Wednesday last week saw me at St Nicholas Primary School, Hull for the day introducing the staff and pupils to the J2E suite of software.
I began the day with FS2. The staff had seen the software, JIT, previously, but this was the first time the pupils had viewed it. As time was limited, we did the logging on for them, so they were presented with the start-up page. In the fullness of time, they’ll be introduced to logging on themselves. Initially this will be with a generic log-in to save typing and time, but the staff plan to introduce individual log-ins as and when appropriate.
They were shown how to choose the paint option and a few basic techniques were then left to work individually to create a picture of their own choice. I have to say, that in the limited time they had, most of the pupils created a picture and some more than one. The independence they showed was very impressive and the desire to explore the software beyond the items they’d been shown, even more so. Every child managed to choose their own background and use the supplied clip art to create a picture and some discovered, with mixed results it has to be said, the freehand drawing option. Time for that skill development later. 🙂
A quick checklist of new skills/techniques they’d learned as a group, runs something like:
- select a background:
- select clip-art from a bank of images:
- re-size images:
- use the mouse to move images on the screen (this could also read, finger on a tablet):
- use the drawing tools to make their own shapes:
- use the fill tool.
We’d quickly given the pupils the skills to use the software, now over to the more important stuff.
We did meet with one problem on the day and that was the inability to save our work. This turned out to be an issue due to a server glitch, but I’ve no doubt that we’ll be adding save and load to the list very quickly as that issue was fixed very promptly. Once they can save we’ll soon be displaying the best work on the J2Webby site that allows easy and safe publication to the web. It also serves as a blog, so the wider world will be able to view and comment on the work, subject to staff approval of course.
The school is arranging a parents’ information session soon and an agenda item is to show this software so that they can see their children’s work online and hopefully get involved with helping them do some work at home.
Anyway, after the session, I reflected on why it had gone down so well and much of the success lies with the software. It’s bright, has few menu options and provides younger pupils with sufficient options without overloading them. At £99 for a school site license, I remain baffled why more schools haven’t taken it up. I think I could get £99 worth of value from it just by using the paint part alone, yet alone the other 6 tools that are in there. Although marketed as the Infant Toolkit, I have used some tools, chart and animation particularly, with KS2 pupils.
JIT has quietly been around for a few years now and it therefore pre-dates the iPad boom in schools. It’s written in Flash, so won’t work on your iOS device…… yet, but work is currently underway to re-code it so that it won’t matter what device you access it on. BETT 2014 is in January, so I’d be guessing that’s a target date for this to be completed. I’ve mentioned before in meetings and courses that I strongly believe that we’re now in an age where only being able to access your work on one device and/or one platform is restrictive. Working in The Cloud removes these barriers. JIT offers EYFS/KS1 a comprehensive set of tools that meets the ICT/Computing curriculum and once available for iPads, I’d ask the question… for £99, why not? In fact with or without iPads Why not?
I’ll conclude by linking back to a previous post I wrote a while back on the increasing device choices for schools and leave you with a question to ponder. Should you be spending time debating, discussing and possibly even falling out over which hardware platform you choose, or would it be wiser to consider the end product (the software/apps) and choose the hardware that runs most of them?
They’ll always be some apps that are specific to a particular platform, but choosing a core solution that isn’t locked in this fashion bears serious consideration.
As always, feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more.