New Research from O2 Learn – “Too little too late – school pupils fall short of teachers’ revision advice”

O2 Learn ( is an innovative education initiative designed to celebrate the UK’s finest teaching and create a lasting learning resource that can help young people achieve their ambitions. Teachers are encouraged to upload and share videos of their best lessons on the e-learning hub. The ambition is to build Britain’s biggest classroom online, giving young people everywhere, from all backgrounds, access to inspiring teaching.

O2 Learn has conducted three surveys with parents, pupils and teachers about revision patterns and also some desk research into revision best practice, memory and learning styles. Some of the main findings include:

– Students generally are falling short of teachers recommended time spent on revision.  The teachers surveyed, suggested starting on average six weeks in advance and studying on average 8 hours per week (7.7) totalling 46.2 hours. This is 7 hours more than is currently being achieved by students.

– Parents play a far greater role in their children’s revision today with well over three quarters of parents (86%) actively involved. This compares with more than half of adults (58%) who had no involvement at all from their parents in their revision.

– Teachers receive very little formal guidance in relation to how to support students with revision.

Young people are developing different learning styles from previous generations due to a greater use of technology. Despite this, just one in three (32%) young people use online study guides and only one in ten (12%) is turning to online video to support their study.

– Teachers also identified a number of benefits that resources such as online videos and video clips deliver including:

  • The ability to watch them more than once (82%)
  • Seeing things being explained (68%)
  • Being able to pause, rewind, fast forward (68%)
  • The fact that they’re free (59%)

– Video resources, such as O2 Learn, that combine verbal and visual information could be ideally suited to young peoples’ learning styles. Research suggests that multisensory learning brings particular advantages for memory.

Experts believe that the parental support that students receive now needs to be matched by adopting a more varied mix of revision methods to be truly effective.

Sir Mark Grundy, the Executive Principal of Shireland Collegiate Academy, said: “There has been research for a number of years highlighting how people learn in a multi-faceted way.  The multiple intelligences models have existed for some time, but the resources to support this blend of styles have not been available – until now!
“In the last few years Learning Platforms have evolved and are now capable of acting as the glue to stick resources together and as importantly to present them at precisely the right time.  Most students need a framework to support their revision and resources which present the same ideas in many different ways.
“By putting the O2Learn resources in your learning platform and delivering them to students this has to help our students to achieve at higher levels.”

Gav Thompson, creator of O2 Learn, said: “As we reach the heart of the revision period, at O2 Learn we want to make sure that young people and their parents are taking advantage of the unprecedented range of online tools and resources now available to make learning easier and more efficient.
“Teachers and experts are agreed on the value of online learning to complement more traditional methods.  Whether its pupils wanting to tackle a tough question in an accessible way at all hours, or a parent looking for an easy way to help their child revise interactively, the value of digital learning is clear.  Our research today shows that we are in danger of missing an opportunity to bring revision to the next level and I want O2 Learn to play as big a part as possible in helping that happen.”

Remember O2 learn holds a competition for teaching awarding £1000 each week for the best lesson uploaded. See this previous post for more details.

O2 Learn – 2012 Competition and Revision Videos

If you haven’t been to the O2 Learn site for a while, you might not know that their awards are back and they are awarding £2,000 every week! Last years campaign was very successful and to date O2 Learn has over 1,000 curriculum focused lessons available and has delivered over 25,000 hours of teaching. They have also awarded over £300,000 to schools and teachers for teaching excellence. The winning video from last year’s campaign They are continuing to help everyone connect to great teaching by creating Britain’s Biggest Classroom via teacher-created content.

This year, they are thanking every UK teacher who uploads a video lesson to O2 Learn with a free mobile broadband pack. They’re also introducing a weekly Best Lesson award, giving you the chance to win £2000 for you and your school department every week .

To date, O2 Learn has over 1,000 lessons available. All of which are curriculum focused and checked by their “Learning Champions”.

They have also recently introduced ‘Related Video’ functionality to make it even easier to find the lessons that are useful to you.

The competition works like this in 2012:

1. Secondary teachers upload a short video of their favourite lesson to O2 Learn and receive a free mobile broadband pack
2. Thousands of students across the country watch and rate the lessons that are useful to them
3. O2 Learn award prizes to the best lessons every week.

Entrants have to be O2 learn registered, 18 or over and they must meet eligibility criteria as set out on the O2 learn website.

The video are organised according to different curriculum areas making it easier for teachers and students to find videos relevant to their studies. The videos are also quality assured by educational experts.

So for full details of the awards go to the 02 Learn site.

Teaching Videos

Thanks to Danny Nicholson, for the link to a brand new website called “Teaching Videos” set up by Mark Warner. The webiste is designed to bring together educational videos that have been recommended by other teachers. There is going to be a function soon where you can actually register and recommend videos to be added. Over time this should begin to develop into a really useful archive, and will save some searching on You Tube etc.. particularly in the knowledge that videos highlighted on this site have been recommended by teachers as good for use in the classroom.

There are a number of videos that have already been added, but it is worth bookmarking the site and checking back when you are looking for videos as the site is destined to keep growing. The videos are categorised according to subject / topic area as well as according to key stage making finding videos simple! As well as curriculum subjects, there are also videos classified as useful for professional development and assemblies.

YouTube Videos for Teachers have published a list of 100 of the best YouTube videos for teachers. A number of subject areas have been covered and the YouTube video links are organised on this basis. As well as videos for use with students there are some useful videos to support professional development, including the use of technology in the classroom and classroom management. Although really aimed at higher education, YouTube have also released YouTube Edu – where college and university video channels have been collected together in one place.

Although it should be possible to use YouTube in the classroom, if you are having problems accessing it or would like to insert YouTube videos into SMARTnotebook so that you can annotate them, don’t forget zamzar is an excellent tool for downloading the videos (instructions can be found in this post).

10 Tips, Tricks and Activities for use on the IWB

During the first ICT in Practice meeting as well as the ideas discussed in the previous posts, I looked at 10 practical tips, tricks and activities for using your IWB  for getting started in creating resources using notebook. Staff from St Ivo can download the notebook file I used here (password protected – see me); however anyone who uses SMART board can access any of the special activity tools which are available from SMART in the SMART Lesson Activity toolkit (instructions for access and downloading here).

1. Highlighting Lesson Objectives

objectivesWe all know that good lessons require clear lesson objectives which are not only clear to us but to the students as well. There are various ways in which we can share our objectives with students and tools on the IWB help provide some new ideas for doing this which are also designed to help staff keep reinforcing objectives throughout a lesson.

1. The Scroll Bar tool which can be found in the SMART lesson activity toolkit can be used to keep objectives visible during a lesson, or to highlight individual objectives relevant to a particular part of the lesson, by simply being embedded at the top or bottom of a SMART notebook page.

2. Using a pull tab, objectives can remain hidden and simply pulled out from the side of the page whenever you want to remind students during the lesson of what they are working towards, or to link what you are doing to a specific learning objective. To create this there are 6 quick and easy stages:

1. Create a rectangle of the size required and shade in an appropriate colour (it will need to be given a ‘fill’ colour, even this is only white – if not, if transparent whatever is below the objectives will be shown when you pull out the tab meaning that it cannot be read clearly)

2. Write the text you want to be shown (i.e. objectives, reminders etc.)

3. Select the text by clicking on it, then hold down the ctrl (control) button and select the rectangle as well. Right click and select ‘Grouping’ and then ‘Group.

4. You then need to get the ‘Pull tab’ graphic – to select this click on the Gallery and select the lesson activity toolkit – choose ‘Graphics’ from the list and then select ‘Pull Tabs’ – if they are not shown, click on the ‘Picture and Backgrounds’ tab to show all pull tabs available. Simply choose the one you want and drag it over to the notebook page and position it next to your text box.

5. You now need to group these all together – simply select the pull tab by clicking on it, hold down control and click on the box to select it. Then right click, select ‘Grouping’ and ‘Group

6. You have now created one object which you can drag to the side with just pull showing to drag out whenever needed!

Both of these tools could of course be put to other uses – e.g. reminders of key dates, reminders regarding homework, key vocab words required during a lesson constantly scrolling round the top of a page etc!


2. Using Video

You can easily INSERT video files into your notebook file, however to insert them within a notebook page they will need to be in the format of a Flash Video file. You can easily convert files from their original format to .flv (Flash Video format) using the Zamzar tool. You can also use this tool to easily download useful video clips from YouTube and other online video sites which you can then use in your lessons. For full instruction of how to do this, see my other post on Capturing Digital Video.

Once you have your video file ready, simply open up SMART notebook, click on Insert, select Flash Video File.., browse to the location of your file, select and click open.

Annotating your video! If you are trying to analyse the video content, for example looking at a screenplay in Media Studies, studying character profiles in a Shakespeare play in English, looking at landform formation in geography etc. it is possible to pause the video at the point you want to talk about, discuss and add annotations to the paused clip using the SMARTboard pens. Then simply use the capture tool to take a screen shot of your annotated video – this will put a copy of the screen with the annotations into another page of the notebook. To continue watching the video, simply get rid of the annotations quickly (this can be done by selecting the eraser, circling the whole area you want to erase and double click in the middle – the annotations will disappear – you can use this trick to erase any large areas of text, drawing etc. that you don’t want!).


3. Using the Wordbiz tool as a starter for Vocab development

wordbiz1Wordbiz is one of the interactive activities taken straight from the SMART lesson activity toolkit. To access this select the Gallery tab, then ‘Games’ and then ‘wordbiz’. This is great for testing vocabulary and a nice little starter or plenary activity. To edit and add questions, simply drag Wordbiz from the gallery to your notebook page. Then select edit and your questions and answers (you can have up to 8 questions). To play the game, students are given the question and they have to use the letters given to spell out the key word correctly in the time allowed. Good for checking both vocab development and spelling!!


4. Using the Checker Tool as a Starter / Plenary

checker1This is a great little tool from the SMART lesson activity toolkit. To find it, go to the Gallery tab and select Learning Activity Toolkit – click on ‘Tools’ and then ‘Tools’ again, click on where it says ‘Interactive and Multimedia ‘ and find the checker tool – drag it across to the notebook page to use it. You can add as many as you like!

You can use these in a variety of ways – one is for adding labels to diagrams. To do this:

  • Insert your diagram to your notebook page (I suggest you then lock it: select it, right click, select ‘Locking’ and then ‘lock in place’.)
  • You then need to add a word box of possible labels which students can choose from. IMPORTANT – you must make sure you create each label separately so they can be dragged separately.
  • Now you need to add arrows or lines to the parts of the diagram you want labelled using the line tool (again I suggest you lock these in place).
  • At the end of each line / arrow, now add a checker tool. Click on the double arrow on the top left of the tool and enter the correct answer (be sure to tick whether it should be case sensitive or not) – when done click ok and repeat for the other labels

Now its ready to be used! When the correct label is dragged onto the checker tool – it will say ‘Good job’ or if wrong ‘try again’.

The example I used of labelling the ear (as shown in screen shot) is taken directly from the SMART Lesson Activity toolkit (click Gallery_Tools_Tools_Examples to find)


5. Using the Random Image Tool

checker_tool1This enables you to collect together a set of images which will then be shown randomly when you click on the tool. There are many possible uses, for example in geography, different landforms which you want students to then explain the characteristics and formation of; in history, characters from the past that students then are asked questions about; in languages objects for students to give the translation of etc.

Again, this can be found in the SMART lesson activity toolkit (Gallery Tab_Lesson Activity Toolkit) and then click on Tools, Tools again and the random image tool is close to the end so scroll down. To edit:

  • drag across the random image tool to the notebook page
  • double click the edit arrow on the tool
  • insert any images you want to use into notebook as normal and then drag them straight into the tool
  • you can just keep dragging images on to the tool to add more.

The example in the screenshot, which I showed yesterday is available for download in the Tools_Examples part of the Lesson Activity Toolkit.

There are other great tools simillar to this in the Toolkit which are well worth exploring – e.g. random word generator, random number generator, dice etc. Enjoy!


6. Magic Paper

magicpaper2All we are doing here is using different coloured text and backgrounds to make words or sentences visible and invisible. This is useful for setting quiz questions on the board which you can then easily go over with the class and can be put to use in many different curriculum subjects.

  1. Simply begin by creating a rectangle on either the left or right hand side of the page.
  2. Right click on the rectangle and select properties and then using “Fill Effects” choose a colour to fill your rectangle, a mid-tone colour works best. If it is too dark, black wont show up and if it is too light white wont show up, but you can play around with what works best for you.
  3. Create your text by the side of the rectangle – this could be quiz questions and their answers, key terms and their definitions, mathematical equations and their answers etc. You must however make sure that you create it as one selectable piece of text, do not break the question and answer into two.
  4. Then select the answer / definition etc. that you want initially to be invisible by highlighting it and from the font format box change the text colour to white.
  5. When you then drag this over onto your magic paper, both the question and answer will appear, when you drag it back the ‘answer’ will disappear as the white text once again blends with the white background – simple!

  6.  ————————————–

7. Using the “Order function” to create simple sorting activities


In this example I took a clipart image of an envelope and put it in the middle of my notebook page. Around the image there were names of landforms which were glacial or periglacial in origin. The aim was to sort the landforms into the two types by putting all the glacial landforms in the envelope. If students got it right the landform name would disappear when they drag it onto the envelope, if not the landform would stay visible so they drag it back. This can be adapted for any sorted activity – you could for example in english, distinguishing between verbs and adjectives and the image can be changed accordingly – for example you could have a clip art image of a post box for words to be ‘posted’!

To do this simply use the ‘order’ function. Insert your image and text – then taking each text box in turn you need to ‘order’ it. Anything that is correct and you want to disappear when dragged on to your image, right click, select ‘order’ and ‘send to back’. You are then ready for students to sort – any ‘correct’ answers that you have set to be sent to the back will disappear when you drag them over an image, whereas anything that is ‘wrong’ will stay showing.


8. Using Multimedia

multimedia1It is easy to add a variety of multimedia to a notebook to make it more interactive and to make use of a varity of audio-visual images. Simply select the ‘Insert’ option on the toolbar, select the type of file you want to insert and you will then need to use the browse function to locate on your computer or memory pen the resource you want inserting. Remember if you are adding video files to actually be embedded in the notebook page that you will need to make sure it is in a Flash Video format (with the extension .flv). Video files can easily be converted to .flv files using software available online, for example zamzar.

In this example I inserted sound files of descriptions of weather in french, alongside images of the weather types that students had to match them up to. I used a pull tab (described in tip1 above) to provide the instructions which could be pulled out or tucked away!)


9. Rub and Reveal

rub-and-revealThis is a really simple technique which enables you to hide text, answers, photographs etc.. and then reveal quickly by simply moving the eraser over them. In my example I created a clozed style exercise, with a piece of text with some key words missing that students need to fill in.

  1. Simply insert your text, image etc. as normal.
  2. Select pen from the toolbar at the top, click on the formating button at the side and select Line style. Change the font colour to white (or the colour of the background you are working on) and select a thicker line depending on how big an area you want to mask.
  3. Then using your pen simply scrible over the word or image you want to make disappear. This will then cause it to blend with the background and to students appear invisible.
  4. You can then reveal the word/ image etc.. when going the exercise by simply using the eraser.

This is also a useful technique for when you want to hide small components of a page (which are too small to use the screenshade for).


10. Image Transparency and Transparent Overlays

There are two parts to this tip, but both involve the idea of transparency.



The first is setting part of an image transparent so it blends with the background. This is particularly useful if using clipart. Often an image will be on a whitebackground and if you are trying to insert this on a notebook page with a coloured background you are left with your image as a square with a white background. To make the white part of your image transparent, simply insert your image (to do this select ‘Insert’ (on toolbar), followed by ‘Picture File..’ and browse for your image). Then right click on your image and from the pop-up menu select ‘set picture transparency’, this will bring up your image in a little box, on this small thumbnail image click the colour you want to make transparent (e.g. if you want the white area to not show on a coloured background click on the white) and hey presto!



transparentmappicThe second part involves using the facility to control the transparency of an image which by overlaying images will enable the gradual reveal of an image below. Having followed a suggestion from Danny Nicholson I have used this to overlay a map and satellite picture of St Ives to help students studying the local area settlement unit to compare a map of the local area with the satellite image. To do this I have simply collected the two images that I want to overlay (in this instance using Google Maps). In order to ensure that the scale directly corresponded between the map and image so that the transparency option worked I ensured the size of the images were the same. I then used the ‘Order’ function to ensure the image I wanted on top was indeed in front. To do this, simply select the image showing, right click on it and from the pop up menu select ‘order’ and then select either ‘bring to

Thanks again to Danny Nicholson for the idea above. There is a useful video embedded below with Danny demonstrating this idea for the Whiteboard Challenge site

Capturing Digital Media for the IWB 2. Video Clips

Having problems with not being able to access YouTube in school? Or do inappropriate comments on the YouTube page put you off using an otherwise useful educational clip in school? Or would you like to be able to download the video so that you can annotate key points using SMART notebook functions? There are a number of ways in which you can capture digital video from sites such as You Tube, Teacher Tube, Video Jug etc.. in order to capture useful content which you can use in the classroom (bearing in mind of course any copyright restrictions).


One of the simplest ways of downloading videos from the web is using a versatile, free and simple to use tools called zamzar. This is a free online file conversion tool which means you do not need to download any software to your computer in order to run it.

Downloading a YouTube video (or similar) using Zamzar couldn’t be easier:

1. Simply copy the URL of the YouTube video you want to download – go to zamar, under Step 1, click on url (you must do this if downloading from a website) and then paste in the URL of the YouTube video you want.


2. Under Step 2, select the file format you want to convert it to, if you intend to import it into SMART notebook you will need to use a file format such as .flv (a flash video file). If you download / convert the video into Flash Video format, other than watching it in SMART notebook you will need a Flash Video player to view it (a free one can be downloaded here)


3. Finally you will need to enter your email address and once you have agreed to the terms and conditions select convert. A link will then be sent to your email address for you to download the converted file to your computer. Depending on usage this can take anything from 5 minutes to up to an hour to come through! I have often had very quick responses however on one or two occassions at high usage times I have experienced some delays.

Although there are tools other than zamzar which can be quicker in downloading video clips, it is definitely worth be aware of zamzar – for example, if you just want the soundtrack to a video from YouTube but you don’t want the video itself, you can strip off the soundtrack using Zamzar – simply follow the instructions above, but instead of selecting .flv as the conversion format, choose one of the audio file options, e.g. .wav, ..wma etc.

You can also convert files from one type to another, including document formats such as .rtf and .doc.

Other Download Tools:

If you use Firefox – the SoThink Web Video Downloader (freeware) for Firefox is well worth downloading. Instructions for how to use this tool to download videos from firefox can be found here.

tooble1Tooble is a new online tool enabling the downloading of YouTube videos directly to your PC in a format which can then be downloaded to video ipods – this could be useful for making available revision videos which students can then download to watch on their ipods!

There are many other free options available – see this post on 18 free ways to download any video off of the internet, by Aseem Kishore.