2007 only “when its interoperability with alternative products is satisfactory” as the proprietary and non-backwards-compatible nature of the filetypes is causing major headaches in some schools (including mine).

Having some form of office software is, of course, essential for all schools. Although Microsoft has the lion’s share of the market, there is no particular reason for this in terms of National Curriculum requirements. is free, Open-Source, and a fully-featured suite of programs to rival Microsoft’s offering. In some cases, Google Docs & Spreadsheets may be sufficient for your needs. Get in touch with if you want to find out more!