January 12

Digital Strategy – Planning for Change

A discussion on the Computing At School website here prompted me to think about how I have gone about changing and introducing change to a digital strategy in school.

 

CPD

Even before I know exactly what I want to do I would always start with a staff meeting – even anonymously posting ideas on to a Padlet – but you can share an audit of skills or examine what they do now.. CPD the needs to be a huge part of your strategy, different staff to access different skills and to share across the school what they are doing.

Curriculum Needs

From there I would look at the curriculum, there is lots of information out there to help with this, and you will need a whole school decision about the curriculum before you commit. However you can begin with a look at what i've done here and also a general look here by @michaelt1979. Lots of support from NAACE here too.

Devices and Resources

Begin with what devices you already have, I think most aspects of the new curriculum can be reached on laptops / computers but the chances are, if you carry out an audit of what resources are in school, you will be able to begin to plan activities which fit with the new curriculum.

From there look for gaps. I'm a fan of a choice of tech in the classroom for group / individual use, but that won't work everywhere. Plot what's missing and begin to budget.

Technical Support

This brings me to one of the most overlooked part of the strategy – technical support and advice! When carrying out an audit of resources use your technical support! Ensure that the devices you do have work properly! Nothing will discourage staff from experimentation than faulty computers or dodgy WiFi. Budget for technical support, especially if you are planning to buy more equipment. Good technical support will also be able to advise on purchases, improving WiFi and to give ideas for curriculum use.

Teacher and Pupil Champions!

Teacher champions will be vital in getting the curriculum up and running, particularly if you are buying new equipment. The ICT coordinator can begin with a project, and then share any success with staff. Pupil Digital Leaders (wide community here) can be trained to use certain programmes then lead that with their class or troubleshoot to support staff. For example how the interactive whiteboards should be set up.

Again CPD will be needed at this stage – share the use of simple programming skills such as Scratch – or regsiter for a Code Club Volunteer here.

Software

My final advice for software s to think creatively! When lesson planning work with staff to find what they want to do and source tools that do that. There is lots and lots of help out there! For example using Google Sketch Up for 3D Design.

 

There is always plenty of providers ready to offer solutions:

do check with your Local Authority - some source group discounts for licenses. 

Espresso Coding – their answer to the coding elements of the new curriculum.

Purple Mash and their range of 2Simple Software offer solutions as well.

Use iPads – lots of apps support the new curriculum.

 

 

December 15

We’ve got the iPads, now what?

This is mentioned to me more than I'd like – usually by exasperated teachers who discover that the school has 30 locked away somewhere that are never used or subject coordinators who have been 'given' iPads to raise standards… But little else in the way of support.

 

Schools are spending more than ever on technology it seems and, according to many articles a large portion of this money is going on tablet computers. A September article from the TES claims technology spending to be around £600 million this year, whilst at the same time a blog post in Wired points to a crisis in technology education.

Investment in iPads seems to be especially controversial at the moment and the stories are not always positive. Google iPads in Primary Schools and amongst the blogs, apps and ideas you will get plenty of articles about how it has gone horribly, and publicly, wrong! So, if you have already invested, or are considering here is a quick guide to makes sure your investment impacts on standards!

Begimming to use your school iPads falls into five key areas:

  1. Be prepared and plan ahead.
  2. Measure impact in a variety of ways – through pupil voice – talking to staff – and data.
  3. Let staff explore their use.
  4. Give time to talk to your technical support!
  5. Share success and encourage experimentation.
  • Know why you are getting them…

If you already have them in school, skip this point! However it is crucial you, or your Senior Lead, are aware of why you are investing in the technology. There can be many reasons for iPads or tablet computers in school – they do open up more learning space – they do allow for access to technology for all the school, rather than just in the ICT suite. They are cost effective and the huge range of apps means that they can, arguably, be used in all areas of the curriculum. However they should be one part of provision in the school, and a clear plan should be in place to ensure that curriculum provision is being met.

  • Share the aim with the teachers..

In fact, I would argue that there is no point buying iPads for pupil use if teachers can't use them. Buy them for staff, or let staff use them over the holidays. Especially subject coordinators. Set up some modelling of lesson use by teachers from other schools if necessary. Invest some money in a days inset with a recommended trainer.

Share articles and example of iPad use (I have put some at the bottom of the article) but bring them into staff meetings too – e.g. a staff meeting about learning environments could include the staff videoing their favourite display. A quick five minutes could include how the iPad can be linked to the whiteboard as a visualiser. Share key apps and brainstorm ideas.

  • Talk to your technical support

This should probably be first!! Be clear about your vision with your technical support. iPads are easy to use, no doubt about it, but you will need to be clear about the effect they will have on your infrastructure. Get your wi-fi tested to find out how much use it can take. Discuss the use of air-server or reflections to get your iPad onto your whiteboard in the classroom. How will you set up and run the volume purchasing programme? Berealistic about limitations – continue to invest in computer suites. Your teachers won't be able to manage this side of things alone.

  • Use them…

Sounds ridiculous right? But I have been to schools where thousands of pounds worth of equipment was locked away. Think about what you have and assign them if necessary. No matter how many you have! If don't start letting staff explore them you will never see the possibilities. Key message here(and I can't repeat this enough) use staff who are enthusiastic already, don't force use. Share success! Encourage experimentation.

 

One class set of 15? Leave them with a teacher that will use them. The rest of the school can book them from that class – but give them to an enthusiastic teacher and you will see results. You could put 1:1 in a class, but some permanently in classrooms are more beneficial. Even put 8 in a class across the school rather than one set locked away somewhere..

Group set? Assign them a specific use for some year groups, e.g. A maths focus every morning in Y5 and have an aim. You could with engagement as an aim, but let the class teacher decide how they could be used amd give them ownership over the data and use. For example use during guided reading, or a blog project.

Signing out procedures… Always an issue for any resource. Don't keep the iPads where they can't be reached, and encouarge a signing out book, or booking out on the staffroom board. Stick to it!

  • Limit the apps…

I have mentioned this before on this blog, but there are such possibilities with a limited number of apps that I would only really start with five/six apps. If staff want more iPads let them pitch their use of the app in a 2 min of the staff meeting. I really wouldn't start sharing too many apps.

  • A project?

If iPads are languishing unused somewhere then get a project started! An after school comic creating club, or a book creating project? Make movies using iMovie (book trailers are super simple).

 

I hope this is helpful! I didn't want to do a 'what not to do' post as it seems to me that many headteachers/senior leads have already bought the technology but don't always have an idea of what to do next! Teachers can therefore be left to make the best use they can! Do contact me with any questions you have!

Links

Why iPads in school?

Digital Roadtrip @digitalroadtrip has an awesome blog for those interested in more!

A look at iPad and collaboration:

Looking for a particular app? You will find it here! http://www.ipadsinprimary.co.uk

Great all round advice from @ictevangelist at his site