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.


  1. The ASB Unplugged Conference was a great resource for schools looking to go 1:1 - there's also a Laptop Institute conference every year in Lausanne, which might be more feasible for teachers in the US. There are so many schools that have already implemented this kind of learning environment that it's worth investigating what they've done well (and of course, pitfalls to avoid). Best of luck!

  2. Thanks Kim - I think the netbooks are going to make a real difference.

  3. I have to say I am not too fond of netbooks, they are very limited. You can for just a little bit more get a more durable, better built laptop that has more potential for growth, expansion, and even repair.

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