With the launch of the DfE’s list of online education resources for home education, schools and families have a huge range of potential resources to access that have been identified by educational experts across the country. The Technology in Schools team has done a deep dive into one of the edtech platforms featured in the list, Purple Mash from 2Simple. We look at how it can support teachers and pupils with home learning during the Covid-19 situation.
What is Purple Mash?
Purple Mash is a cloud-based platform for primary-aged children. It contains a wide range of age-appropriate, creative software tools for writing, drawing, coding, animating, blogging and much more. In addition to these programs, the platform provides resources and themed lesson activities, which can be set for pupils to do at home. Feedback on their work can then be provided to the pupil, including recorded audio feedback, and all the work is stored online, within Purple Mash.
Included within Purple Mash is the EYFS platform, Mini Mash. This is also available as a stand-alone product for EY settings.
The platform also includes, as an add-on, an online library called Serial Mash, which contains digital fiction books with guided reading resources and activities.
2Simple are offering free access to these platforms during the time that schools are closed or partially closed due to COVID-19. It is already used by over half the primary schools in Hertfordshire.
How does it work?
All Purple Mash users have an individual account, which they log-in to, to access the tools and resources. Once set up, teachers can view their classes, which contain the work folders of all their pupils. They can also set ‘to dos’ for pupils which pop-up on screen when a pupil logs in, so it is clear what their work task is.
In addition to carrying out and receiving feedback to work set by the teacher, a pupil can also use any of the creative tools for writing, digital painting, coding, blogging etc. and play the maths and English games.
Recently, 2Simple have enabled the ability for teachers to upload their own files to Purple Mash, such as Microsoft Office documents, videos and more. This means schools are not limited to using Purple Mash resources, and can also distribute other materials to pupils at home using the same platform.
What subjects and topics are covered?
To a large extent, Purple Mash can be a ‘blank canvas’ for teachers to design and deliver their own activities, using the wide range of creative tools available. However, a huge library of ready-made activities are provided, and currently there are daily lessons published to support home learning. These lessons can either be set by a teacher as a ‘to do’ or accessed independently at home, with parental support.
Purple Mash offers Maths and English activities, including some game-based learning. These activities cover areas such as:
Maths: Number, Geometry and Shape, Time, Measure and Statistics.
English: SPAG, Diary Writing, Persuasive Writing, Poetry, Planning and Drafting and more.
It also provides topics from science, art and other subjects, and contains a complete computing scheme of work, which utilises the digital tools that the platform offers.
How can Purple Mash support distance learning?
One of the issues when trying to set any sort of digital work to be done at home is the variation in the devices and the access to technology that the children have. An advantage of Purple Mash is that the tools and activities run within a web browser and do not require additional software to be installed. Therefore, they are not device-specific and as long as the child has access to a device that can browse the web, then they should be able to access Purple Mash. We have successfully accessed the platform using laptops/Macs, Chromebooks, iPads and Android devices. Note that functionality may vary between different types of devices and some tools may not be available on every platform, particularly those that do not support Flash.
Purple Mash has received a number of improvements and new features in the last few weeks, to support distance learning and safe communication.
Below is a summary of how Purple Mash may support schools during the Covid-19 situation and beyond:
- The teacher can simply assign tasks for learners to complete at home.
- They can give feedback and rewards on completed tasks.
- Staff can safely communicate with their class using 2Email (a simulated email system) and enable one-way or two-way communication.
- Users can share learning and discussions using 2Blog and the digital Display Boards.
- The integrated, creative tools in Purple Mash can be used at home, without the children needing to download or purchase additional software.
- Upload standard files (for example PDFs and videos) into Purple Mash.
- Children can build their individual work portfolios for teachers to access.
- Teachers can access the staff training area within Purple Mash.
- They can dip into the Distance Learning video tutorials.
- Teachers can explore the daily suggested activities and assign them to their class.
- A daily blog post for parents/carers is published, providing help around supporting their child with home learning, using the Purple Mash platform.
One concern about home learning at this time is that activities set by teachers may be predominantly screen-based, given that work is frequently set through the use of education technology. Purple Mash isn’t limited to on-screen activities, and also provides a range of printable resources that can be used away from the computer, so helping to offer a balance of activity type whilst still providing a central hub for work of different types.
The home experience – feedback from users
Theo Cornell (year 2, age 7)
“I like being given ‘to dos’ on Purple mash from my teacher. It makes me happy when my teacher comments on my work. My favourite project has been Story Maker when I got to write about the fire of London and use pictures.”
Eleni Koureas-Cornell (Theo’s mother)
“Purple mash has been key for Theo’s learning during school closure as he’s been able to complete tasks set by his teacher and receive feedback on submissions.
Theo navigates between the tools effortlessly and works through tasks ranging from maths to writing and even coding, which gives me peace of mind that he continues to develop whilst learning remotely.”
What do we need to do to access this resource?
Schools can request free access to Purple Mash via the 2Simple website: https://2simple.com/ For school users, it will be necessary to create pupil accounts, and this is supported through the website with a series of articles and guides.