Thursday, 7 March 2013

Purple Mash

I've recently been looking at Purple Mash, our LA bought in to the package and gave it all the primary schools as part of the ICT buy back and now this year we found out that the subscription was no longer going to be paid for by the LA. Which left me with a number of questions...

1. Do we use it? Let alone to it's potential, do we actually login? 
2. How much is it?
3. Is it a reasonable cost? 
4. Do we want it? 

All genuine questions, I'm sure you've been in the position where you've either had free stuff or inherited that aforementioned stuff and have not thought twice about it's value or it's use as you've been pursuing your own thoughts and establishing them within your school, and rightly so I think a school should not only represent the children but the staff as well. However when you're called to action because of change outside your control it means a decision has got to be made. I simply wanted to express my journey in making that decision and hope that it will help you with yours. 

1. Do we use it? 
   Having mentioned it a few staff and actually distributing class login details 18 months ago I've found a number of staff dabble in the world of Purple Mash, which for me presents two streams of thought...
   -- We can probably get away with not having it, and,
   -- Perhaps there's scope for this usage to be developed.  
I always play devils advocate with myself, I think if I want something and can see the benefits then I can always try to talk myself out of it, thus proving how much the school actually needs it.

2. How much is it?
   I've heard it's somewhere in the region of £600, I need to do a bit more research, as I'm not sure if that's annually or a one off payment.

3. Is it a reasonable cost?
  I guess this all depends on how we define, 'reasonable'. Probably hard to answer, as I haven't got a definite price.

4. Do we want it?
  Possibly the most important question, sure budget is needed etc, etc... but it's not a limiting factor really, the question is do we want it. I've found the best way of looking at this is weighing up the pro's and con's.
   Take for instance the con that PurpleMash is not like any other programme (let me explain why this, in my opinion, is a con) I'm concerned that I'm going to be taking too much time teaching pupils how to use Purple Mash than actually teaching them about the subject i.e. design. Then as the children outgrow Purple Mash which is inevitable, I then have to take them to another software package and teach them how to use that one, before I can get back to the subject again. I'm trying to balance here, showing my pupils how to use a piece of software that will be beneficial to them in the future against teaching them the basics of a subject (design, photography, music production etc etc)
I feel PurpleMash although brilliantly simple (PRO) is perhaps too many steps away from other software (CON.)
   Then there's the saving facilities, you can export to a folder within PurpleMash which is great (PRO) or to a computer, but as a PurpleMash file type, making certain options hard work, printing, saving for evidence etc (CON)
   I have to be honest though that about sums up the 'con' list and I could keep going with the 'pro' pile. Sure you get a school code that's got nothing to do with the school and then you're creating user@randomcode etc, etc... but this is only a small hurdle if managed and administered correctly, they also seem to be connecting with a few other sites at the moment and developing single sign in options (PRO)
   Mainly and probably most importantly, children like it (PRO), can navigate round it with ease (PRO) it has fresh content regularly (PRO) it massively boosts the use of ICT in other curriculum areas, basically removing the excuse of, 'I've not had time to put something together for the children to do using ICT', in other words, it does the hard work for you! (PRO)

So far still undecided, next step finding out how much the thing is!