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.