29 Jul

A year in Ed Tech – a reflection

As a school year closes, I thought to take the opportunity to reflect on what I've learnt this year working in busy primary schools primarily and with Ed Tech! It has been an interesting year – everyone is talking about coding – the curriculum is changing – assessment has gone – and budgets are tighter than ever! But for my own 'ed tech' journey it is the second year of a two year project with the schools!

A few key items stand out:

Bring staff with you!

This was the second year I had worked with the schools and it was clear that the value of certain tools was increasing. Particular the sharing and communicating aspect. From parent questionnaires on google drive to staff meetings with a Padlet running in the background. Staff were able to suggest, use and even advocate these simple collaboration tools. Interestingly, last year was about the technology and the paper way – this year seemed to be more about the tech way. Why this was the case seems harder to answer. Perhaps staff were getting used to tools? Perhaps they were genuinely beginning to feel useful rather than something I had pushed on them?


It's not all about iPads…

A glance through this site and you would be forgiven for thinking I worked mainly with iPads. (Though I think that's improving!) It's true that I did, at one point, but now the tools are everywhere. From deciding to get laptops for the younger year groups to the many, many coding applications on PC it became clear that we didn't want to ditch Windows just yet. Interestingly my attention is now turning to the many android options around…


Things can go wrong ..

And they have! From failed projects, broken tech and curriculum plans that just didn't work. What I've realised is that as teachers we put ourselves under a huge amount of pressure. Sometimes there just is not time!

Projects can always be deferred, budgets should include some losses, and teachers should be cut some slack. After all, there is nothing wrong with high aspirations!


But children always love the effort…

Any extra projects, any additional work put in and the pupils always, always, love it! Teachers embrace the use of tech because it (should) make things easier – it should take something complex and simplify it. Some things which were not possible become possible and the 'wow' factor never gets dull! Highlights? Tweeting astronauts… Visiting Digital art galleries… Skype with other schools across the globe… But for teachers, realising the value a class blog can bring can make all the difference.

It's easier with friends…

I'm lucky, I have met and worked with amazing teachers over the years. They work so hard to make things work, and often with ed tech advocates, they work to make things work for others! But along this year i've worked with Apps4Good, Code Club, various design studios and some brilliant volunteers. After all, it should all be about collaboration….


20 Mar

Using Primary Aged Digital Leaders

Using Digital Leaders in school has been one of the easiest decisions I’ve made! Thanks to a really great showcase of blogs and community at the Digital Leader Network site it is really easy to get involved!

So what is the idea?
Digital leaders are, at the basic idea, pupil monitors for the tech that is used in schools. They are children who are interested, enthusiastic and thanks to training, knowledgeable! They spread good behaviour with technology, support teachers and are able to showcase what is possible. And, importantly, they develop their own skills and become a showcase for what is achievable!

Why Digital Leaders?
Giving the children, and indeed the teacher a high profile, with the title, badges and official roles will benefit all involved. Digital Leaders are trained to carry out specific jobs regularly (such as emptying the photo roll on iPads weekly…) and can support teachers when needed, (printing all of the presentations from DropBox). They will also support pupils when blogging, can have access to some passwords and get to try new technology. Promoting their role means that teachers and parents will take them seriously, and the experience they get from this will be very valuable!

What have digital leaders done?

Digital leaders can take part in staff meetings, parent meetings and can be on ‘duty’ – I use a rota to encourage the leaders to take responsibility for what they are doing each day. They can also be advocates and ‘champions’ of technology: demonstrating it’s use to the rest of the school.

Hints and Tips

– Encourage the children to ‘apply’ for their role. This will encourage a sense of ownership and excitement.
– Let parents know! Permissions for photos and things are a must anyway..
– Explain their role and the idea to staff, it’s nice to get the children to introduce themselves in an assembly as well.
– Enjoy them! Give them something fun to do…
– Do check out the great Digital Leader Network, the community is awesome – and get on twitter too!!

Guide to getting started!

Guide to getting started!

A beginning blog..

Where to start?
But don’t just take my word for it – take a look at how others are using Digital Leaders.