Digital Media Literacy How to Spot Fake News

Digital Media Literacy: How to Spot Fake News

Fake News is more than just a meme. It’s an ever-present, substantially growing quantity of misleading news articles, illustrations, videos, and more – available to you on your digital devices. From simply exaggerating the truth to full-blown lies or propaganda. It’s up to us all, to analyze and fact-check what we read and we’ll be providing our top tips and tricks so you’ll be able to decipher all the credible sources from the misleading ones.Read More

Teaching Online Masterclass text on a white background

Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) Series 2: Now Available

We’re pleased to announce that Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) Series 2 is now available!

TOM is a free online professional development resource for educators making the leap into remote teaching and learning. With a catalogue of bite-sized videos produced in partnership with Innovate UK, TOM 2.0 will guide the skills K-12 educators can expand on to boost their online teaching. Watching and acting on the practical tips delivered in TOM series 2 will encourage confidence in teachers, and notably, create an enhanced online learning experience for students.Read More

Image of student doing online learning/home schooling/distance learning

Our Faithful And Educating Friend

If there is anything we have learned in the past year, it’s that video is no longer a nice-to-have but has become instead an essential part of the educational content blend at whatever level of education we examine.Read More

Illustration of online learning in 2021

EdTech News – January 2021

2021 has started off with homeschooling in the UK. A webinar I attended earlier this week on Lessons Learned from Covid-19, made it clear the correct term is online learning and not remote learning as there is nothing remote about it. It certainly brings us closer together in that virtual way, but it also opens up new opportunities, such as amazing guest lectures from people who would have otherwise never traveled to give a lecture. You can watch Educate’s webinar here.Read More

Image of US Capitol

Resources To Help Educators Talk About What Happened at the U.S. Capitol

The events at Capitol Hill were shocking. And as an educator, whether you live in the United States or not, there is so much that should be discussed with those you teach.Read More

Animated drawing of a video game. This includes a person holding a games console and a screen that shows a video game scene which includes a man & woman

EdTech News – November

I’ve tried to focus this month on finding some good news stories from the world of EdTech. Some of us might be in another lockdown, facing (more or continuous) school closures and other uncertainties, so we can all use some good news. I’m glad to say I’ve managed to find some. 

First up is a story from Estonia, a country which is excelling at digital learning. Turns out the key is in early adoption and routine, so we’ll all be experts soon enough.

With knowledge from the above, it’s no surprise that Estonia ranks very high again in the list of countries which are best preparing their children for the future of work. “The best education systems are those that encourage students to analyze and think for themselves and create the right learning environments” according to the report. Developing critical thinking skills is crucial in this. For those of us who are worried about our children spending too much time online gaming. Rest assured, those critical thinking skills can also be developed playing fun games online! 

For some educators and students, it’s been difficult to make the transition to an online virtual learning environment, especially when it comes to social-emotional learning. There are educators, however, who use EdTech to develop social-emotional skills such as collaboration. Some teachers are convinced using platforms like Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms in a non-restrictive way teaches students flexible thinking and self-control. Have a read here.

The main thing though is that students are engaged in learning and we all know EdTech can achieve that!

Illustration of two people looking down on their smartphone device

Coming To A Device Near You Soon

This year we’ve all had to learn to do lots of things in different ways.  Central to my business life are conferences and exhibitions, an opportunity to get together with those who are like-minded, share our knowledge, learn from each other, show our best and get to know one and other better face-to-face.

This month I’ve attended two – Edutech Middle East and Frankfurt Book Fair.  Although covering different subject areas, the themes were similar.  In the case of Edutech, how are schools and learning systems changing because of the global pandemic and in the case of the Frankfurt Book Fair, how is the publishing industry changing in a brand new online world?  

In both instances, the switch in demand to digital services for education and content has been sudden and considerable.  This was backed up by major education publishers – on 5th October The Bookseller published an article where Pearson, Scholastic and Hodder all reported that digital sales were sky-rocketing as a result of the global pandemic.  In the Middle East, where oil-rich states spend lavish amounts on technology, content and infrastructure, AI has been the saviour helping to manage the massive amounts of data which are being generated by a full switch to a digital learning world.

It hasn’t been a case of having to start from scratch either.  There has been massive investment in the education sector in the creation of digital learning resources, the technology to deliver these and the infrastructure needed for learners to effectively learn in a purely digital world for around 20 years.  It wasn’t though until these had to be relied on 100%, that they were relied on 100%.  The pandemic has accelerated everything.  Those publishers whose digital infrastructure and content were strong, structured and ready to deliver has benefitted tremendously whereas those whose wasn’t have had a tough time.  

In the world of education in the Middle East, a parallel and similar story has played out to the same conclusion.  The technology has been in place for some time, but it was the pandemic which was the catalyst to make a full transition to the widespread use of that technology by teachers and students in their day-to-day lives.

The biggest changes I’ve had to face in my daily life this year is the huge increase in screen time and the complete lack of human interaction other than by a screen that I’m having right now.  I’m pretty larger than life and over the years have enjoyed participating in hundreds of physical conferences and exhibitions.  I enjoy getting together en masse with like-minded people from my industry or area of specific interest and discussing all the ins and outs of these, meeting new people and learning new facts and points of view.  Since March I’ve been out of my house for business on two occasions and now with everyone glued to their screens because conferences are back in full swing, I’ve learned that watching short video precis of conference presentations which some are producing, or having the video and sound on whilst sitting in the digital networking area, or whilst making comments/asking questions in the chat field to the panel, is allowing a different and unique sort of involvement.  

At both online conferences, I’ve been able to make new contacts and ask questions which were answered.  Whilst I’ve missed seeing people that I’ve known for many years, and I’ve missed the physical interaction which is lost in the 2D world of a presentational live stream or video, I’m finding different and interesting ways to manoeuvre my way through the proceedings of an online conference.  

All around us things have changed this year.  The feedback from learners I hear both from my own children and those presenting as case studies at conferences is that the educational world they’re in now is one that they recognize more than before.  I have noticed the considerable uptick in digital learning that my son’s school have offered this year – a full online learning platform with interactive video, games and puzzles helping him through the maze of really getting to grips with reading, writing arithmetic in year one at school.  We had our first year one parent/teacher meeting on Zoom!

My hope is that we will return soon a more normal way of living.  I hope to be able to visit in person conferences and exhibitions again that are relevant to my work and business sector.  

But for the time being, my trusty laptop and smartphone are doing the hard yards and bringing the world to me.

Animated drawing of wifi symbol, books and laptop to show different methods of teaching

The Acceleration Of Online Teaching And Learning

The whole notion of online teaching and professional development is not an old one. In fact, I was surprised to learn that its history begins way back in 1981 when the Western Behavioural Sciences Inst in La Jolla, CA, started running distance education for business executives via computer conferencing. Since then, many multinational businesses have grown within the space and traditional businesses have metamorphosised through a move to online learning. 

Kids are turning up aged 5 at school now with a digital-savvy to rival the best. Teachers have access to whiteboards, laptops, internet connections, online resources from publishers, brands, non-profits, digital content, VLEs and it all works swimmingly. Right? Well judging by what I have seen of my son’s first one year and one month of primary school, there’s still room for improvement.  

When faced with a complete lockdown and need to provide proper online teaching, the local education system, appeared to creak at the seams. Maybe it is because it doesn’t seem as though there has been a concerted effort to couple the introduction of new technology in schools, with the introduction of blended learning methodology in teacher training. This would overall raise the bar in state education and without this approach, digital learning and digital content become ancillary to the ‘analogue’ classroom experience.

My first interaction with online digital learning was around 15 years ago in the professional space when a member of my team excitedly showed me Lynda.com, now of course Linked In Learning. Lynda was the gateway to the world of online learning for me – many of the experiments and projects we were attempting to do at that time as an early digital publishing team, were beyond our combined knowledge and capability, and being on tight budgets invariably we would learn software packages or web design techniques via the easy-to-use searchable interface that Lynda provided. I didn’t look back.

Since then, there has been a massive increase in the amount of both office and classroom hardware and software being produced and sold all around the world along with all manner of different attendant courses on how to make everything work.  

In the classroom, the ubiquitous classroom whiteboard is supplemented with voting pads, laptops, iPads, and a whole host of other technology hardware and software products and services. As this has grown, the amount of video content has grown targeting teachers and giving them tips on how to use it.

This year the COVID crisis has highlighted both the need for increased interaction with online resources in any form of education for both teachers and learners.  Our own recently launched TOM – Teaching Online Masterclass is a free online professional development resource for teachers making the leap into remote teaching and learning. Teachers, who hold a crucial role within the education eco-system, are being rapidly upskilled in the methodology of teaching both in the classroom and online using a blend of different learning experiences. This is key to creating the community they create in the classroom, in the online space – a definite challenge. If they don’t, they risk being left out in the rain. Their pupils will become alienated and the process will become soggy and tired.

We have learned from my son’s school that at the flick of a switch, his year one teacher can take the classroom experience and re-create it online with individual 1:1 teacher Zoom time factored in for each and every child online too.  We now have a timetable for home-learning should the school be closed, and if it’s needed will give him 1:1 teacher Zoom time every two days – something which in its own right is no mean feat. 

Teaching and learning are going through an enforced change right now.  With little or no notice, thousands of schools up and down the country are having to adapt and change to home-schooling supported by the teacher online.  Whilst the last lockdown was pretty much a write-off educationally from the perspective of every fellow parent that I’ve spoken to, there seems to have been a huge technology uptick in our local school since. Systems have been geared up to make sure that everything can be run as if it were in the school, and a questionnaire sent before the term even started has made sure that every child has access to the technology needed in a home-schooling environment, if just via a smartphone.  

We are hoping that school stays open, but if not, then this time round, teachers and their pupils have better support.  Let us hope it will be a more fun and educational time.

14 Awesome Free Online Educational Resources For Teachers And Parents

With all that is going on at the moment, it’s easy for schools and parents to be overwhelmed with the whole idea of online classes. 

To make the task of finding quality content easier, Makematic has curated what we consider to be the most useful places for you to go to help you; either take your classes online or for schools already there, to further enhance what they’re doing.

We’ve started by sharing what our partners at Participate, Adobe, Vidcode, Scholastic and Unity are doing, and followed it up with other sites we think are worthy of your time.

Participate – Survive Leaning At Home With Kids

The folks at Participate have created a free Learning at Home resource for both teachers and parents. In addition to the resources that are on the site, there is a thriving educator community which you’ll be able to join. 

Adobe – Distance Learning Resources

Whether your school routinely supports distance learning or is facing unexpected closures, Adobe has assembled resources and learning opportunities to help educators engage remote students through online learning. This resource offers so very much from courses, lesson ideas, article, blogs, webinars, events, professional learning courses and like Participate a thriving online educator community.

Vidcode

Vidcode is a creative coding platform for teens. The website has courses that teach computer science, object-orientated programming, web programming, design and JavaScript, most of which need very little parental support. To support schools through COVID-19 Vidcode are allowing schools to sign up and access the Vidcode full curriculum until May 2020 or until schools reopen. We created a series of curriculum-linked videos. You can check them out here.

Scholastic

Scholastic has created a website with resources to keep kids reading, thinking and growing whilst they are at home. There projects from pre-K to secondary that are built around either stories or videos. Young people will be able to do these projects on their own, with their families or with teachers.

Unity Teach and Student

Unity Teach

Tonnes of resources for educators to show you how to use Unity to create interactive products and experiences in 2D, 3D, AR and VR.

Unity Student

Free to 13 + in the United States and 16+ in the UK and the  European Union, can access the real-time 3D development platform and workflows used to create immersive experiences across industries. Young people will be able to independently build the skills they’ll need for a career in AR/VR, games and more.

Learning Keeps Going and Home Learning UK

Learning Keeps Going has been created to help keep the education community going. They are a coalition of education organisations who have curated strategies, tips and best practices for teaching online. The organisations include: EdSurgeConsortium for School Networking (CoSN)Education WeekDigital PromiseState Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA)Council of Chief State School Officers and ISTE.

Home Learning UK is being led by educators who have come together to offer time and expertise to support colleagues, parents and students in the UK and beyond.

Zoom

One of the leading web conferencing tools. Students and teachers can fill in an online form using their school email addresses and are then verified by Zoom will have any accounts associated with that school’s domain also gain unlimited temporary meeting minutes, according to a site set up for the process overnight. The free Basic accounts are also available by request in Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland, Romania and South Korea.

Innovate My School

To support schools that are closed, Innovate My School curated a list of all “home / remote learning” tools and promotions on the EdTech Impact platform. This is being updated regularly so it’s a good one to keep going back to.

UNESCO Distance Learning Solutions 

UNESCO has put together a list of educational applications and platforms to help parents, teachers, schools and school systems facilitate student learning and provide social caring and interaction during periods of school closure. While these solutions do not carry UNESCO’s explicit endorsement, they tend to have a wide reach, a strong user-base and evidence of impact. Most of the solutions are free and with several support for multiple languages.

Pearson

For a small handful of schools that have already been affected and have concerns around supporting teaching and learning at this time, Pearson are offering free support on primary, secondary and revision resources and have created hints and tips for online delivery.

Flipgrid

Flipgrid’s aim is simple. To engage and empower every voice in every classroom or community by recording and sharing short, awesome videos. Here are two really useful blogs for parents and teachers around Family Learning with Flipgrid and Remote Learning with Flipgrid.

Chartered College of Teaching

If you visit the site, you’ll find four Future Learn courses to help educators use technology in the classroom.

Share My Lesson

A cornucopia of resources ranging from preschool to high school on all curriculum areas. The resources range from videos to lesson plans to activities. They also have a community that you can join to expand your professional learning network or to get some help. Other content providers are doing similar things, so it’s probably a good idea to check out your favourite ones.

Makematic

Last but certainly not least, we have lots of free videos and animations. A mixture of teacher CPD, classroom resource and family projects, these resources can be accessed here.


STEM Resources For Parents And Teachers

According to PEW research, employment in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) occupations has grown 79% since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, outpacing overall U.S. job growth. Despite this, there is a serious skills gap which is costing economies, like the UK, £1.5 billion a year. 

Research has shown that children from an early age often gender stereotype and make negative assumptions about jobs, especially those relating to STEM careers. It has also found that they make future career choices based on the influence of parents,  friends of parents, teachers, the TV, and the media. 

Getting children talking about STEM and STEM careers from a young age is a place to start. So too is providing children opportunities to do engaging and dynamic STEM activities, at home and in the classroom.

Here are three resources that you can use inside and outside the classroom to engage young people in STEM.

Crayola Create To Learn Family Projects and CreatED

Create To Learn Family Packs

38 fun and creative ‘at home’ activities to enhance key literacy, numeracy and STEM skills aimed at ages 3 – 12.

Art-Infused Education

20 project starters and explainer videos for educators to help them bring creativity into every classroom.


Kano Creative Coding In Every Classroom

34 live-action videos to help teachers and young people crack the art of creative coding.


Makerversity

13 presenter-led videos for educators that demystify the process of 3D printing in the classroom and some hands-on activities to try out in class.


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