For The Love Of Social

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
— Marc Anthony

It's Valentine's Day this weekend! A day for love. A day to celebrate love. Or to create a Tinder robot to find love. 😂

When you add a love of what you do to hard work and graft you can get some amazing results. Since it's Valentine's weekend we have decided to celebrate the amazing work schools have been doing on social media. 

It's easy to just sign up to social media and make an account. A real quality account is made when you use your social media with love and care... the results are amazing!

Let's take a look at the most popular channels for schools, and some great examples.

Twitter 

It was not easy to pick a school who excelled at Twitter! There are thousands of schools tweeting, but which ones are using it effectively?

 

Tender for Twitter: Moulsford Preparatory School!

We think it's really important that social media gives you the platform to express your schools personality. Showcasing your core brand and ethos on social media is a real skill which can only be achieved by authenticity. 

So why does this account feel so loved 😍? 

1. Departmental Accounts: Schools are built up of multiple departments. It is very difficult for your school to only have one voice on social and Twitter in particular. By creating departmental accounts your whole school gets a voice and teachers feel involved and get the chance to show of their own departments. 

2. Twitter List: This is how to manage your departmental accounts. Creating a list will pull through all of your departments tweets into one feed. Then your main account can select the best tweets and retweet them on your main account, it's simple and manageable 😀

3. Sub Account Skinning: By branding your departmental accounts and giving them a unique identity it really looks professional and creative capturing the brand and ethos of the school and even captures the personality of each department. 

Contact our social media team for enquiries about setting up, and branding departmental accounts! 

4. Branding: This one is simple. Just make sure the accounts are all consistent. If the odd colour is a different shade here and there it gives the feeling that your account is unloved 😒

5. Content: Share great content of 'what's happening' in your school right now. There's always exciting things happening at schools - but you can't always be there. The primary focus of a schools content should be sharing great school stories. Don't get caught up in trying to jump onto irrelevant trending subject and spamming your feed with articles. Keep it simple and post with love! 

Facebook 

Facebook is the world's most popular social network with over 1.55 billion monthly active users. So again picking a school who really excelled at this was definitely a challenge...

Fondest of Facebook: Thornton College 

Facebook Pages are used to engage with your community. Building a successful Facebook Page that feels loved is very much down to making the most of the features available, sharing great stories, and being authentic.

So what make Thornton's Facebook Page feel so loved? 

1. Clear Posts: All posts serve a purpose and are ALWAYS driven by imagery. The text is engaging and supported by an image. Facebook can become very dull with simple text posts. Make your posts clear. Parents are the main target audience so post content to ignite parental interest.  And let's be honest, they are just interested in seeing their child.

2. Using Facebook's Features: Facebook has many features to make your posts stand out and to really make your page feel loved. For example if your school has an event instead of just talking about it create a Facebook Event. Ask parents to confirm attendance on Facebook.

If you have an open day, people can register their interest. And guess what... their friends will see it. #WordOfMouth.

3. Galleries: Facebook albums are fantastic for posting photos and capturing all of your school events. By uploading multiple event galleries you will start to build a quality Facebook Page, full of special memories and stories. These touches make your Facebook page really unique.

 

4. Lots of Information: Facebook Pages are now like a "mini-site". There is nothing much frustrating on an actual website than missing information. One piece of missing information on your Facebook page can be frustrating for the user. Make sure all information is covered. 

Flickr

Flickr is an amazing social network and especially for schools. So many amazing stories are happening everyday within schools and capturing these stories is so important. 

 

Falling for Flickr: Hazlegrove Preparatory School!

So what makes Hazlegrove's Flickr profile feel so loved? 

1. Albums: With a whopping 35,000 photos it's very important that these photos are organised. There is nothing more stressful for a Flickr user than scrolling through thousands of unorganised photos. Organising 35,000 photos is really an ode to how dedicated this school have been and a fantastic example for having love and pride in your social. 

2. Collections: Why not be even more organised? Hazlegrove have placed albums in collections so each album is placed under a specific event or school collection. This level of organisation and care just really emphasises the love and dedication it takes to have a fanatics social channel. 

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3. People love photos: The proof is in the pudding. Hazlegrove has had over 3.5 million views on their Flickr account. When content is uploaded frequently and consistently Flickr is an amazing resource for parents. Imagine knowing every event will have its own amazing album. Parents can't be at school taking photos of their children and Flickr means they don't miss out on precious memories. 

See our blog on Capturing School Stories for more information on Flickr :)

SoundCloud  

SoundCloud is the essential social network for showcasing your schools brilliant music department and very talented pupils. We are in no position to judge which school makes the best music...

...but we can judge a great social page 😊

Sentimental for Soundcloud: The Leys School

So what makes The Ley's SoundCloud profile feel so loved? 

1. Perfect skinning:

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.
— Christopher Lasch

Having a professionally skinned SoundCloud page really gives your school that wow factor. Your social channels are an extension of your school. You want your school to look spectacular. Add key links and a bio. Dress your profile for success!  

2. Organisation: Again, with so many wonderfully gifted students in schools you will most likely have lots and lots of content to upload. Make sure to utilise playlists to ensure people can find the content they are after with ease. A well organised and presented social channels shows real love and dedication.

 

All audio recordings are recorded in high quality. Wouldn't it be a shame if you had a beautifully skinned social channel and all of the music was low quality? Make sure the content you upload is clear and professional to match your beautiful profiles. 

Issuu 

Issuu platform is a digital newsstand with over 25 million digital publications and over 100 million active users. Issuu is a simple way of digitalising your school's documents. Many schools have just started to tread the water with Issuu and are doing a great job...

Idolatry Issuu: Bablake School!

So what makes Bablake's Issuu profile feel so loved? 

1. Populated feed: When starting off on a social channel you really need to hit the ground running. Channels with sparse feeds can appear unprofessional and are often affiliated with spam accounts. Schools have thousands of publications and PDF'S when you start using Issuu hit the ground running. 

2. Stacks: Stacks are great for Issuu they organise all of your publications into categories (similar to albums on Flickr). Rather than just simply bulk uploading PDF's take care and upload your publications into designated stacks. 

3. Branding: All we can see is a sea of red! This keep in line with the brand and house style of the school. Uploading an array of colourful PDF's may be a bit of an eye sore for the user. When creating your documents bare in mind the brand colours. 

Instagram 

Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharingvideo-sharing, and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos. Whilst Flickr creates memories and albums, Instagram is for real-time sharing engaging photo content. 

Infatuated for Instagram:  Regents School, Bangkok. 

So what makes the Regents School, Bangkok Instagram profile feel so loved? 

1. Variation: On Instagram you can post photos and videos. The Regents School, Bangkok has utilised third party apps such as "Layout for Instagram" to make collages. They have even created event adverts to raise awareness for school events. Variation is key to making your Instagram feed stand out from the crowd! 

 

2. Event based imagery: Schools have hundreds even thousands of events happening every year. Base your Instagram photography around events to boost user engagement. Uploading a photo of a child in maths class will not drive as much engagement as graduation or school productions. 

3. Colour and more colour: Basic colour psychology shows that as humans we are drawn to bright colours. On a solely visual social media networking service bright colourful imagery is crucial to making your school stand out. Use Instagram's photo filters to enhance your imagery and take it to that next level. 

YouTube

YouTube is the essential social media channel for all of your schools video. When used efficiently YouTube can become an unbeatable video archive treasuring your schools memories forever. The majority of schools now use YouTube but showing that extra love and care can enhance the user experience massively.... 

Yearning for YouTubeThe British School in the Netherlands!

So what makes the British School in the Netherlands YouTube channel feel so loved? 

1. Playlists: Creating a playlist takes seconds and really revitalises the look of your YouTube channel. Videos become organised and are easily accessible for the user. If you only have one or two YouTube videos playlists aren't essential but after several videos playlists are a must to enhance the users experience. 

2. Variation: 

Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavour.
— William Cowper

Like on many other social channels once again variety is crucial. Being a school Youtube page your target audience is most likely existing and prospective parents. It's important to vary your uploads for your target audiences. As well as documenting school stories, try creating fun marketing videos for prospective parents. Vary video lengths and try fun videos.

3. Being thorough: It's shocking how much of an impact leaving out key information on YouTube can have. Choosing categories for your videos and making sure each and every video has a detailed description is crucial to having a professional YouTube channel. Your YouTube channel is an extension of your school... take pride in it!  

Pinterest 

A "catalogue of ideas" - This is how the founder of Pinterest describes his website. It inspires users to "go out and do that thing".

Pinterest is a blank canvas, a bulletin board. Within boards users can pin images, videos, and other resources creating a collage. Pinterest is a great way to showcase the creative arts in your school. 

Why not read more about Pinterest in our Creative Arts on Pinterest blog? 

Passionate for Pinterest: Bedford Girls' School!

So what makes the Bedford Girl's school Pinterest channel feel so loved? 

1. Clear channel message: Pinterest is a very creative channel. It can be used for a variety of reasons. Bedford have chosen a clear direction which is solely uploading original content for a number of departments. This account is very organised and serves a clear purpose. Many schools are perhaps afraid of taking their first steps in using Pinterest but having a clear plan like Bedford will make your account a successful one. 

2. Get pupils involved: When you do share ideas and other peoples content on Pinterest make it very relevant. Bedford have a "Eco Club Make Ideas" board. Here ideas are shared from around the web so members of the eco club can share great ideas on what 'green'' products they can create in class. Set up relevant boards for different creative clubs and classes to share great ideas. 

3. Organisation: Keeping your boards up to date and relevant to your content makes your page much more user friendly. Make sure all content is placed within a board and that the board subject is relevant. 

Love and embrace social!

'Succeeding' at social media is really just about loving and caring about your social channels. That extra little attention to detail can turn your social media channel from a good account to a great one. 

So this Valentine's day give your love to your social media channel...

We would love to hear any thought or comments your have below about loving your social accounts!


Top Tactics For Improving Your Twitter Reach

If you’re holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time.

— J.K Rowling

It's in our human nature to want people to like us.  We all get that smiling feeling when we see someone has retweeted us on Twitter or liked our Facebook status. 

You will read hundreds of thousands articles on the internet about how to be a social media rockstar. You will also find hundreds of thousands of different answers. 

Sadly there is no magic answer to suddenly give you the popularity of Justin Bieber or David Beckham.

But would you want your school to be THAT popular? Unlikely. You want your parents to advocate your brand story and to shout about you (in a good way!). You have a small community that you want to engage with. And a wider one to become a voice in.

However, there are ways to improve audience engagement on social media and to improve the content your school is publishing. 

Your Audience 

So many people to please 😧  

So many people to please 😧

 

You may have a hundred followers, you may have one hundred thousand. When you visualise everyone looking at your tweets it can be a little overwhelming.

Remember these 5 key points for your schools social media strategy: 

  1. Social media is for sharing your school stories. Showcase to the world the amazing things happening at your school on a daily basis. 
  2. Parents are looking at your school. Think about what parents want to see. 
  3. Stay focused. It's easy to strive from what your school is all about on social media. Striving from your core social media strategy can contribute to people unfollowing your accounts. 
  4.  It's your brand. Remember your social media reflects your schools image. Be professional but fun. It's about finding the right balance. 
  5. Embrace social. Social media is amazing for sharing authentic REAL stories. Just embrace all elements of social media and don't be afraid of trying new things. 

Standing Out From the Crowd 

Social media is a very popular market to be part of. Have you ever scrolled down your Twitter feed and found yourself yawning? There are actually some really easy steps to make your social media posts stand out from the crowd. 

Twitter Tips

  • Photos average a 35% boost in Retweets
  • Videos get a 28% boost
  • Quotes get a 19% boost in Retweets
  • Including a number receives a 17% bump in Retweets
  • Hashtags receive a 16% boost

 

Here is a recent tweet of ours let's look at it in more detail...

  • GIF Files:  The GIF file on Twitter is a really simple way to help you stand out from the crowd.  It incorporates the movement of video and is technically a photo.  Just search GIF's online or even create your own relevant to your school
  • The Hashtag: Join in a global conversation. Look at what's trending. If there is a hashtag which you can make relevant to your organisation then use it! It's a great way to boost engagement. E.g #SchoolMemories #TBT, #MondayMotivation are all great examples of hashtags schools can utilise. 
  • Article Link: With a 140 character limit (for the time being at least) linking to an article is a great way to say more. Make sure the rest of your tweet tells people what the link will be about though. Unrelated links can appear as spam to your followers. 

These are really simple Twitter tips to easily boost your engagement and help you stand out from the crowd. Don't over think things but just make sure your tweets are standing out from the crowd using these simple features. 

The Extra Mile 

Everyone shares pictures and videos - right? It's true that adding pictures and video to your tweets isn't going to make you a real trendsetter. It is very common but still important to use media. 

There are some very new features on Twitter which can make your school really stand out from the other schools and make you a real rockstar of social media. 

On the 12th of January 2016 Twitter finally created functionality to incorporate Periscope live stream videos into your twitter feed. 

- like we predicted in our 2016 social media predictions blog  - not bragging.. ahem 😉

Periscope is one of the most underrated social media channels and certainly one of the most underused. Periscope has over 10 million users and over 40 years of video are streamed daily. 

With Periscope being incorporated into Twitter it is only a matter of time until Periscope takes off and becomes a real social media force. It's going to be used for a LOT more than just watching a big puddle in Newcastle... #DrummondPuddleWatch

So if you really want to be a trend setter on social start using Periscope and add a whole new dimension to your tweets. 

What better way to engage your followers and in particular parents. Being able to watch your child live at school through Twitter is pretty amazing. Live streaming is only going to get more and more popular so start using it now! 

For more information about Periscope and live streaming read our "Streaming your stories as they happen" blog. 

Timing

Life is about timing.
— Carl Lewis

Timing plays a big part in social media and who engages with your content. As a school your optimum times will be different as multiple audiences will be more active at various times of the day. 

Schools, more than anyone, understand the typical schedule of a parent. Parents are very busy people, of course, so it's important to understand what times they will be using social media.

Although these times won't be 100% accurate to schools audiences specifically, this is a good guide to follow for what times you should be tweeting.  

But timing it not only about the time which you tweet. Remember the school calendar... it's important to be tweeting around events in your school and your school calendar. If you know an event is going to happen at a particular time, then schedule tweets around it!

-Remember you can schedule and plan your tweets to go out at specific times and dates. See our "Easy Scheduling" blog for more information on scheduling tweets.

Your school will know the best times to tweet based on your inside knowledge of your parents and their schedules. Just always think about what you are tweeting and who it is for. Timing is everything. 

Efficiency 

Everyday in schools there are thousands of new stories being told. It can be overwhelming. Here are some top tips to maximise your storytelling potential. 

Departmental Twitter Accounts

If your school has only one main Twitter account for example it can be difficult to manage. 

We are encouraging schools to use departmental Twitter accounts

What this essentially means if that each subject will have it's own departmental twitter account managed by their departmental staff. Then the schools main account can easily retweet.  

Storytelling 

Storytelling began on cave walls and has travelled through time passing through rock art, hieroglyphics, painted artefacts, and has now entered the modern era with social media. 

Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Vines have stories captured and shared every day. Storytelling hasn’t changed - but the channels we tell them via have evolved.

Read our full "The Power of Storytelling" blog for more information on platforms to share your stories. 

Remember social media is not as it seems. It's not a popularity contest. The important thing is that you are sharing stories and sharing them in the most engaging way possible for your social media audiences.

Please comment below and let us know how you have used our Twitter tactics! 

For more Social Media advice/training/audits please contact our social team: social@tiarc.co.uk

Getting Your Music Department Online

If music be the food of love, play on.
— William Shakespeare

Music and in particular music technology has come a long way since the days of putting a vinyl on the record player and fast forwarding to your favourite song on your tapes decks. 

 

The digital music era has revolutionised how we can access and listen to music. We all now have digital music on our phones, iPods, iPads... you name it music is never too far away from you, it's usually in your pocket!  

With music becoming digitalised there are now a host of social networks and services dedicated to bettering music and making music more accessible. 

By using these services you can revolutionise your schools music department and move your schools music department into the digital age. 

 

Why's Music Education So Important? 

Music education is a vital part of the school curriculum. Although perhaps many people at school don't rank music as a core subject music education can have many benefits to a child's education.

  1. Children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.
  2. Children with learning disabilities or dyslexia who tend to lose focus with more noise could benefit greatly from music lessons.
  3. Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.
  4. In the past, secondary students who participated in a music group at school reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs).
  5. A recent study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory.
  6. Much like expert technical skills, mastery in arts and humanities is closely correlated to a greater understanding of language components.
  7. Young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not receive musical training.

SoundCloud 

SoundCloud is a global online audio distribution platform that enables its users to upload, record, promote, and share their originally-created sounds.

In the same way that we’d be using Flickr for our photos, and Vimeo for our videos, we didn’t have that kind of platform for our music.
— Alexander Ljung (Founder & CEO of SoundCloud)

SoundCloud works on a very simple premise. As the founder and CEO Ljung, describes above. It's very simple to upload an image or a video to the internet, SoundCloud wanted to make it simple to upload music. 

Other social media music sites do exist such as MySpace but SoundCloud was built with the intent that it was to be solely about the music, giving everybody the opportunity to upload their tracks and to make sure the music is everything. 

  • 12 hours of music are uploaded to SoundCloud every minute. 
  • SoundCloud has over 200 million monthly music listeners. 
  • 40 million active monthly users.

Using SoundCloud in Schools 

In schools worldwide there are so many talented children, who can play such beautiful and inspiring music...why isn't this music being shared with the world? 

Your school may already use Flickr to upload photos of your students breathtaking art work or sporting events. Why not use SoundCloud and showcase how talented your pupils are to the world?

The Leys School Cambridge SoundCloud account. 

The Leys School Cambridge SoundCloud account. 

  1. Playlists: Playlists are a feature of Soundcloud that we urge schools to utilise. SoundCloud playlists are perfect for uploading several songs from one event. Upload the full setlist from the nativity play, the final GCSE performance, or even the big summer concert. There are countless musical events at schools. Upload them all as a playlist to easily share content from the events. 
  2. Portfolio for students: Students who are serious about getting into music after school, may require a portfolio are their musical talents. Schools can really help students who are serious about getting into music by uploading there performance pieces. Colleges, Universities, music schools will all be able to listen to the pupils portfolios. 
  3. Downloadable tracks for parents: Proud parents can download tracks and keep special memories of their children for life and show off their children's amazing work to their friends and family. 
  4. It's free: There is no charge for uploading your schools tracks to SoundCloud. You can upload 3 hours worth of content for no charge. This is ideal for starting out on SoundCloud. You can always turn to a very reasonable paid plan further down the line ranging from £26 to £67 a year. 
  5. Global Advertising: Bring awareness to the talent which lies within you schools music department. SoundCloud is a fantastic marketing opportunity for schools. Instead of saying how brilliant your schools music department is why not show it? Show your world class music department off to the world. SoundCloud brings your music department the attention it deserves 

We recommend firstly trying out the free version of SoundCloud to see if it's the right fit for your school. If it is then that's great news 😄. If it is the right then then subscribing to SoundCloud "Pro Unlimited" is the perfect subscription for your school.

This will entitle you to unlimited uploads and up to 1000 downloads a track. This should be ideal for your school and will give you the platform to best utilise SoundCloud. 

MIXLR 

mixlr.jpg

Mixlr founded in 2010 is an audio streaming platform allowing you listen to live broadcasts via the internet. The service that Mixlr offers is really unique and greatly benefits schools. As many parents know, many school events take place in the day or maybe even on an evening which they have to work. 

Wouldn't it be a shame to miss the whole thing completely? Mixlr will bring anybody, anywhere from around the world to your concert. 

Maybe your daughter is the star of the summer recital. With Mixlr, grandma can listen live from her retirement home in Australia, dad can listen live from work, nobody will have to miss your daughters moment in the spotlight with Mixlr. 

  1. Broadcast to the world with just one click:  Starting your first broadcast is easy, just hit the big button and go live. It really is as simple as that. Mixlr is incredibly quick and easy to user. 
  2. Share on Twitter/Facebook: Of course Mixlr is a very small social media network, so it fully supports Twitter and Facebook functionality. Just simply share your livepage, friends or followers can listen directly on Facebook and Twitter.
  3. HQ Recording and easy export: Seamless recording, right inside the app and on desktop. When your live broadcast is over, one-click export to SoundCloud, Dropbox, Mixcloud and more. When your broadcast is over you could upload the recording to Soundcloud preserving it for life 😄
  4. Schedule events: Unlike many other live streaming services, Mixlr has great scheduling functionality. Parents can get reminders about upcoming live streams and you can share your schools schedule on Facebook and Twitter with a click of a button. 
  5. Build a community: Turn your live audio into a shared social experience. Chat, engage and interact with your listeners in real-time. This can bring a whole new dimension to the live streaming experience allowing you to interact with viewing parents. 

What about Spotify? 

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You are probably thinking at this point, why haven't we mentioned Spotify? Everybody uses Spotify right? It's true that Spotify is a massive music streaming service.  Even on the Spotify website they say "You don't need to be signed or have a record deal to get your music on Spotify".

The truth is your school doesn't really need to use Spotify. Spotify is for artists, not institutions. However it can be done:

There are some schools using Spotify but a very, very small handful in America. To get music on Spotify you need to use an artist aggregators service.  Prices are usually somewhere between £5-20 to upload a single for a year. 

If your school is really desperate to get on Spotify it can be done. There are 60 million monthly Spotify users which is slightly more than SoundCloud's 40 million.  However on SoundCloud you can create your own schools page and profile we do recommend SoundCloud over Spotify.

The Equipment  

Your school is ready to use SoundCloud or Mixlr and to record some of the beautiful music being made by your pupils 😙🎉. There is one small problem. Some kind of equipment is needed to record the music. So what kind of recording equipment should you be using for what and when? 

The traditional way of recording a group, if you go back far enough, is to use one microphone. The musicians simply arrange themselves around the mic at appropriate distances to achieve the correct level balance between the instruments. You'll still find this technique used in professional studios today.

An Omnidirectional Microphone pattern.

An Omnidirectional Microphone pattern.

You'll get the best results using a condenser mic with an omnidirectional pickup pattern (as seen above) and preferably a fairly flat and even frequency response.  An omnidirectional microphone record at a 360° radius meaning all sound will be picked up. 

Blue Microphones Snowball Omnidirectional/Cardioid USB Microphone - Bands / Choirs 

Create studio-quality recordings with Blue Microphone's Snowball, a USB microphone with exceptional sound-capture capabilities.The Snowball produces crisp, clean recordings that are free of feedback and distortion. A unique pattern switch allows you to toggle between three different settings, giving you the flexibility to record vocals, instrumental music, podcasts, interviews, and more. With a plug-and-play design that is both Mac and PC compatible, the Snowball requires no additional drivers and is ready to record straight out of the box.

The 'Snowball' is ideal from recording from any desktop so you can live stream to Mixlr or quickly record an audio file to upload straight to Soundcloud. Plug and play microphones are ideal for saving time. 

The microphone is available for £49.99 (Amazon UK). For the price the microphone will cover all of your recording needs and is a really smart piece of software. The recording quality will astound you! This is the essential microphone for your schools music department.  

Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone for Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android and Windows Smartphones

 

The Movo PM10 Lavalier Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone is designed for vocal or video use and provides clear and accurate voice reproduction. Newscaster-style design provides effective omni-directional pickup pattern. 

Extremely lightweight, designed for optimum portability and comfort, and delivers some of the clearest recorded sound you can find. The Movo PM10 Lavalier Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone is compatible with the Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android & Windows smartphones
 

This microphone is ideal for simply attaching do your smartphone. This will make it easy to record various performances and quickly. You may not always have the time to be setting up a recording so this portable mic for your smartphone will be a great asset and for a bargain price of £17.95 (Amazon UK)

 

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Your schools music department needs a voice. Pupils at your school are making beautiful music and it needs to be showcased! The music department is one of the most creative and magical departments in your school, share their story with the world. 

We would love hear how your music departments shares it's stories!

Share your thoughts in the comments below...

 

Apps For Learning A New Language

To have another language is to posses a second soul.

Scholars have named English the world's most influential language. It's the second most common language in the world. Over 340 million people speak English as their first language. English is the most common second language in the world doubling the second most common Arabic. 

Is it time we moved past the mentality of "Everybody else speaks English so why do we need to learn a language?" 😤

As the world has become more accessible both physically and through the development of technology is it time the nation learns a language and expands their horizons? 

As we know, the internet can be a magical learning tool which can teach us anything from baking a cake to the best ways to keep fit... but how can it teach us a language? 

 

Why Learn a Language

Before we show you great apps to learn a language let's understand why it is invaluable to learn a language.

  1. Employability: We live in an increasingly globalised world and companies are constantly expanding overseas and dealing with clients from all over the world. Between two candidates with the exact same skill set and experience, the person who is bilingual is arguably much more likely to get the job. Give yourself the upper hand. 
  2. Study or live abroad: With the world being more accessible than ever it's important that we have the tools to travel. There is no greater travel tool than the power of language. With the tool of language you can live and work abroad, isn't it the dream to escape our infamous British weather for some of that Spanish sun? 😎
  3. Increase brain power: Recent studies have shown that foreign language students test higher than their monolingual peers especially in math, reading and vocabulary. 
  4. Meet new people: There is no doubt that language is a barrier when meeting people from different countries. Being able to communicate in a different language will allow you to meet new and interesting people and develop life-long friendships (or, who knows, even the love of your life!) 😘
  5. Health: You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Several studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent. For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5.

There are literally thousands of reasons why we should be learning a second language and why learning one will benefit us but the main reason for learning a language is why we learn anything...

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
— Nelson Mandela

Duolingo

Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist, can lay claim to a lifetime of achievements, but confessed earlier this year that a foreign language was missing from his CV.  In an attempt to tackle the problem, he rejected using his $80bn fortune to hire an army of private tutors and joined the 100 million people in the world on Duolingo.

Having grown up in Guatemala the founder of Duolingo, Luis Von Ahn wanted to create an educational tool for those people without money to learn a language and expand their horizons. People will of course need access to a computer, mobile or a tablet but this is accessible for most people globally. 

Duolingo was founded in 2012 and now has over 100 million users worldwide. 3 million users are in the United Kingdom alone and the numbers continue to grow with 100,000 new users being added a day. 

 

Features of Duolingo

  • It's free: There is no cost, no adverts and gives everybody the same platform to learn from. The founder of Dulingo only ever sees the app as being free as to give everybody the same opportunity regardless of wealth. It will be free forever. 😊 
  • 14 courses for English speakers: English speakers can learn the following languages; Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Irish, Danish, Turkish, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Esperanto and Russian. 
  • Learn anytime, anywhere: Make your breaks and commutes more productive with iPhone and Android apps and learn outside the classroom.

  • Duolingo for schools: Duolingo has a specialist learning platform available just for schools. It's currently being used by thousand of teachers to enhance their lessons. Over 100,000 classrooms are now using Duolingo. 

  • Set homework: Duolingo for schools gives teachers the ability to assign homework that kids actually want to do! Children think of Duolingo as a game and strive to earn points, pass levels and compete with their friends.

  • Track pupils progress: Track the progress of your pupils from your teacher management system. It's easy to track and tells you which levels your pupils have advanced to and where they may be struggling.   

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is one of the biggest brands in language learning in the English speaking world (not to be confused with the Rosetta Stone that helped us decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, which it is named after). 

Apart from instructions (like repeat, listen etc,) everything is in the target language in an attempt to immerse you in the language completely.

Rosetta Stone is regarded as a premium and corporate language resource tool, with prices for a personal course ranging between £190-£300. Courses are either 12 or 24 months. 

Rosetta Stone is available for educational institutions and currently is used in over 22,000 educational institutions. There is not a fixed price for the educational software you can make an enquiry as pricing varies on the size of your institution and number of potential users.  

Features of Rosetta Stone

  • Track pupils progress: Simple but powerful administrative tools make it easy for teachers to drill down on students' strengths and weaknesses and to measure progress effectively. 
  • Learn anytime, anywhere: Today's students are surrounded by digital and mobile technology. Mobile apps mean that teachers and providing innovative ways to enrich student's language learning and giving them a chance to practice their skills outside the classroom. 
  • Teacher guides and workbooks: Teachers can access support materials for popular languages, including guides, quizzed and engaging paper-based activities. 
  • Support and training: Unlike Duolingo, Rosetta Stone is a premium service with offers you expert support and resources to ensure a successful implementation of language-learning programmes in your school. 
  • 28 courses for English speakers: The personal accounts offers 30 courses ranging from Arabic to Swahili. Education accounts only support the following courses; English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
  • Speech recognition: One of the premium features of Rosetta Stone is the very expensive speech recognition software. Unlike other language learning software, Rosetta Stone enables you to practice speaking the language and gets you more involved. 

Although Rosetta stone may be a bit pricey it's a premium brand which has been around for 20 years. Try a demo for schools for free....

Memrise

 

Memrise similar to Duolingo. It is free a online learning tool but with courses created by its community. There are thousands of language courses available on Memrise because it is a community based learning tool. 

Courses created by Memrise themselves are quite long and intensive similar to courses on Rosetta Stone and Duolingo, so it is possible to properly learn a a language using Memrise. 

Unlike Rosetta Stone and Duolingo , community created courses offer a wealth of languages and variation which are particularly useful for people wanting to learn a more obscure language. 

There are over 6,500 languages spoken in the world, so a community network like Memrise is a really important tool. Compared to other language software suppliers which only teach 10-30 languages (less than 1% of the worlds languages) it really shows the importance of Memrise. 

Features of Memrise

  • Learn anytime, anywhere: Just like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone, Memrise realises the importance of being able to practice your language skills on the move. 
  • Tracking system: Memrise tracks your progress and keeps the user updated on just how many words they've learned giving you motivation and physical proof of how your language skills are coming along. 
  • Community learning: Memrise believe that learning should be as rich and varied as the world you learn about.  Community created courses build a learning style which is packed of multimedia to bring your learning to life. 
  • Create a study group: Create a study group for your students. Pick from thousands of multimedia flashcard courses, track your students progress on leaderboards for each course they are taking. 
  • Thousands of courses: Unlike Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, Memrise courses are created buy their community and offer many more language courses giving you a wealth of choice. 

 

Just learning to think in another language allows you to see your own culture in a better viewpoint
— Gates Mcfadden

 

Whichever language app you decide to choose, remember the fundamental reasons for learning a language, to explore and expand your horizons. A language is a beautiful skill which helps us reach out to another community in the world.

We would love to hear about how you have used these apps and how your language skills are coming along! Please comment below and share your experiences with us. 

Don't be afraid to leave a comment in the new language you've learned ;) 

Capturing School Stories

A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away
— Eudora Welty

With so many amazing stories being told on a daily basis in schools it's important that you have the tools to capture these stories.

Social media is now driven (mostly) by visuals.

Even Twitter which is predominantly a textually based social media network is used more effectively when paired with imagery. Including images, video, and live-streams within your tweets boosts your engagement massively.   

Smile 😀

Smile 😀

With it being the new year (kinda.. we can still say it's a new year, right?), it's important to spoil yourselves - It's the best way to avoid those January blues 😀 There are hundreds of handy cameras, tools and gadgets to help schools capture all of the magical moments being created.  

We are giving you the best advice for what equipment to get, and which platforms to use! This will ensure that all the special memories being made at your school can be effectively captured.

As we know purse strings may be a little tight this January after enjoying yourself over the festive period or perhaps the "new year, new me" spirit will entice you to spoil yourselves 😏

We will give you a variety of options...

FLICKR 

Flickr is the ultimate online photo album service and tool for telling and sharing your school stories. Flickr will completely eradicate the dusty old photo albums and revolutionise how your schools tells stories.

  • 1TB of free storage! If your average photo size was 1MB this means you could upload 1 million photos absolutely free! With so many events happening in schools the massive free storage allowance ensures you will not need to stress about limited storage!
  • Enables new ways of organising your photos and video! Once you make the switch to digital, it is all too easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of photos you take or videos you shoot with that itchy trigger finger. Flickr allows you to organise photos in albums, categories and tags to ensure your photos are immaculately presented and organised. 
  • "Helping people make their photos available to the people who matter to them" This is the main goal of the Flickr creators. Being able to upload photos from PC, mobile and tablet and being able to share Flickr photos through a variety of social networks and programs is what makes Flickr so appealing. Flickr defiantly abides to it's core ethos. 
  • Download photos! Flickr allows people to download photos meaning that parents will be able to easily access your Flickr page and download pictures of their child. You can, of course, disable this feature in the privacy features.

Learn more about Flickr...

Flickr is really simple to use and is the best platform for schools to upload and share their wonderful photography content. Being able to easily upload and organise photos makes publishing all these wonderful pictures and all of these memories effortless! 

iPhone

Remember sitting in maths class and the teacher would say...

"You won't always have a calculator"

...how times have changed. Now in our pockets we have a map, a flashlight, a calculator, photo albums, music, films, a camera. The list is really endless. 

We have all taken photos on our smartphones! With mobile phones evolving at such a drastic pace we now have access to digital cameras in our pockets!

Although we have selected an iPhone as our "hot tip" you can use any modern smartphone! We have simply picked the smartphone which we believe has some key additional features for enhancing the storytelling experience! Every modern smartphone should have a quality camera.

 Camera Specs

  • 12-megapixel iSight camera with 1.22µ pixels
  • Live Photos
  • Autofocus with Focus Pixels
  • Optical image stabilisation (iPhone 6s Plus only)
  • True Tone flash
  • Panorama (up to 63 megapixels)
  • Auto HDR for photos
  • Exposure control
  • Burst mode
  • Timer mode
  • ƒ/2.2 aperture
  • Five-element lens
  • Hybrid IR filter
  • Backside illumination sensor
  • Auto image stabilisation
  • Improved local tone mapping
  • Improved noise reduction
  • Face detection
  • Photo geotagging

Video Specs

  • 4K video recording (3840x2160) at 30 fps
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
  • 720p HD video recording at 30 fps
  • Optical image stabilisation for video (iPhone 6s Plus only)
  • True Tone flash
  • Slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps and 720p at 240 fps
  • Time-lapse video with stabilisation
  • Cinematic video stabilisation (1080p and 720p)
  • Continuous autofocus video
  • Improved noise reduction
  • Take 8MP still photos while recording 4K video
  • Playback zoom
  • 3x zoom
  • Face detection
  • Video geotagging

 

How does it compare? 

For the most basic model with 16GB storage an iPhone 6S is £539 but there really isn't enough storage when you take into consider the other storage your phone requires like apps and software updates.

We recommend either a 64GB (£699) or a 128GB (£799) model. Unlike digital cameras, iPhones do not allow additional storage, you cannot add an SD card. However this can be easily combated by utilising photo storage software such as Dropbox and Google Drive... or FLICKR.

The best camera is the one that’s with you

— Chase Jarvis

For the price of an iPhone you could be getting a brilliant camera which is much better for taking pictures. However the iPhone does a good job and the best camera is the one that's always with you! A smartphone is great for seizing the opportunity and taking that opportunity for a killer picture! 

For organised events with lots going on, a digital camera is the best method. Camera's are dedicated tools for taking photos. As good as an iPhone camera may be, it is first and foremost a phone! Camera phones are improving all of the time and are only getting better and better. 

There is a reason that professional photographers aren't running around with an iPhone in hand just yet! However we do recommend using your smartphone as a camera but for capturing the odd story here and there, for a organised event use a proper camera!

Did you know - iPhone cameras are so acclaimed that there are movies that have been entirely filmed by an iPhone. The critically acclaimed movie Tangerine (2015) was filmed using an $8 app 😮 Who needs a movie studio anymore right? 

Are Megapixels Everything?

They’re getting better every year. Camera makers and your local camera shop salesman are always talking about the next model with more megapixels than the one that came before it. The new numbers make your current model seem obsolete.

If you bought a camera with six megapixels a few years ago, you wish you could get a new one that gets twelve. But does it really mean anything? Does having more megapixels amount to better photo quality, or is it all just marketing hype?

 

Megapixels are great. They brought digital photography out of the dark ages and allowed photographers to make digital images that compare to film images. But megapixels are no reason to pay more for a camera! 

How many megapixels you need depends on the how you are going to use your images. As long as the camera has over 7 megapixels the camera will be absolutely fine for all of your photography needs! 

DSLR

DSLR (Digital, Single, Lens, Reflex). Simply put, a DSLR is just a camera that uses mirrors and interchangeable lenses.

The DSLR is the kind of camera which schools must be buying! 

You can take photos of everything from sleeping kittens to race cars and you'll never be limited by your camera. With a DSLR in your hands you can rest assured that you'll only miss great photo opportunities because you weren't prepared, not because your camera wasn't able to get the shot. 

DSLR Strengths

  • Image Quality – Due to the larger size of image sensors in DSLRs which allows for larger pixel sizes – DSLRs are generally able to be used at a faster ISO which will lead to faster shutter speeds and less grain.
  • Adaptability – DSLR’s ability to change lenses opens up a world of possibilities for photographers. Add to this a large range of other accessories (flashes, filters etc) and a DSLR can be adapted to many different situations. It should be noted that when it comes to lenses that the diversity in quality of lenses is great. Image quality is impacted greatly by the quality of the lens you use.
  • Speed – DSLR’s are generally pretty fast pieces of machinery when it comes to things like start up, focussing and shutter lag.
  • Optical Viewfinder – Due to the reflex mirror DSLR’s are very much a what you see is what you get operation.
  • large ISO range – This varies between cameras but generally DSLRs offer a wide array of ISO settings which lends itself to their flexibility in shooting in different conditions.
  • Manual Controls – While many point and shoots come with the ability to shoot in manual mode, a DSLR is designed in such a way that it is assumed that the photographer using it will want to control their own settings. While they do come with good auto modes the manual controls are generally built in in such a way that they are at the photographers finger tips as they are shooting.
  • Hold it’s value – some argue that a DSLR will hold it’s value longer than a point and shoot. There is probably some truth in this. DSLR models do not get updated quite as often as point and shoot models (which can be updated twice a year at times). The other factor in favor of DSLRs is that the lenses you buy for them are compatible with other camera bodies if you do choose to upgrade later on (as long as you stay with your brand). This means your investment in lenses is not a waste over the years.
  • Depth of Field – A DSLR can give you depth of field that puts everything from foreground to background in focus through to nice blurry backgrounds.

Recommended DSLR- Canon EOS 70D

 

The multi-award winning Canon EOS 70D is a benchmark for DSLR cameras. At £699.00 (Amazon UK) this camera is a bargain for the durability and quality which it provides.  Awarded best digital camera in both 2013 and 2014 🏆,the EOS 70D will provide you with all the tools for capturing all the magical events happening at your school 

Features

  • Capture every detail with a 20.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5+ processor
  • Follow the action with a 19 cross-type point AF system and 7 fps continuous shooting at full resolution
  • Shoot stunning Full-HD movies with fast, smooth, accurate autofocus thanks to Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology
  • Control your camera remotely and instantly review your images with Wi-Fi
  • Keep shooting when light levels fall thanks to ISO 12800 (H:25600)
  • Take control of your camera and frame your subjects from multiple angles with a Vari-angle touch screen

 

Budget DSLR- Canon EOS 1200D

The Canon EOS 1200D is the number 1 best selling DSLR camera on the internet and it easy to see why. For a bargain price of £219 (Amazon UK) the Cannon EOS 1200D really meets all of your photography needs and is the perfect camera to get you started on your storytelling adventure!

The EOS Companion app, designed specifically to be a learning aid for 1200D owners. The camera was designed and manufactured for getting beginners to explore photography and DSLR photography! If you are at all nervous about your photography ability the Cannon EOS 1200D and the companion app will help you overcome those nerves and mould you into a competent and confident photographer. 
 

  • Record life’s special moments with high quality photos and movies
  • Capture detail and ambience, even in dark conditions
  • Shoot with the right settings using Scene Intelligent Auto mode
  • Simple step-by-step Feature Guide and EOS Companion app
  • Enhance your memories and be artistic with Creative filters
  • Tell your story with Full HD movies and Video Snapshot mode

Go-Pro HERO 4

To tell a different story sometimes we need different equipment. Not all stories can be told through the same camera or lens. 

In the last few years, the GoPro has really taken off in popularity. What was once just a loyal niche fan following has turned into a worldwide demand for these items. The GoPro brings new possibilities and can add a new dimension to our storytelling abilities.

GoPro video cameras are completely waterproof and shockproof so they can be used in any type of environment or conditions. The cameras are small and come armed with a wealth of accessories  so they can be attached directly to the subject providing an immense first person experience. 

Capture sporting events and more extreme school stories first hand. We don't want to put our £800 fragile DSLR in a kayak or perching in the back of a football net waiting for the ball to fly towards it. The Go-Pro will open many storytelling doors.

The GoPro HERO 4 is a very reasonable £250 (Amazon UK), for what the GoPro can bring to your school and  the possibilities it brings this is really a bargain. However before purchasing consider your schools needs. If you are an active school who has a wide variation of sports from the arguably mundane to the extreme then the GoPro might well be for you. If you don't feel this is your school the GoPro may well not be needed!

Features

  • Built-In Touch Display: Frame your shots. Easily adjust settings. Play back videos and photos. Improved Camera Control: New dedicated button enables quick access to camera settings. Simplified menus make navigating settings easier than ever.
  • Fast, Powerful Photo Capture: Captures high-quality 12MP photos at speeds of up to 30 fps.
  • Built-In WiFi + Bluetooth: Delivers enhanced connectivity to the GoPro App, Smart Remote
  • Protune - Now for Video + Photos: Cinema-quality capture and manual control of colour, ISO limit, exposure and more. Night Photo Lapse: Customisable exposure settings up to 30 seconds for single and Time Lapse Photos. Auto Low Light: Automatically adjusts frame rates for optimal low-light performance. High-Performance Audio: New Audio System captures clean, high fidelity sound and nearly 2x the dynamic range. Ultra Wide-Angle Glass Lens: Enables engaging, immersive footage of you and your world. Selectable FOV: Three FOV settings - Ultra-Wide, Medium and Narrow - allow for a broad range of perspectives. HiLight Tag: Mark key moments while recording for easy playback, editing, and sharing. QuikCapture: Power on and record automatically with the press of a single button. SuperView: Captures the world's most immersive wide-angle field of view.
  • Durable + Waterproof to 131' (40m): Designed to withstand extreme environments and conditions. Wearable + Mountable: Enables immersive self-capture during your favourite activities. Compatible with all GoPro Mounts: 60+ mounts and accessories - and counting - for capturing a wide variety of perspective and activities. GoPro App + Software: Control your camera remotely. View and share your content. Easily create gorgeous GoPro-style videos.

Point and Shoot

In the modern photography market there is a common conception that all non- DSLR cameras are inferior. In a sense this is true, there is no real substitute for a top quality DSLR camera but in recent years point and shoot cameras have been making a real come back.

Point and shoot cameras are not customisable and you can not add extras. What you buy is what you get. The camera does nearly all of the hard work for you with easy preset features and filters.  However these kind of cameras can be ideal for getting started on your photography journey. 

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
— Dorothea Lange


Strengths of Point and Shoot

  • Size and Weight – to be able to slip a camera in a pocket as you dash out the door to a party is a wonderful thing. These days point and shoot cameras can be slim and light – to the point of not even knowing you’ve got them with you. This is great for parties, travel and all manner of situations. Of course some point and shoots can be quite bulky too (especially some of the super zoom models on the market).
  • Quiet Operation - Point and shoot cameras are as quiet as a mouse and are perfect for snapping a picture during school productions or other special moments. 
  • Auto Mode – the quality of images produced in point and shoots varies greatly, but in general they shoot quite well in auto mode. Manufacturers presume that this style of camera will be used in auto mode (or one of the other preset modes) mostly and as a result they generally come pretty well optimised for this type of shooting (as do many DSLRs).
  • Price – in general point and shoot digital cameras are cheaper. Of course you can go to the top of the range and spend as much as you would on a cheaper DSLR, but most are in a much more affordable price bracket.
  • LCD Framing – as I mentioned above, many digital camera users prefer to frame their shots using LCDs. Point and Shoots always come with this ability and some even come with ‘flip out’ screens that enable their users to take shots from different angles and still see what they’re shooting.

Recommended Point and Shoot- Canon PowerShot G7X

 

The PowerShot G7 X is designed for photographers who want the power, control and even the image quality of a D-SLR, but in a camera small enough to fit in a pocket. That's what Canon's top-end PowerShot G-series cameras are designed for, but in the past this kind of camera has compromised on sensor size. To get a small camera you had to put up with a small sensor.

That's why the new G7 X is so interesting. It uses a 1-inch sensor big enough to produce great images but small enough to allow a genuinely pocketable camera design.

With a host of impressive specifications and handy tools such as Wi-Fi to quickly upload photos the G7 X is a premium point and shoot camera.

If you want to capture DSLR quality images from a point and shoot this is the camera for you. This is ideal for people who don't want to invest lots of time into photographing events. This simple to carry light-weight giant is a fantastic camera. 

The price however is £378.00 (Amazon UK)  more than a budget DSLR camera but the quality of the camera more than excuses the hefty price tag for a point and shoot camera

  • Capture beautiful background blur and superb detail with bright f/1.8-2.8, 24mm, 4.2x zoom lens
  • Stunning performance in any situation with 1.0-type, 20.2MP CMOS
  • Master low light shots with HS System, DIGIC 6 and Intelligent IS
  • Stay in control with the Lens Control Ring, Full Manual and RAW
  • Perfectly frame your shots on 1,040k sRGB dot, tilt touchscreen with Touch AF

Budget Point and Shoot - Sony DSCW800

"Lightweight and easy to slip in a shirt pocket" the Sony DSCW800 is one of the best budget point and cameras in the market and is available for a bargain price of £59.00 (Amazon UK).

Much like riding a bike when you start of you use stabilisers and familiarise yourself with riding the bike and then you remove the stabilisers and cycle unaided! Think of the Sony DSCW800 as your stabilisers. Use this camera to get confident with the art of photography and try new things! 

The beautiful thing about a camera that is this price is that the element of fear is taken away.  If your inexperienced with taking photos and buy the £700 DSLR you be fearful of breaking your camera. With the Sony you can learn to love photography and explore the realms of the art freely without constraint. 

Features

  • Digital compact camera with 5x optical zoom, a 26mm wide-angle lens, a 20.1MP sensor, & SteadyShot
  • Super HAD CCD 20.1MP sensor
  • 5x optical zoom
  • Capture everything with a wide-angle lens

 

 

Whichever camera your school decides to buy the most important thing is that your schools has the tools equipped for capturing school stories.

We want the children of this generation to be able to look back at their special moments in fifty, sixty years time without to climb up into the attic and find that dusty old photo album.

We would love to hear about which device your schools uses to capture all of the magical events taking place! 

Share your thoughts in the comments below...