Sunday, March 7, 2010

Netbook CPD Project

I've mentioned in a couple of post the netbooks CPD project I'm working on. The school is introducing netbooks to all Year 7 and year 12 students in September ( plus year 10 if funds allow ). The aim of the project is to focus on the pedagogical approach to the introduction of the netbooks rather than the usual pattern for the introduction of technology which seems to be focusing solely on the technology itself. It is also looking at the CPD requirements of staff to ensure that they are able to effectively use the technology in the classroom to support learning.

We have been fortunate to secure some funding from Vital, a DCSF backed Open University organisation which aims to support school in making the best use of ICT. This funding will enable us to organise workshops and time off timetable to work on a strategy for the implementation, including a CPD program to run in the summer term to enable staff to embed e-learning into the curriculum.

We have been making some progress re e-learning prior to the start of this project. Each member of the teaching staff has one hour a fortnight e-learning training and the use of web 2.0 technologies in the classroom is increasing. What the implementation of the netbooks will enable is the opportunity to transform the way e-learning is used across the curriculum.

This Edutopia post identifies 4 stages of adoption of technological advances:-

  • Dabbling.
  • Doing old things in old ways.
  • Doing old things in new ways.
  • Doing new things in new ways
At a BECTA 21st Century Teaching conference on Wednesday they had a similar  model of levels of transformation:-

Without time to plan and effective CPD we will not get beyond the Dabbling / Exchange stage.

Just before sitting down to write this post I came across this post on going 1:1 in schools by Kim Cofino:-

Lots to think about here. Particularly liked some of the student quotes:-

  • 1:1 is an advantage b/c: “Teachers don’t need to be a source of raw information anymore & they can finally actually teach”
  • “It’s always possible to get distracted – the tech office can try to block things for a little while, but we always find a way. In the real world, there are always distractions, having a laptop teaches you how to be productive in that environment”
  • Students are not ready to go paperless, yet. They like the tactile experience and no boot-up time of working with paper and pencil when relevant.
Given the concerns re the robustness of netbooks and attrition rates I also liked this idea:-
  • Students really take responsibility for their laptop through the Eggcellent Project: Each student is given a drained egg to take care of for two weeks, along with a special case. If anything happens to the egg, they have to go to the tech office to sign an insurance form.
Lots of sound advice as well about engaging all stakeholders and the importance of Project Based Learning. As part of the research for the project I visited Bristol Brunel Academy last week. They have netbooks for all year 7 and year 8 and 80% of the curriculum is project based learning. We have a Personal Development Curriculum which is a cross curricular model but not nearly as extensive.

So next steps. We have a workshop on Tuesday with representatives from most curriculum areas to complete a SWOT analysis and plan a way forward. I need to compile a survey of all staff ( using a google form ). This will be an attitudinal survey as well as a skills audit to gauge what CPD training will be required. We also need to brainstorm ideas that can be incorporated across the curriculum. This wiki by Suzie Vesper could be a good starting point.

The key message that we need to get across is that this is not about focusing on the gadgets. At the moment, if a teacher books an ICT suite the lesson is dominated by the technology and the whole lesson revolves around the kit. With 1:1 netbooks technology becomes another tool to be used to aid learning.

Student Blogging - Bright Sparks

During my trip to BETT back in January I attended a really interesting seminar on student blogging to promote reflective learning. Myers Grove School in Sheffield have been using Bright Sparks from Life Beyond School encourage students to reflect on their learning and to build up a portfolio of evidence against various competencies. I am currently involved in a project to introduce netbooks to all students in year 7 from September and I thought that this might be a useful tool for students to use in tutor time as a sort of extended plenary on their learning for the day. I therefore jumped at the chance to visit Myers Grove School last week to find out more about the system.

Bright Sparks is an online blogging tool which allows you to classify entries against a set of competencies. Numerous frameworks are possible e.g. SEAL or PLTS or any in-house frameworks. These can be mapped against each other so that evidence collected against one framework can be translated into a different one.

Myers Grove have developed a set of 12 enterprise skills:-

  • Leadership and Team Working
  • Decision Making
  • Negotiating and Influencing 
  • Risk Management
  • Positive Attitude
  • Initiative
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Organisation Planning and Evaluation
  • Effective communication
  • Economic and Ethical Issues
  • Financial Capability
  • Product or Service Design and Development
Students keep a Digital Diary classifying each entry against one of these 12 skills. Evidence is collected in paper format throughout the day and then entered onto the system at the end of the day. The entries take the format of a short post explaining what the activity was. Documents, images, podcasts and videos can be uploaded to support the post. If the student feels that an activity evidenced more than one competency they would need to create an entry for each competency. This was a deliberate design decision to ensure that students didn't allocate an activity to multiple competencies. The data from the entries is displayed in the form of a wheel:-

( taken from Bright Sparks webpage )

As evidence is entered for each competency the wheel is filled in. Once a segment is filled in Bronze it starts again in Silver and then Gold ). This gives the student a snapshot of their progress and also highlights competencies that they have not covered.

The school has a different focus each half term to highlight where students have been using each of these competencies. Discussions are held during lesson plenary to help students identify which skills they have been using. Reports are being developed on the Bright Sparks system to show which subjects students are logging their evidence against to ensure that the competencies are being embedded across the curriculum. 

Once students move into KS4 they start to log their evidence against PLTS so that they are building up evidence for e.g. their Diploma studies. As the Enterprise Skills framework has been mapped against PLTS both frameworks can be turned on at the same time to aid transition and all evidence collected for the Enterprise Skills framework can be re-displayed as PLTS competencies. Similarly in Post 16 the competencies can be translated into evidence for personal statements. There is also a CV tool as part of the system. This mapping of competencies against each other ( via an underlying set of skills ) means that KS2/3 transition is also possible e.g. SEAL Framework to the Enterprise Framework. Temporary Frameworks can also be added e.g. a field trip or a sports event. This is currently being utilised in a sports project funded by the Olympics Fund. There is also a staff version which has the TDA Frameworks and Myers Grove are also looking at a parent portal which would allow parents to build up a CV. 

Apart from getting students to reflect on their learning it also supports them in understanding what is meant by the terms e.g. initiative and helps them to identifying when they are using various skills. 

I feel that this tool would fit really well into the use of the netbooks and enable tutor time to be used effectively to reflect on the day's learning. It would also help to facilitate mentoring sessions as it would be a good vehicle for reviewing progress and setting future targets.