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Curriculum On-line


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#1 Andrew Field

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Posted 23 December 2002 - 08:21 PM

I've added a link to a petty rant I've had about the Curriculum Online portal.

http://www.schoolhis...ulumonline.html

I'm interested in others' opinions about this. Any comments?

Has your school actually heard of e-learning credits? The Curriculum Online Portal says Education Authorities received the money on 7th November 2002. My school has heard nothing.


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#2 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 24 December 2002 - 09:31 AM

Got it, spent it. We got details of ours fairly promptly. Strangely many of the things that you can purchase wih the E Learning credits have erm, nothing to do with E Learning! Much of ours were spent on a programme called Kartouche, which is a fairly good storyboard making programme. Some uses for History, the Romans at KS3, far far better for English etc.

#3 Andrew Field

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Posted 24 December 2002 - 11:39 AM

Got it, spent it. We got details of ours fairly promptly. Strangely many of the things that you can purchase wih the E Learning credits have erm, nothing to do with E Learning! Much of ours were spent on a programme called Kartouche, which is a fairly good storyboard making programme. Some uses for History, the Romans at KS3, far far better for English etc.

I know Kartouche - I was one of the beta reviewers for it when it was initially released for English. It has amazing possibilities - basically like giving kids a box of characters and the script and telling them to create their own version. It is excellent, and exactly what the English department at my place want to spend their e-Learning credits on - which we've seen no sign of yet.

However, this is slightly off the point - concerning what I've written, is there any cause for concern that the teacher created materials are just being sidelined?


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#4 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 24 December 2002 - 03:07 PM

However, this is slightly off the point - concerning what I've written, is there any cause for concern that the teacher created materials are just being sidelined?

I'm both bemused and baffled by the exclusion of teacher produced sites from Curriculum Online. In an age where we seem to incessentaly press for value for money, are held to account for just about every penny we spend and every decision we make, it strikes me as idiotic to ignore free materials whilst at the same time encouraging the purchasing of goods at a high price that are often of dubious quality. Surely it would have made much more sense to create a large and detailed directory of materials that are available, be that free websites, sites for which a fee is required, CD Rom etc... with links to subscription/ payment areas where appropriate. That way teachers would have had a one stop shop for all of their ICT needs and would have allowed schools to make a decision based on the entire range of available products rather than just the commercially produced ones.

I'm much more concerned by the way that teachers appear to have been left out of the entire process. In Andrew and Russell we have two Becta winners who clearly know what they are doing and have been recognised as excelling by the establishment. Unless I've missed this they, nor any of the other teachers who produce or use E Learning materials, have ever been asked to submit their thoughts on the way forward. That, I believe, will result in a huge amount of money being blown on things that schools otherwise would not have considered buying because they quite simply didn't need to do so... why subscribe to Learn/ ProQuest for example when the same's available for nothing?

#5 Stephen Drew

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Posted 24 December 2002 - 05:50 PM

I have come late to this one - first spare minutes in a couple of days to check mail etc.

I can report a converstation with a friend who attended the final launch for the e-learning credits thing for her company which works in this kind of area.

This is very largely a puff for the DfES and the Government. Dan's point about money is very well made.

The event took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. There were lots of lovely expensive folders printed especially for the event full of puff material. The confernece was interrupted after a couple of hours for a champage and smoked salmon "breakfast". Need I go on ......

The companies in attendance were clear in their understanding that this was a typical government idea that will last for a couple of years before being replaced with another flash idea.

On the issue of excluding free resources from the idea - this is obvious. The idea of giving good resources away to share between schools does not fit with the DfES idea of expense and flash presentation. Results are irrelevant. It is about being able to look good and claim to be doing something.

I am sure I am totally wrong and that e-learning credits will change education forever and for the better. However I suggest that giving the money to schools and "ring fencing" it to ICT would be a somewhat better use of it.
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

#6 Andrew Field

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Posted 24 December 2002 - 07:13 PM

Excellent points - and this discussion will have to take a break for Christmas now.

On a final note, we do already get ring-fenced money for ICT via NGfL funding. With the KS3 ICT strategy additional funding is also available. As I haven't seen the e-Learning credits yet, I guess I'm yet to see what they really amount to. Probably will just about cover a nice breakfast.


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#7 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 03:54 AM

Having been away since the 23rd I have only just followed this thread up and since I don't teach in a LEA school (and thus not eligible for these credits) I am a little wary of commenting.

However, I have visited the TRE for the first time and have yet to spot anything very exciting so perhaps this is why the powers that be have sidelined teachers and the freely available materials on 'our' sites? Most of the History materials I have seen there would not meet the required criteria for COL approval

(FAQ/S04 How will schools know what they can spend their eLCs on?

Schools may only spend their eLCs on certified Curriculum Online digital learning products sold by Registered Retailers. Registered Content Providers are responsible for certifying their products and for ensuring that (1) a minimum of 80% of the products’ constituent part is delivered digitally (with remaining 20% being attributable to non-digital support materials such as training or guides); (2) it is education specific supporting the curriculum as taught in England at Key Stage 1-4 for 5-16 year olds; (3) offers significant additional value, when compared to a non digital form of the same product and (4) works well on the technologies specified for those products. Every product must meet all 4 criteria to become a certified Curriculum Online product.



I understand Andrew's annoyance and his reluctance to submit 200+ resources to TRE for consideration for inclusion on the Curriculum Online portal. Would it be a way forward for several of the resources which meet the criteria for COL approval to be submitted? Andrew's Elizabeth I 'end' lesson, Russ's head to head activities and Dan's First World War timeline spring immediately to mind. I would have thought that these should be approved without any problem and then once a 'foot is in the door' there might be leverage to push for a rethink about the inclusion of free materials. When that happens visitors to COL would be able to see for themselves that they can gain access to loads of useful materials for free.

I am aware that this is not an ideal solution by any means, but .... :unsure:

Alternatively ....

How about us writing to our MPs? or visiting them at a local 'surgery' to express our views?

#8 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 11:12 AM

I understand Andrew's annoyance and his reluctance to submit 200+ resources to TRE for consideration for inclusion on the Curriculum Online portal. Would it be a way forward for several of the resources which meet the criteria for COL approval to be submitted? Andrew's Elizabeth I 'end' lesson, Russ's head to head activities and Dan's First World War timeline spring immediately to mind. I would have thought that these should be approved without any problem and then once a 'foot is in the door' there might be leverage to push for a rethink about the inclusion of free materials. When that happens visitors to COL would be able to see for themselves that they can gain access to loads of useful materials for free.

Getting approved for COL wouldn't really be a problem in terms of the content of the sites. The roadblock put in front of teachers wanting to register is the amount of red tape that goes along side it. There are a range of forms to complete and send in to get content approved, then to go forward to the COL list there's a range of checks that are conducted which cover things such as annual audits and accounts - and yes, this would apply to an individual teacher as far as I'm aware. Easy enough for a company to provide this information in the correct manner but something that most teachers wouldn't have a clue about.

It's worth remembering though that the Spartacus site, amongst other teacher produced sites, is COL approved and that there is a section of the site that links directly to activities produced by teachers.

#9 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 01:07 PM

The roadblock put in front of teachers wanting to register is the amount of red tape that goes along side it.
<snip>

It's worth remembering though that the Spartacus site, amongst other teacher produced sites, is COL approved and that there is a section of the site that links directly to activities produced by teachers.

Thanks for the explanation - wasn't aware that they made it so difficult to register :sad:

Nor had I spotted that Spartacus was COL approved.

#10 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 02:58 PM

They've got to put a number of checks in place to make everyone involved accountable I suppose.

From memory both the Spartacus site and teachit.co.uk (English site) are approved. I know several other members of the Association of teachers' Websites have commented on progress (or lack of) in getting COL registrations completed.

To clarify a previous comment I made: the content Carole referred to is suitable for inclusion BUT only if a charge were to be made for it.

"Schools or teachers, offering free resources, are not eligible to apply to become Curriculum Online Content Providers.

However, teachers can submit free resources to the Teacher Resource Exchange (TRE). In due course, these resources will be identified and quality assured by TRE for migration to Curriculum Online.

Note that a school or their teacher that wishes to self-certify for Curriculum Online purposes their products and services that DO involve a charge to the end-user can apply to become a Curriculum Online Content Provider. To do this they should use this register.curriculumonline.gov.uk site - and not TRE." (Curriculum Online )

Basically sites can register as a retailer selling other peoples products or the webmaster can decide to make a charge for certain aspects of the site. Spartacus for example offers the facility to purchase a site licence for hsting the site on a schools network. For any of the websites linking to this forum to get Content providers status the webmaster would need to have a change of heart about free sharing of information OR offer personalised services for schools which could range from creating digital activities tailored to one schools schemes of work, developing games as reqested etc... all of which would be very time consuming with no guarantee of financial reward at the end of the line.

Online content also has to be metatagged to the DFES spec, a time consuming job that, if the NGFL metatagging is anything to go by, wouldn't make much difference to the exposure of a site in any case.

#11 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 06:37 PM

What a b***** mess. No wonder Andrew (et al) are so angry/frustrated.

Is there nothing that can be done?

#12 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 07:48 PM

Not really Carole. Curriculum Online is a shop to all intents and purposes, unless the sites want to sell something then we won't get put on the shelves in the store.

In terms of increasing exposure of the teacher created sites the DfES would most likely point people towards the NGFL. Once a site is badged the webmaster can include the metatags etc. to come out towards the top of the NGLF search engine. Again this takes time, I've only bothered to do it for one or two sections of my site and doubt that I'll ever make time to do anymore as I think that it would probably have a negative impact on my standing on the 'real' search engines. As Andrew has already alluded to the standard response from on high is that the TRE is available for teachers to make use of. This doesn't make much sense for those of us who already have websites.

#13 Andrew Field

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 09:05 PM

Interesting points - and having thought about this a little I don't think it is worth bothering with at all. It is more their loss than ours.

In the initial stages of COL, which I was somewhat involved in through links with the original National Curriculum Online work, it was suggested that teachers who produce websites would be able to be approved thus giving them the opportunity to compete with 'professionals' and potentially set up subscription areas that COL funding could be used as payment.

My understanding at this time was that I could register the SchoolHistory site and then be listed amongst the big players. I still fundamentally believe in providing such things free of charge.

If Curriculum Online is to be a useful one-stop-shop for e-learning products and resources, it should include free resources. This isn't going to happen though. It's role now appears to be as a shop for schools to spend their e-learning credits. As the site hasn't even been ready to showcase materials in time for the first round of credits, then it isn't going to be that useful anyway. However, what's the worry when there is http://www.ngfl.gov.uk? Then, we have http://www.teachernet.gov.uk for all us teachers. We've also got the http://tre.ngfl.gov.uk and I suppose you shouldn't miss out the Teachers Online magazine http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachers/, not to be confused with Teachers Online Project at http://top.ngfl.gov.uk/. We also must not ignore the National Curriculum Online at http://www.nc.uk.net/, nor the National Curriculum in Action at http://www.ncaction.org.uk/. It would also be rude not to pay heed to the schemes of work at http://www.standards...gov.uk/schemes/, nor the main DFES site at http://www.standards.dfee.gov.uk/. Clearly one would not wish to miss the Virtual Teachers' Centre at http://vtc.ngfl.gov.uk/ or the QCA at http://www.qca.org.uk/. Don't forget OFSTED at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/. In addition we also have the ICT advice site at http://www.ictadvice.org.uk and http://www.ukonline.gov.uk/, but perhaps this is going a bit far. Most of these sites are run by Becta, who of course, have their own (beautifully designed) site at http://www.becta.org.uk/

ALL these sites are official UK - or rather in some cases just English - government education sites. Why not have another?

:wacko:

I think it is best for us all to continue in the current way - producing materials for use with our own students and making them available for the wider teaching community.

:D Better than wasting time over different government websites :woo:


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#14 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 11:15 PM

ALL these sites are official UK - or rather in some cases just English - government education sites.  Why not have another?

:wacko:

I think it is best for us all to continue in the current way - producing materials for use with our own students and making them available for the wider teaching community.

:D  Better than wasting time over different government websites :woo:

Do I detect a touch of cynicism, Andrew? B)

Having just listened to the News, perhaps this is where the Tories are proposing to make some of their cuts in bureaucracy?

Ah well .... plod on as usual, eh guys?

#15 Andrew Field

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 11:36 PM

Do I detect a touch of cynicism, Andrew? B)

Just a touch.

But seriously, there is a lot of good information on these sites, but there are just too many. Far too many. The way they are all set up is to work as an independent team, seemingly against each other. The people behind the Teachers' Resource site are excellent, but appear to be constantly battling against other 'official' sites. The TeacherNet site is, in my opinion, terribly designed. Having spent a huge sum of money on getting teachers to review websites for use in the classroom it is extremely annoying to even find the reviews, let alone use them. The Virtual Teachers' Centre can be a great resource, but they way it lists its resources means sites such as the (totally free) Learning Curve appear down the bottom of a multiple page list whereas seemingly unrelated sites appear on the first page.

I do realise it is perhaps inappropriate to comment on design and utility when I'm just a teacher dabbling in websites, but surely these professional sites which must cost many many ££ to run should be as user friendly as possible.

As for curriculum online, already it is all getting a bit shady. Looking for the curriculum online site just now I typed in http://www.curriculumonline.co.uk. Sneakily, a very professional site appears, but it isn't the Curriculum Online one, it is a site created by Actis, those behind all the pay-for History, Geography etc. sites that can e-learning credits can be used for. Bit sneaky that - but all part of the marketing business though I suppose.


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