Kerboodle – The Bane of an Admin’s Life

Most software companies listen and think about their users when designing their software, that may not always be the case for educational software – the other thoughts being about the students using this. However Kerboodle have taken the aproach of thinking what was best and doing the exact opposite. 

My first indication that this was going to be an interesting setup: absolutely no intergration with anything: no MIS, no AD, no nothing. And apparently no plans in the future. The only method of creating users is via CSV upload with a maximum 400 users per upload.

However we could not use this system to setup either our own username or link an email to the accounts, requiring staff and students to remember a new set of details to login and add their account details (a completely unessessary step). 

We use an ‘intake’ method for students, prefixing their username with the year they joined the school. This identifies the year group in a far easier way than Kerboodle’s suggestion of having them in Year group folders, requiring renaming at every summer holiday. Using intake folders just needs the new students to be imported. Kerboodle demand that the usernames are automatically created from a combination of the first and surname only, which means there are lots of duplicates, especially if you happen to be named ‘Smith’. 

The system allows the tutor group to be set using the CSV, which is a useful addition. However three were no options to add other groups. The response from Kerboodle support was that it was up to the teaching staff to set these up (just what they need at the start of teching in September, with everything else!).

Every communication that we have had with their support has been very passive, not wanting to admit issues or work on solutions. They have been reluctant to instigate simple solutions, or even pass these requests on to the development teams. Struggling with the concept of a ‘Request for Change’ and requiring a full explanation of the process, despite this being fairly common terminology within the technical world. 

I’ve been trying to convince the teaching staff not to use this resource, or at least look at phasing it out in the near future. For anyone looking at this resource I cannot stress how difficult the setup process and continual support of Kerboodle has been. Don’t do it…

The only thing I can think is that the resources this provides are AMAZING, due to the split of admin/teaching accounts I have not seen these. 

Content Through Lists

Example Buzzfeed post

It seems that th modern reader requires not only visual stimulus but also digestible chunks of information. Buzzfeed is just one example of a transformative type of content, in the form of video content and lists, alongside the general articles.

Perhaps this practise could be continued through to education, as the generation of today’s teachers have consumed some of their content though this means perhaps its time to include this in their lessons.

Beyond this several other sites have adopted this style, such as Cracked.

This speaks to those who are consuming content on their tablets, only needing the ‘swipe up’ to collect their visual and simplified content, ither in the form of these lists or by InfoGraphics.

Although this is not necessarily a bad method of delivering simple content it lacks the depth of information that full text can bring.


Having attended the annual conference only once before, in 2012, I approached the event with some excitement. In the keynote address from Frog12 Gareth Davies, the Managing Director of Frog, announced their new system ‘FrogOS’ (now the combination of FrogLearn and FrogPlay). This was incredibly exciting, as it opened up many possibilities for schools to allow their less technically minded staff to create rich content for students. 

Jump to Frog15 and we have a ‘serious’ Gareth, who is not only fully dressed but in a shirt (fully fastened) and tie, speaking about tescos receipts and tracking progress. Now, I realise that this is Important for schools, but this is hardly keynote material. So far not that enthused. 

Next up, as part of the keynote, Mick Walker. This man has been involved with all aspects of education and testing for the last few decades. And begins to speak about why levels are being removed and what that means. This is all well and good, but I do not need to write a 10 page essay on this, the very end of Mick’s slot, when he is pushed for time, is by far the most engaging for many of the audience (who know full well why this is changing as they are education professionals). He begins to skip slides with masses of data (in text form) and tells the all important story behind the information. Much like Gareth’s ‘Tesco receipt’ analogy people begin to take interest. Twitter posts for #Frog15 begin to liven up, with many seeing the jovial side of some measures. Finally the interest is sparked!

Moving beyond the keynote, there are many opportunities for delegates, I have elected to attend the ‘FrogLear Masterclass’ featuring Graham Quince, a familiar face for most involved with Frog. This event shares good practise from three schools, a range of primary, secondary and all through between the speakers. The most important aspect of this event is the networking opportunities it brings, this session allowed quick insight (with visuals provided) into other schools’ use of the Frog VLE. 

Over lunch I took the opportunity to investigate a few long term development questions some of the staff and students had with the help of Graham Thorpe, Project Manager for FrogLearn. Which was very useful, and many of which I have gained answers to. 

The second session was aimed at a more technical audience, as a technician I decided that this would (logically) be the best use of my time. However I found this session to be very basic, only really showing how Frog is implemented which meant it felt a little more like a sales pitch than a technical masterclass. I would say however that it did spur me on to update our theme for FrogLearn, fixing some of the annoying aspects that has annoyed me since we started actively using FrogLearn. Nothing new was shown here and ideas that had been the key aspects of Frog12 were wheeled out once again (hiding images in content to encourage exploration of the sites is a little old, and more difficult in FrogLearn).

This break I sort the advise of the technical experts, the developers themselves, to answer some of my long term questions. Including the ability toe gage with the ‘Discover’ search tool, to interfere our own video library. Unfortunately these were looking at a very long term (if at all) end times so, feeling a little disheartened, I approached the last events of the day. 

Finally we were introduced to Alistaire Smith, one of Frog’s educational consultants, who gave an incredibly engaging talk on the direction of education. How the young people of today hold similar values as the previous generations, but perhaps give diffrent weighting to the balance between them. 

Head, Heart, Health and Heroism

This included some insights on both self and external reflection, with the use of the mirror and the window. Beyond this the four key themes were shown in several practical examples with his work with the Football Association and Les Miserables. 

This, for me, was one of the most valuable aspect to take away from the event. So many times people get caught up in the job of teaching that they forget the act of teaching; developing fully rounded and balenced inderviduals through these four key aspects, whatever weighting you put on them. 

Time – Or the lack of it…

I assumed that after I had finished my Degree studies I would have a little more time, but it turns out that I had already had enough work lined up after this point to carry on with. Initially we have a concert with the Band of the Royal British Legion Christchurch which I have needed to create the promotional materials for. Further there has been lots of extra work suddenly within the FLE of the school and lastly I have been handed some of the jobs at home which have been building up for some time.


Dissemination Event

Today is the day: I am about to present my project to several members of staff at school.

Supporting information is found on this page.

Creating a more visual world

When creating a Curriculum Vetia site I found it very bland initially, I realised that this was due to not having any visuals to complement the textual elements on the pages.

Having found this blog post whilst stumbling, I bookmarked it for use with the VLE at work. Having returned to it I have been able to use it in support of my own sites too.

Out of the list I have found some of the sites better (at least for my purpose) than others. The sites listed below, in order of use:

  1. UnSplash
  2. Startup Stock Photos
  3. Picography

Adding past work

In setting up some work for the dissemination event I have added all the past work to the page here. I am planning to use this site to list all the hand outs for the event, using a set of iPads that the school has. Further to this I have begun working on the CV site, in support of the Impact Review and Career Progression module.

My Past Work

First aim for 2015: Drink more

…. water.

Over the last few years I realised that I have drunk more and more coffee and tea, due to working in an office environment. This has significantly increased my caffeine intake.

This has also increased, in the last year, because the office has used a 12 cup coffee percolator. This has meant that making coffee is far easier and quicker, with it being ‘on tap’ once made in the morning.

My decision meant that I needed to have water in the office, several water bottles now offer some filtration within the bottle. I decided on the Brita Fill and Go, due to the cost/lifetime of the filters and the aesthetics of the bottle. So far (this week) I have drunk at least 4 of these bottles each day.

So far there are no noticeable changes, apart from the added walking to the staff room to fill the bottle. I expect to notice some changes in the next few weeks.

2014 “A Year in Review”

This year has been interesting, with changes within work and the approach of the last year of my Degree it all seems to be getting real quite quickly. I feel that the challenges have been met.

This blog had only really had updates in the beginning part of the year, with work commitments and uni work drawing my focus as the last 6 months. Further to these I have also been more active with the Band of the Royal British Legion being part of a large event to mark the centenary of the start of World War 1, as well as a big concert in Christchurch Priory as part of the Festival of Remembrance.

As well as these events I have also had the good fortune to visit more of the world this year, although only over a stretch of water. I visited Dublin, as well as trips out to the surrounding areas, including some of Northern Ireland such as the Giants Causeway. There were no trips away with the band this year, however we have planned a return visit to the Menin Gate for Easter next year.

This is by no means the limit of my 2014, but like Facebook, it includes some of the headlines.

I hope that this year has brought you everything you needed, and so wish you good fortune for the year to come.

It’s been a great year! Thanks for being part of it.

Happy 2015!

Doctor Who – Series 8, Episode 1: Deep Breath

The first episode to feature Peter Capaldi fully aired last night, although some may be worried how the older lead would carry the mantle of ‘The Doctor’ he did not disappoint.

The writing and green-screen technology left a lot to be desired. With the budget seemed to have gone on half a robotic face, as the dinosaur featured being lifted from “Walking with Dinosaurs” and placed into ‘Victorian London’. The writing seemed to only focus on the age (and such the hair color) of the lead and the fact that, unlike David Tennant, he was not hiding his Scottish accent. Also eyebrows are important now.

Good Point

  • Capaldi – seems to be good as the confused Doctor.
  • Coleman – haven’t lost her yet, which could have been very possible (for the impossible girl).
  • We have entered the start of a new over arching storyline.

Bad Points

  • Writing
  • Basic CGI (Greenscreen)
  • Focused on the main issues that fans raised and not much else.
  • Used the ‘Now I can see you’ reference (one step away from the famous scene from Hook)

Scene from Hook, with Robin Williams