A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum

 http://goo.gl/ObzP0 takes you to the text plus pictures!

If you are old enough, you’ll remember the great Frankie Howerd. “Infamy, Infamy, they’ve all got it in for me”.  Here’s Frankie speaking  at the Oxford Union in 1990 – it all kicks off from 50 seconds in.

The man is seriously random in his act, moving all over the place  in no specific direction, but clearly hilarious enough for the students of the day. His most famous television act was as a slave named Lurcio in Up Pompeii, and he was for ever reprising it seems funny things that happened to him on the way to the Forum (circus).

So that’s how I feel just presently; on a journey (mainly digital for the benefits of the ISANet of course), and much of the very careful preparations for our digital life at school do seem to be coming home to roost at long last.

Example 1 – Digital assets

CC GCSE Historians travel to the Ypres Salient to explore the battlefields and graveyards, visit the amazing In Flanders Fields (IFF) museum and engage in some study activities.

On entry to the museum each visitor receive a “Poppy Bracelet”. The bracelet contains a microchip which activates the chosen language for the visitor. It also activates the personal story of four individuals as the visitor makes his or her way around the exhibitions. As you leave the exhibition, you can use the wristband to sign out, and email to you those stories as pdfs to your chosen email address.

Well it will not surprise you dear reader to know that 2 years ago we simply could not have handled this, nor dealt with the additional learning experiences such opportunities bring. Now, all googled-up and ‘Hub’ilicious to boot, we can manage such ideas and then some.  Take a look at the Ypres Salient website emerging from this trip, used to join up these and other writings under way. http://goo.gl/wey3b

More and more of our trips are including parents in the travel and outcomes without them actually coming with us.  The Easter ski trip collected over 100 hits in the week away and some very funny banter too between home and the Alps. Here’s that website – http://goo.gl/hucmZ

The use of the message board is how we captured the banter!

Example 2 – Data Archives

Many years ago, I tried to interest Ben Goldacre (he of Bad Science) in the scandal that was the cancellation of nationwide BCG jabs.  The trouble at the time was that it was deemed that only the visitor populations from South East Asia and the traveller community were at risk from Tuberculosis, and the hard one rights for CC private school pupils to get their BCG jab at 14 was taken away from us.  We made a real song and dance about it at the time (to no avail). OK, it’s not an outbreak of Consumption that we are currently facing, but measles, and why? The herd immunity has been impaired by low levels of vaccination uptake and a Measles epidemic is with us.  And guess what – apparently, private schools are to blame – read that here: http://goo.gl/cpwlD

What annoys me and everyone else is that this accusation is simply ill judged and in my school’s case wrong.  And thank the lord, I have all the emails stored away to prove it.  Now we have Google-land, the school has some 15 terrabytes of storage – but not that long ago, the paper files would have just disappeared into an archive space too difficult to search.  Google found the stuff almost straight away!

Example 3 – Encouraging bilingualism is a good thing – http://goo.gl/eXCRE

Far from Texting being a bad thing, it is causing the development of greater linguistic skills in the young than we have seen before.  In a short talk of 13 minutes at TED this February, Columbia University Linguistics expert, Professor John McWhorter exploded the myth that texting is dumbing us down. In short, if we are true teachers of the young, we should work with it. Fingered speech is different to speech and writing, and as such is developing our general literacies not harming them.  By the way, Prof JM takes us back to Roman times round about 11m12’ when the teachers of the day then bemoaned that their students were becoming illiterate.  As it turns out, they were developing French!

Example 4 – Learning is not about the Technology

In the 5 years the ISANet has been pounding the streets, and colonising your inbox, I have tried to evangelise the joys of easy-to-use technology.  As I have previously written, the Chief Inspector of the Independent Schools Inspectorate, Christine Ryan, saw our stuff at the start of the year and declared “What’s not to like?”  That’s remained very much the picture emerging from our Monday afternoon short visits I host.  2 years down the line of using Google Apps for Education, we can show our visitors that the technology has all but disappeared,  Children as young as 8 are blogging across the globe, and collaborative works of a Heinz variety are happening every day. Here’s an inspiring digital journal article on just this matter – http://goo.gl/fMDeu

As the picture in Example 4 highlights, the small slates are coming, be they iPads or Androids. I start our official trial of Ainol Novo7s in June, partnered we hope by some Nexus 7s to contrast and compare. Now John Lewis stores are stocking Android devcies, giving them a 2 year warranty as well, prices are coming down to perhaps ⅓ of iPad levels.  The question I ask is – do such devices actually have a place in schools that use netbooks, PCs and Chromebooks. At an entry price of £75 I think they do, but schools need to know how to manage them and as yet there is little documentary evidence to go on.

If you’d like to be involved in any way in our Android trial, then please do get in touch with me, usual place – http://isanet.ning.com or email jtw@clairescourt.net

Frankie Howerd may have died 21 years ago, but he still occupies part of our national pysche it seems:  here’s the Telegraph remembering “Up Pompeii: oh for the days when bankers were slaves”.

Titter ye not!

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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2 Responses to A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum

  1. Chris Hill says:

    I think you may have muddled your Frankies and your Kenneths (Williams, that is!) Otherwise, fascinating stuff, especially the museum link!

  2. Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us
    so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Outstanding blog and great design.

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