By sjpavey, Feb 12 2015 04:49PM
This month I seem to have concentrated more on the music side of my life with 8 Burns Nights in total as well as singing events. Nonetheless I have been able to squeeze in a few things on the information front too.
Attending the BETT show was a highlight on the calendar. I spent a few hours there and collected some interesting bits and pieces and found out about some new products too. Continuing my quest for lo-tech toys I stumbled across the Talking Products stand and bought myself a talking tile. These are large hexagon shaped push buttons about the size of a CD. You can insert a picture or writing into the top under the clear plastic and then you have 80secs of recording time. Brilliant for displays and interactivity and a great complement to my talking photo album and talking pen. I also spent time talking with Flashsticks who make interactive post-it type notes for teaching languages. They are interested in development and I was keen to try and see if they would consider moving into literacy with english language or information skills - I can see great potential here for labelling and signage in the library too. They would also be fantastic for revision in a whole range of subjects. Another stand I visited was Plotagon who have taken over rather from Xtranormal. Plotagon have now got an education arm and were offering free downloads. They also took on board requests for more up to date library scenarios and the need for a range of agegroups for students. It would be great if you could make your own characters too. I also stumbled across an alternative plagiarism checking software in UnPlag who are based in Ukraine and who seem to be challenging the Turnitin/Ephorus market. They say it is a system that has been designed by IT educationalists and it did look impressive - certainly one to consider if you are looking for plagiarism detection software. I was also impressed by Essay Writer which takes mind mapping that bit further to help students construct and develop their essays. It looked easy to use and although a capabel student migt be able to do similar on their own it did have some neat features such as automatic repositioning of text and references if you moved paragraphs around in the construction. The only drawback I could see is that it cannot handle footnotes referencing which is a pity. Finally the ExamPen WizCom stand caught my eye. This together with the Reading Pen (which has the addition of a dictionary/thesaurus and so cannot be used in the exam hall) can scan text and then read it to the listener. Headphones can be plugged in so that it does not disturb people nearby. I thought this was a neat solution for all types of student but particularly SEN and EAL. However my SENCO colleague has used them and said they take a bit of practise to work correctly. Maybe this is a move towards better use of technology in an exam situation.
This year BETT did seem to be focussing on 3D Printing, Apps that can replace a VLE and School Management System and robotics/coding. I did go and visit the Raspberry Pi stand in a vain hope that I could persuade them to let me into a PiCademy but alas it was not to be - no funding other than for teachers. BUT I did pick up lots of useful tips, sorted the new edition of Carrie Ann Philbin's book and have resolved to get to grips with my christmas present!
The other main focal point of January was progress on the second edition of the Innovative School Librarian and trying to get to grips with the chapter. Sally and I had a good chat through some of the issues in a pub meeting and prepared for the writing task ahead. It is interesting how our approach will differ in writing the new edition - it SHOULD be quicker but it is amazing how much has changed in the world of school libraries since 2009.
My other occupation this month was taking the reins of the Independent Thinking Twitter account for a week. This was heady responsibility indeed and I decided to foduc on providing a series of geeky slides to get people thinking about information. I managed to drum up a few more followers and gained some favourites and retweets for my efforts. It also sharpened up my tweeting skills and I have been making more use of my own account as a result.