Tell us a little about your background
My background is in music, as a performer and composer, playing at various events and shows, but also composing sound tracks to films, scores for musical theatre amongst other things. Alongside this, I moved into teaching music to further and higher education students, eventually working my way up to becoming the director of the Academy of Creative Industries within a large UK further and higher education college.
I then went on to help establish a private university for the live entertainment sector, called the Backstage Academy, which is based at the LS-Live rehearsal studios, a little like Pinewood Studios but for live music. I wrote most of the degree programme that they offer and took it through validation, which was a very different approach to many other courses in this area, so it gained a lot of publicity and attention. We embedded the use of mobile technology, particularly iPads, into the course, and they are at the heart of much of the assessment strategy to evidence skills and understanding.
What is your relationship with apple?
As I joined Doncaster College in 2003 as a Deputy Head, we were looking at engaging with industry to support the degree programmes with industrial certifications to give our graduating students a competitive edge when looking for employment. One of my colleagues at the time was doing some great work with Avid (then Digidesign) around Pro Tools recording systems, but this only supported half of the cohort of music students. I began working on a training programme with the UK distributors of Logic, but during the development of this, Apple bought the company producing Logic.
On the back of these developments, I was invited to visit Apple’s UK headquarters for a week to undertake their training programme, and we began planning the establishment of the first European Apple Authorised Training Centre for Logic.
As we were successful with the training centre, our students at the time all took the course, and other universities began wanting to offer the same provision. Apple asked me to support these universities with the developments, and I presented for a number of consecutive years at the Apple European training centre conferences, including authoring a document on the best practice guidelines for embedding professional training into education, which is still used by Apple today.
Apple then asked me to become an Apple Distinguished Educator, which has developed over the years to not only supporting the college I worked in at the time, but other schools throughout the UK, and into the Middle East, Russia and the Far East.
How long has Elsium been operating?
Elsium has been working with schools now for nearly 3 years. We now work with 28 presenters and trainers, many of whom focus on the pedagogy around iPads in the classroom, but many also work with leadership teams to focus on raising standards and other aspects of education.
What services does Elsium offer?
Elsium is made up of a team of Apple Distinguished Educators who work with schools, colleges and universities to support teachers with using iPads in the classroom. We work with the leadership teams to plan the vision for the school, and how they can best deploy iPads to both teachers and learners, based on our experience of working with a lot of schools, and obviously we all come from a teaching background.
We also present at a lot of education conferences, including the GESS/GEF event in Dubai where we have run workshops and presentations for the past four years, and have already been asked back to next year’s event.
Which apps do you consider to be the best currently available to educators?
We hear a lot of teachers and schools who are new to iPads ask us the common question of ‘ which app do I use to teach....?’. We try to focus on the learning, and the projects that the children are working on, rather than specific apps, so that the learners and the teachers are involved in engaging and stimulating classroom activities.
There are a core of apps that are really very useful in the classroom, irrespective of the curriculum areas being covered, as these can be used to evidence learning.
Book Creator is one of my favourites as it is so flexible in the classroom, yet so simple to use. It allows us to build projects that include text and images, but also we can get the learners to explain their ideas by recording their thoughts and experiences as audio, and maybe create interactive images to help them explore and demonstrate their learning.
Other great apps include Puppet Pals to create simple animations where the learners can link their understanding and knowledge into a narrative, and of course, this can be exported and put into the Book Creator project!
Showbie is another really useful tool in the classroom, as it is a simple system that allows teachers and learners to share content, so a teacher can easily send images and documents to the children for them to work on, before they send it back to the teacher for assessment, which can include simple audio or text feedback. Of course, but eBook projects made in Book Creator can be sent to the teacher this way too!
What should a school bear in mind if they are looking to deploy iPads in their classrooms?
Schools really need to plan what they want to do with iPads in the classroom, many schools often give iPads to the teacher thinking that they will start using them for exciting and engaging projects, when in reality they will use them for email, perhaps as a convenient diary, and of course Facebook!
Training is a really important part of any iPad deployment in schools, both for the teachers to see what can be done with them and the way we integrate iPads into the classroom, but also for the leadership teams to plan and vision what they want to achieve through the technology.
Other important considerations include things like the infrastructure that is available in the school, does the wifi network support the amount of data that will be travelling through it when working with mobile devices, or even using Apple TVs to wirelessly project the iPad image to the screen, which is a very liberating way of teaching and sharing work that the learners have created.
Deploying iPads in a school is a complex matter, and schools need to give time for teachers and learners to adapt to using the new technology in the classroom, to focus on the pedagogy, the learning outcomes, and the infrastructure that support all this needs to be in place before we start using iPads in the classroom. The first time it doesn’t work is often the last time many teachers use new technology.
This is an exciting time to be involved in education, there is so much that we can achieve, and so many new ideas around at the moment, we just need to make sure that we make the most of it to support the learners.
Thanks Dave for answering our questions and all your advice.
To find out more about Elsium and if Dave can help your school get in touch with him through his website
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