T-Learning is an elearning services company based in the Liverpool, UK supporting teaching and learning to schools across the world. Taecanet delivers personalised learning for teachers and students accessible at school or at home. More info can be found at www.taecanet.com

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

East Riding cluster event 28/11/06

Many thanks to Liam Jackson, Headteacher of Eastrington Primary School, for hosting this event which proved a great success for all involved. We had teachers from Rawcliffe Bridge, Reedness and Airmyn Park present, as well as a good turn out of staff from Eastrington, which was very nice to see. As it was my first time in the area, it was a pleasure to meet the members of this cluster. I have noted below some of the feedback that came out of the session.

Firstly, we heard from Liam that he and his staff think that Taecanet has been a great success in their school. They have used it mostly in lessons with the Year 4 students and for homework, which has resulted in children asking for more, which is very encouraging. Liam also suggested that the new Reports system within Taecanet is a welcome addition. He told us that as teachers have so much raw data to process, it makes a nice change for everything to be so easily accessible and presented so simply.

We mostly hear about how students respond to learning on Taecanet, but the group also told us that Taecanet is a very useful teacher tool. The fact that other teachers have already done the time consuming work to search for material, retrieve it, and then give it an educational context was seen as a bonus. As the end user has minimal input (in terms of simply administering the work) this seemed to be appreciated, meaning that it was freeing up teachers valuable time. This is a direct result of the research that we undertook before we built the service, with teachers telling us that a resource which was 'pre populated' and 'ready to go' was important to them. Liam also came up with a nice anecdote, telling us about how his daughter came home asking questions about tectonic plates, some of which he could not answer. His response to this was 'let's check Taecanet' and there was a ready made unit of work for him to use as a reference point. This proves that 24/7 access to a learning resource can have a great impact on the eager learners of today (as well as helping the adults whom they can depend so much on). In terms of motivation, we were also told that the younger students can be motivated to complete the work so that they can access the games. We heard this at the Holy Trinity RBWM cluster meeting too, which you can view on this blog (posted 24/11/06).

Taecanet is being used in a number of ways amongst this group, such as: as a homework tool, as a revision exercise, as a whole class resource (with teachers using the 'Help' file to gain direct access to the online materials), and with small groups of students, all of which seem to be working well. These small groups of students apparently respond very well to working on Taecanet and often wanted more work to get on with. I wish I had Taecanet in my school as this idea of 'more work' was just beyond me!

In terms of improvements, we had a very open discussion with the following outcomes: 'Differentiation' was a hot topic with teachers expressing an interest in being able to allocate differing levels of work to different student groups, which is an idea we are exploring. At a previous cluster meeting in Bath (
http://taecanet.blogspot.com/2006/11/bathnes-cluster-meeting-7112006-update_09.html) it was suggested that differentiation should be present through the assessment questions, rather than the actual materials, but we appreciate all feedback and will consider it all for future developments. On this theme, some of the reading within Taecanet was seen as a slight problem for some students, but this is being dealt with in a number of ways. Firstly, the voice over technology which we will be adding, will reduce the need for reading, and also as the content improves and expands within Taecanet, we are passing on advice to our content creation teachers about which materials work best. Proof of this is coming to light in the fact that the new content we are adding into the service is taking longer to load than it has previously, due to the vast improvement to the interactivity and the quality of our new content. Some teachers also expressed that on occassions home use had been hampered by technical problems, which is probably due to home PC's lacking some of the most recent free software upgrades that are available. We will have to create a simple document which will enable parents to check these details and upgrade if necessary.

Other suggested areas for development were that ICT as a subject would be a welcome addition to the Taecanet service, as well as Modern Foreign Languages, specifically French and German. The idea that teachers may one day be able to pick and choose existing Learning Journeys to create their own Units of work was well received, meaning that more cross curricular topic based work, such as 'exploring Brazil', would be better catered for. With more schools moving away from the linear QCA method of teaching, this is something that we must consider implementing.

All in all, it was a great session and Peter from Airmyn told us that it was such a useful session that he would gladly host the next one, which we have now pencilled in for 20th March 2007. We look forward to working with this cluster and hope that we have even more positive reports next time. Most teachers agreed that before exams, many Taecanet units will be allocated, so that students have the chance to revise their units of work, so we should expect some heavy usage around this time by the sounds of it!

Thanks again to all involved.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Holy Trinity cluster meeting update 23/11/06

Many thanks to Graeme Aldous, Headteacher of Holy Trinity Primary School in Cookham, for hosting the cluster event yesterday. It was a good turn out with representation from schools in Windsor, Maidenhead, Cookham, Wokingham, Slough and Knowl Hill, as well as Tracey Martin-Millward from the RBWM LEA. I wish to extend our thanks to everyone who made it and we felt it was a very worthwhile session in terms of updating everyone on our new features, as well as helping to establish a working group and sharing best practice. I have noted a few of the main points that were raised below.

Graeme suggested that Taecanet had worked well in his school for pre-learning activities which was echoed by other members of the group. The fact that Taecanet introduces the personalised learning agenda to students was also seen as a benefit. Even when students were left to their own devices, with no pressure to complete work, Graeme and his staff would often see a high level of completion, with students finishing work 'off their own back' which is very encouraging. He was also of the opinion that Taecanet offered Gifted and Talented learners an opportunity to learn by exploration which resulted in them learning more. If you would like to see what Graeme has to say about Taecanet, please visit

Some of the teachers reported that Taecanet is a good homework tool due to the fact it is safe and can be accessed via the web. It was also said that the service helps to reduce the workload for teachers in terms of marking, and it was very useful for showing parents what homework their children have been set. The group told us that it was very useful in terms of introducing topics to students and giving the class a good baseline of knowledge on that topic.

Taecanet is being used in a number of ways in these schools, which is something that we would very much encourage and in fact, almost every teacher that sees Taecanet, sees a potentially different use for it. It is currently being used across these schools in these ways: as a revision tool, for extension work, for research, for homework, and to support other in-school teaching. We were told that some students would react well to working on Taecanet, but some may not, which is to be expected as students learn in different ways. This is a fair point and at the end of the day, Taecanet is simply another available resource to be used within a blended learning environment. This seemed to be recognised by the group, with one teacher commenting that you can 'dip in and out' of Taecanet.

We were also told that students thought that Taecanet was a 'game' and that they learned without realising. It was also put to us that some students responded well to the fact that they did not have to write. After all, this is not everyone's strong point and it is just pleasing that students are engaged in learning. However, it is vital that these key skills are also addressed in other areas of that child's education. Children enjoy the 'rewards' for learning by collecting the gold coins and being able to access games, which is good news as they were designed to be both motivational and rewarding.

In terms of improvements, the idea of 'timing journeys' was brought up, which would enable the teacher to gain a valuable insight into how long it takes students to complete journeys/units. This would give teachers the opportunity to see if the students may need to be challenged with more difficult work, or whether their students are struggling with the work depending on how long it takes them to complete it. This may be of value to teachers and this sort of information should not be too difficult to extract. One teacher also made the point that students are able to use the 'Back' arrow to navigate and replay the games, which is something that we are aware of and working to put right. Voice-over technology was a popular idea, and we will implement this into the service to aid the weaker readers. The Virtual Classroom was largely seen as a valuable addition to Taecanet, and a few schools expressed and interest in finding out more, which will be followed up soon.

Many thanks to all involved, and I hope the next meeting is even more productive. If any Taecanet users require any more in-school support then please contact me and I can arrange some follow up training or advice. You can email

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

RBWM Cluster meeting 23/11/06

Headteacher, Graeme Aldous, has thus far reported a great degree of success after using Taecanet to help raise his SAT's results in the Summer Term (http://taecanet.blogspot.com/2006/07/taecanet-proves-significant-learning.html).

He has kindly offered to invite all local Taecanet users from Reading, Bracknell, Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead to a cluster event designed to share best practice amongst the group. This is of special interest to all involved so that we can strengthen local ties, and also get people talking about how Taecanet is being used in their school.

This is due to take place at Holy Trinity Primary School in Cookham, Berkshire, on Thursday 23rd November at 4pm. To hear what Graeme, his pupils, and his teachers are saying about Taecanet, please visit www.taecanet.com . Any interested parties are more than welcome and we all look forward to this event.
I will post an update following on from this meeting with our findings.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

BATHNES cluster meeting 7/11/2006 update

Many thanks to Chris from Peasedown St John Primary School for hosting this event. It was an enlightening session for all involved, allowing teachers to share ideas and experiences. It was also beneficial for us at Taecanet to gain some invaluable feedback from these schools on how the service is being used, and which areas of improvement we need to concentrate on. Some of the comments are highlighted below.

Teachers on the whole found that Taecanet was highly motivational for all ability levels, especially lower ability students due to the way that the learning materials are delivered in a self-paced manner, allowing students to learn using what they consider a 'game'. Many students do not even realise that it is a learning exercise, as it engages them in a way which combines more enjoyment and less 'forced' concentration. We also heard that the 'completion' element of the service worked well as students appreciate getting immediate feedback when completing questions and whole Units of work.

For the teachers, this 'game' mentality did not detract from the learning outcomes as many students appeared to have a greater understanding of the topics in-class, after using Taecanet for pre-learning activities. It was also noted that Taecanet is a good resource for supporting class learning, whether it be as a revision tool, or as an introduction to the subject for students. It is obviously very encouraging that teachers are finding their own uses for the service which supports our concept of allowing a great degree of flexibility, so that teachers can mould the service to meet their own needs whether it be revision, class work, homework or pre-learning.

In terms of future developments, the teachers that we spoke to suggested that an in-school report of usage and Units completed would be beneficial, which we will look to implement.
Differentiation is another hot-topic (both for us and for schools), and it was suggested that this should be realised in the questions rather than the material itself. More gifted students should be able to answer more difficult questions, or explain their answer in more detail. We could employ 'key word' technology to allow these questions to be rated appropriately and this could also lead to a situation where Taecanet can tell teachers which 'level' their students are working to. This is something that we already have in mind and we are working towards a situation that will make this more commonplace in the service.

There was a lot of interest in the Virtual Classroom project for collaborating on school projects and sharing resources such as expert teachers. This will allow the cluster to work more efficiently and create a stronger bond between local schools which we are very supportive of. The Friday 13th ASE project (http://taecanet.blogspot.com/2006/10/groundbreaking-day-at-ase.html) also sparked a lot of interest and allowed all of the teachers to see just how powerful this tool can be. Ian Nairn will oversee these developments within the cluster and I will keep you posted on this front!

Many thanks to the staff from Peasedown St John, High Littleton and Farmborough for their continued support and feedback.
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