Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Sometimes Free Applications are Awesome: Pro Wise

Hats off to the companies who give things away for free, especially to education.  Before I write this I don't know this company, have in no way been asked to write this - it's just an honest review.

Promise Presenter - An alternative?
So, here we go - Prowise Presenter - available here - https://prowise.com/en_gb/presenter/

I've fallen in love with this little piece of presenting software over the last few weeks and I'm not turning back to my trusty Notebook presenter files.

I first came across the software at our local education partnership computing meeting and the company was there demonstrating its very impressive screens with built in PCs, swivel screens etc etc.  All very impressive, but it was the software I was interested in, not the hardware.  This has to be right to sell the hardware. 

Pro Wise Presenter: Ease of use

Firstly and most importantly and one of it's big selling points (hold on it's free!) is that all the files are held in the cloud. What a simple Idea, but one that has proved a master stroke for me.  I can work at home, not bother with dropbox, memory sticks, hoping that the right software is installed on the Mac or PC I'm using when I get to school - it is entirely browser based.

Log in and your work is waiting for you, exactly as you left it when you prepared it at home, on another PC or Mac.  I loved this as it meant there was no time wasted. Of course if the network is down, there is another totally different problem - but how often is it, nowadays, really? Cloud for me everytime!

What about all my other files? What about all my old Notebook presentations?

The first thing I asked at the demonstration was about my old stock of presentations I had.  Can they be used?  

Yep! No problem. Simply import them into the presenter software and away you go. All the links are there, images, video - everything!  

You can import Pdfs, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Notebook etc

And now they are all in one place, online.

The Interface: Nice Little Tools

Here is a screen grab of one of the pages from my current workbook.

The usual tools are there, you'd expect from a presenting package and they work very easily and very intuitively. So far, so good.

You can see that I have embedded video files for my art lesson this week. We used a step by step video guide to help us draw castles and wolves - all based around our story 'Dawn Wind' by Rosemary Sutcliffe.

Now, I really like how easy it is to embed videos into the presentation. The whole process is contained within the software.  Simply search for a video and it will perform a 'safe search' of YouTube for you. Click on the video and it is ready to go in your presentation.  Already have the URL, then just paste it in the search box and it automatically embeds it into the presentation for you. 

This process is the same for images as well. Nice and simple, nice and quick and relatively safe - the kids could do it.  

So far, so good really - there is so much more to explore!

There really is so much more to explore, as I haven't even touched on the 'ProConnect' feature available, again, FREE!  Pro Connect allows you to set interactive challenges using their Free app for iOS or Android and then see the results live on the screen. You can even export the data it collects into Excel, to keep - superb for assessment purposes!

This will be a totally different bog, worthy of it's own pages. Stay tuned, when I've more time to play.

In the meantime, go and download it. Try it, why not. It may make your life so much easier.  In fact I guarantee it really will.  I'll let the company themselves have the final word.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Starting a New: Can what I've done before work somewhere else?

The summer has passed us by and so has September - how did that happen?  There have been some changes since July; mainly I've been seconded to a school just up the road to help develop their computing curriculum.

They've also asked me to introduce the concept of flipped learning to help further develop their mathematics curriculum.  This is all very exciting and I've spent the last month settling into new routines and a new school - you all know how it is.

Interestingly, I'm actually back at my last school half a day a week to teach computing to Year 3 and 4.  Something I'm pleased about as I get to keep in touch with colleagues from my last school and also stay in touch with changes.  This will certainly help when I return in September.

One interesting thing to note is that the school I worked at last year was a complete Apple school, and the new school isn't.  Time to get used to Windows again!  This is something I need to do, as I've been losing touch with Windows applications.  

I was really very interested in this opportunity, if only to follow my own curiosity - will it work in another school?

I met with the head teacher and she was keen to try the model of teaching to help the children in the school have access to content 24 hours a day.

She talked about parents wanting to help their children at home and sometimes not knowing the correct way to help their children.

A great meeting and one full of energy and enthusiasm - let's get started!

Finding a platform: Does it have to be Edmodo?

In my previous school, I have always used Edmodo as our school website - a labour of love for me (http://www.peartreeprimary.co.uk), doesn't have the ability to do what Edmodo does.  You can read plenty about Edmodo in my previous posts.

I was curious to see if what was successful using Edmodo could be replicated using another platform. I've always said yes, and I'm confident it can.  Every school needs to find something that works for them and their stakeholders - particularly the children.

My new school uses 'School Spider'  a really excellent learning platform that has very similar features to Edmodo - mainly the discussion area.

The teacher posts video, text, whatever they need the children to digest before coming to school.  It has an option for children to reply to the posts, so it ticks the social aspects of flipped learning.

Early use shows that this platform is working and the children are viewing the videos and commenting when they are stuck or informing me which challenge they will be trying during the next session. So far, so good.

One thing I'm missing is EduCannon - Have a read of my post about the use of it HERE

I need to find a solution for this as Edmodo seamlessly imported the children's details into EduCannon. School Spider does not have that feature - maybe I should just ask?

What's next?

- Use of iPads in the classroom to help children learn at their own pace - Read about it here

- I have a staff meeting coming up where we are looking at the computing curriculum we currently have and looking at how we can develop it further by linking it to the topics we are teaching. Not a stand alone subject.

- I've been using some new software from a company from Prowise.  It really is a great bit of kit and is unbelievably cheap! Free is you have a single user license - I'll write more about it soon. In the meantime, have a look here