Archive for ICT

Jul
25

Well two days into the holidays so far and I have enjoyed a couple of days of meetings with interesting and inspirational people. It has been a good way to make the transition from the circle of teaching, marking and planning to the other things I want to do these holidays. I always thought my days as a graphic designer and years in educational publishing would eventually combine with my teaching experience to give an unique insight into both sides of the fence and this is starting to come to fruition. I do think it combines all my interests well and I am starting to realise I do have some valuable skills and thoughts to offer.

So now the real work begins.

After months of researching, deliberating and costing we are embarking on a 1:1 ipad trial in September. This is both exciting and scary. I currently have several ipads, imacs and 15 ipods in my classroom and I know how time consuming these can be to keep maintained and up to date. The thought of the responsibility of dealing with an excess of 150 frightens me somewhat! All our Year 4’s (70) will receive an iPad, there will be other pockets in every year group throughout the school for class and SEN use and every teaching staff member will get one. Apple TV is being placed strategically throughout the school, along with some new smartboards and electrics to go with it! As much as the infrastructure changes I am nervous and concerned at how our teaching will need to change. There seems to be few guidelines out there for cooperative facilitation with mobile devices, especially in primary schools that I feel this is going to be a bit of an experimental year. One where iPads will be used alongside some traditional methods – I do not want my attainment to suffer through shiny distractions. So I’m going to blog my journey – hopefully it won’t be too much of a roller coaster ride.

In addition to setting up the iPads, I have changed ICT maintenance support suppliers, finally choosing a small but dedicated company called Infratek. I needed a company who could support our current pc based network and infrastructure and proactively and knowledgeably support our burgeoning Apple arm. So they need to spend a couple of days at school, hopefully sorting out our cabling (see below), servers, new active directories, backup systems, and our independent web filtering. I have moved away from LA broadband and we should be getting at least 40mb on a contained line rather than the current 2mb!

On top of all of those changes comes a new website and learning platform. After much deliberation individually and with local partner schools, we are the first of our partnership to go with e-schools. It looks like a good all round package, and finally sold itself to us on the basis of their commitment to working on mobile devices. We are going to be their flagship iPad school, I hope we do them proud. Unfortunately I still need to populate the website to meet the new government guidelines – no small job in itself.

With all of the above changes I am running a staff inset day on the 4 September, I’m trying to work out the best way to not overwhelm a predominantly technophobic staff and leave them with tools that they can go back and refer to independently afterwards.

If all of that was not enough – I have my work with the NHA to do, newsletters to produce and some exciting publishing opportunities which may open up. I’m also preparing for some formal research into iPads and attainment, it’s been a while since I did my doctoral research, but I’m looking forward to doing that in partnership with some other like-minded people and being able to add some empirical research to the countless notes of anecdotal evidence out there.

And last but not least my new Handwriting Apps will be completed and released. This is exciting and has been almost another full time job on top of the teaching for the last 4 months. However most of it is now with the developers and I just need to produce a website, some videos and some marketing to go with it.

So a busy busman’s holiday!

 

Following Rethinking ICT I mulled for a while and then went back to the members of the Oxford ICT Advisory Group, of which I am a member, with a proposal. Today we met to thrash out the initial bones of a simple but useable interim ICT curriculum. A progressive skeleton on which schools and teachers can layer as much or little to match the levels of expertise and kit in their own schools.

The team is small, but full of like-minded enthusiastic and inspirational people and we had an interesting and productive day. It is certainly a challenge akin to opening a can of worms. In a life where much of my face to face discussions are done with children and my adult discussions are done virtually, it was really nice to reverse the experience!

So a plan is in place for the summer – combined with massive ICT changes in my own school, it is going to be a busy 6 weeks!

Some great debates at RethinkingICT today. Certainly some thought provoking presentations. My head certainly hurt by the end of it, and in many ways I wasn’t that much clearer about where we should be going or even want to be going with ICT (if that’s what it remains to be called!). So many ideas, so many differing views, all at least seemingly held together by the desire of best practice glue with atoms of children’s best interests interwoven. But where does one go from here?

It’s all very well to say go forth, share and shout. But about what? A good lesson? A good series of lessons? An exciting product, software, web 2.0 tool I’ve found? Who decides what ‘good’ is? Where is the criteria by which that should be judged? I’m not really a shouter. I’m not a hoarder or particularly precious about what I do either. I love collaborative practice. But I also want some direction. I want to know that my practice is based on a sound core set of values/skills/competences. I want to be able to put my learners on a progressive pathway which includes some signposts for both of us to measure ourselves against.

I didn’t sense that really came out today.

The best piece of clarity I had was amongst the bagels in Waitrose afterwards, where I met a fellow lurking delegate. An English teacher (not ICT) whose background includes a far stronger base of experience than mine. She reflected how during the day she had observed the hammering out of similar ideas which the English profession have been doing for years.

As we berate the standard of ICT being taught by a potentially fabulous Maths teacher, they cry in frustration at how a brilliant Science teacher doesn’t bother to point out or correct incorrect punctuation. As we grapple with what the different parts of ICT should be called, contain and how they should be best taught – similar conversations have been had by the English specialists.

English (or Literacy) is divided into parts – all integral to a successful whole – grammar, handwriting, various genres of writing, speaking and listening, and critical analysis skills. We teach these elements but put our own stamp on it, use stimuli that enthuse and engage the learners in our own classes, use the core skills in a progressive manner to underpin the more exciting layers we put on top. Surely the same applies to any renewed ICT programme? I don’t want a prescriptive off-the-shelf solution (I know no-one was suggesting that) but I do want some sort of pedagogically sound framework on which to hang my personalised teaching and learning.

As a new ICT Coordinator, with a near-nonexistent curriculum and teachers still holding on to teaching powerpoint for grim death – what can I take away from today and use immediately? @ShelliBB reminded me of the importance of giving the children ownership for their digital future and I will relook at my Digital Leader program with renewed vigor, @mrlockyer engagingly reminded us that we all live in a REAL world – analogue is a present that should be enjoyed now and not solely through a digital lense. And @TheHeadsOffice showed me that at the heart of great change is often a simple idea that works – and I will even in the dying days of this academic year try and get some pupils engaged with the 100 word Challenge.

As for some sort of framework, the closest I saw today to something that fits the purpose for our school is the Digital Studies model (http://digitalstudieswiki.pbworks.com/w/page/49888869/Welcome) courtesy of @sharland, @infernaldepart and @teachesict, but it’s something I need to look into in more detail. I will also look through NAACE, Ian Addison’s (http://www.ictplanning.co.uk/) and Matt Lovegrove’s (http://www.mrlovegrove.net/category/resources/) planning ideas – and no doubt spend the summer armed with a wall and post-it notes.

I do know that any framework at the core of the curriculum I will use needs to be adaptable to the environment into which it is placed, whether that be a highly motivated digitally supportive school, or a more traditional and electronically challenged one. It needs to be simple and deliverable in bite-sized chunks so as not to overwhelm the tech-reluctant teacher. Strong enough to be bulked out and fluid enough to adapt with changing technology.

I’m not lazy by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t feel qualified to create from scratch, or even confident enough propose something so key to far more experienced practitioners. However I am more than happy to play my part, but I would prefer that to be adding to the muscle that holds the skeleton up rather than rebuilding the actual skeleton. Think if it more like the rehabilitating physiotherapist tailoring the exercises to the individual rather than the surgeon rebuilding a shattered body.

Too much to ask then – for some other intelligent bods, more experienced me, to design some pedagogically sound coat hooks on which I can help learners hang wizard cloaks (magic ones – but not made solely of the dust that comes out of the back of ipads!)???

 

Big thanks to Louisa Farrow, Head of English and Director of Studies at Winchester House for the interesting chat.
Oh and to Chris Leach for organising a brilliant event.