Three Online Tools To Collaborate More Effectively as a Team

Three Online Tools To Collaborate More Effectively as a Team

Internet and Software Creation has continued to evolve during the past decade. Right now, it can be used as an effective medium for your Team or Company’s project creation & management, while aiding your time and organisation skills to new heights. Here are some of our top tools you can implement into your new project!Read More

How To Communicate Effectively Online

4 Tips on How to Communicate Effectively Online

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s our innate ability to adapt during trying circumstances. The transition from an established, work setting such as school to your own home, does however impact numerous qualities that we have grown accustomed to; such as Communication.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

Is your child at the centre of their education text with illustration of young girl sitting in front of a computer

Is Your Child At The Centre Of Their Education? – Part One

We are living through a period where child-centred education has become more important than ever before. Read More

Can I Come To School Tomorrow?

Can I come to school tomorrow? Is an arts-based observation project that explores the isolating effect of teaching without pupils, and a tribute to all of the dedicated, creative, and selfless teachers and schools of the ‘virtual frontline’. Read about it and find out how to get involved.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

Illustration of two people sitting on the couch watching TV. TV features Santa Clause

Christmas Commercials and Why They Work

Have you ever wondered why Companies would spend millions per year on commercials at Christmas that can only work for one to two months of the entire year? Might seem like a bad investment, however, Christmas advertising works, and here’s why!

Iconic Imagery

Christmas ads have their own unique look and feel. You should instantly be able to see one in between your scheduled entertainment and instantly connect “Oh, wow it’s nearly Christmas”. That’s all to do with Iconography.

IRN-BRU’s 2011 Advertisement was based on the Christmas classic short: “The Snowman” and provides that Winter-esque symbolism we’ve grown to connect with Christmas. From a Snow-laden, Winter wonderland to Urban Christmas lights and a tree to match. You can instantly watch this alongside many Christmas advertisements and know instantly what it’s about.

Social Commentary

Even though some would prefer their advertisements to be apolitical or lack commentary of topical events and movements from the year as a whole. Some companies use the opportunity to help raise awareness of an issue which overall can help the company’s reputable grow.

UK Supermarket chain, Iceland got into a spot of bother with their ad in 2018 however when their planned Christmas advertisement was banned in the UK for being “too political”. They tried to raise awareness of the use of Palm Oil in food products, which they were also eliminating from their own-brand productions in-store.

Here at Makematic, we started a video series on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which you can watch and take part in with the whole family! Here’s more info: https://makematic.com/promo/un-sdgs/

Melody

Christmas music over the years has changed dramatically, however, those classic Christmas tracks hold inter-connected qualities that are instantly recognizable.

Coca-Cola got into a habit of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in regards to their recurring, melodic theme song as their UK commercial in 1995 showcases:

Overall, this was a branding success for Coca-Cola; providing that deja-vu factor while instantly becoming a Christmas classic in advertising.

Storytelling

Storytelling is key, the aim is to take the viewer on a journey. Usually fantastical in nature e.g. including Santa Claus and sometimes with an emotional aspect to tug on the heartstrings as Christmas builds up.

Research by Kantar found that “storytelling was a feature of 80% of Christmas ads between 2015 and 2017, compared to the 40% average for the rest of the year”.

Amazon Prime’s 2020 Christmas ad entitled “The show must go on” showcases a young ballet dancer whose spirit and tenacity triumphs through the challenges of 2020. All with a little help from her family and community – a feel-good narrative, that anyone in the family can relate.

We love the work of Amazon Studios which is why we’ve recently partnered with them to produce a series of Educational resources connected to their Amazon films; Radioactive & The Aeronauts.
Why not check out our collaboration – right here.

Family-Friendly

Christmas is a time for kids, and advertising should reflect that. The success of your commercials during the Christmas period is highly dependant if you can inspire and connect with the demographic you need to impress the most to gain sales – children.

Even though children are key, it’s the parents (alongside Santa, of course) that are required to make the deal happen. Keeping commercials kid-friendly while allowing for a narrative that parents and all can connect to is overall the best way to capitalise on your investment – as has been the case previously in Christmas advertising.

Demand is High

The month of December for many outlets usually provides their best sales for the entire year! With some outlets like FAO Schwarz gaining nearly half of their entire revenue for their store products in that one month alone!

John Lewis has been synonymous with their Christmas advertisements. It’s been reported that they spent approximately £8 million on their 2018 commercial featuring Elton John.

The question is, however, is it a worthwhile investment? A John Lewis spokesperson stated to the BBC: “Our ads always deliver an excellent return on investment at a time of year that is critical for us, generally delivering 20 times the return on our original spend,” a spokeswoman tells the BBC.

At Makematic we understand high demand, especially due to COVID-19 the need more than ever for effective, online educational content that can be utilised by educators, parents and students of all ages during this shift to online-based learning.

Looking for American History? Why not check out our Untold series for free here: https://untoldhistory.org/. You won’t regret it!

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!

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.

Digital Divide of two individuals

EdTech News – June

I’ve decided to continue this monthly EdTech news blog on a now-familiar theme; the impact of Covid-19 on EdTech and the future of learning. Virtual graduation ceremonies have started to take place, signalling the official end of students’ education. For Gen Z the future is, unfortunately, not looking so bright with youth unemployment soaring and the job’s market looking very different than before. These young people are being urged to make the most of the digital learning economy, skill up and look into which jobs won’t be automated. 

Now that so much of our learning takes place online, it’s more important than ever before that we prepare students to meet their needs, challenges and opportunities. We need to bridge the 21st learning divide.

What good is online teaching though, if you don’t have access to a digital device? If unequal access to technology remains unaddressed, the global impact on student learning will be devastating. This article covers some of the lessons China has learned on how to bridge the digital divide. And from a different angle by the founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani.

And finally, I wanted to leave you with this article on the use of technology by schools, which also touches on the digital divide.

Technology isn’t a silver bullet, but it can be a great support when used effectively and if it can be enjoyed by all.

Teacher standing in front of her students at school

Preparing Students With Disabilities To Return To School

This is the second article in our series of educator insights. In this second article, Leader of Learning Support, Kate Macpherson talks about how she’s preparing vulnerable students to return to school.

Many countries worldwide are beginning to reduce restrictions. They are starting to open up their town and cities to some semblance of the life they knew before covid-19. This includes schools. 

Our students have not stepped foot inside their school gates for a couple of months. Other countries will be longer. When my state government announced the return to school timeline, I asked my students to give me an emoji rating of how they felt. Their responses included ???????, and some a whole combination of these!! These responses were from my year 9 class and none of them have a disability.

Let’s Talk About Students On The Autism Spectrum

Since the announcement, I’ve had a few phone calls with families who have a child with a disability. The parents’ reaction has led me to wonder – how do we prepare a student with a disability to return to school? Especially students on the Autism spectrum. Many who have already struggled with all the changes occurring in their life, and that’s not including what is happening in the world at the moment. Change is not easy for these students. 

Some of the concerns raised in my conversations include:

  • I’m not looking forward to seeing my classmates
  • I’m worried about the workload when I return
  • What will I do without my iPad at school?
  • I’m nervous about seeing everyone again – I like being home 
  • I don’t want to wear my school uniform again
  • I don’t know what to expect when I return
  • I don’t want to go back to school, I like learning from home

So, how do we prepare our most vulnerable students at this time? 

Let’s Start Slowly

  1. Find out from your students what they are worried and excited about – it’s always important to focus on the positives!
  2. Normalize your students emotions, especially their fears of the unknown. As their teachers, we also have our own fears and worries about what is to come and how school will look and work.
  3. Ensure all staff who have contact with this student are aware of these feelings so they can respond appropriately for their subject. Have a common response so as not to confuse the student in these preparations.
  4. Be willing to talk about their return to school – don’t be afraid to have these conversations with your students.
  5. It is best to gradually build up their return to your classroom. Seek their feedback about what they liked about your subject or class during remote learning, and ask them to suggest ways it could work in the physical environment.
  6. Plant little seeds about changes your school is making due to social distancing guidelines and personal protection measures.
  7. Support your parents as well as the student – this is difficult for them as well!
  8. Encourage parents to gradually build up the transition back to face to face learning
    • Start putting on the school uniform gradually, adding one item each couple of days until they are wearing their full uniform in the last couple of days of remote learning
    • Slowly reestablish bedtime and morning routines that they would be expected to follow once back at school – a lot of my students are rolling out of bed a few minutes before their morning homeroom!
    • Start to bring back some of the pre-lockdown norms and expectations at home such as limiting screen time, (difficult when we are expecting them to still work on their computer during the school day, but this refers to the fun screen time).
    • Discuss the differences and slowly ease back on the fun screen time.

I do not know exactly what our return to school will look like at this stage, but I do know that there are many families and students who need our support to make it as smooth as we possibly can in such a time of uncertainty. I am aiming to keep them informed and to slowly build up their positive mindsets and willingness to cope with, yet another, change!

Animated drawing of a video thumbnail of a woman

A Vision? Or Students Today?

The title of this blog is a play on the name very well-known video called A Vision Of Students Today.  It was produced by Professor Michael Wesch and 200 of his students at Kansas State University in 2007, and incredibly for the time, it garnered over a million views in its first month.  Professor Wesch let his students pick the subject for the video, and write the scripts and the storyboards, as well as doing all the shooting and editing.  He wanted the students to tell the world what they thought about their education. And they did!

Professor Wesch is an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University.  His work is focused on media ecology and the emerging new field of digital ethnography which looks at the effect of new media on human interaction. He had noticed many changes and a ‘disconnect’ beginning to occur between his very own students and the way in which they were being taught and the learning materials with which they interacted.  Technological advancement was in full throttle with smartphones and laptops at saturation levels in terms of market penetration in the USA.  Students were suddenly able to extend choice in the way that they studied, the time at which they studied, and the type of content they engaged with most efficiently on a “need-to-know” basis, with educational attainment very much goal-driven.  

But the education system, the educators who taught, and many of the materials used to teach, remained the same.  

Professor Wesch’s theories, start with an over-arching principle that human relationships are mediated by communication.  In the same way that the printing press transformed the way we consumed information and literature 500 years ago, the networked economy has changed forever the relationship that we now have with it.

I’ve written before about the VARK Modalities, (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic sensory modalities that are used for learning information.) Fleming and Mills (1992) suggested that there were four learning modalities and that teachers by appealing to particular learning modalities with certain students, improved overall learning attainment.  And the students in Professor Michael Wesch’s video which was made way back in 2007 (making many of them now 30-something), pays homage to the natural selection that occurs when a bunch of human beings are left to study and communicate with multiple media channels at their disposal.

Fast-forwarding 13 years to 2020, without a doubt things have improved and excitingly, a student of anything at any age or level has more choice in terms of choosing study media which best suits their learning modality.  

The enabler in terms of moving pupils and students towards a richer multimedia learning experience are the broadband/4G/5G internet connections that most schools and universities globally now have.  Even in rural parts of developing countries, laptops, tablets and smartphones are available and elsewhere they are in abundance.  The massive growth of social networking sites, Tiktok, Facebook and others, has led to a surge in the amount of video content to which the world now has access.

I was going to try not to use the c-word as we are all fed up with it, but, the Covid-19 crisis has in all respects led to an increased need for digital content. As a father of young children, I know full well that all learning materials must now be delivered in an engaging way online.  Before our current situation, all the trend data was already pointing to a huge increase in digital content, with video content at the top of that list.  Cisco, based on current growth trends have predicted that by 2022, online video will make up 82% of all consumer traffic, whilst by 2020 they say that 1 million minutes of video content will be crossing the internet every second.  In general video usage across the globe is very very high and it’s one of the most popular informational resources.

We are seeing a surge in need for video content at Makematic.  It is having an increasing influence on content mix within educational publishing as well as more widely across the professional and academic sectors too. Academic publishing giant Wiley have reported the astounding figures of 447% higher Altmetric scores and 111% higher full text views for those articles with video abstracts.   

No one can have missed the video phenomena in recent years in the children’s sector of the brands Peppa Pig and Blippi, the latter, launching full fling on Youtube with a strategy which no doubt will penetrate the educational content sector very soon. Publishing giant Pearson, as long ago as 2006, witnessed the meteoric rise of Diary of a Wimpy Kid which started as a digital only story on what was then their Family Education Network, the print rights were sold off and the movies were made.

More widely tech giants, global brands and international non-profits alike have all seen the opportunity to engage learners with high production value, skilfully crafted and pedagogically sound video content.  Many of our customers which include Adobe, Crayola, Microsoft, Scholastic, Unity Technologies and The Woodrow Wilson Foundation bear witness to this.

Professor Michael Wesch and his students were living in a changing world where the internet, was fast-becoming the primary channel for everything.  The vision in the video they produced has become a Youtube classic in education circles, yet the change has been slow with only recent events enforcing our move to full online independence and it is now here to stay.  Learners are able to choose their study mode at a time they want to study and the chosen medium of video which so clearly defined the vision and spread the students’ message on Youtube in 2007, surrounds and permeates everything that we do.  

Video content itself has fast replaced the vision.  What vision will your video content realise for you?

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