Using the FDP to increase staff efficiency: our ‘Staff Information” widget

Even if you’ve only been working in a school a short period of time, there are a few questions you overhear (or are asked) on a regular basis. In my schools, three of the top questions are:

  • What week is it? (timetable week)
  • Any idea if I’m on duty today?
  • Am I supposed to be issuing homework this week?

Prior to the development of the Frog Developer Platform (hereafter known as the FDP), there wasn’t much I could do as a VLE Manager to assist with such first-world conundrums.

In fact, historically, only if I walked to the Staff Room (a wee hike of around eight minutes for those of us with sore knees) would I be able to answer any of these questions. There are the answers, posted high up on a wall and updated whenever the designated member of staff passed that way. Well, what other way can we do it?

Fortunately Frog provided us with the answer: the FDP. If your school has someone with a bit of JavaScript knowledge, FDP widgets can be immensely powerful. Our Staff ‘Information widget’ now sits on our Staff Dashboard and is the first element visible to all members of staff when they log in to Frog.

This straightforward widget displays information:

  • An active time and date*
  • Who’s on duty, and when!
  • Which subjects should be issuing homework this week.

* It’s worth bearing in mind that ‘standard Frog’ can use Frogtags to display the date and time, but this is static. It won’t actively update, and as such, is inaccurate within a second.

I will make an admission here – this widget isn’t quite as clever as it may initially appear. No information is taken from a database or magically produced, it’s hard-coded in the JavaScript script I’ve written. The duty rota, homework timetable and timetable week numbers are all hard-coded Objects or Arrays. However, that’s just my quick fix. If I wanted to produce something more intelligent – possibly using a locally-hosted database – the FDP allows me to do so.

It’s true, I could do some of this with ‘standard Frog’ (I really should think up a more intelligent term for non-FDP usage) but I simply couldn’t make it as straightforward and efficient as I have with this FDP widget. Automatically, each day, the widget updates to show staff the information they require – no flicking through tabs or menus. Equally importantly, the widget takes up barely any space on our minimalist Staff Dashboard, and it isn’t a link which staff have to click. The up to date and accurate information is there, immediately, upon login.

It’s difficult to gauge how much of an impact this tiny widget has had on members of staff, but I do know this: there is no longer a paper copy of the duty rota or the homework timetable in the Staff Room, or anywhere for that matter. Every member of staff exclusively uses Frog – and specifically this widget – to find the information they require on a daily basis.

If you haven’t heard of the FDP but think it may be useful to you, check our their website: http://fdp.frogcommunity.com. There’s a reasonably active community of Frog schools answering each others’ questions, as well as dedicated members of the Frog FDP team.

I’ll actively track any comments, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m happy to update this post with further information if that would be of use to anyone.

About Duncan Wraight

VLE Manager for a Trust of 5 schools in Ashington (~10 miles outside Newcastle).
This entry was posted in News, Teacher posts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Using the FDP to increase staff efficiency: our ‘Staff Information” widget

  1. Andrew Deamer says:

    This sounds good, but where is the JavaScript Widget? I have tried browsing the Frog Widget area without success 😦
    Thanks
    Andrew Deamer, Millfield School, Somerset

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  2. Duncan Wraight says:

    Hi Andrew, thanks for getting in touch. To create a FDP widget, you need two elements. Firstly, create a HTML page – log in to the Toolkit, go to “New” then “File”; select the “Empty File” tab and choose type “HTML”. Once your HTML page is created, put your code in there. Then, create a normal Frog page and use the “FDP Widget Container” which is on the “Media” tab just after the “Flash” brick.

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  3. Andrew Deamer says:

    Ah – is that the HTML FrogBrick that I need to sign up for?
    Thanks

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    • Duncan Wraight says:

      It isn’t the “Raw HTML” brick if that’s what you’re referring to, it should be a separate brick. I’m not sure you have to sign up for anything, either – every Administrator-level user on every up to date Frogserver should have access to the “FDP Widget Container” brick. Hopefully this screenshot will help: http://dunc.seriouslyfish.com/FDPWidgetContainer.png

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