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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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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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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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Hwb Network Notifications and a New Look for the Hwb Homepage

Since their launch, Hwb Networks have been a really popular addition to the Hwb tool suite. They’ve given teachers from across Wales the chance to share ideas and best practice, and to collaborate on curriculum-relevant resources.  But just because feedback on Hwb Networks has been positive doesn’t mean we’re not constantly trying to make them better.

Latest Release

On Tuesday 23rd June 2015, we released a major update to the Hwb Networks tool.

Hwb Networks users can now choose how often they are notified of activity within their Networks.

By clicking on the ’Subscribe’ button on the Networks home screen, a Network member can select whether they want to receive email notifications on a weekly or daily basis, or in real time. This allows teachers to stay in touch with Network activity in a way that best suits their schedules.

Hwb Subscribe Button

Set up your preferences today by visiting your Hwb Networks.

In addition, Hwb’s homepage has undergone a facelift.  The biggest change is that Hwb’s extra features and services (Hwb+, J2e, Encyclopaedia Britannica, ImageQuest, 360 degree safe Cymru and Playlists) are now accessible from the top right corner in the black banner.

hwb banner

This enables access to these tools from any Hwb page, not just the homepage.

Following this theme, the sub-features of Hwb’s main sections (Events, Community, e-Safety) can all be reached by clicking on the drop-down arrows next to each section.

And to make sure you stay connected with all Hwb developments, the @HwbNews Twitter feed is now featured on the Hwb homepage, right next to a section of Hwb Quick Links to key Hwb services.

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Available in Welsh here.

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CDSM EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu Learning News Wales

Hysbysiadau Rhwydwaith Hwb a Gwedd Newydd ar Hafan Hwb

Ers eu lansio, mae Rhwydweithiau Hwb wedi bod yn ychwanegiad poblogaidd iawn at gyfres offer Hwb. Maen nhw wedi rhoi cyfle i athrawon ledled Cymru rannu syniadau ac arferion gorau, a chydweithio ar adnoddau sy’n berthnasol i’r cwricwlwm. Ond nid yw adborth cadarnhaol ar Rwydweithiau Hwb yn golygu nad ydym yn ceisio eu gwella’n gyson.

Diweddariad

Ddydd Mawrth 23 Mehefin 2015,  gwnaethom ryddhau diweddariad sylweddol i offer Rhwydweithiau Hwb.

Gall defnyddwyr Rhwydweithiau Hwb nawr ddewis pa mor aml maen nhw’n cael gwybod am weithgarwch yn eu Rhwydweithiau.

Drwy glicio ar y botwm ‘Tanysgrifio’ ar sgrin gartref y Rhwydweithiau, gall aelod o Rwydwaith ddewis a ydyn nhw eisiau hysbysiadau e-bost yn wythnosol neu’n ddyddiol, neu mewn amser real. Mae hyn yn caniatáu i athrawon gadw mewn cysylltiad â gweithgarwch y Rhwydwaith yn y  ffordd sydd fwyaf addas ar gyfer eu hamserlenni.

Hysbysiadau Rhwydwaith

Sefydlwch eich dewisiadau heddiw drwy fynd at eich Rhwydweithiau Hwb.

Yn ogystal, mae hafan Hwb wedi cael ei gweddnewid. Y newid mwyaf yw bod nodweddion a gwasanaethau ychwanegol Hwb (Hwb +, J2e, Encyclopaedia Britannica, ImageQuest, 360 degree safe Cymru a Rhestrau Chwarae) bellach ar gael yn y gornel dde uchaf yn y faner ddu.

hwb banner

Mae hyn yn ffordd o gyrraedd yr offer hyn o unrhyw dudalen Hwb, nid dim ond o’r hafan.

Yn dilyn y thema hon, mae is-nodweddion prif adran Hwb (Digwyddiadau, Cymuned, e-Ddiogelwch) i gyd o fewn cyrraedd drwy glicio ar y saethau wrth ymyl pob adran.

Ac i wneud yn siŵr eich bod yn cadw mewn cysylltiad â holl ddatblygiadau Hwb, mae porthiant Twitter @HwbNews bellach yn ymddangos ar hafan Hwb, yn union wrth ymyl adran Dolenni Cyflym Hwb at wasanaethau allweddol Hwb.

Cofrestrwch i gael ein rhestr bostio sy’n cynnwys y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am ein prosiectau cyffrous yn CDSM!

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Aggregating and Creating…Hwb just got easier

In the best traditions of agile software development, we have updated and improved Playlists just two weeks after its initial release.

Playlists (so simple to use that 400 playlists have been created by teachers on Hwb already) offers teachers in Wales a perfect solution for the creation of rich, attractive and contemporary web-ready teaching and learning content. The latest release includes eight new authoring blocks that seamlessly blend the use of instructional text and supporting imagery.

playlist3 (2)

 

Teachers across Wales can create teaching resources for use in their classrooms by digitising their own knowledge and experience. They can also blend them with resources from Hwb, Encyclopaedia Britannica, ImageQuest & Google Safe Search.

playlist1

 

At CDSM, we passionately believe that teachers are best placed to change and adapt to a new and demanding curriculum. Teachers know where teaching and learning resources are required and they have the skills and experience to fill those gaps. That is why we have created Playlists to hand the power of knowledge creation and distribution to those who work so tirelessly for the education of our young people.

playlist2

 

We are proud to be a Welsh company and we are constantly trying to improve the tools and experiences for teachers and learners alike. Through the Hwb project we have the opportunity to do just that. We’re always interested to hear about the dynamic and inspiring ways that you are using Playlists in your classroom, so feel free to get in touch and let us know what you think.

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Available in Welsh here

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EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu Software Wales

Cronni a chreu…Mae Hwb newydd ddod yn haws

Fel sy’n aml yn digwydd ym maes datblygu meddalwedd hyblyg, rydym wedi diweddaru a gwella’r Rhestri Chwarae gwta bythefnos ar ôl eu cyhoeddi yn y lle cyntaf.

Mae Rhestri Chwarae mor hawdd eu defnyddio mae athrawon eisoes wedi creu 400 ohonynt ar Hwb. Mae’n cynnig ateb perffaith i athrawon yng Nghymru ar gyfer creu cynnwys addysgu a dysgu cyfoethog, deniadol a chyfoes ar y we. Mae’r fersiwn diweddaraf yn cynnwys wyth o flociau awduro sy’n darparu ffordd syml ar gyfer defnyddio testun cyfarwyddol a lluniau atodol.

playlist3 (2)

 

Gall athrawon ledled Cymru greu adnoddau addysgu i’w defnyddio yn eu hystafelloedd dosbarth drwy ddigido eu gwybodaeth a’u profiadau eu hunain. Gallant hefyd eu cyfuno ag adnoddau o Hwb, Encyclopaedia Britannica, ImageQuest a Google Safe Search.

playlist1

 

Mae CDSM yn credu’n gryf bod athrawon yn y sefyllfa orau i newid ac addasu i gwricwlwm newydd a thrwm. Mae athrawon yn gwybod pryd mae angen adnoddau addysgu a dysgu arnynt ac mae ganddynt y sgiliau a’r profiad i lenwi’r bylchau hynny. Dyna pam ein bod wedi creu Rhestri Chwarae – er mwyn sicrhau bod y broses o greu gwybodaeth a’i dosbarthu yn nwylo’r rheini sy’n gweithio mor ddiflino er mwyn addysg ein pobl ifanc.

playlist2

Rydym yn falch o fod yn gwmni o Gymru ac rydym bob amser yn ceisio gwella adnoddau a phrofiadau i athrawon a dysgwyr fel ei gilydd. Mae gennym gyfle i wneud hynny drwy’r prosiect Hwb. Rydym bob amser eisiau clywed am y ffyrdd dynamig ac ysbrydoledig rydych yn defnyddio Rhestri Chwarae yn eich ystafell ddosbarth felly mae croeso i chi gysylltu â ni i roi eich barn.

Cofrestrwch i gael ein rhestr bostio sy’n cynnwys y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf am ein prosiectau cyffrous yn CDSM!

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EdTech Education Hwb Hwbdysgu Software Wales

HwbMeets World

Meet Hwb.B_5dAjHWAAEHzKy (1)

If you haven’t already met it at your school or office, you can meet Hwb, like many others already have, at HwbMeets.

(Available in Welsh here)

For those of you that don’t already know, Hwb is the national database of digital teaching and learning resources. It’s also the gateway to CDSM’s latest range of tools, quality articles and images from Encyclopaedia Britannica and a brilliantly engaging package for primary phase learners – Just2easy.

Right now, I go everywhere with Hwb. We’re like best buddies, inseparable. Hwb even gets me in to all these great events, where I get to meet all the brilliant teachers and public servants who work so diligently to help raise attainment in our schools. I’m basically Hwb’s plus one, which is great because Hwb’s never happier than when it’s the centre of attention, showing off all its new tricks and introducing people to its wide range of tools and resources.

You see, Hwb’s been reinvented in the last 12 months. It’s the new kid on the block again and it’s really starting to turn some heads. Seven thousand new people logged into Hwb in February alone – a big number, and one that’s increasing month on month.  In addition to being an incredible resource, Hwb’s ambitious, and it won’t stop until all of the five hundred thousand+ users in Wales have logged in. So to that end, Hwb and I find ourselves out there at HwbMeets doing the educational equivalent of speed dating, trying to capture the hearts and minds of teachers, local authority leaders and school improvement agencies in Wales.

HwbMeets are 2 hour sessions which start with a couple of keynote presentations from outstanding practitioners. These insightful demonstrations are a great example of the work put in by teachers to make the best use of technology in their classrooms. After this, the audience of school teachers and leaders work their way, eight at a time, around a series of numbered tables, on a quest to find the next best ‘tech’ thing with which to inspire and challenge their kids.

I get ten minutes with each group to convince them of Hwb’s charms. The hard part is speaking for eighty minutes without pause, telling the Hwb story to eight different groups.

Convincing them is easier. After all, I’m able to tell them that Hwb is free, that all teachers and learners in Wales have an account and that this provides Single Sign On access to: MS Office 365, Learning Posibilities’ Hwb+ and SWGFL’s 360° safe Cymru tool – not to mention all CDSM’s new tools, designed by teachers for teachers.

Last month Hwb had eight hundred and twenty two thousand page views and sixty seven thousand logins. Of course, we want those numbers to double by the end of the academic year: this way, we’ll know that Hwb is reaching the teachers and leaders it was designed and commissioned to help.

To do this, Hwb is improving and developing all the time. Its tool set is expanding, and its relevance to teachers and classroom practitioners is growing. By the middle of April, Hwb will have released 5 new features, including Playlists & Hwb Networks. It’s innovations like these that will form the foundations of the legacy we’re building in Wales. It’s these features that Hwb and I have been demonstrating at the HwbMeets.

The reaction from teachers has been very positive, even from the groups that get my final presentation of the day. Teachers immediately see the benefits of the tools and appreciate the ease and simplicity of the implementation. The most common response I get is a question: “And all this is available for free on Hwb?!” The second is “So where can I get my logon details again?”

If you’re yet to meet Hwb, then make sure you attend a HwbMeet. You can find a list of upcoming events on Hwb – and hopefully the two of us will see you there.

You can stay up to date by following CDSM on the social media websites below, or by subscribing to our weekly email roundup.

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