This is info from the workshop

And here is a picture



bigtrain, originally uploaded by mikemcsharry.


ners a photopeach
demo on PhotoPeach

Who Am I?

Another search strategy

Having strategies to find out what the ‘world out there’ is saying about you is becoming more and more important. The same strategies can be useful for your family and pupils.

In this link some time ago I showed a procedure for skimming blogs and twitter – it’s useful to include your own name, variations on it and your company / school name in those feeds. They’re free to use, after all (said like a true Yorkshireman!).

Here’s another tool –

In their own words, this is what pipl does ‘..Also known as "invisible web", the term "deep web" refers to a vast repository of underlying content, such as documents in online databases that general-purpose web crawlers cannot reach. The deep web content is estimated at 500 times that of the surface web, yet has remained mostly untapped due to the limitations of traditional search engines. ..’



Reveals results from sources as varied as –

A comment on Tom Barrett’s blog


– a retweet by chatcatcher –


And some other options at the end. Now we’re talking!


Following the mikemcsharry search reveals –


I won’t bore you with the detail that then appears.

Can you see how useful this little tool is when you’re looking at reputations?

All’s Fair ..

Social Media and Levelling

Since reading Chris Brogan’s excellent book ‘Trust Agents’ we have completely changed the way we work and connect with head teachers, IT coordinators and technical specialists.

Twitter has been an eye-opener for me, and I ‘join the conversation’ with a few hundred people. That’s a few hundred, not a few hundred thousand.

A few items from Chris’s book keep coming back to me.

Don’t be ‘that guy’ – doing the equivalent of throwing business cards at everyone in sight.
Social media is a ‘reputation engine’ – if you sink there, you’ve got a lot of hard work to swim again.
Once you put something on the internet – assume it’s there forever.

I’ll add – plagiarise at your peril.

In a conference recently an Australian company used a set of slides which had been pulled from the internet – and stuck their logos on the slides. A delegate took a quick picture on his mobile and tweeted it back to the original author.

After a twitter storm the actual author made a new blogpost, and a company’s reputation takes a hit


This caused a reaction from a lot of teachers and educators I talk with on Twitter. Should such a group continue to be so welcoming to commercial folks within their conversations?

The discussions started to get a bit heated, which seemed to take an extra turn when one of the group found a totally unacceptable e-book on Amazon. I have an Amazon affiliate link, and I could put the link to Chris’s book in this blog post. Probably not a good idea today Sad smile.

Now, how do commercial organisations join the conversation with educators? Your comments are welcome.

Schools and Small Businesses

Self-help – who’s following who?

tree in centre of field - Thomas Estley Community College, Broughton Astley

There were two meetings I went to this week – each followed a similar approach.

On Tuesday evening Teachmeet Stoke (#tmx on Twitter) was organised by 3 teachers and held at Stoke on Trent 6th Form College. It felt like 80+ people had turned out from 4pm to 8pm on what was a normal evening. They turned out to help each other and to learn ideas and tips. The atmosphere was stunning and everyone picked up tips, ideas and answers to questions.

I run a business, and we are active members of the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses. I’ve recently joined the committee. When we were organising events at our last meeting I suggested that the experience, expertise and approach of our members lent itself to a ‘Teachmeet’ approach. Bless ‘em – they were up for it!

So – on Wednesday we had a go. Smaller audience than Stoke (15 people) and less presenters (3). The approach went down very well, and I feel that ‘mighty oaks from little acorns’ may indeed grow. A stunning result was that we had a visitor from the other side of Birmingham – for a meeting in Lutterworth.

This raises the questions – what else can business borrow from schools and what can schools borrow from business?

Latest Announcement from the Department for Education

This week in the big house

filling form dwonderwall

Yesterday Michael Gove asked Ofsted to ditch the much loved SEF (Self Evaluation Form). The full article and statement with the relevant letter is here

I discussed this in a staff meeting last night with one of the Leicestershire primary schools we work with. After the delighted head left the room, one of the teachers raised an interesting point. She almost copied this sentence from the article We believe that teachers – not bureaucrats and politicians – should run schools without seeing it.

‘And you know what that means don’t you? It means that we’ll see big drops in money coming into schools. The heads will then have to reduce staff  and the politicians will be able to say it’s all the heads’ fault. Nothing to do with us. The Daily Mail will love it!’

I’ve deliberately tagged this blog post with words which the social media teams in the big house should find. Let’s see if they’re any good at finding stuff and secondly if they have a response to that comment. I suspect the space below will stay quite empty.

What do you think of that teacher’s comments?

And – by the way – has anyone else noticed that the revamped Department for Education website STILL does not have an obvious search feature?

Image © Dwonderwall creative commons

Becta – so near to linking up Britain?

Is this the saviour of schools broadband?

hallaton village2

Are you interested in the sustainability of internet connectivity in your school? What could the opportunities be?

I recently saw a tweet by Jon Hunt – whose website shows him to be an Education Broadband Specilaist. Jon had done some research through Becta’s website and highlighted 3 recent papers. if you’d like much more thorough analysis of these items, then Jon’s site is worth a look.

Response to Digital Britain is a fairly short document and contains some great ideas, especially in relation to rural schools – a significant minority of remote rural schools remain simply too expensive to connect to NGA. Ironically, their very remoteness means they are the schools with potentially the most to gain from next generation broadband access.  The paper shows technical ways in which a school could provide links to the community. Is there a simpler way for schools to share the burden of the cost of broadband AND help the local community – like renting out space? Why can’t a village primary school provide a desk, internet and work space for a fee? Safeguarding is clearly an issue, but if there was ever a time for school leaders to think outside the box – surely it’s now. What do you think?

Next Generation Access is – by it’s nature a weighty document. This document shows – amongst other things ideas where schools broadband could be opened up to local users in rural communities. I’ve been discussing this idea with headteachers for a few years – ‘just thinking out loud’. No headteacher has dismissed it yet as ridiculous.

Looking Ahead was published after the announcement of Becta’s closure and is (not surprisingly) somewhat briefer!  This short document picks up on some powerful points education broadband is the only available broadband in some areas … A heavy reliance on significant (and ongoing) contribution from schools – is this sustainable? … Fragmentation risk – schools/authorities opting out of RBC-/authority-led provision ..

Big Society – Another View

Your carriage awaits

Where are we really heading?

Proceed with caution


Wearing three hats* I found the latest blog post from ResPublica somewhat intriguing. The full article is here. if you are interested in the way the decision influencers are thinking – I believe the article is worth reading. That doesn’t mean I agree with it.

It’s difficult to argue with the individual comments and ideas in ‘Power to change the future’ by Mark Pack but there seems to be a lack of co-ordination in the article. This seems to be the same lack of co-ordination that says ‘Remove lumps of the Harnessing Technology Grant mid-stream and use the money to fund free schools’.

Dominant suppliers, directors hiding behind commercial confidentiality and the House of Lords gravy train are all considered – along with early years education.

If I was a journalist I may say – ‘If you’re looking for cracks in the Con-LibDem alliance – here they are’. I’m not, so I won’t.

*I run a company based in Leicestershire. We are based in a voluntary sector hub – as part of that agreement I’m a trustee of the charity. In addition to that, the majority of our customers are primary schools in our surrounding area. (Therefore I’m keenly interested in anything that may affect small businesses, the voluntary sector and primary education).

Using Autocollage to Make a WordPress Heading

Make the header bar stand out


Many of the themes in WordPress allow you to add your own image bar to give the site a feel to better suit you.

Autocollage is a great tool for making those image bars. I cover how to get Autocollage free if you’re a teacher here (and there are some instructions there at the same time).

The task is easiest broken down into 3 steps – get the pictures, make the collage then make the heading bar.

Read more of this post

Becta going – so who does it cost?

And why should it?

I’ve just been reading a very interesting web posting on EducationInvestor. You can see the whole article here

The article starts by recapping an entry in the Times Education Supplement recently where Roger Larson – the man behind the Fronter Learning Platform voices his concern that UK schools may not continue to develop at the same rate. He also mentions that the use of learning platforms isn’t what it could be.

Read what you want in to Mr Larson’s comments. It’s the last sentence in the article in the EducationInvestor that should make the alarm bells go off.

But sources in the technology sector have told EducationInvestor that the cuts could require them to sell direct to school, and force them to raise their prices. “

So – are the sources saying ‘Dear Investors, we’re a good bet. When Becta goes we’re going to raise our prices and blame Becta for keeping the prices artificially low?’

Should suppliers raise their game rather than raise their prices? What do you think?