The Academies Show 2012

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Today saw the return of the Webanywhere team to the Olympia in London, promoting our range of online learning solutions at The Academies Show 2012.

We were up bright and early to set up our stand and prepare for the influx of teachers, bursars, governors and educational leaders, all gathered to pick up some invaluable information on the Academies programme.

I’ve spent a busy morning chatting with those at the sharp end, meeting with educators to discuss the issues surrounding Academies, and what Webanywhere can offer.

The show has put on a fantastic programme of lectures and seminars conducted by those implementing the national education agenda and those overseeing the Academies programme, providing some extremely useful guidance.

I haven’t had chance to catch as much of it as I would have liked to so far, as it has been all hands on deck at stand 54, with the Webanywhere team fielding enquiries and providing practical demonstrations of our range of learning software.

Webanywhere have established partnerships with many Academy schools, providing market leading learning platforms, social networking & e-portfolio systems and school websites. We‘ve helped new Academies to hit the ground running and realise the potential of online technology to enhance learning, improve efficiency, and strengthen links with parents. I’m sure today will see the start of several new partnerships.

If you’re coming down this afternoon, please stop by stand 54 and say hello.

The new IMLS framework for schools

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On 26th March 2012, the Department for Education announced the introduction of the new IMLS framework for schools. The Information Management and Learning Services Framework is designed to support educators in procuringmanagement information systems (MIS) and learning services (VLEs / learning platforms, etc).

Issues with ICT provision

Back in September 2010, a report from Becta found that schools weren’t getting good value for money from their MIS systems. A lack of competition and confusion over decision making in local authorities had led to a stagnant marketplace that put pressure on school budgets.

To counter the problem, the government set up the IMLS framework. As a trusted supplier of ICT solutions, I’m proud to announce Webanywhere are part of this new framework.

The IMLS framework solution

After consulting a wide range of stakeholders, including schools, local authorities and regional broadband consortiums, the Department for Education came up with the framework to deal with a set of common key issues.

Using the framework, schools can now go through choose from a group of pre-approved ICT suppliers to get the best deal for their school.Furthermore, to ensure there’s no problems in the future, the process is legally compliant and as simple as possible.

What this means for schools

Using the new ILMS framework, schools can now select from suppliers on 2 ‘lots’ on the framework. Lot 1 covers MIS and financial systems. Lot 2 covers learning platforms. When choosing from an ICT solution from either lot schools can:

  • Get a better deal by encouraging suppliers to compete against each other
  • Choose directly from the list of reliable suppliers with little need for negotiation
  • Reference a pricing matrix for easy benchmarking and budgeting
  • Promote interoperability – the sharing of data between different suppliers

The next step

Schools wanting to use the IMLS framework can get started soon. For now though, there’s plenty of help and advice via the Department for Education website. At Webanywhere, we all want to make purchasing ICT solutions as simple as possible, so we’ll also be keeping everyone up to date with the latest important information.

If you have any further questions about the framework, please contact us.

Webanywhere are at Learning Technologies 2012

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With the BETT show only just finished, I’ve dashed down to London again for another big date in our calendar; the 2012 Learning Technologies Exhibition. Held over the 25th and 26th of January in the Olympia 2, London, it’s a showcase of the best technology and innovations designed to support workplace learning.

After an early start setting up at stand 14, we’ve had loads of visitors so far, making it a busy, but exciting morning.

Delegates have been chatting with us about all aspects of workplace learning, from consultancy to support. They’ve also been interested in live demonstrations of our open source training solutions, including the fantastic Totara LMS.

Of course, me and the Workplace Learning team are still looking forward to the rest of the exhibition. Here at Webanywhere, the idea of lifetime learning is key to what we do, so I can’t wait to show off our latest innovations and find out what the other exhibitors have been getting up to.

I’m at the show with both Martin Judd and Conor Gilligan, two experts in e-learning, training and development who are ready to offer their tips, ideas and advice. So, if your at Learning Technologies, or in the area, please do come and say hello at stand 14.

Welcome to BETT 2012

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Yesterday I travelled all the way down to London with the team for the first day of the BETT Show 2012. We set up in the morning at Stand K49, and its been all go since then. With Wednesday traditionally meant to be a quiet day, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were rushed off our feet all the way till Saturday 14th of January when it finishes.

The show, for those of you that don’t know, is an annual event that showcases the best uses of ICT and e-learning in education. It’s a great opportunity for me and my staff to meet new customers and catch up with a few familiar faces too. The exhibition is also a big inspiration, with plenty of exciting demonstrations and eye-catching inventions.

We started the day with a Webanywhere presentation at the Google stand all about Google Apps and Moodle. Then, we dived right in at our own stand with chats, coffee and demos of our software. My personal highlight was showing off the brand new version of our school website builder; School Jotter 2.

As well as a team at the stand, we also had our multimedia crew filming and snapping the event. Take a look at their BETT 2012 video round-up of the show, featured below.

Solving the school attendance problem in Keighley

I recently helped out with a project in Keighley, the location of Webanywhere HQ.

The project was a DVD production by pupils and staff from 15 of our local schools. Titled Every Day Counts, it was made to address the problem of poor school attendance in Keighley and the surrounding area. I helped out where I could and also featured on the recording. It was a pleasure to be a part of it and I’m glad people are focusing on such an important issue.

With attendance in our local area below the national average, I’d love to see an improvement. It’ll make a big difference to young people’s lives, as in the long run, children who go to school every day will always have the better job prospects.

Getting people into work is one of my passions and if there’s any way to help, I’m all for it.

The DVD was shown in our local cinema on Monday and even made the local BBC Look North News Bulletin. You can now watch Every Day Counts below. It features some really valuable insights from local customer, headteacher and community leader, John Devlin.

In the DVD, John shares some great tips on raising attendance, from a little bit of bribery to prizes each term. He also explains that they get tough if needs be, with fines and even prosecutions a possibility as well. With his attendance rising 2% in the last year, I’m really hoping people watch the video and listen to his advice.

John also made the point that “Attendance is absolutely essential. Better attendance means better achievement because the children are learning more and better achievement means better results which ultimately leads to better life choices.”

I don’t think I could have put it better myself.

My trip to St. Mary’s

Last week I went to St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Halifax as part of my “back to school” plans.

Having checked out their School Jotter website I was eager to speak to staff. Their site was looking brilliant, with regularly updated news and a library of children’s work.

It was good to get out the office and I felt very welcome during our visit. One of the first things I noticed as I walked around was how much they used ICT. Pupils and staff alike were using computers day in, day out, and you could see the influence in their work.

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From using Spellanywhere for spelling tests, to Mathsanywhere during numeracy hour, St Mary’s seemed to be really making the most of our products. It was nice to hear that our services made a difference and most importantly, that ‘children are loving it’.

I was also excited to find out they’re interested in setting up a collaborative blog. Now I’m back in the office, first stop is putting them in touch with other schools doing the same thing.

Of course, the visit was a chance to get some feedback on how our systems work for teachers too. First I got some great ideas on how to improve the service. Then, I heard some fantastic compliments on the look and feel of School Jotter itself.

With plenty of comments and ideas scribbled down, I’m now looking forward to discussing the school’s requests with the rest of the team.