Here is a guest post from Mark Warner of the Downs School in Kent. He tells us his experiences of using our Creative Online Tools.
Although we don’t have a VLE at my school, we have recently set up an ‘online learning portal’. The site is called TheDowns.ME and it’s intended to be a place for children to start their explorations online.
It has links to:
- Four subscription sites that children can use with their individual usernames / passwords. These are Superclubs Plus,Online Tools, Interactive Resources and Education City.
- Other free sites that are popular with the children.
- A ‘safe’ search facility allowing children to search for information (using Primary Safe Search) and images (usingPicsearch).
- Downloadable software that they can install on their home computers (with their parents’ permission).
I showed it to staff in my ICT staff meeting a few weeks ago and I’ve been able to go around different Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 classes to introduce it to the pupils. So far, the response has been fantastic.
In the first session, I’ve been showing the children how TheDowns.ME worked, giving them their MEcards (containing their usernames / passwords) and letting them use 2Simple’s Online Tools. All of our children are already familiar with Superclubs Plus, so I thought that it would be a good idea to show them how to use the exciting creative tools offered by the 2Simple subscription service.
The children have absolutely loved playing with the new tools… and that’s what I told them to do – play. I showed them how to log in and try a few of the tools, but I didn’t give them any specific instructions about what I expected them to achieve by the end of the lesson. By giving them the freedom to explore the tools, I wanted them to work together to find out what the programs were capable of. They were all familiar with the basic layout of the programs and were all confident to click on the buttons to see what happened. The children then shared their achievements at the end of the session, teaching each other how they did certain things with the tools and asking questions of each other.
The most popular tools so far seem to be:
- 2Design & Make – Children are really enjoying the opportunity to design their own vehicles and buildings. The boys seem to particularly enjoy making sports cars, adjusting the shapes of the cars and adapting the spoilers to make them look more realistic!
- 2Animate – This is an incredibly simple animation tool, but it is also incredibly popular. I have showed it to children of all ages and all of them have loved it. We have had animated cars driving around screen, mini wrestling matches involving stick men and horses running across the animation frames.
- 2Publish – I’ve been pleased to see that lots of the children are also choosing to use 2Publish in their free time, completing additional Literacy work of their own free will. I have been impressed at the quality and quantity of what they have made… in some cases, it’s more than they produce in a lesson at school!
I have made a classroom display (shown above) using some of my Year 3 children’s creations in Online Tools. They were really pleased to see some of the creative things that they had made at home, on the walls of our classroom.
Setting up the children with the Online Tools was extremely easy using the provided 2Lasso system. I created a spreadsheet with the usernames and passwords that I wanted for each child and uploaded it to the site. We used the children’s existing Superclubs Plus usernames with Online Tools, so they didn’t have an additional username to remember. 2Lasso also allows you to look at the work that children are creating, which is a brilliant addition for teachers.
I have a few suggestions for the service (which I’ve submitted to 2Simple):
- Change to the log in screen – Some pupils have been complaining that they can’t log in to the site using their home computers. It seems that their screen resolutions are set quite small and the log in fields get cut off their screen (and they can’t scroll down to get to them!).
- Embedding of children’s work – It would be really nice to have a gallery of our children’s Online Tools work embedded on our school site.
- Statistics – It would also be helpful to be able to see data showing who is using the tools and how regularly they are accessing it.
- Additional templates for 2Design&Make – New templates are being added all the time, but a rocket one would be really handy for us right now as the whole school is learning about space.
- 2Connect – This is one of my favourite 2Simple programs and I would love to see it added to the Online Tools one day.
2Simple seem to be expanding the service regularly. Quite often, children will show me something that I didn’t realise was available because it had been added since my last lesson using the tools!
If you haven’t signed up for Online Tools, ask for a trial. I highly recommend it, as do the pupils at my school!