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#28daysofwriting – Hwb part 2 – Logging in gets you…

No post for three days. Slipping a bit.

Once upon a time that would have thrown me and a blog-avoiding wobble would have followed. Now I seem much more able to shrug, go ‘oh well’, and carry on. So, where were we?

In my last post I wrote about what ‘Hwb’ is, how it came about, and what is accessible to anyone, anywhere. However, one of the powerful parts of the vision is that ever teacher and learner across Wales have a username and password that unlocks a whole load of other features.

Let’s talk about usernames and passwords first. These are generated by a link back to each schools MIS (registers). This means that both the generation of the usernames, and also the grouping of the users (who’s a teacher, which school, which class etc etc) is all taken care of behind the scenes. As an e-learning coordinator, this admin bit could become a huge eater of my time, so this is something I was really keen on. One of the underlying philosophies of the project seems to be to remove as many barriers to entry as we possibly can. Usernames and passwords are held in the school Hwb+ site (more of that later) and are accessed by any of the school admin users once they’ve had their initial training.

Once you’ve got your username and password and logged in, the following features get unlocked

  • You can now bookmark, rate and review resources from within Hwb
  • Users can access and complete online PISA style activities which contain built in feedback for learners
  • Teachers get access to the 360 Degree Safe Cymru e-safety auditing tool, to help them benchmark their current practice around e-safety, and get suggestions on how to improve.
  • Every teacher and learner gets access to the online Encyclopedia Britannica School– which comes with three levels of access, suitable across all the age ranges.
  • Everyone gets access to Just 2 Easy – a cracking set of online tools that cover everything from an Infant Toolkit which is amazing for foundation phase learners to coding tools and lesson plans for Foundation Phase and KS2 within J2Code. I may write more about this on another occasion, but if you have a Hwb account and haven’t had a look at J2E yet, stop reading this and go and investigate.
  • Every user gets an Office365 account which provides them with an email address, online calendar and most importantly OneDrive, with it’s 1TB of online storage and the opportunity to work with online versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. Given the Ministerial Commitment to reducing the impact of poverty on attainment this is a big deal – learners no longer need computers with paid for, proprietary software. Now any device with a browser provides access to the same set of tools for everyone. I’ll definitely be writing more about cloud computing and it’s opportunities for learning in a future post. In addition to this, teachers get access to Lync, the point to point video conferencing software.
  • Finally, everyone get’s access to their school’s Hwb+ site. This is a Learning Platform build around the LP+4 software produced by Learning Possibilities. This is a Sharepoint driven site which provides every school with a ‘walled garden’ online area, build around the structure of the school. In the primary context this is build around whatever classes exist on the registers – with pupils being able to work in ‘their’ class. In secondary schools every subject that exists on the timetable has a site created automatically, along with sites for each year group that are taught that subject. Students and teachers get access to the relevant sites depending on their timetables. Again, I expect I will come back to this in more detail in a future post.

The project itself is continuing to develop quite quickly. The next step will be the launch of ‘Hwb Networks’ hopefully next half term. These will allow teachers to join or create online networks around specific communities of practice, be they local or national, for resource creation or research. There’s lots of potential to be harnessed by having everyone on the same system and I suspect we’re just scratching the surface.

Dave Stacey

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