Almost ready!

After 6 weeks of discussions and setup the Surface devices are close to being issued to the pupils.  Progress to date includes:

  • The setting up of the special wireless network for the prototype.  The network will recognise the MAC address of the devices and logging into the network should be as simple as opening the browser and clicking connect.
  • The upgraded Wi-Fi access points are scheduled to be installed in the October holiday after an initial mix up with an engineer coming into the school but not being able to carry out the work due to a lack of permission.
  • The drawing up of an acceptable use policy (AUP) for the pupils who are part of the prototype.  Once again I was helped by colleagues throughout Scotland, Malcolm Wilson @claganach at Falkirk who shared their agreement and @sheenaboyle who shared Balfon High School’s agreement for their iPAD pilot.  Following consultation with colleagues we decided to use an agreement very similar to the shorter AUP from Balfon High.  The agreement we have gone with can read here.
  • Each pupil within the prototype will be issued with a Surface Pro 4 tablet which has a pen, keyboard and ruggedised case for protection shown below.  After a period of deliberation it was decided that a more robust case would be worth the investment to provide increased protection for the device when in transit from home to school.

sfpro4_closed_pto3_blk_grandeUAG Case

  •  The Surface devices have been upgraded to the latest firmware and the Windows 10 Anniversary addition.  I felt this was an important task to be done before giving the devices to the pupils since when I tried this update on the first Surface received it took several hours to do and the inking features of  the Windows 10 update are a key feature of the prototype.   Therefore an image was created and this was installed on each device by IT.
  • Discussions regarding insurance and repairs of the devices have taken place with AC risk assessors and a procedure agreed in the event of loss or damage to the device.
  • A letter has been written and handed out to the pupils involved to take home to their parents/carers to introduce the aims of the prototype and the user agreement.  Parents and their children have been invited to an information evening on Thursday 20th October at 7 pm in the school.  At the evening I will share information about the prototype, flipped learning and demonstrate how some of the online learning will take place.  We also plan to issue the devices to those attending the meeting.

Things still to do

  • I plan to use Microsoft OneNote for the prototype but have found that the desktop version of OneNote 2016 has not yet been installed on the Surfaces, I had expected this to be part of the image installed on each device.  I am not yet certain why this didn’t happen but anticipate it might be to do with the differences between software licenses for educational and corporate requirements.  Whilst OneNote is included as part of Windows 10, this is the app version which has fewer features at the moment than the Office version OneNote 2016.  This page compares the features.  OneNote is free to download from Microsoft .  Sadly this means that the software will have to be manually installed onto all 60 devices before they can be used as intended.  I hope that this can be done before issuing to pupils otherwise it will need to be done in a lesson.
  • Other software that I need to add to the image is the OneNote Learning tools.  These learning tools are helpful for all learners and particularly those with additional support needs.  onenote-learning-tools-add-in
  • At the moment the Surfaces have been setup with an administrator account with a name like CarSurface01 .  I do wish to provide the flexibility for pupils to install software that helps learning which means they need an administrator account, however it will be more convenient for them to have their own log in as this will then allow them to customise the password and use the Windows log on details such as Windows Hello.  I feel it is important that pupils can make their devices secure for only their access.  I also want to retain the possibility of access so think the best way to do this is to leave the existing account with a password on the device and create a new account for the pupil.  Since the pupil account will be an admin account it would be possible for them to delete the other account but I will ask them not to do this!  This will then allow a back door into the device if required.  The AUP includes a clause where the device can be requested to be handed in for checking and this other account would allow that to be done if needed.
  • I also need to prepare the presentation and information for the parents, and prepare the induction, health and safety, e-safety and care of the device lesson for the pupils.
  • Remove barriers within school to using my classroom PC to create learning materials.  I have found that in school I am still unable to upload my Office Mix presentations and videos.  Use some of the Glow services including Skype.  I am also aware that many staff lack access to OneNote as it is not installed on PC’s by default and this means it isn’t used for collaboration or learning as it could be.

Finally the most important thing yet to be done is to create more of the learning resources that the pupils will be using.  This will include setting up the Microsoft Classroom, the OneNote notebook including more Office Mix narrated presentations and quizzes.

In summary lots of progress has been made but there remain a number of significant actions to do ideally before the pupils are issued with the Surface devices.  To date it has been rewarding and frustrating dealing with the challenges of making progress with the digital prototype whilst maintaining my full time teaching commitment (S1 Science, S3 Physics x 2, N5 x 1, N5/H x 1, H x 1, AH x 1).  The pupils are very excited and enthused about being involved in the prototype and this makes me determined to do my best to provide the best learning and teaching resources to help them with their learning that I can.

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