Carronvale eduBuzzers win Silver at Falkirk ICT Fair

8 Carronvale Primary students who attended Falkirk Council’s Education ICT Fair this week have won a Silver award for their P7 class blogs. Of course, they’ve blogged it: you can read the details in posts from Danni, Nicola, Lisa and Rebecca; there are some photos on their class blog too.

Their individual blogs are hosted on eduBuzz as part of our efforts to share what we’re learning with other authorities. It’s working the other way, too, as these blogs are providing us with great practical examples of how individual blogs can be used effectively with P7 students.

The ICT Fair Press Release includes this quote from Julia Swan, Falkirk’s Education Director:

We are seeing the growing use of ICT in the classroom and pupils are responding very positively to developments. Feedback from teachers shows that pupils are generally more eager to participate as they use the ICT equipment to engage with learning.

Many staff have reported that they have found attainment rises the more pupils are involved in using ICT in the learning process and suggests that this is an area in which we will be prioritising our resources.

This anecdotal evidence is consistent with HMI’s recent ICT in Learning and Teaching report, which reported that: “In primary schools, progress in particular aspects of learning was linked to effective use of ICT”. It’s interesting to see this now reaching the stage where it’s leading to the prioritising of resources, despite the apparent absence of systematic studies. If such increased resourcing of ICT is to be sustained, it’s going to be important to improve our knowledge of where exactly the potential benefits lie.

How to trap, not just search for, web information

Information TrappingTonight I browsed a copy of Information Trapping: Real-time Research on the Web by Tara Calishain. It’s an excellent guide to the use of RSS feeds, tags, feed aggregators and web page change detectors to bring information to you as and when it’s published.

Coverage included, amongst other things:

  • What is RSS?
  • The difference between meaningfully structured (XML) feeds and web (HTML) pages
  • Choosing and using feed aggregators
  • Tagging
  • Advanced use of search engines such as Google and Yahoo
  • Setting up notifications of changes on specific web pages
  • Using email notifications

By far the majority of students still think that finding information on the web is all about using a search engine. This book is ideal for getting people past that stage. Well worth trying out in a few school libraries, not just for students – it’s ideal for librarians wanting to get up to date on these new research skills.

eduBuzz blogs get Google Analytics

Google Analytics logoThe eduBuzz blog system now has Google Analytics monitoring every blog – we hope. Time will tell if we’re collecting everything we think we are.

Back in December 06, Exc-el bloggers gained a Google Analytics plug-in. That worked fine at first, but before long there were complaints of stats “flat-lining”, although checks showed the stats were still being gathered OK.

Checking the Google Analytics support information at the time led to the conclusion that we were using it in an unsupported way. We had various individuals registered with Analytics accounts, and their multiple accounts were monitoring pages within the same domain. The supported arrangement is to use one account with one domain (although I can’t find a link to that info just now).

Now we’ve removed that plug-in and embedded the tracking code into the WordPress template files using guidance from the WordPress MU forums. Link.

If you’ve an eduBuzz blog and want access to the Analytics stats, let me know the email address under which you’ve set up your Analytics account and I’ll set that up for you. is the new home for Exc-el blogs

eduBuzz logoThe Exc-el blog system has now been migrated to

  • You’ll notice that all links that began with have changed to
  • Anyone using old links will be automatically redirected to the new location
  • All links within the site (Blogroll links, hyperlinks etc) have been changed to use

Times Ed: Exc-el is leading the way in effective web use by schools

TESSThis week’s Times Education Supplement Scotland (Friday, April 6th 2007) includes a feature we’ve been awaiting with interest on the use of social software in schools. Sue Leonard, the author, set out to investigate recent events where public web sites had been used to post anonymous comments on teachers. As part of her research, she contacted East Lothian to hear how we were using these tools.

You can read a cut-down version of the article on the Times Ed site. It’s in two parts, and the on-line version provides about 3/4 of each:

  • THE BAD – a discussion of problems arising from the use of a US-based site by students to make comments on teachers in Scottish schools. Perhaps inevitably, and despite inclusion of supportive arguments from the site’s founder, it paints a dark picture.
  • THE GOOD – a review of Exc-el, based on interviews with Don Ledingham, Lynne Lewis and Barry Smith. In addition to the on-line text, there’s coverage in the full article of the Pencaitland Primary blog and Preston Lodge High School’s Active Learning Partnerships (ALPs) programme and the student learning logs.

I’d been a bit worried that the article could so easily have painted a negative picture. It’s a relief to find that Sue’s interviews with some of the Exc-el community have provided more than just an abstract sense of balance: they’ve provided a tangible example of an alternative, positive way to view, and use, social software. I hope that’s helpful to people making decisions elsewhere.

It does make me think, though, we’ve got a much stronger story to tell, though, than can be covered in just a couple of pages. Although we’re trying to share what we’re doing via blogs, for example, we know that – by their nature – they’re preaching to the converted. They also tend to focus on a short time period; what we’ve done today, or this week, rather than what we’ve achieved over 6 months or a year.

There’s a gap here. We need to find ways of making it easy for people new to Exc-el to quickly get their heads round not just what it’s all about, but to find stories about successful examples they can build on.