What’s in your Classroom? Marking… for how long?

Marking, how I dearly miss it. As my son would say “You are being sarcasm” and he would be correct. I don’t miss sitting marking book after book each evening but for how much longer will this be something teachers need to endure? There is a simple problem. Machines are getting better at it than you are. This happened to farmers and factory workers, weavers and car makers in previous centuries so why shouldn’t onerous tasks be removed from teachers? The only reason it is taking so long is that it doesn’t make anyone more money.

Did you ever get tired and rush the last few books? Ever get ten books in and realise that you need to go back and adjust the first few as you were being too harsh or generous? That process takes you longer and is open to many biases and errors. A machine can manage this process and you are welcome to check it.

So teachers… How long until you no longer need to mark?


“That sounds a bit technical”; why do Ofsted rarely mention #edtech

The use of technology for learning in schools is inconsistent in my experience. Schools with a reputation for embedding technology effectively into teaching and learning are in short supply. Is this because…

  1. #edtech has no impact on progress?
  2. Training is not prioritised? See OECD report
  3. School are nervous to change the way they use technology as they fear Ofsted won’t like it?
  4. Curriculum needs to change to enable the best use of technology (a greater focus on projects, blended learning or flipped learning?)
  5. Ofsted inspectors don’t agree or know what best practice looks like?

As someone who works with schools and teachers on their use of technology to support learning I encounter some extremely competent, knowledgeable and capable professionals at their most vulnerable when technology and change are thrust upon them. 

Ofsted are working hard to dispell some myths around inspections.

Many school marking policies reference “books” rather than marking and feedback wherever it may occur. I am suggesting to schools working with cloud drives such as office365 or Google Drive that teacher-student interactions captured in Onenote or on a Google Doc can be shared with an ofsted@myschool.org account should they wish to showcase it to inspection teams in addition to their SDP or SEF ( ideally laden with comments and discussions of a truly working document).
This is a response I have heard to such an approach.

“That sounds a bit technical.”

For who? The school, or the Ofsted inspectors?

Are #edtech references infrequent in Ofsted reports because;

  • schools are nervous of going down this route as it is different?
  • we don’t think Ofsted inspectors have the technical nows to navigate a login and shared folders?
  • Ofsted inspectors don’t know what good #edtech for learning looks like so avoid mentioning it in reports?

In an entirely unscientific search I found an area for improvement for a good specialist college.

the use of technology to support and enhance students’ learning and progress is underdeveloped

Ofsted 2015 

If I were being flippant I could claim this suggests to be outstanding schools must use technology but we know this is not an appropriate conclusion. 

It is expanded on in the report. 

Managers should extend the use of technology to support and enhance teaching, learning and assessment by learning from the best practice in colleges, and training staff further in the most effective use of technology such as interactive smartboards and tablets.

Ofsted 2015

This would suggest they have tablets already.

I would love to hear from schools using technology for learning if you make any concessions for Ofsted or have had your use of technology identified as contributing to good or outstanding progress. Ofsted will not specifically reference a technique or apprpach, preferring to speak in general terms to avoid a mass rush to copy the approach. 

I would also love to hear from Ofsted inspectors (on or off the record) about your experience of technology use to support learning and progress.

If you are interested in a summary of technology references in Ofsted reports you should read this post which was written by Mike Cameron in response to a TES article about disruptive technology (causing disruption rather than the type referred to in the Innovator’s Dilemma). Mike has searched a range of reports for references to “tablets”, after the article claimed a report suggested 30% of schools opporate a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. If that many schools do try to engage technology in learning Ofsted reports would be picking up these are strengths or weaknesses? Once again your input would be welcomed as I explore what great #edtech is.

More and more schools are investing in technology and we must ensure this investment has a positve impact on the efficiency of teachers and the learning outcomes of students. Ofsted has a role to play in that and I would like to investigate a bit more.

Enjoy your new year,


Pedagogy with #GAfE – Marking and Feedback in Google Docs

Since introducing Google Apps for Education (GAfE) at my school in September 2013 I have been struck by the way that individuals will begin using the tools in their own way to improve their pedagogy. It shows how great teachers pick and choose the tools that are right for them and their classes.

As with all good edtech, the tool just refines the great pedagogy.

One great example of this is a language teacher who I work with who has developed her marking and feedback using Google documents. She has made critical choices about how to use the tools and has worked hard at training her class to submit their work via Google Drive and respond to her feedback. This demonstrates some key features of how to develop pedagogy with technology.

  • Embedding technology takes the same time and effort as any pedagogical tool
  • Your class need to be trained in how to produce the work your expect
  • Be persistent
  • Don’t expect it to go smoothly (just like any lesson or change in your classroom)

In preparation for their language qualifications the students have to develop a text covering some key topics. This teacher identified the sharing and collaboration of Google docs as a perfect tool to help with drafting, re-drafting and providing feedback. The benefits have been:

  1. saved time
  2. improved the impact of teacher feedback
  3. changes can be reviewed and tracked
  4. better student outcomes!

Not my interpretation but the feedback of the teacher. It has not been a smooth ride, managing your Google Drive and that of the students is a necessity, something that can be dealt with by using Google Classroom. This teacher understands how Google Classroom works but having spent time developing her class to use a system of sharing their work with her and then she would organise it in her folders, she did not want to change. We have discussed trialling Google Classroom for the same task in the summer term when there is a little more time to develop new strategies.

I have taken a piece of work completed by one of her students and used draftback.com to show the evolution of the document to try and demonstrate the power of feedback via a Google document over the traditional piece of paper that can be lost by the student or ignored as they write their second draft without the teacher’s invaluable feedback. I hope the video gives a good idea of the development of the piece of work thanks to great pedagogy from a great teacher.

As with all good edtech, the tool just refines the great pedagogy.


Ben Rouse