Building a shared future with Frog

We’ve just had our latest annual conference, and it went really well. We were delighted to host even more people than last year, and with much broader representation from senior leaders.

Conference18_full_05

We announced a major change in Frog at the event and I’m delighted that everyone there was extremely enthusiastic about the idea; which is fantastic, because I need your to help deliver it…

Most people know Frog as a Learning Platform, which is only half accurate. Frog is and always has been, in effect, an Education Technology Lego kit. We put the bricks of this Lego kit together as a Learning Platform back in 2004 and it kind of stuck. The fact that many schools rejigged these Lego bricks to create their own personal YouTube systems, or any number of other things, or that organisations like National Theatre and KEW Gardens use it to develop their own tailored learning portals doesn’t seem to have shaken the perception that Frog is just a Learning Platform, although we still do that really well!

As a quick aside, over the last few years we’ve also added deep educational knowledge to what we do; we have two complementary assessment products, and we’ve been a founder partner – along with the NAHT – of the Life After Levels initiative. Our product has also become an extremely powerful development platform, so powerful that it’s currently being used as a base to develop an education social network for an entire country in Europe!

So, what’s next for the UK?

Our next step is a big one.

Teachers are struggling with workload, schools are struggling with money, and MATs are trying to find their feet.

When schools have lots of human resources available to them, a Lego kit that you can do pretty much whatever you want with is a very exciting prospect to some, but what happens when those resources aren’t as readily available as they used to be? The truth is that most schools and MATs frankly don’t have the time, or the resources to put these bricks together any more. Frog’s technology is being massively underutilised and as a result, lots of opportunities missed. As recently as last week one of our team was in a school and saved them over £4,000 a year – in less than 15 minutes! I mentioned this in the office this morning and was delighted to hear that it happened again yesterday, a completely different thing, but we’d saved someone £2,500 a year during a customer ‘phone call.

In short, there are lots of schools using Frog in outstanding ways, saving money, saving literally thousands of hours of teacher marking time, improving outcomes; but these schools have had to put an investment of time in to achieve this – time most don’t have.

So, we’re going to change how the Frog organisation works, and if you’re a customer we’re making you an offer.

We’ve been quietly offering our help to some schools and MATs over the past few months, supporting them to develop new resources; things like an Appraisal and CPD system, saving around £2,500 a year in EVERY school in the MAT that we’re building it with, or Digital Planners, already saving up to £4,000 per year per school in a lot of schools. We’ve also just started working with a group of schools on an IT Service Desk and another group on a Behaviour and Rewards system.

This isn’t brand new software development, this is built using the Frog Lego bricks – that’s how powerful they are now. There are already over 50 examples like this, and that’s not including things like the hundreds, maybe thousands of learning resources that our schools have already shared on the FrogStore.

Wouldn’t it be great if all this hard work was available to every other Frog school at the click of a button?

So, our offer is that we will help you to build stuff, on condition that you let us make the results available to the whole Frog community, and that we do so without charging anyone anything.

Everything for free.

This way, if one school finds a way of saving a few thousand pounds a year, then every Frog school can mirror it, with just one click of a button. If another school finds a way of saving hours of teacher time, then every Frog school can benefit. If a MAT finds a way of improving their governance and communication, then every other Frog MAT can benefit.

To be honest, this has been happening naturally and organically over the past few months, since a major update to Frog that has made it exceptionally flexible. What I’m doing is offering to invest in this further and to make a real go at getting all of our schools to work together.

Money is tight in schools today, and teachers, in fact, all school staff are under tremendous pressure.

Let’s stop mucking about all doing the same things and work together, as one.

For free.

I’m really excited by this vision. It’s exactly what our UK schools need at this moment and we’re really proud that we’ve reached a point where we’re able to deliver it, and frankly that we’re able to be part of it.

Are you in?

 

New mobile theme already being adapted!

We recently released a really powerful, highly visual, fully mobile responsive theme.  The first use for this was for our own Home Learning interface that combines the workflow and homework monitoring of the Frog Learn product with the revision and academic reporting of the Frog Play product into one seamless, mobile friendly interface.

In case you’re not aware, the latest version of Frog marks a significant shift in the platform.  You are now able to build fully functional platforms / products inside Frog Sites now.  This will be familiar to schools that used the previous Frog 3 platform, and is generating a lot of excitement.  Of course, with Frog Code, this means that Frog Learn is way more powerful than Frog 3 ever was.

Greenshaw High School has already had this theme adapted to provide their own similar interfaces within their world of Frog.

A couple of pictures here to show the direction it’s heading in:

Greenshaw-Theme-2018Greenshaw-Theme-Burger-View

New Frog Release, “Newton” coming

Sir_Isaac_Newton_by_Sir_Godfrey_Kneller,_BtNew reports and contextual data in Progress, loads of improvements to assignments, including integration with the student calendar, awesome (genuinely awesome) Google integration, and a whole set of learning content (videos) now in Frog Play, along with loads of other bits and pieces.

Click below to get a proper look at what’s coming:

Release Guide – Newton V7.1

Now Frog’s gone all Star Trek!

Simon Nicholas from Ralph Allen School has designed one of his Frog dashboards to look like the computers on Star Trek The Next Generation (apparently it’s called LCARS).  Simon has submitted this site to the FrogStore for those that want to grab it (just hit the FrogStore app inside Frog).  Thank you for sharing, Simon!

Our guys liked it an entirely unhealthy way in my opinion.  I’m told they’re now working on a theme to replicate the look.

Click the image below to see a video of how the animations work.

startrek_TNG_theme

 

For those interested in how he built this, it’s constructed entirely in a single site using a basic fullscreen theme and used Photoshop to create the buttons. The animations are .gifs in media widgets and the menu icons are pictures placed in a text widget. Simples… But very cool.

Mobile Responsive Themes

Our latest theme has been tweaked to make it mobile responsive, which means it changes what it looks like depending on what device it’s on.

We’ve been able to do this on any theme for a number of years now, but for some reason not done it on the one’s that come pre-installed with Frog.

“Why not, are you stupid?” you may ask.

“Yes.  It appears so.”

I wish I had a better answer…

Here’s an example on a normal browser:

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And here’s what it looks like on an iPhone.  Note the little “burger” menu in the top right hand corner.

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Remember that you can build your own themes, what Frog looks like is completely up to you.  I believe there’s a bit of code that you can paste into any theme to make it do this.  To see more take a look at our Community Site – Mobile Themes.

Huge Frog upgrade coming soon !

As some of you know over the past year or so we’ve been naming our versions of Frog after cool people from history.  The next version of Frog is called the Whittle release, after Sir Frank Whittle.

Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS (1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was a English Royal Air Force (RAF) engineer air officer. He is credited with single handedly inventing the turbojet engine.


Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS
(1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was an English Royal Air Force (RAF) engineer air officer.
He is credited with single handedly inventing the turbojet engine.

Our last release was in July of this year, and you should see how much we’ve done since then!  We have more than 70 people in our software development team, and for the last couple of years they’ve spent much of their time putting the “foundations” in to Frog.  While I won’t bore you with the details, as many of you know Frog’s product design mentality, what you can see on the surface is only a fraction of what’s possible once you understand what’s going on underneath the skin (two cars might look the same from the outside, but under the skin one happens to be a World Rally Car, while the other might just be a normal road car, with an oil leak… ;0)

All this inner magic is now mostly completed, and this means that we’ve now started to be able to use the huge development resources we have to focus entirely on things you can see rather than the hidden magic under the hood.  The Whittle release will give you an idea of just how far forward we can go now in a short space of time.  As you can tell, I’m dead excited about the speed and momentum that Frog have at the moment!

I’ll drop a few screenshots on here over the coming days, but here’s a small taster:

  • completely rebuilt assignment manager (for issuing work, marking work, communicating with the students and giving formative feedback)
  • a brand new mark book (for assessing performance and progress)
  • new apps in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store (giving you access to EVERYTHING in the Frog system from tablet devices)
  • a brand new Frog Snap mobile application for both iOS and Android devices (now records video, allows live editing of images, and also provides tools for annotating feedback on work instantly)
  • huge improvements to the text widget in the site editor (allowing you to create sophisticated web sites, or even build your own learning platform within a site!)
  • massive improvements to sites (particularly around using sites as publicly facing websites and portals)
  • huge improvements to Frog Drive (enabling shared workspaces, collaboration, a funky new interface and loads more)
  • ability to mass import data from other systems (zip up your existing document structure and fire it straight in to Frog in one go!)
  • Whole new Frog Parent product now available for Frog Learn
  • Whole new Frog Secure Gateway product now available for Frog Learn
  • And the FDP (Frog Developer Platform) has finally been launched and training has started, enabling you to get under the hood of Frog yourself and bend it and shape it any way that you want, including integrating or even building your own applications and mobile apps!

Is that everything?  Nope…there’s loads more stuff in this release

Is this what we’ll be showing at the Bett show?  Nah, there’ll be another release nearing completion by then!

Am I excited at how quickly things are being developed right now?  Damn right !  Are you?