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Planet Sherston ... Reviews?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by roarm, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. Has anyone subscribed to Planet Sherston in their school? It looks a bit time consuming to me and a bit difficult to tell from their blurb what it actually does.
  2. One of the countless attempts to produce a subscription platform for the web. Ask them if you can have a trial (a proper one) if not don't bother would be my advice
  3. Planet Sherston is an online world of learning that provides access to thousands of high-quality, interactive activities and videos for use at key stage 1 and key stage 2. I work at Planet Sherston and would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have.
    There's no need to worry about finding the time to get Planet Sherston working for you - we can set everything up for you. I've sent you a direct message. [​IMG]
  4. Why is it so vague about what it actually is and does ? Why does it not (as MyMaths and many other similar sites do) provide demonstrations so it is at least possible to get some idea of what it is like ?
    Why do I suspect this is something whose content will be driven by subscription levels ?
    What are you going to do about the refusal of iOS and now Android to allow Flash ??
  5. Is there any more info or feedback on Planet Sherston? I have been nominated to look into Web services for my school. As I've just joined the school (and my first time on TES forums - this is my first post) want to make an informed decision!

    Schools in Lanarkshire have been using online and CDROM Sherston products for some time and we subscribed to "Googlebox" from Sherston but Planet Sherston doesn't seem anything like as good. One of our children said it for me 'MushiMonsters without the fun'. Any pointers or success stories from other schools would be welcome but seem thin on the ground compared to those for Ed City (expensive) espresso (even more so).

    Thanks in advance for any advice

  6. Could I add a p.s. to my comments above? I notice Sherston are not attending SLF. Should I be worried? Don't like investing in companies with no local presence. Also (if I can ask for a little more advice) does anyone have experience of 3P (Mathletics, Reading Eggs etc.) in the curriculum? This looks an interesting alternative, and they are at Glasgow

  7. A lot of people are trying to set up subscription based websites. A lot of them are in Flash which is causing some issues because it doesn't run on iOS and has been dropped from Android (and some aren't tablet friendly and using things like mouse move messages). Production of quality materials takes money and this tends to be a circular thing. Rather like the shortage of apps for Blackberry and Windows Phones because of the shortage of users.

    TBH any half way decent company should provide a teacher (or IT advisor or similar) with a free account so you can see everything it has to offer from top to bottom on receipt of some sort of ID e.g. a request on school headed paper.

    If they don't do this and just show you some samples, or worse videos of samples it is a red flag. That's fine for the website, but they should show a professional the whole lot. It may be the samples is all there is, or the same sample is repeated with different content.
  8. Thanks for your prompt response, really useful. Have to say that 3P (the Mathletics guys) have been really helpful and objective about what we need. I have some reservations about the products from them - not per-se but because of the needs of some of our more challenging pupils. The only slight red flag (can you have a slight red flag?) was the lack of science content but they did tell me - briefly - about their extension into the science arena, which sounds interesting.

    Not too impressed having looked at Planet Sherston, though, Looks like lots of their CD content just put online in a new interface. I could not find anything new there. Asked about tablet use and they pointed me to some apps they had produced but the subtext was that Planet Sherston doesn't work on them. Overall, very cumbersome to use and, more disappointing, they could not provide me with local references, even though lots of schools here use Googlebox. I suspect sales are not sufficient for there to be a good spread across the company (but please, anyone reading this, do leave a message). Shame. Sherston used to be the place to go for great software now it looks a very risky choice

    I realise now I am having to do a lot more research on this - by no means as clear cut as I thought! Thanks again for getting back to me so quickly.
  9. Everyone does Maths because it's relatively easy to scale and reuse code. So for example your 2 times tables stuff and your 12 times tables can have a common core.

    Virtually everything else requires content written across the board at every level. Which costs money.

    Many of them are in trouble because of Flash which doesn't work on iDevices and is being phased out on Android devices.

    There are promises of this being supposedly automatically converted to something that might - HTML 5/JavaScript but it is non-trivial to put it mildly. I don't think it's actually possible (short of rewriting the Flash RTI in JavaScript !)

    Your "more challenging" pupils have a similar problem. SEN pupils at the lower levels need materials which operate below things like times tables - very basic maths concepts such as 'what is one'. Older SEN pupils can use the younger SEN pupils but the material can be age-inappropriate - asking 13 year olds to count kittens won't work. This requires more money which doesn't generate much return because of the relatively small numbers of SEN. It makes economic sense to focus on the bulk.

    It's always been hard to find SEN reading books for older boys (especially) because they don't react well to being offered Chip, Biff and Kipper. The same level of language with rockets or football or something they might accept, but it's uneconomic to produce it (mostly)

  10. Well, the decision has been made! In consultation with the staff (yes, I was tasked with choosing an application/resource but I quickly realised that consultation was essential), we've gone with ... none of them. Here's my 2 minute summary:

    Education City: Expensive, samey. Great if all the teachers are on board and like it but there's no variation in style

    Espresso: Expensive and very stylised. Staff resented being told that they need so much training to use it. I'm inclined to agree. It's appropriate that you need some training to understand and get the best from a resource but for Espresso it was very much a case of 'you have to do it our way and we'll train you extensively how to do that'. Didn't go down well with any of our staff

    Planet Sherston: great look and fantastic processing of pupil's actions but the activities themselves were nothing more than recycled CD-ROM content.

    Mathletics + Reading Eggs: too stylised again, and too much emphasis on competition. With our larger-than-average proportion of children with different needs, this was a no-no.

    Shame, as it seemed the most relevant and portable (tablets etc).

    After some really good discussions with our staff the head (who had originally commissioned me to come up with a solution) took on board the staff's and, ultimately my, belief that all these solutions are too automated and don't give enough freedom to the teachers to do what they are best at.

    Yes, Planet Sherston and Education City can deliver impressive stats, and also do much of the mundane work, even producing pupil/class reports but, as our teachers commented, there's more to teaching than just reporting.

    So, what are we using? Ironically, Sherston. Not Planet Sherston but their CD-ROM products. Luddite mentality? No, I hope no one thinks that; it's just many of their resources are ideal for fulfilling curriculum needs but are not too proscribed. And what else? Well, the teachers are teaching the children directly!

    Thanks everyone for your input and I'll let you know how we get on. What this decision does mean is that we can bank £1.5k every year, money we would have spent on Ed City et al. And we're spending some of that this week as two of our classes head off to the Pacific Quay Science Centre (up the road in Glasgow) for a hands on day and special Imax screening of 'To the Arctic'. They - the pupils - are more than happy with the decision!

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