Tag Archives: Wales

Google: Getting Welsh Business Online

On opening an email from the Welsh Government last week, we noticed an invite to the Google Launch Event: Getting Welsh Business Online. Not being ones to miss out on an opportunity, we immediately signed up!

Tuesday 7th March arrived. At some point, we did wonder what the event would entail? How should we dress? Who would be there? What was the purpose? How would it be organised?

As we walked towards the Coal Exchange, Cardiff Bay, we smiled at the ‘Gingham Bunting’ and the signs pointing us in the right direction. Our first clue that the launch was going to be a bigger event than we first anticipated!

Conference badges in alphabetical order gave another clue. Followed by complimentary bottles of ‘juice’ – refreshing,  surprisingly tasty and supplied by Lovely Drinks of North SomersetRow upon row of seats in the main arena – each with a Google ‘goodie’ bag. Twitter users immediately began the ‘goodie’ bag banter. Why were some red and some blue? Did they contain different items? Some excitedly mentioned the free information books…others the sweets…and one ‘loving the lip balm’!

Google 'Goodie' Bags

A general buzz of excitement could be felt in the room. 

As the event was about to kick off, someone sitting directly behind us whispered,

“If I can learn one new thing, it will be worth it…”

And then Sian Lloyd, who was hosting the event, took to the stage… “Noswaith dda a croeso…”. 

It really wasn’t until this point that we understood what this was all about. Google had chosen Wales to launch their new ‘Getting British Business Online’ initiative. Along with the Welsh Assembly and Partners, Google will offer a programme of support to boost the online digital presence of Welsh business. 

Edwina Hartand Sian Lloyd

Edwina Hart, Business and Enterprise Minister, spoke about the digital skills needed for tomorrow’s market, the target to ensure faster broadband access across Wales by 2015, recognition of problem-solving skills and preparing young people for work in a technological age. 

Dan Cobley, MD, Google UK and Ireland, arrived on stage amidst polite applause. He expressed his delight at being in Cardiff and delivering the keynote speech.

  “We live in exponential times.”

Dan Cobley highlighted success stories in Welsh business and then attempted to engage the audience by testing their knowledge of Welsh success in history. A mixed response at this point. The audience yet to warm up and participate. Only a few responded. (Although alternative reasoning could point to the fact that  the audience lacked ‘general Welsh knowledge’!).

Dan Cobley, MD, Google UK and Ireland

“Let’s pick a word like sex…”

The demonstration of ‘Google Insights for Search‘ began with an initial intake of breath and a few nervous glances as Dan Cobley uttered the phrase, “Let’s pick a word like sex…”

He went on to show the ‘search trend’ for ‘sex’ on a global basis over the past 5-10 years. Audience participation then surged as he asked the question, “So, what if we put chocolate in as a term? Would chocolate be higher or lower than sex in Wales?”

Immediate laughter and the word ‘chocolate’ reverberated around the venue – although mainly from female voices noted Dan Cobley!

The audience finally warmed to Dan Cobley at the mention of ‘Rugby’ – especially when he commented that the Google Insights trend for the UK maybe suggested why Wales did so well in the Six Nations. 

“Chocolate…higher or lower than sex in Wales?”

On a more serious note, Dan Cobley spoke about the need to understand data and the link between understanding what the market ‘search terms’ really were so that these can be utilised within your own websites to optimise the performance and presence of your business.

This sparked an interest in us – what would the search trend for ‘education’ look like in the last 10 years?

Search Term: Education in Wales

Surprised?

I’m not sure if we were surprised, shocked, saddened or just resigned to reality. It is something we will definitely think about from multiple perspectives. 

Returning to Dan Cobley and the ‘facts’ he presented:

  • Businesses which embrace the digital online economy experience 4-8 times faster growth. These SMEs bring in custom from around the world and export their products globally – and they can do it without the support of big I.T. departments.

  • Everyone today is a broadcaster – 60 hours of YouTube footage is uploaded every minute.

  • Everyone is connected – 845 million people on facebook, 91% of 16-24 yr olds are active on social media.

  • Half of all new internet connections are now from mobile devices. In 2011 the sale of smartphones overtook the sale of PCs.

  • Make your website ‘mobile friendly’ – 79% of people use a smartphone during shopping.

  • ‘Mobile’ optimisation is a game changer for local businesses. 81% use a smartphone to look for local information, 31% make a purchase after looking.

  • 25% of all search queries come from mobile devices.

  • Take the first step and create an online presence…or improve what you already have

  • Become ‘greater with data’ – use tools like ‘Google Insights for Search

  • ‘Digital Basics’ – use images, tell people why you are different, use endorsements from clients, use a map plugin to publicise your location.

  • Make your business have a ‘multi-channel and multi-media’ presence

  • ‘Leap and learn’ – engage in the process. Try something out, analyse it, refine it.

Getting Welsh Business Online

 Local Salon Owner

Guy Christian, a local salon owner, joined Dan Cobley on stage to explain how an online presence has contributed to the success of his business. It was great to hear someone talk realistically about their experience – both the pitfalls and the success. Recognising the need to take a risk and learn from mistakes. 70% of new clients to the salon now come via the internet and they market their business exclusively online.

“Business only survived because of our web presence”

Sian Lloyd returned to the stage to bring the formal part of the event to a close. The reading aloud of ‘tweets’ was met with laughter – particularly the mention of Dan Cobley’s great hair and inspiring speech. The ‘roving microphone’ began moving around the audience – question time with Dan Cobley and Robert Lloyd Griffiths (Institute of Directors).

And the final surprise… 

As the informal networking began, delicious canapes were distributed by friendly staff. The bar opened…and, much to my surprise, I was given a complimentary glass of sauvignon blanc! How civilised. Maybe my surprise is due to a career in education – the only complimentary thing you are likely to receive is a pencil (and that’s if you are lucky!). 🙂 

Coal Exchange, Cardiff Bay

So – it was ‘goodbye’ to the Coal Exchange. A great evening. A great event.

And ‘hello’ to Google Juice Bar. But that’s another story…

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Filed under Business, Learning, Networking, Potential, Professional Development, Single Steps Learning, Teaching, Technology

Foundation Phase in Wales

It is a relief to hear Leighton Andrews (Education Minister in Wales) celebrate the successful roll out of the Foundation Phase for all children aged 3-7 years in Wales. The full article can be found at http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/educationandskills/2011/110906foundationphase/?version=1&lang=en .

 

We very much believe in the principles of the Foundation Phase and the opportunity it offers our young learners. From a personal experience, I saw the impact it had on the learners in my class – the increased motivation, engagement, confidence, learners leading the learning, independence and interdependence.

A carefully designed ‘Foundation Phase’ experience has the ability to make a positive impact on every child. Lets hope it is here to stay!

For more information on the Foundation Phase and the training we offer on the implementation of it in settings, please email info.singlestepslearning@gmail.com

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Filed under Early Years, Education, Teaching

Grades…Grades…Grades…

It has been a stressful and highly emotional week for many, if not all, the A-Level students in Wales, Northern Ireland and England. Results arrived last thursday amid delays and crashes on the UCAS website. Expected grades or unexpected grades; university places confirmed or entry into the ‘clearing process’ or an uncertain change of direction; national headlines about higher results than ever in some areas…or a disappointing ‘fall’ in others; even more headlines about high student loans, number of places available and whether the system is fair or not; and a particular issue for Wales – is the Welsh Baccalaureate really widely accepted by institutions as an equivalent to an ‘A’ grade in an A-Level. We certainly know of one university that does not recognise this qualification – despite what Leighton Andrews may say in television interviews. 

This week has certainly made me reflect on my own experience of A-Levels. Maybe they should be a distant memory as over 20 years have passed since I received the white envelope in the post. Yet I can remember it clearly. I can remember how I felt. I can remember the heightened emotional atmosphere in the Sixth Form Building. I can remember queuing with other students to talk to teachers. I can remember having to make hard decisions. 

The following links are to blogs by edte.ch. The first reflects on the relevance of grades and how this changes in a lifetime. The second takes a look at the issue of ‘assessment for learning’ and its implementation.

Was I really an ‘A’ grade psychology student? 

How do we change a cultural fascination with grades?

Finally…for all the stress felt by the A-Level students and their families this week, it has also been a crazy week for those people ‘manning’ the clearance help-lines. The last one spoken to said she had been working 13 days straight and may need to lie down in a darkened room as therapy! 

 

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Filed under Education, Formative Assessment, Learning, Potential, Secondary, Teaching

A reminder to tune in tomorrow…

Tune in to BBC Radio 5Live http://www.bbc.co.uk/5live/

between 12 and 2pm tomorrow (UK time) to hear Karen Workman (Lynne’s sister!) talking about ‘Adult Learning and Literacy’. The interview will be taking place in a Primary School in Neath Port Talbot…and there was talk of getting Leighton Andrews on the show too – Education Minister for Wales! It will be interesting to hear what he has to say about literacy and the new national tests for 5-14 yr olds in Wales (beginning Sept 2012). More on the blog tomorrow…!

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Filed under Community Learning, Education

Inspire

Basic Skill Learner of the Year, 2011 (Wales).

‘Mammy, you are really good at reading. Well done, Mam’ says Rachael Morgan’s daughter. 

 

We can all make a positive difference. 

 

If you would like more information on ‘Family Learning’ in the South Wales area, please emailinfo.singlestepslearning@gmail.com and we will put you in touch with Karen Workman and her colleagues. 

 

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Filed under Community Learning, Education, Learning, Potential, Risk

A-counting we will go…

An afternoon spent with our wonderful accountant, Alwyn Thomas, who guided us through the confusing maze of UTRs…VAT…Tax Returns…etc etc! We have valued his wise words for the last 4 years and would recommend his services to anyone in the South Wales area.

www.alwynthomas.com

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Filed under Learning

Losing yourself in a shop that feels like home…

Our own CPD is important to us and this year we are developing our ICT capacity. The Apple Store, Cardiff is our chosen place! Their One-to-One tuition and Personal Projects Workshops are really beneficial. Time passes in a ridiculously quick way as we explore the many creative uses of our Macbooks! 

(And yes, it was Andrew’s BIG birthday and of course I had to make sure we celebrated there!)

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Filed under Embedded CPD, Learners, Learning, Passion, Technology

Back to school…

Glanffrwd Infants School, Ynysybwl

A trip back to Glanffrwd Infants is always good for the soul! The Nursery/Reception class I had are now in Yr1/2 and most of them are experiencing visits from the tooth fairy!  

“Where are you on your journey now?” said one of my boys! Another just wanted to report that he thought his mother was in love with a man in a hat (it turned out to be Matt Cardle!). 

I love the fact they keep my coffee cup under lock and key for when I return!!!

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Filed under Education, Teaching

The interval…

Last minute phone call….could we help out and fill a spot in a large cluster conference on “Professional Learning Communities” – 75 minutes – middle session – sandwiched between Professor Alma Harris and Sir John Jones. No pressure…but the conference is tomorrow! 

Of course, it was impossible to say no! Nothing like an introductory slide saying ‘Designing for Learning’ …. OR…

‘The Interval’ accompanied by ‘Pearl and Dean’!

A great day. Professor Alma Harris set the scene for ‘Professional Learning Communities’ in Wales (and as Andrew said…she was engaging and entertaining!)….Sir John Jones finished the day with a motivating, emotional and inspirational session. We had the 120 delegates on their feet and involved in experiential learning with a serious message. One comment from a headteacher – “You didn’t tell us this was going to be fun too!”

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Filed under Designing for Learning, Education, Embedded CPD, Values