Five inspiring websites for ICT projects

18 Jun 2012

Are you looking for inspiration to transform your ICT course? Louisa Mellor looks at five websites that can give you everything you need

It’s a good job ICT teachers are a resilient bunch. Although the education secretary, Michael Gove, was careful to preface his BETT 2012 remarks about the “mess” of ICT in schools with praise for excellent teaching, it isn’t easy to hear that hours of your life have been devoted to something now widely regarded as demotivating and dull.

Luckily, although we need to change the way ICT is delivered in schools, nobody has to start from scratch. Innovative and resourceful ICT teachers have long been finding ways to introduce exciting projects into lessons, and now with greater autonomy devolved to schools, the need for teachers to share ideas and resources is greater than ever.

The array of online ICT teaching and learning resources can be daunting, particularly for the two thirds of non-ICT specialists reported to be teaching the subject. Yes, there are plenty of useful teacher blogs and instructional videos available, but with an increasing need for more project-based ICT learning, where can you go for advice?

Simple. Read on to discover ICT projects that you can use to inject more energy into your classroom – or, better still, websites to which you can upload your own projects, where you can share your best ideas, and feel supported and inspired by a community of peers.

PURPLE MASH

Who’s behind it? 2Simple Software.

Purple Mash

Designed for primary learners aged 3-11, Purple Mash is an attractively designed, online creative space, featuring a growing suite of tools and cross-curriculum projects using ICT as an enabling force. The site features hundreds of activities, games, apps and tools for primary pupils, each of whom have been given their own online space on which to save and upload work; it can be accessed at home as well as in the classroom.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Purple Mash’s teacher testimonials rave about the site’s usefulness in ICT- driven primary teaching and learning. The resources aren’t free, although primary schools with between 121-400 pupils can purchase an annual licence for £600.

Purple Mash’s projects are divided by age group and into primary-friendly themes such as About Me, Animals, Celebrations and The Environment. The best way to understand what’s on offer is to access the site as a guest and play around during the one- or two-minute preview times allowed per tool.

As well as the many theme-grouped activities, most of which are introduced by purpose-made videos, the site allows use of a suite of 11 creative tools including apps for design, animation, maths, databases and more. 2go, for instance, is a simple maze tool that introduces learners to inputting accurate instructions, providing a grass-roots introduction to programming by stealth. Similarly good is the site’s collection of engaging maths games.

Once the annual licence has been purchased, all that’s needed to use Purple Mash is a browser and the most recent version of Flash.

See also: BrainPOP; EducationCity

#ictcurric STAR PROJECT

Who’s behind it? James Greenwood, with contributions from Chris Allan, Donna Hay, Nick Jackson, Zoe Ross, Sarah Evans and Pete Astbury.

#ictcurric STAR PROJECT

The team behind #ictcurric describes itself as a group of enthusiastic ICT teachers fed up with seeing their subject being reduced to “what buttons to press in MS Office”. For the past two years, #ictcurric has been developing materials that inject exactly the kind of breadth and depth into the ICT curriculum that the Government claims is lacking – and it’s sharing them for free.

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