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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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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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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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Just2easy and CDSM: A Perfect Partnership between Award-Winning Providers

Just2easy are an award-winning Educational Software Company with years of experience in creating stimulating learning tools for primary schools. These award-winning tools have been made available via Hwb for all schools in Wales.

J2E Tool Suite

The Just2easy Tool Suite contains a number of curriculum-focused tools that encourage pupils to explore their understanding of particular subject areas, and to present their work in collaborative, creative and imaginative ways.

J2E Tool Suite

The tools have recently been updated to include an e-portfolio that ties in with learning conversations and progression statements, making it perfect to monitor progression and to celebrate success.

As you would imagine, J2e’s tools have been designed by teachers with the classroom in mind. Teachers love the ease of use and intuitive nature of the whole Tool Suite, which gives pupils from the youngest age the opportunity to become fluent in digital literacy, creating a new generation of digital leaders.

The Tool Suite has had an amazing reception from the schools that are discovering it in Hwb:

The relationship between CDSM and Just2easy is beginning to produce opportunities that we had only dreamed of at the start of our collaboration. Hwb has already brought together the best of what is currently available to schools worldwide, and the introduction of the Playlist by CDSM has coincided with the update of j2launch by Just2easy – creating flexible routes to learning opportunities for schools, classes, groups, pupils and teachers.

Both companies’ modern approach to software development means that schools in Wales are using-cutting-edge technology and pedagogical thinking. Thanks to the partnership between Just2easy and CDSM, ‘any device, anytime, anywhere’ learning is a reality for every single pupil using Hwb.

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

 

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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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CDSM’s Response to the Challenges of School Improvement in Wales

What’s being done to improve performance in Welsh schools?

Wales is currently experiencing significant educational reform. At the heart of this reform is an unequivocal acceptance that the performance of schools has to improve. Welsh Government has provided dedicated funding to support school improvement activities, which are planned at school and regional level. This collaborative approach acknowledges the support that regional education consortia can offer schools, driving their performance in the right direction. There are four regional education consortia in Wales, each of which is responsible for agreeing and monitoring their client-schools’ use of funding, in order to ensure there is a positive impact on school performance and learner outcomes.

In partnership with CDSM, the Education Achievement Service (one of the four regional education consortia, based in South East Wales) identified the need for a web-based system that enabled School Leaders to plan and support all funding, monitoring and accountability activities linked to their school’s improvement plan. Together, we developed the My School Improvement Dashboard (MySID) to meet these requirements. MySID is based on Estyn and Welsh Government guidance.

School Improvement in Wales
MySID users are guided through an easy, cyclical planning and improvement process online. We wanted to help all involved achieve success, so we developed the following features:

  1. Self-Evaluation

A feature, designed around the Estyn Framework, which helps schools identify their strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Development Plan

This feature enables schools to identify and prioritise short and long-term goals.

  1. Budget Profiler

This outlines the grants available to schools, and enables them to add additional custom budgets to help them to make decisions on how to achieve their goals.

  1. Activity Plan

This feature enables School Leaders to find events or initiatives that will lead to school improvement.

  1. Financial Monitoring

This feature is designed to help schools create accessible, transparent records of expenditure against budgeted allocation for all school improvement activities.

  1. Quality and Impact Reporting

This provides School Leadership Teams and Challenge Advisers with an understanding of the value of their school improvement activities, offering a measure of the impact each activity has had.

  1. Review Impact and Priorities

Enables schools to evaluate how successful they’ve been in meeting the goals set out in their Development Plan.

#MySID

Find out more about My School Improvement Dashboard by downloading the CDSM Case Study: The School Improvement Conversation in Wales.

mysid_casestudy

So, what are your thoughts on MySID? Is it being used at your school? How is it affecting your school’s improvement? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch via our contact page, or by using the hashtag #MySID on social media.

If you’re interested in hearing how we’re helping teachers directly in the classroom, check out CDSM’s work with Hwb.

 

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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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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.

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