Long & Winding Road
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

Long & Winding Road

on

  • 378 views

A presentation I gave at a technology show alongside BECTA, on how I introduced a virtual learning environment

A presentation I gave at a technology show alongside BECTA, on how I introduced a virtual learning environment

Statistics

Views

Total Views
378
Views on SlideShare
375
Embed Views
3

Actions

Likes
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0

1 Embed 3

http://www.linkedin.com 3

Accessibility

Categories

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Microsoft PowerPoint

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment
  • The why, how & when process of implementing a VLE within a very traditional & successful independent girls day school. A 5-year plan to change a culture of a school, to give each girl the opportunity to develop her own personal strengths, including the application of ICT. The change was only going to be accepted if it was perceived as being for the good, rather than change for changes sake! For this to happen, it had to be a huge, coherent plan, aimed at changing teaching and learning rather than ‘Here We Go Again!’, especially ICT – always seen as the ‘beautiful, lucky sibling who always gets the best presents’!
  • Bolton School, Girls’ Division has a well deserved record of high academic achievement. Having been established 130 years ago, it has always been at the forefront of girls’ education, and the current headmistress, in post since 2005, is keen to uphold this reputation! The school was recently placed 71st in a national list of the top 100 best secondary schools (Sunday Telegraph, 18/11/2007).I was appointed two years ago, with a particular remit to look at the curriculum in the broadest terms, to enable our girls to reach their full potential. I have been teaching for nearly 20 years now, and have taught in the widest possible range of schools: Inner London comprehensive to ‘top draw’ independent school (Harrow); Single Sex education (both Girls & Boys) as well as co-ed; Rural & urban. I have been working with whole-school remits for the last 5 years, starting with a county-wide remit in Somerset where I was seconded to the LEA to help the roll-out of the Key Stage 3 National Strategy. From then, my main desire has been to enable every student to have the opportunity to realise their own potential.
  • “The longest journey starts with a single step.”When deciding to make significant changes, it is starting that is the hardest! Once the changes have begun, the project takes on a certain momentum of its own (although that can in itself be a problem!)Making significant curriculum changes to a very successful school is as difficult as making them in any other school – if not harder. There is a culture of ‘we’re doing a good job – why rock the boat’! This means that changes have to be well set into a solid framework.I’m not from an ICT background – my degree is in Physics, and before moving into Senior Management, I was always a Physics teacher. Computers (& technology in general) have always been a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. I have been in schools where there’s been the feeling that a change, particularly a technology change, has been imposed because it’s the latest fashion rather than because it’s going to make a difference.Also, having spent significant time in the state system, I am also aware of the destructive impact of changes being imposed from above (I mean, in this context, from government, where new initiatives seemed to be as common as the batch of colds that do the rounds every September in schools!).So my journey started with a single step – what did we want? What did it mean to enable every student to achieve their full potential? As with all questions, these lead to a clutch of new ones:How do we know every girl’s potential?How do we know how each girl is doing?How do we support individuals when schools are, by design, mass-education establishments?I did not start from a technology standpoint!
  • As I have said, the changes had to be well founded in improving the education of the students. How can this be done in a school with 100% pass rates as GCSE & ‘A’ level?One thing I have noticed is that in every independent school I have worked at, the staff work incredibly hard – there is more teaching than learning going on! Whilst I am not a supporter of a lot of the changes that this current government have imposed on education, I have to confess that there has been a shift in the good state schools to more effective learning, with students taking more responsibility for their education. I knew I had an edge – we could set our own agenda, knowing that it wouldn’t be railroaded by yet another initiative! I also knew that the staff we have would be willing to work with me.Without wishing to talk in jargonistic terms, the key to everything was in building a personalised learning agenda. Hard in the largest independent girls’ school in the country (1,220 students on roll!)!
  • However, Plato had a point (As far back as the 5th Century B.C., Plato was desperately worried about the impact that the written record would have on education – too impersonal & uniform and unable to adapt to the individual needs of the student!) Even back 150 years, John Stuart Mill despaired for true democracy because he felt that it would be impossible to educate the majority of the population due to the lack of personalisation!). And this government likes to think that it owns the personalised learning agenda...
  • Before we can start to provide a personalised education for each girl, we need to know each girl’s potential. The school had been doing baseline assessments for a number of years, using the University of Durham’s MidYIS system, but never really did anything with it!We are now starting to develop procedures that both give the staff and the girls a full picture of a girls’ strengths & weaknesses, using MidYIS (Verbal, Non-Verbal reasoning, Mathematical ability & Mental Skills), LUCID (screening for Dyslexia, etc.) and Learning Styles questionnaire (Howard Gardner, et.al.)This has involved a huge amount if training & support for staff in using this data, and we are nowhere near there yet! But we have started . . . Alongside this, we have also upgraded our reporting & monitoring procedures to spot girls who are slipping through the net (A problem with a high achieving school – we are going to potentially ‘miss’ a lot of girls who will do well, but not as well as they could).
  • There’s no doubt that already there’s a hell of a lot of change here! However, it was all laying the ground for the ‘true’ personalised learning!In order to make it ‘work’ we had to provide three things:Students who were capable of taking responsibility for their own learningStaff who were comfortable in supporting personalised learningSystems where students and teachers could develop personalised learning pathways (yuk)All the groundwork I’ve discussed up to now has been to provide the culture where we can genuinely start to provide personalised learning. However, we needed then to provide the systems to enable this to occur! This is where the technology comes into its own...
  • I’ll be honest – I was (and still am to a certain extent) cautious about the claims made by the techo-wizards when they claim that technology will sort out all our problems! However, it seems to offer the best solution to providing a twenty first century education that is still constrained in a structure designed in the nineteenth century. Like all schools, we’re constrained by timetables, room sizes & staffing levels, so it’s only by being ‘clever’ that we can provide the personalisation we want.What, in reality, does personalised learning actually mean? At the ‘option points’ (Years 10 & 12) we offer every girl a free choice of subjects and then construct the timetable to make it fit (we achieve around a 95% satisfaction level), but it’s actually in how each girl accesses her learning and how she progresses where true personalisation is to be found. In girls education, differentiated learning is fraught with dangers:- if a girl sniffs a rat that she’s being treated differently, then you’re in trouble! Being able to offer work to a girl through an individual route, where she’s not aware of what other girls are getting is great! And so the VLE raises its head. Also, with more personalisation going on, we needed to be able to offer the ability for girls to access work covered in the lesson if they are absent for any reason (Not that we have an absence issue – far from it, really! However, we want to be able to offer girls the option of participating in ‘extra’ things {more of that later} without worrying about missing an important lesson – that’s one of the benefits of having highly motivated girls!)
  • So a Virtual Learning Environment was starting to look like a good idea. If was going to offer us something ‘extra’ that would really enhance the high quality teaching already going on. But where to start? There is, with all things ICT, it seems, a forest of jargon, terms & phrases that got in the way, so I started with a blank sheet of paper and a question: “What do I want from a VLE?” After a period of consultation, I came up with the following:
  • Replace:- Blackboards for Whiteboards & projectors. More colour, pictures / videosEmbed:- Start to integrate new technology. i.e. ActivStudio / PowerPoint. Transform:- Changing the way teachers teach & students learn. (Interactive ‘voting’ for immediate response. ‘Drag & drop’ activities.)Allow for access to core materials (including video clips, flash technology & links to other sites) so that a student can pick up lesson notes and/or watch demonstrations if they are not in the lesson (i.e. home ill)Allow for the teacher to put available additional information &/or useful links for the student who wishes to extend their understanding of a topic.Have the facility for the student to ask a question of the teacher (or vice versa!) and for a dialogue to be built up – chat technology.Have the ability for students within a group (i.e. a class) to engage in dialogue with each other – discussion groups.Have the ability for the teacher to put worksheets available for downloading, under timed conditions, for students to pick up homework assignments.Have the ability for students to upload files for marking by the teacher. Allow for marks and comments to be recorded by the teacher on work submitted and for these marks and comments to be linked with the original file.Allow for peer assessment of work, so that students can look at and comment each others workAllow for marks to be displayed against a pupil record – i.e. a markbookAllow the teacher to create online tests such that students enrolled in a course can complete an assignment on screen. Teachers need to be able to create on-line courses and populate them easily.
  • And so I went shopping! Luckily, BETT was just around the corner & so I went. It was amazing how much variety there was there, all offering the same product in name (VLE’s)! Prices ranged from £5,000 through to £20,000 & some went as far as offering complete packages. It was very handy, however, having the characteristics list, as it kept me focused & I was able to discard a number of suppliers quickly, either for offering too much or not enough (Don’t get tied down to the ‘it’ll do everything’ mentality – look at the health service!)The BECTA framework & the creation of the BECTA approved list helped keep things simple as well – at the time there were 10 VLE’s that were on BECTA’s list (Whilst we don’t need to buy off the approved list, having experienced problems getting software to talk to other software because of ‘quirks’ quickly convinced me that I should!). I was also keeping an eye on Moodle (a free piece of software that is a fully fledged VLE, offering everything we needed, for free!).For a variety of reasons, I discarded VLE’s one by one – some were tied into MIS systems & we didn’t want to change our MIS (Management Information System), a couple were designed for whole LEA’s, whilst others had hidden catches, like tied in content (Buy the VLE, then you have to buy certain software packages to work with it).
  • In the end, it came down to a choice of three:Microsoft, SharePoint & ClasslinkMoodleStudywizMicrosoft & Moodle would both entail in-house support & with an already overstretched ICT support department, which left Studywiz. And that’s the other issue with a VLE – the initial price you pay is only half the equation – Both Moodle & SharePoint would entail an investment in hardware, around £4,000, along with guaranteed, dedicated support (which, for us, would involve employing another member of the support team to look after the server, etc, @ approx. £30,000, after employer’s NI, etc are factored in). Then there’s staff training!This all led us to look at Studywiz. They claim to be the world’s easiest VLE, and I haven’t yet had cause to doubt this! A simple pricing structure (£2.50 per student), and remote installation (We opted for hosting the server ourselves, to keep control of the data, but we didn’t have to) & over night support via e-mail from Tasmania are all part of the package! Adding into that the inclusion of a very flexible training package run by UK-based trainers made it a very attractive package.
  • I gave myself a half a term for installation & testing and a whole term for running in, staff training & general ‘iron-out’ issues before launching it with girls. I was glad I had! Installation was, actually, very easy – Studywiz provided us with a set of specifications & once we had installed the server, they did an overnight remote install (making use of low usage time on our network!). The only issue we had was that our network manager insisted on installing it behind a secure certificate, which it didn’t need as it has its own security.
  • Once up & running, then came the testing phase! We had a ‘development team’, consisting of myself, the head of ICT, a member of the technical support & a couple of ‘ordinary’ teachers (including a teacher from the Junior department). We spent the Summer term trying to break the VLE whilst at the same time undergoing training from the trainers, to enable us to support colleagues.
  • Girls were introduced to the VLE through their timetabled ICT lessons, but it was made clear that there would be a phased roll-out. Years 10 & 11 first, with years 7 & 9 following and year 8 last (with the sixth form on an ad-hoc nature). We also focussed on a few departments to use it more, with ICT, Science & Geography being the lead departments, with Maths & RS next (This was driven by the particulars of staffing more than anything!)The hardest thing has been to keep control of it as more departments & year groups are wanting to access it as it becomes more embedded!
  • Staff training was through a number of designated in school twilight sessions, as well as focussed sessions in departmental meeting time. This is where the ease of the VLE was essential – we were able to get every department capable of accessing the VLE in a basic way to provide material to support girls outside of the lesson.Training is on-going, however, as we roll out the system through the school community. . .
  • Staff training was through a number of designated in school twilight sessions, as well as focussed sessions in departmental meeting time. This is where the ease of the VLE was essential – we were able to get every department capable of accessing the VLE in a basic way to provide material to support girls outside of the lesson.Training is on-going, however, as we roll out the system through the school community. . .
  • In years 10 & 11, a number of departments now use the VLE to provide links to additional websites to support students wanting to expand their understanding.Additional resources are now available in a number of subjects for girls to develop their understanding.In Science, Lesson notes, including video clips & presentations used in the lesson are available for girls to review what they learnt / watch if they were away.Homework is being delivered regularly in a number of subjects via the VLE, allowing for differentiated worksheets to be sent to girls who need them.Groups of girls are working collaboratively on extra material through our Gifted & Talented schemeSome practical lessons are being videoed and streamed to girls via the VLEWe’ve had two cases on long term absence (both broken bones!) and work has been supplied to the girls concerned. Also, the chat & messaging sections of the VLE have enabled the girls to keep in touch with their classmates whilst they were off.
  • In years 10 & 11, a number of departments now use the VLE to provide links to additional websites to support students wanting to expand their understanding.Additional resources are now available in a number of subjects for girls to develop their understanding.In Science, Lesson notes, including video clips & presentations used in the lesson are available for girls to review what they learnt / watch if they were away.Homework is being delivered regularly in a number of subjects via the VLE, allowing for differentiated worksheets to be sent to girls who need them.Groups of girls are working collaboratively on extra material through our Gifted & Talented schemeSome practical lessons are being videoed and streamed to girls via the VLEWe’ve had two cases on long term absence (both broken bones!) and work has been supplied to the girls concerned. Also, the chat & messaging sections of the VLE have enabled the girls to keep in touch with their classmates whilst they were off.
  • In years 10 & 11, a number of departments now use the VLE to provide links to additional websites to support students wanting to expand their understanding.Additional resources are now available in a number of subjects for girls to develop their understanding.In Science, Lesson notes, including video clips & presentations used in the lesson are available for girls to review what they learnt / watch if they were away.Homework is being delivered regularly in a number of subjects via the VLE, allowing for differentiated worksheets to be sent to girls who need them.Groups of girls are working collaboratively on extra material through our Gifted & Talented schemeSome practical lessons are being videoed and streamed to girls via the VLEWe’ve had two cases on long term absence (both broken bones!) and work has been supplied to the girls concerned. Also, the chat & messaging sections of the VLE have enabled the girls to keep in touch with their classmates whilst they were off.
  • Parental linksThere’s a lot to be done here yet. We hope to be able to provide copies of school reports via a secure website, as well as copies of important letters, etc.The roll out continuesHaving surveyed the school community, we have approaching 98% student & parent access to the internet from home. This needs to be built on.Collaborative workWe are still developing the ability to use the VLE to get girls working on extended projects. We will probably start to use this with the school council. Our girls come from an extremely wide catchment area & the ability to communicate with each other is an area I am looking to exploit!Links with other establishmentsWe are currently making links with local universities, to engage in live discussions & are hoping to include other local schools as well in this.Global linksA big step, but one very much in the pipeline, is to use the VLE to make links with international schools. Studywiz is a brilliant partner here, as it is a global company, with a global profile!
  • How will we measure success? If girls leave BSGD more aware of their potential and more skilled in how to play to their strengths, then we will have succeeded. We want our girls to leave us with ‘more sparkle’, aware that this is not something that is easily measured!There is no doubt that Studywiz has done everything I wanted the VLE to do, and more. Our VLE, coupled with a strong, well thought out curriculum plan, has made some significant changes to the teaching (& learning) here at Bolton School, Girls’ Division, although we realise that we are only just beginning the journey! The key features, I think, have been:A clear, well defined idea of whyCareful planningTime, both to research & to installSupport (especially of Senior Management, but also of all staffA clear timescale for roll-out (We are giving it 5 clear years!)

Long & Winding Road Long & Winding Road Presentation Transcript

  • The Long & Winding Road
    Introducing a VLE
    "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
    Alvin Toffler.
  • Outline
    This session
    Background
    Beginnings
    Foundations
    Personalised Learning
    Planning
    • Choosing
    • Implementing
    • Training
    • Successes
    • Still to go . . .
    • Conclusion
  • This Session
    Bolton School, Girls’ Division is the largest independent girls’ school in the North West. We started a journey, 2 years ago, to change our school’s ethos: - we are aiming for confident, independent girls leaving the school ready, willing and able to take leadership roles in the wider society, determined to make a difference. We are using Information Technology as the primary vehicle for this change, rather than for it’s own sake.
    Our Learning Platform (Studywiz) is at the heart of this change.
  • Background
    Bolton School, Girls’ Division
    130 years of academic achievement
    71st in the country in the latest tables
    Me
    Almost 20 years experience
    Comprehensives & ‘top draw’ independent
    Inner City & Rural
    Single sex (Boys & Girls) & co-ed.
  • Beginnings
    The truth is, it didn’t start as an ICT project!
    How do we enable every student to be an independent learner, realising her full potential?
    We are a successful school – why change?
    Change culture . . .
  • Laying the Foundation
    One thing independent schools do brilliantly is teach.
    Learning is not, traditionally, so strong!
    We aren’t continually buffeted by the various initiative coming out of the DCSF – we can make long term plans!
    Personalised learning isn’t a government initiative . . .
  • Personalised Learning
    Government initiatives:
    Key Stage 3 Strategy (2001)
    ‘Every Child Matters’ (2003)
    Education white paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All (2005)
    2020 Vision (January 2007)
    Paul Black & Dylan Wiliam: Inside the Black Box (1998)
    Plato (5th Century B.C.)
    John Stuart Mills (1840’s)
  • Personalised Learning
    I’m also a trained educational performance coach (Neuro-Linguistic Programming).
    Three steps:
    Know where you are
    Know where you want to be
    Plan how to get there
    Step 1: Know each girl’s strengths & weaknesses
  • Personalised Learning
    Step 2: Know where you want to be.
    Students taking responsibility for their own learning.
    Staff comfortable in supporting personalised learning.
    A system where individual routes can be followed.
  • Personalised Learning
    Step 3: Plan how to get there!
    Twenty-first century education within the constraints of a 19th Century system...
    Options
    But how do you treat girls differently without causing problems . . . ?
  • Planning
    So that’s why we wanted a VLE!
    But there are so many different ones out there.
  • What do I want from a VLE?
    At it’s heart, a VLE is a way for students to interact online with their teacher(s).
    The VLE has to allow for learning to be transformed, not ‘just’ enhanced.
    Becta 3-stages of integration:
    Replace
    Embed
    Transform
  • Choosing
    Information from:
    BETT
    Independent school ICT conference focussed on VLE (Radley)
    BECTA (Of course!)
    Cost
    Range from £5,000 to £20,000
    Extras
    MIS integration?
    Bundled software?
  • Buy in or ‘Moodle’ it?
    In the end, a choice from 3:
    Microsoft solution
    SharePoint, Class-Server, et.al.
    Moodle
    The DIY version
    VLE Provider
    Studywiz, from Etech
  • Implementation
    Serious planning required here!
    Hardware
    Host ourselves
    Server integrated into our system
    Back-up & recovery procedures consistent with our disaster management policy
    ‘ownership’ of the data
    5 week installation schedule
    February ½ term to Easter
  • Implementation
    Software
    Very long testing phase
    6 weeks
    Development team
    All ICT literate, but not all ICT staff
    First phase training from Etech
    Development team renamed “Advocates”
    Introduction & initial staff training to staff just after summer ½ term term. . .
  • Implementation
    Staff & Students
    Staff then had half a term, with a lighter load due to exam classes, to ‘play’
    Over the summer, all data was wiped clear & re-installed to allow staff to not feel worried!
    The Girls were introduced to it via timetabled ICT lessons.
    Small roll-out to start with:- Years 10 & 11
    Only specific subjects:- ICT, Science & Geography
  • Training
    Cascade:
    Studywiz training for ‘Advocates’
    I led (lead) whole school inset
    Inset days
    Twilight sessions
    Departmental Inset when requested
    Any member of the Advocate team
  • Training
    Drip-feed
    How to log on (All staff demonstrated this by end of Summer term) – Whole School & Twilight
    How to navigate around (Beginning of Autumn term) – Twilight & individual with an Advocate
    How to populate with resources (Target depts. by beginning of Autumn Term.) Advocates in departmental time.
  • Successes to date
    Extension material for years 10 & 11
    Pod-casting revision material to year 11’s (Some of our girls have very long coach journeys to school)
    Support material (particularly in Maths) for weaker girls
    Lesson notes & handouts available online (particularly in Science)
  • Successes to date
    Video clips available online for girls to review.
    Homework being delivered online in a growing number of subjects (Differentiated material starting to develop)
    Groups of girls linked to work on extra-curricular projects (G & T team)
    Some practical lessons being videoed and streamed
  • Successes to date
    Long term absence:
    Lesson notes available online
    Either from teacher or exercise books scanned & posted as images!
    Chat room turned on for these girls
    Keep up with school gossip!
    E-mail system
    Allows girl to ask teachers questions
    (Disaster Management / Pandemic Flue planning)
  • Still in Development
    Parental Links
    Collaborative work
    Links with other establishments
    Universities (Lancaster in particular)
    Local schools
    Global links
  • Conclusion
    How are we going to measure the success of it?
    Avoiding pitfalls:
    A clear, well defined idea of why
    Careful planning
    Time, both to research & to install
    Support (especially of Senior Management, but also of all staff)
    A clear timescale for roll-out (We are giving it 5 clear years!)
  • Any Questions?