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Category Archives: EdTech

CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu Playlists Wales

Britannica® Digital Learning and CDSM – A Perfect Partnership

Since 2014, CDSM have been responsible for providing Welsh teachers with a national digital content repository: Hwb. A key feature in Hwb is ‘Playlists’, our answer to the current demand for quick, easy-to-use content creation tools for teachers. Although the Internet provides teachers with a wealth of sources to choose from, having a bank of resources at their fingertips that are curriculum-relevant and rights-cleared is of benefit. That’s exactly why CDSM teamed up with Britannica Digital Learning.

Britannica Digital Learning’s award-winning resources are designed for all ages and abilities. Written by Nobel laureates and other renowned authors, they are reviewed and updated regularly by the world’s leading editorial experts. The resources support curriculum objectives in core subject areas, providing curated articles from encyclopaedias, journals and magazines; primary sources, images and videos; interactive lessons, activities and games; and many other high-quality research tools for learners. The differentiated reading levels help deliver personalised and self-directed learning.

Britannica® ImageQuest™ gives our Hwb users access to millions of rights-cleared images from over 50 of the best collections around the globe, including images from the National Geographic Society, the British Library and the National Trust. Teachers can safely search through the best and broadest collection of educational images, saving them time when creating their own digital resources.

Britannica Solar System image, used in CDSM Playlists

Playlists not only enables teachers to aggregate resources from the Internet, Britannica Digital Learning and other resources within Hwb, but customise it too. This gives teachers an opportunity to contextualise content, making it relevant to their learners and what they are doing in the classroom. Introducing a video or explaining the significance of an image, poem or scientific experiment gives learners the support they need. Fun and engaging activities and assessments can be added to their Playlists, which can then be shared or assigned, and finally assessed within Hwb.

With our easy-to-use Playlists tool, teachers in Wales are creating first-class materials for a variety of purposes, including classroom-based activities, homework and revision. What’s more, they are letting us know about it on Twitter:

Tweet about Britannica

Tweet about using Britannica

But Playlists and Britannica Digital Learning are not just tools for teachers. Learners have access to them too, giving them control over their learning. Pupils can create and use digital resources to suit their needs, whether that is to record the findings of research, share knowledge with their peers or to reflect on a recent learning experience.

To find out more, follow CDSM and Britannica Digital Learning on Twitter, and subscribe to our monthly e-zine.

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CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu Playlists Wales

CDSM’s Vision for Hwb

In this post, we’ll be looking at the role of today’s teachers in the modern classroom. For a long time, teachers relied on third-party providers to supply resources they could use with their learners. However, changing technology and skills mean that, in our opinion, teachers can now create resources as good as those they can buy. We’ll look at the tools CDSM have built to enable teachers to do just that.

‘Content is king’ is a phrase often used in the creative/digital industries. As qualified education specialists, CDSM’s leadership team believe that good quality content leads to effective digital learning experiences. Consequently, we are committed to designing and delivering simple, powerful content creation tools that help teachers to respond to the new, emerging curriculum for Wales. This is the vision we shared with Welsh Government in 2014, and since then we have been responsible for providing Welsh teachers with a national, digital content repository: Hwb.

A key feature in Hwb is ‘Playlists’, CDSM’s answer to the demand for quick, easy-to-use content creation tools. An intuitive, engaging interface enables teachers to create high-quality, customised, online content with just a few clicks. Teachers can aggregate resources from both the Internet and the resource bank within Hwb – which includes Encyclopaedia Britannica resources – and add their own content in the form of text, image or video. This gives teachers an opportunity to contextualise their content, making it relevant to their class and learners. Fun and engaging activities and assessments can be added to their Playlist, which can then be shared or assigned, and finally, as of early December, assessed within Hwb.

Hwb Playlist

We recently visited All Saints Church in Wales Primary School with our partner Encyclopaedia Britannica to see how Playlists were being used. We wanted to observe how teachers and learners interacted with Playlists, and also capture any ideas they had about enhancing the tool. What we saw was a blueprint for the use of educational technology adoption and utilisation. Largely pupil-led, we witnessed independent learning, critical thinking and mature decision-making all in one lesson.

Aled Williams – Deputy Head and Year 5 teacher at All Saints – started the lesson by reflecting upon the class’s recent visit to Cardiff Castle, where the pupils had learned about life in Tudor times. From there, it was over to his pupils to collaboratively create Playlists that reflected their experiences. The pupils knew that in Encyclopaedia Britannica they had an easy-to-access, safe, secure, and accurate database of information, from which they could harvest many of the specific details their inquisitive minds craved. The pupils knew they could return to their Playlists in the future for reference or revision.

The use of Playlists at All Saints was a perfect example of the ‘flipped classroom’ in action. Here pupils were leading the way – actively involved in directing their study and collaborating to create their own resources.

pupils round computer

Using Hwb, Aled (and teachers like him) now have the opportunity to create and share teaching and learning resources on the latest curriculum areas with all teachers in Wales. By giving our teachers the power to create resources, they can rapidly respond to curriculum changes. From our experience, not only do they do this, but they engage their learners in the process too.

CDSM’s vision for Hwb is ambitious. We want Hwb to establish itself as the gateway and service provider for an ever-growing number of learning and development services. We believe Hwb has the potential to become a nationally-provisioned learning management system, an enabler for Wales’ regional and national school improvement programme, and the key resource provider for a range of other Welsh Government programmes.

If it’s in Wales and it has a learning and development requirement, we want Hwb to be the service that our fellow citizens, colleagues and young people go to.

You can stay up to date with Hwb and CDSM by following us on Twitter, or by subscribing to our monthly e-zine.

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CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu News Wales

Major Update to Hwb

[Read in Welsh]

Since our last major Hwb release in June, we’ve been working tirelessly to bring you our best tool suite yet. Collaborating with primary and secondary teachers in Wales, as well as with our colleagues at Welsh Government, we’ve built Hwb into what we believe is the best freely available national digital education offering to be found anywhere – and we’re nowhere near finished yet.

Latest Release

Friday 13th November sees the first of two major releases for Hwb, with five new Playlist features released, along with a plethora of wider enhancements.

CDSM is privileged to serve the educational community in Wales: we know it, and we’re proud of it. It gives us huge pleasure to be making a difference in our own community, and we love the opportunity to travel to your communities and hear your thoughts, listen to your opinions and incorporate these into Hwb.

Playlists

The Playlists feature has been updated to include two new assessment types, to further diversify the way formative or summative assessment can be used in your classroom. The first allows Playlist authors to easily create drag and drop sorting activities, allowing them to create everything from capital city quizzes to reasoning exercises on forces in new and engaging ways.

Playlist Blocks

Coupled with this is the new Image Multiple Choice Question (Image MCQ) format. As with so many aspects of Hwb, the beauty here is in the simplicity: this development gives authors the chance to provide images as the answers to multiple choice questions. This opens up so many new possibilities for our users, such as making possible the creation of mathematical formulae questions without the need to write complicated code or use 3rd party libraries.

Hwb Playlist Blocks

Simplicity, however, isn’t the only beauty on offer– the Playlist feature’s new Slideshow content block provides a template in which the user can present learning material visually in a stimulating way, using bite sized pieces of written text to accompany a complimentary image. Teachers now have real options in accommodating the different learning styles, preferences and abilities in their classrooms.

Slideshow

We’ve also built in the ability for Playlists to hold file attachments, giving authors the option to attach supplementary and supporting content to any Playlist.

Hwb - attachments on step

Next Release

What will make the Playlist improvements even more powerful, however, is the release of our brand new Assessment tool. Created with Playlists at its core, the Assessment tool (released on December 8th) will allow authors to assign Playlists created by any author in Wales to a group of their choosing – for example a class or a set.

Even more excitingly, the latest Learner Record Store technology then allows the author to see the learner’s interactions, progress and attainment in real time. Results can be viewed across the entire cohort or at an individual level, giving the author an unprecedented and timely insight into both group and individual understanding of the topic.

Hwb Markbook

We’re very proud of these features, and can’t wait to see the diverse range of up-to-date assessments that the teachers of Wales will make with them.

In addition to all of this, we’re also releasing a large number of enhancements to Hwb itself; ranging from personal communication enhancements like the private news feed, to practical improvements like the ability to view the resource repository as a list.

Hwb News Feed

We’ve built upon and enhanced so many features that it’d be impossible to try and list them all here – so go and take a look at them for yourself on Hwb.

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CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu News Playlists Wales

Diweddariad Mawr i Hwb

Ers i ni ryddhau ein diweddariad mawr diwethaf i Hwb fis Mehefin diwethaf, rydyn ni wedi bod yn gweithio’n ddiflino i ddod â’n cyfres gorau o adnoddau i chi. Gan gydweithio ag athrawon cynradd ac uwchradd yng Nghymru a chydweithwyr yn Llywodraeth Cymru, rydyn ni wedi adeiladu Hwb i’r hyn rydyn ni’n credu ydy’r cynnig addysg digidol cenedlaethol gorau sydd ar gael yn unrhyw le – a dydyn ni ddim yn agos at orffen eto.

Y Diweddariad Newydd

Ddydd Gwener 13eg Tachwedd byddwn yn rhyddhau’r cyntaf o ddau ddiweddariad mawr newydd i Hwb, gan ryddhau pum nodwedd Rhestr chwarae newydd, ynghyd â llu o welliannau ehangach.

Mae CDSM yn falch o fod yn gwasanaethu’r gymuned addysg yng Nghymru: rydyn ni’n ei hadnabod ac rydyn ni’n falch ohoni. Mae’n rhoi pleser enfawr i ni gael gwneud gwahaniaeth yn ein cymuned ein hunain, ac rydyn ni’n falch o gael y cyfle i deithio i’ch cymunedau chi a chlywed eich syniadau chi, gwrando ar eich safbwyntiau chi a chynnwys y rhain yn Hwb.

Rhestri Chwarae

Mae’r nodwedd Rhestri chwarae wedi cael ei diweddaru i gynnwys dau fath newydd o asesiad, er mwyn amrywio’r ffordd mae modd defnyddio asesiadau ffurfiannol neu grynodol yn eich ystafell ddosbarth. Mae’r cyntaf yn caniatáu i awduron Rhestr chwarae greu gweithgareddau trefnu llusgo a gollwng yn hawdd, gan eu galluogi i greu popeth o gwisiau prifddinasoedd y byd i ymarferion rhesymu ar rymoedd mewn ffyrdd newydd a difyr.

Playlist Blocks

Law yn llaw â hyn mae’r fformat Cwestiwn Aml Ddewis newydd (Delwedd MCQ). Yn yr un modd â sawl agwedd ar Hwb, ei symlrwydd sy’n ei wneud yn wych: mae’r datblygiad hwn yn rhoi cyfle i awduron ddarparu delweddau yn atebion i gwestiynau aml ddewis. Mae hyn yn esgor ar gynifer o gyfleoedd newydd i’n defnyddwyr, fel creu cwestiynau fformiwlâu mathemategol heb orfod ysgrifennu cod cymhleth neu ddefnyddio llyfrgelloedd 3ydd parti.

Playlist Blocks

Serch hynny, nid symlrwydd ydy ei unig rinwedd – mae bloc cynnwys sioe sleidiau newydd y nodwedd Rhestr chwarae yn rhoi templed er mwyn i’r defnyddiwr allu cyflwyno’r deunydd dysgu mewn ffordd ddifyr yn weledol, gan ddefnyddio darnau bach o destun i ategu delwedd. Mae modd i athrawon nawr ddarparu ar gyfer yr arddulliau dysgu, y dewisiadau a’r galluoedd gwahanol yn eu dosbarth.

Hwb Playlist Slideshow

Rydyn ni hefyd wedi galluogi’r Rhestri chwarae i ddal atodiadau ffeil, gan roi’r dewis i awduron atodi cynnwys ategol a chefnogol at unrhyw Restr chwarae.

Attachments on Step

Y Diweddariad Nesaf

Serch hynny, yr hyn a fydd yn gwneud y gwelliannau Rhestr chwarae hyd yn oed yn fwy pwerus ydy rhyddhau ein teclyn Asesu newydd sbon. Wedi’i greu gyda Rhestri chwarae wrth ei galon, bydd y teclyn Asesu (sy’n cael ei ryddhau ar 8ydd Rhagfyr) yn galluogi awduron i neilltuo Rhestri chwarae sy’n cael eu creu gan unrhyw awdur yng Nghymru i grŵp o’u dewis – er enghraifft i ddosbarth neu i set.

Hyd yn oed yn fwy cyffrous, mae’r dechnoleg Storfa Cofnodion Dysgwyr ddiweddaraf wedyn yn galluogi’r awdur i weld rhyngweithio’r dysgwr, ei gynnydd a’i gyflawniad mewn amser real. Mae modd gweld y canlyniadau ar draws y garafán gyfan neu ar lefel unigolyn, gan roi cipolwg amserol fel na welwyd o’r blaen i ddealltwriaeth y grŵp ac unigolion o’r pwnc.

Hwb Markbook

Rydyn ni’n arbennig o falch o’r nodweddion hyn ac rydyn ni’n edrych ymlaen at weld yr amrywiaeth o asesiadau diweddar y bydd athrawon yng Nghymru yn eu gwneud gyda nhw.

Ar ben hyn i gyd rydyn ni hefyd yn rhyddhau nifer fawr o welliannau i Hwb ei hun; sy’n amrywio o wella cyfathrebu personol fel y crynodeb newyddion preifat, i welliannau ymarferol fel gallu gweld y storfa adnoddau ar ffurf rhestr.

Hwb News Feed

Rydyn ni wedi gwella ac adeiladu ar gynifer o nodweddion y byddai’n amhosibl ceisio eu rhestru nhw i gyd yn fan hyn – felly ewch i daro golwg arnyn nhw eich hun yn Hwb.

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CDSM EdTech Education Events Insights Wales

A Digital Competence Framework for Wales

At the National Digital Learning Event earlier this year, Education Minister Huw Lewis announced a Digital Competence Framework (DCF) for teachers in Wales.

“After considering Professor Donaldson’s report, alongside the findings of the independent review of ICT and early findings of our ‘Great Debate’, I have decided that an effective and consistent approach to teaching digital learning competence is too vital for both our young people and our economy to delay.”

– Education Minister Huw Lewis, June 2015

children learning about nature - digital competence

As a Welsh digital learning business, CDSM welcome the Digital Competence Framework, and agree that it should be implemented as soon as possible. We believe that Welsh Government’s approach to contemporary learning technology – in support of learning and development – is first class, and are excited by the appetite of both Donaldson and DfES for all things learning technology. When it comes to our own organisation, it is an absolute fact that our success in Wales is all down to our teachers, children and young people being digitally competent.

The Importance of Being Digitally Competent

At CDSM, we develop tools and technologies for teachers and students because we, like Welsh Government, believe contemporary learning technologies can only add to the learning and development process. After all, without the ability, skills, imagination and ambition to make full use of digital tools and technologies, how would our schools, students and education system keep up with the demands of this ever-changing digital world?

Row of schoolchildren studying in front of a computer - digital competence

But there’s more to this than just what happens in the classroom. Beyond the school setting, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our school and university leavers are equipped to perform in the workplace. According to the European Union, there will be an estimated 900,000 unfilled computing jobs across the EU in 2015, simply due to a lack of skills.

“According to The European Commission, more than 90% of professional occupations require some computing competence, but the number of graduates in computer science is not keeping pace with this demand for skills.”

– John Worden, Glyndwr University Lecturer

The Digital Competence Framework: An Opportunity for Wales

At CDSM, we work extensively with teachers in Wales, investing significant time and energy in developing meaningful and productive relationships. Because of this, we understand that our teachers are the on ‘front line’, developing and nurturing our children and young people. They are the ones who acknowledge and respond to the demands of a relentlessly changing world.

Friends in the Classroom - digital competence

We are committed to providing teachers with tools and technologies that support and enhance their practice every single day. Gone now are the days of sending the little ones to the ICT suite to ‘play’ on the computers, or scribble out wobbly drawings on the faithful old classroom Acorn. Computers (and, increasingly, handheld devices) now play a key role in learning and development, and digital technologies and their relevant skills are now core requirements.

After Donaldson, the transformed curriculum should inspire those who engage with it to make positive leaps in their learning, and fill the rest of us with a passionate sense of ambition for our education system. At CDSM, we believe that the Digital Competence Framework allows Wales to set out its intention and aspiration for the development of what is arguably our most important professional community.

You can stay up to date with what’s happening by following CDSM on Twitter, or by subscribing to our monthly e-zine.

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Blended Learning CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Insights Wales

The Donaldson Report – A CDSM Perspective (Part 2)

Earlier this year, Welsh Government published a comprehensive, independent review of the curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales, written by Professor Graham Donaldson. Now, in a two-part series on the Donaldson Report (Successful Futures), CDSM explore the headline findings and provide a context from our perspective as an Education Technologies company based in Wales. In this second post, we’ll look at the implications of the report for teachers, the classroom and technology in the classroom.

happy students in computer class - donaldson report

As already discussed in our first post, at CDSM we feel that we have a huge role to play in the implementation of Donaldson’s recommendations. We broadly support all of the report’s proposals, and strongly believe that it provides the opportunity to make a real difference to future generations in Wales. However, we understand that others may be a bit more tentative. After all, the report represents significant change that can only be achieved with time and, ultimately, teacher re-skilling. Teachers are at the forefront of this change, and so these fears represent very natural reactions.

At CDSM, we believe it’s our duty to support teachers, schools and regional education consortia through this transition. Our innovations in education technology, our understanding of pedagogy, and our commitment to their profession enables us to make teachers’ lives easier and their everyday tasks less time-consuming. We want to be there to aid them in their re-training, always listening for their pressure points and hearing their requirements. We’ve seen, many times, how useful the private sector can be in developing the holistic, niche or bespoke innovation that fulfils a need and ultimately helps teachers, schools and authorities to improve the services they provide. As the supplier of Hwb – which has become the gateway for a centrally-provisioned national toolkit – as well as region-specific services, CDSM is in a privileged position to work at the heart of this historical change.

One of the more profound changes is summed up in Recommendations 6 & 7 of the report:

“6. Children and young people should have their learning developed across the curriculum through three Cross-curriculum Responsibilities that should be the responsibility of all teachers: literacy; numeracy; and digital competence.

7. A digital competence framework and an accompanying ‘Routes to Learning Digital Competence’ should be developed and be included as a Cross-curriculum Responsibility.”

– Successful Futures, page 42

The focus and drive to implement the LNF in recent years has been an all-consuming task for teachers, local authorities and regional education consortia alike. Embedding a digital competence framework across the curriculum promises to be even more challenging. Teachers will need to be able to support the use of digital technologies throughout their lessons, whether they are teaching Drama, History or ICT. We know from experience that not all teachers feel comfortable or equipped to do this, and so again we find ourselves in a position where our services and expertise can make a difference. We’re already working with Welsh technology and teaching professionals to create a training programme that will help to alleviate much of the ongoing concern around this recommendation. Through our technologies, we’ll be facilitating communities of professionals who can support and learn from each other in order to become the teachers this report requires.

schoolboy with laptop and teacher - donaldson report

Although the report goes to lengths to make clear that it does not favour one teaching method over another, it does make some key recommendations about the very nature of the classroom itself. Children and young people want lessons to be more relevant and engaging, with more practical lessons, more fun, more interactivity, and more out-of-classroom activities. We know from a number of studies, including one by the US department of state (summarised in this CDSM infographic), that a blended learning approach has real benefits to learning and retention. In this sense, blended learning is mix of classroom based and non-classroom-based learning (e.g. e-learning).

We aren’t suggesting that Professor Donaldson was specifically advocating e-learning when referencing non-classroom-based learning, but it’s clear that well-constructed learning in this format has a significant role to play, both in adding variety to lessons and homework, and providing different stimuli and challenges for the learner. It’s also an approach that aligns with the Digital Competence Framework, and supports other key recommendations of the report. For example:

“Children and young people should develop their own e-portfolio, possibly including ‘e-badges’, to record key achievements and experiences.”

Successful Futures, page 83

“Significantly better and more creative use should be made of technology in the teaching and learning of Welsh and also modern foreign languages.”

Successful Futures, page 60

The classroom will undoubtedly maintain a physical form for some time yet but, for learners of all ages, it is now well-established in a virtual form too. Learning no longer takes place solely in school or at home, but through all interactions with the digital world. Through Hwb, a learner now has the ability to record that interaction, aggregating the learning seamlessly into an e-portfolio which can be used as both a revision aid and as evidence for assessment/evaluation.

CDSM have a role to play in formative and summative assessment too, with tools that create a variety of testing activities for use in multiple environments. The key differentiator in Hwb is that these tools form a part of the learning and development cycle, engaging the learner as an active participant, rather than simply providing a benchmark on their ability to learn and repeat.

“Testing, both multiple-choice and open-response, is an important element in the repertoire of assessment techniques. Regular classroom testing is a long-established feature of teaching and learning. The construction of tests that do more than focus on recall and simple application is, however, both complex and time-consuming.”

Successful Futures, page 79

“Innovative approaches to assessment, including interactive approaches, should be developed drawing on the increasing potential contribution of digital technology.”

Successful Futures, page 80

Donaldson Report - children in classroom

From a teacher’s perspective, technology already available in Hwb enables the collection of a young person’s learning. It tracks their progress automatically, and provides real-time analysis of achievement. It also offers instant feedback, and can be used to engage parents, carers and other stakeholders in the learning process – something the report cites as important:

“There is likely to be a greater emphasis on recording procedures that enable teachers to keep track of each child and young person’s learning…”

Successful Futures, page 77

“Increased use of digital media should be explored to help to improve the immediacy of feedback to parents and carers and engage them more directly in supporting learning.”

Successful Futures, page 83

Outside of the classroom, CDSM continues to have a responsibility to provide solutions for key stakeholders in our education system. We’re already working with the regional education consortia to provide technological systems and structure for School Improvement and External Verification processes. So, from our point of view, references in the report to assessment and verification are a welcomed inclusion.

“Where the results of assessment are to be used for purposes of comparison, issues of reliability in teacher assessment should be addressed through effective moderation; where the prime purpose of assessment is assessment for learning there is less of a need for reliability between schools.”  

Successful Futures, page 80

Assessment and verification are, without a doubt, important factors in ensuring that the next generation of young people have a consistent and comprehensive education, no matter what part of Wales they are from. In a conversation that has largely focused on curriculum and process modernisation, Professor Donaldson’s highlighting of these less talked about (but equally important) facets will ensure that they receive the attention and consideration they deserve.

If this series of blog posts has one message, it’s that all of us here at CDSM are excited by the changes recommended in the Donaldson Report. We can’t pretend that the transition to a truly forward-thinking education system will be easy, nor can we pretend that it will be quick. However, we can guarantee that we’ll do everything we can to make the transition an engaging, empowering process – one that supports and benefits all of our teachers and learners in Wales.

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CDSM EdTech Education Insights Learning Software Wales

The Donaldson Report – A CDSM Perspective (Part 1)

Earlier this year, Welsh Government published a comprehensive, independent review of the curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales, written by Professor Graham Donaldson. Now, in a two-part series on the Donaldson Report (Successful Futures), CDSM explore the headline findings and provide a context from our perspective as an Education Technologies company based in Wales. In this first post, we’ll look at the task, the principles and some key recommendations, giving our perspective on the intended outcomes.

The Task

Schools Traffic Sign

“In recognition of the potential pitfalls of overload, complexity, and redundancy in the [current] curriculum, the Review was asked to stand back and to take a fundamental look at the ways in which today’s schools can prepare young people for an exciting but uncertain future.”

Successful Futures, page 11

CDSM believe that Wales has to ensure its learners are ready to play a role in the local and national industries that govern the prosperity of the nation. Only a wholesale transformation can make this possible. To try to adapt the 1988 curriculum in piecemeal fashion could add years of frustration to the process.

The Principles

School Science Class - Donaldson Report looking at School Improvement

“The purposes of the curriculum in Wales should be that children and young people develop as:

  • ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society”

Successful Futures, page 29

While CDSM admit that a broad set of purposes, like these, can be used to say very little, we cannot help but be excited and energised by the focus on creating life-long learners who are well-rounded, worldly and outward focused. For us, it means that the classroom becomes a place of discovery, and an environment where pupils can take a lead in their own learning. It’s a perfect environment for the tools that we work so hard to create to flourish, fulfilling their potential alongside the potential of the students they are helping to teach.

It was impossible for us to overlook the references to inclusion in the report; Wales is leading the way through its adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and we’re proud to see that this sentiment will be represented throughout the new curriculum proposals. CDSM believe that it’s vital we give our learners a holistic understanding of what it means to have rights and to be protected. This is contiguous with our own commitment to ensuring learner safety and freedom of expression.  

“Principles of curriculum design – the curriculum should be:

Inclusive: easily understood by all, encompassing an entitlement to high-quality education for every child and young person and taking account of their views in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and those of parents, carers and wider society”

Successful Futures, page 14

CDSM has, for a long time, banged a drum for teachers. We feel that teachers are the best-placed people to make decisions about their classroom. It is their passion, drive and invention that strengthens our education system, always responding to new demands and changes. Our intention is to enable teachers to successfully adapt to those changes, by creating tools that place teacher-generated content at the heart of the classroom. We make aggregation, sharing and collaboration easy and we facilitate networks of professional learning communities, helping the whole of Wales to benefit from established islands of excellence.

We can’t, therefore, fail to be excited by the commitment to subsidiarity, outlined in the report:

“Principles of curriculum design – the curriculum should be:

Based on subsidiarity: commanding the confidence of all, while encouraging appropriate ownership and decision making by those closest to the teaching and learning process.”

Successful Futures, page 14

Key Recommendations

School Classroom - Children and Teacher - Donaldson Report looking at School Improvement

“A digital competence framework and an accompanying ‘Routes to Learning Digital Competence’ should be developed and be included as a Cross-curriculum Responsibility.” 

Successful Futures, page 42

This recommendation is hugely welcomed by CDSM. As an SME based in South Wales that strives to recruit the best and brightest software developers from local schools and universities, the commitment to improving the levels of digital competence – not just in terms of using software, but in terms of becoming an active participant in the discovery and creation of tomorrow’s technological breakthrough – cannot be underestimated.

The Reception

School Classroom - children with hands up - Donaldson Report looking at School Improvement

It’s worth noting that the Donaldson Report has received near-universal support from our politicians and, although no concrete timelines have been announced, the feeling is that we should expect an ambitious timetable leading to implementation before 2020.

“We need a curriculum which is ambitious, engaging and fit for the challenges of the twenty first century. The national curriculum of 1988 has served an important purpose, but we can no longer address the weaknesses of the current curriculum through a ‘patch and mend’ approach.”

– Huw Lewis, Education Minister, July 2015

CDSM has a huge role to play in the realisation of the Donaldson Report. It’s potentially the biggest and most profound change in our education system in living memory and, crucially, it  represents the ambitious, forward-thinking and diverse framework we need. From the perspective of a learning technologies company based in Wales, with a vested interest in our young people, it’s as much as we could have asked for – and we can’t wait to get started.

In the second of this two-part series on the Donaldson Report, we’ll look into the report’s implications for teachers, the classroom and technology in the classroom. To make sure you don’t miss it, follow us and subscribe.

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CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu Learning Wales

The HWB Project in Wales

As a Welsh company, and as citizens of Wales, CDSM is very proud to have won the right to supply and service www.hwb.wales.gov.uk – a Welsh Government (DfES) service that enables Welsh schools to exploit learning technologies for the benefit of teachers and learners alike.

Hwb Home Page

For the past 18 months, CDSM has been working with Welsh Government (DfES) to design, develop, and license tools and services for primary and secondary schools across Wales.

A Community of Users

Hosted and delivered from CDSM’s cloud infrastructure, Hwb represents a significantly large community of users, with the potential for hundreds of thousands of teachers and learners to be using the service at the same time.

With this many concurrent users, it’s important that Hwb is available anytime, day or night, and as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner, CDSM is best placed to support this. But the type and nature of the services available via Hwb are just as important as the scale of the project and number of users. Hwb isn’t just a place where teachers go to download the latest printouts – it represents a community of users that are all able to:

  • Create, upload and/or download resources
  • Design, build and create learning and assessment playlists
  • Create or join established communities of practice
  • Communicate with peers in real time and much, much more

The digital content and tools in Hwb are designed to support great teaching and learning practice for all schools in Wales. Where good, competent digital practice exists, Hwb aims to support, share and promote for the benefit of all.

Hwb Community Area

The Hwb project has been fortunate enough to establish itself some years after projects of a similar size and approach were initiated in English and Scottish regions. This has enabled us to learn from previous successes and mistakes, and take a pragmatic approach to making this project work for Wales. The take-up of the service in the last 12 months is significant and really encouraging. Clearly there are a growing core of teachers in Wales working with Hwb, recognising it as a service that supports their excellent teaching and learning practice in our schools.

What Next for Hwb?

Ultimately the answer to this question will be determined by Welsh Government, but CDSM firmly believes that Hwb has seized its opportunity to become the gateway service provider to educational organisations across Wales. The current and potential benefits to Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Further and Higher Education organisations are significant, and the service now has the attention of those practitioners who readily exploit digital technologies to deliver a first class education for their students.

We hope that this is the beginning of a long and productive relationship between Welsh Government, CDSM Interactive Solutions Ltd and our schools in Wales.

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