Essential questions schools should ask their ICT service partners

nick

A blogpost by Nick Madhavji, Managing Director of Joskos Solutions and member of the Naace Board of Management

Why outsource your ICT support?

Working with an outsourced ICT service provider is a considered investment that can free up resources within schools, enabling in-house teams to switch from reactive trouble-shooting to proactive ICT strategy and planning. Ultimately leading to a positive impact on teaching and learning.

A good/outstanding outsourced support partner will provide a scalable range of services that are tailored to a school’s specific needs, and will adapt over time. Additionally, schools will have access to a wide pool of staff with specialist knowledge, industry certifications and the ability to trouble-shoot with vendors at the highest level via their chosen IT partner.

Before committing to a relationship with an outside support partner, school leaders should always ensure that they clearly articulate their immediate concerns and longer term aspirations for how they want to develop the use of ICT within their school.  This will enable them to ensure that they sign-up to an appropriate support contract that fully meets their needs, with clear key performance indicators (KPIs) and obligations for both parties.

When considering a new support partner, or when reviewing a current support contract, school leaders should ask the following questions to ensure that they are getting the most appropriate service:

What is the company’s experience in the education sector?

The education sector has some very specific requirements. An education-focussed ICT support provider brings with it a team of staff who are used to working in schools, along with expertise in online safety and safeguarding requirements. They also understand the unique challenges facing school leaders and how to tackle them. For example, planning and implementing strategies to ensure that equipment remains up-to-date in a climate of funding cuts.  Corporate IT service providers or companies that don’t employ an educational ethos operate in a very different way, for example what we as educators might deem as a key teaching tool e.g. an interactive screen, non-education specific providers may see it as a low priority item.  A good question to ask is “does your company employ educationalists?”

Innovation is also a constant feature of educational ICT within schools, and it is vital that your support partner is aware of the latest technologies and how to implement them effectively.  Companies that are members of organisations such as BESA and Naace have access to the latest policy thinking, training and knowledge sharing that can be disseminated to clients to help them make informed decisions about future investments.

In addition, companies on the ICT Services for Education Framework, managed by the Crown Commercial Service, have demonstrated their ability to meet a range of stringent criteria that ensures schools get excellent service and maximum value.

What about Online Safety?

Introducing ICT and especially the internet into classrooms gives access to a wealth of learning and communication opportunities. However, without considering the online safety implications of ICT use both within and outside school, dangers such as bullying online, exposure to inappropriate content and the new threat of grooming for extremism can be a big concern for both schools and parents. This is why an understanding of online safety and the ability to help schools to implement effective policies and processes should be a top priority when choosing an ICT partner.

Online safety not only applies to students’ online behaviour but ensuring that sensitive data is secure. Schools should be aware of where data is stored, how it is protected and what measures are in place for back up and/or retrieval. The ability of your managed service provider to remotely monitor and back-up your network 24/7 could greatly reduce the chances of data being compromised or lost.

How flexible is the service that they can provide – and for what cost?

School requirements are never static, so the support service that you receive shouldn’t be either.  As the number of devices in schools grows, particularly if a Bring Your Own Device strategy is implemented, the level of support that you receive will also need to flex. An inflexible support contract will cause frustrations, so it is important to ensure that your support provider has the appropriate level of information about user device numbers and users so that they can tailor their support accordingly.  We always prefer and always suggest ‘no surprises’ contracts which provide our supported schools with a fixed-fee support agreement and the comfort that they won’t be billed for a callout if and when they need us the most.  This also helps with budgeting and places the onus on the support provider to carryout important proactive and pre-emptive maintenance so that costly callouts that negatively impact learning time are averted.

How do I know I’m receiving value for money?

Value for money covers many aspects of ICT support and shouldn’t simply be about the cost. Bursars, Business Managers and school leaders will want to know what they are getting for their money, but more importantly what added benefit this provides to the school. Your chosen supplier should have a depth of knowledge that enables schools to take advantage of educational discounts, bulk-purchases, the correct warranties and the appropriate software licensing. In addition, KPIs should provide comfort that support issues will be dealt with quickly, efficiently and transparently. By outsourcing trouble-shooting and issue resolution, the school’s in-house IT Team, for schools that have a team, can provide far more value to the school by taking a more proactive and strategic development role.

The right level of support and track record

Any educational ICT support partner worth their salt will have a list of supported schools that are happy to share their experience with other schools – we always suggest schools ask about a prospective ICT partner’s track record.  It is always advisable to ask about their longest standing school and whether you can contact them as well as any local schools you can visit and/or speak to. The responses you get should give you an insight into what it will be like to work with that company.  

All schools are unique as are the support options you have open to you. There is genuinely no one-size-fits-all when it comes to support, therefore it’s always wise to ask about what the right level of support is for you and how your potential new partner decides that.
For example, we have schools with a fully outsourced ICT team engineers onsite, through to schools which have a more remote approach and only utilise our remote support capabilities – each option ranging in value, impact and return on investment.  

The ideal partner for your school will both support you in meeting your immediate requirements and assist in defining your ICT vision if that is required. In today’s world of education technology, a short sighted, single-minded view from an ICT support provider doesn’t cut it. Your partner should be able to advise you on your entire infrastructure not just hardware or support, for example, your wireless needs, mobile device strategy, curriculum software requirements and teaching tools all need to form part of your strategic ICT discussions.  

These are just a few important questions that your school should ask prospective or even present ICT service providers to ensure your choice best suits your school’s requirements.

Comment below and share your questions for prospective ICT partners and why you believe them to be important!

Achieving education innovation through action research CPD: a school, professional organisation and industry partnership

A blogpost by Christina Preston, member of the Naace Board of Management

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We’re living in a time when things are moving fast. The rules of the game are changing. Science is changing. Technology is changing. Geo-politics is changing. Learning fast is the only mode of survival. But here’s the crazy thing: our models of learning have not kept up.” Wenger 2014(1)

As a member of the Naace Board of Management as well as the founder of MirandaNet, it is interesting to look back at developments over the years and see how they inform current thinking in schools.

Naace members whose professional lives stretch back to the 1980s like me know that the gurus of education technology have been complaining about the lack of change in classrooms for four decades – since the UK government first introduced the National Grid for Learning in 1997, and before.

Naace(2), ITTE(3) and MirandaNet Fellowship (4), all communities of practice, were formed at much the same time in the expectation that as expert academics, educators and practitioners we could all make a difference.

In 2010 I met Wenger (1) who invented the term ‘communities of practice’. In relation to MirandaNet he said that communities of practice in education have more chance of making progress than those in business because sharing is core to teaching professionals ethos. This observation is, of course, equally relevant to Naace.

The enthusiasm to share is palpable amongst us, the evangelists. Since I founded the MirandaNet Fellowship in 1992 our community of practice has grown from fifteen teachers in England who saw themselves as thought leaders in education innovation to one thousand members in eighty countries. We attract more than 64,000 visitors a year who read up to 11 pages of teachers’ research.

ITTE and Naace have similarly grown and matured – adapting to new forces by encouraging many more school leaders to join them.

But until the last couple of years most of the expert enthusiasts in each of these three influential communities would agree with Wenger that our models of learning have not kept up with the potential offered by learning technologies.

What has changed?

Michael Fullan(5) is another guru, a long term expert in systemic change management in education. He cites three new forces that are converging to open up learning possibilities. The first force, ‘new pedagogies’, springs from the new learning partnerships that emerge between and among students and teachers when digital tools and resources become pervasive. The second, ‘new change leadership’, merges top-down, bottom-up and sideways energies to generate change that is faster and easier than anything seen in past efforts at reform. The third, ‘new system economics’, makes the powerful learning tools and resources that accelerate the first two forces more affordable for all.

In our research in schools in the last couple of years have seen the evidence of a significant change in professional attitudes now that many teachers own smartphones and tablets. Because of their personal competence and understanding of the potential for of technology for teaching and learning, teachers at the grassroots are beginning to expect and embrace change.

To dampen Fullan’s optimism, there has been a profound change in the  government’s enthusiasm and capacity in England to fund this revolution as they used to and to lead the change centrally. Some of us are still around who were inspired in the 1980s by government agencies like the National Council for Education Technology (NCET, which subsequently became Becta) and organisations like MAPE (later to merge with Naace becoming Naace Primary) that they funded. This government support gave UK plc significant strengths and much that was developed in teachers’ garages was exported around the world.

In terms of exports, colleagues in other countries consider the UK to have had major support in terms of the British Education Suppliers Association (BESA). This organisation that was founded at the same time as Naace, MirandaNet and ITTE has published a longitudinal report about the history of industries involvement and how in the UK, computer technology  played a central part in the drive to raise standards in schools to meet the new challenges (6).

In this climate of expansion the technology industry was also keen to play a part in professional development. As an English and Drama teacher my first engagement was in a professional development project, where Professor Margaret Cox at Education Computing Unit, King’s College, London, invited a group of practising teachers to develop curriculum software to support learning in the new curriculum subject, Information Technology. We were a motley bunch, English, Domestic Science and History experts, who had had no training in computers and certainly no access to them. But we could see that children were highly entertained and motivated by the adventure games that were emerging commercially. We could see the potential learning value and went on to develop Scoop, the first education game for the 8-bit with pictures – black and white of course.

The program was internationally popular as information technology was new and this was an adventure where a journalist had to use information technology devices to gain a Scoop. We all piloted this in our classrooms and wrote the the notes for teachers learning much about how adventures could be used to improve learning and achievement.  To this day it can still be seen in some classrooms.

Based on this project and the many we have been involved in since, I  do not agree with Wenger that businesses do not want to share. It’s true that they do not want to share with each other on sensitive commercial information but we have had a good reputation in the UK for education’s partnership with education.  British Telecom’s part in this project illustrated the best of partnership. We all gained professional development and shared our research knowledge into what teachers and pupils found valuable in these new digital artefacts.  How proud we were of this achievement …and this group of teacher co-researchers who started MirandaNet and have been evangelists for Computing in schools in all its forms ever since: Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy also being high on our list. At the same time Naace was a growing influence with a membership from 1984 of those early computing advisers, teacher-advisers and policy makers, particularly those in Local Authorities.

How was this professional development and research funded? Well in England in the 1980s teachers were entitled to funding for M.As and Ph.Ds as well as 21 day course opportunities. So drawing on these professional development funding I was seconded to King’s to author the educational adventure game and research the value for a year. The teachers in the development group were seconded on a twenty-one day course entitlement that allowed teacher to pursue an interest related to their teaching and researchers at King’s were funded by BT to draw the larger research information from this intensive project.

Much has changed since then…In these days of austerity the UK government has closed Becta that commissioned most of the valuable research in this area (7); much smaller professional development funds have been devolved the schools who largely use this for training staff in how to use products and services (8); funds and time for involving leaders, advisers and trainers high level training is difficult to find outside of the CPD opportunities afforded by MirandaNet’s action research for teachers, iCatalyst, and Naace’s ICT Mark. This perennial problem has been documented widely since the National NOF programme 1999-2003 (9); companies struggle to reach enough schools to demonstrate what they can do and to continue their involvement once a product is installed; opportunities for objective research in this area through external funds are significantly reduced; applying for project funding is onerous and few submissions win – however good they are.

Despite these negative conditions, the World Bank advice for any project holds good: 50% on hardware and software and 50% on training for teachers – I would add for the leaders and advisors. Training could be interpreted as learning how to use the tool. But competence in using a tool does not have the same impact on achievement as a professional development programme where theory is referenced, the pedagogical value are defined by the teachers themselves and systemic change is discussed.

Over the years Mirandanet has evolved two solutions to combining a research and professional development agenda, Sprint and iCatalyst (10). Based on extensive research and practice, these programmes provide an opportunity for the industry, the professional communities of practice and the schools to work together for mutual benefit. At the core of these programmes is the action research method in which teachers themselves plan and develop the data collection methods so that their observations are central in the research reports.

Participants in Sprint work towards a short research report, developed in about one term, focusing on the value of one product or service. The study is undertaken by teachers as co-researchers with the support of selected advisors and researchers from the professional communities. iCatalyst is a longer project where teachers collaborate over a  year to look in depth at how they are using digital products and services and how they can boost achievement.  The focus is systemic change based on local evidence. Leaders of these groups can work at Masters level with members of De Montfort University. Some of the mentoring takes place online and through Skype.

All those involved benefit from a well-organised programme:

  •   teachers and senior managers gain a deeper and shared understanding strategies they might adopt to introduce systemic change and improve pupil achievement. The agenda is generated by the staff and they can use the results in their strategic planning as well as their reports to governors, Pupil Premium and OFSTED; teachers also gain accreditation and can publish for a global audience in a range of modes;
  • leaders, trainers and advisers are also supported  in developing these action research programmes that draw on theory as well as practice;
  • company representatives who also join the projects as co-researchers gain professional development and valuable research and development information. A learning company uses this knowledge to improve their understanding of education as well as for marketing their product and for evidence of their learning in entering for awards.

Roger Turner, LightSpeed, a MirandaNet associate who has commissioned a Spring report (12), said that the gains were ‘testing prototype and next developmental stage products in the classroom with teachers skilled in research providing feedback from themselves and their students. This has  resulted in modifications to products based on a wider sample than just ideas generated in the design and development lab of the company’. Roger adds, ‘Now more than ever, education needs to work in close partnership with industry if the potential improvements in learning outcomes new product development can help deliver are to be realised’.

Models of funding for this professional development model vary. Sometimes the company funds the whole project through their managed service and at other times they subsidise the school’s professional development costs with free resources and trainers.

Schools can also commission a study where they identify the technologies they want to explore in terms of teaching and learning.

Teachers who have enjoyed Naace’s PD courses, especially TOTAL, are likely to have begun relevant research, and useful publications are to be found via MirandaNet and Naace research publications (11).  

Watch this space for exciting news of the PD agenda as partnerships develop with Naace and ITTE.  In particular MirandaNet and Naace hope to be working together using the iCatalyst action research method on training for trainers (with discussion on the 6th November at the sponsors’ conference) We hope to have further opportunities for discussion at the Naace Annual Conference taking place on Thursday 24th March 2016.

MirandaNet Spring conference

Look out for news about MirandaNet conference we will be running on Saturday February 27th at De Montfort University, Leicester, where all the teacher participants in iCatalyst will be telling their action research stories. Or get in touch if you want to be a participant: christina@mirandanet.ac.uk

References

  1.    http://wenger-trayner.com/etienne/
  2.    www.naace.org.uk
  3.    www.itte.org.uk
  4.    www.mirandanet.ac.uk
  5.     Rich Seam report by Fullan and Treadgold

http://mirandanet.ac.uk/blog/2014/05/how-new-pedagogies-find-deep-learning/

  1. BESA report

http://mirandanet.ac.uk/knowledgehub/recommended-reports/

  1.  Miranda is reassembling the Becta research. Do you have a copy of a report you would like to see up?

http://mirandanet.ac.uk/knowledgehub/becta/

  1. The last study Pachler and Preston et al. undertook about ICT professional development for Becta indicated that the CPD landscape in CPD was already very fragmented. We also looked at the reasons why some good teachers were reluctant to use computers in the classroom. Their reasoning was sound.

Pachler, N, C. Preston, J. Cuthell,  A. Allen and Pinheiro Torres (2011) The ICT CPD Landscape in England Becta download here.  This report contains a section about teachers who are reluctant to use learning technologies in classrooms that you can download here.

  1. Christina Preston published the TTA NOF evaluation in 2004 that has many lessons that are valuable today http://www.mirandanet.org.uk/tta/
  2. The Sprint and iCatalyst programmes and the action research approach are explained here

http://mirandanet.ac.uk/icatalyst/professional-development-approach/

  1. http://www.naace.co.uk/publications
  2. http://mirandanet.ac.uk/blog/2015/05/lightspeed-learning-and-listening/

Further resources

Examples of associate-funded Sprint and ICatalyst publications are here

http://mirandanet.ac.uk/about-associates/associates-research-new/

Examples of ICatalyst projects are here http://mirandanet.ac.uk/icatalyst/examples-of-icatalyst/

MirandaNet publications relating to professional development can be found here.

http://mirandanet.ac.uk/knowledgehub/publications/

Some examples of the pedagogical models that the teachers use to measure their progress in systemic change at Masters level can be found here

http://mirandanet.ac.uk/knowledgehub/pedagogical-models/

Interacting with Visual Information

A post by NAACE Vice Chair, Dave Smith, which also appears here.

No longer just restricted to the ICT classroom, many schools are now using display and projection equipment to enhance learning activities in every subject, writes Dave Smith, vice chair of Naace

For over a decade, technology has been gradually transforming the education sector. The increased variety of equipment and software means that technology is no longer restricted to the ICT classroom. Many schools are now using display and projection equipment to enhance their pupils’ learning experience through visual and interactive activities in every subject. But with the constant evolution of technology, schools often find themselves under pressure to keep up with recent trends, while also having to weigh up the benefits with the cost of investment.

The last 15 years have seen a massive investment into technology for classrooms. In 2000, we saw computer numbers in schools increase to over 800,000, a third of which were laptops, and nine in 10 schools had internet access, and by 2003, schools were expected to spend around £65 million on dedicated ICT budgets. However, one of the most prominent developments in classroom technology was the investment of around £200 million in interactive whiteboards, which had reached 58.3 per cent of schools by 2004, and is now the most commonly used piece of AV classroom technology (BESA Historic ICT in UK State Schools, 2015).

In Japan, there are on average two interactive whiteboards per school, whereas in the UK, most if not all classrooms will feature an interactive front-of-house display. But a new wave of innovation in educational technology has begun. In 2015, schools are now benefitting from a huge range of new equipment, devices, and software helping to increase student engagement and diversify lessons.

Recent developments
The acceleration and improvement of touch screen technology has allowed for the development of many new AV products, meaning that there is now an even wider choice of solutions for those who wish to update their classroom technology. For example, some schools are moving away from interactive whiteboards to use flat panel displays, which draw upon LED screen technology used in modern TVs. The main advantage of this is the heightened detail of the display. For example, in maths, when presenting a graph, the greater clarity will make grid lines far more visible and allow for greater precision in interacting with the screen. Flat panel displays are also much more energy efficient and low maintenance, producing little to no excess heat or noise, and unlike interactive whiteboards, with TV-style screens, teachers no longer have to squint through the beam of the projector while delivering their lessons.

Tablets and handheld devices
Tablets and handheld devices have also been a consideration for classrooms looking to increase student engagement with the front‑of-house display. Using whiteboards meant that students could go to the front of the classroom and control the material on the screen, but more recently, mirror image apps have been created that connect devices to the display so that children can view and interact with the material remotely from their desks.

Apple TVs have been fairly popular in this way, as an increasing number of students have iPads with which they can engage with the display, but there are alternatives. Software such as SMART 14, Promethean ClassFlow and Squirrel Reflector create a two-way interface between the screen and the user in the classroom, which can be run through smartphones or laptops using the school’s Wi-Fi connection at a fraction of the price.

Another key benefit of tablets being identified by schools is the ability to use the screen shot function and camera apps to capture the outcomes of work digitally, so that they can be annotated and stored on the school network, which helps to create a detailed record of work while reducing paper trails in the process. Tablets are likely to become more popular as they become more efficient and user friendly, and as a large number of students have access to this technology already, they will most likely be able to adapt to it quickly and enthusiastically. In fact, the low cost and mobility of tablets is resulting in schools forecasting that by 2016, 37 per cent of all computer hardware in schools would be tablet devices: a 13 per cent increase on last year’s prediction (BESA Tablet and Connectivity, 2014).

New types of projection
Visualisers and document cameras are another option that work very similarly to traditional overhead projectors, transferring real‑time digital images of documents or objects to the front-of-house display. The concept of visualisation has remained a prominent feature of teaching, but specialist visualiser hardware has taken a hit in the market due to the development of mirroring software and apps. Tablets can now be used in place of a visualiser, positioned anywhere in the classroom to capture and project various skills and methods, for example, presenting a science experiment up close, or demonstrating a particular art technique.

This form of instructional teaching is highly effective and still has its place in the classroom, so schools that have invested in visualisers should still make use of them, as they can project images without the need for photographing or converting them for use on the display.

Key concerns for schools
There are two main considerations when it comes to investing in new classroom technology: price and longevity. The interactive whiteboards used in most schools will now be over 10 years old, so when weighing up the costs and benefits of upgrading, one of the most common questions asked by governors is ‘how long will it last?’. The standard warranty and expected life span on flat panel displays is shorter; between three and seven years.

At the same time, new technology does come at a cost. For example, replacing the bulbs in a whiteboard projector every two to three years is far cheaper at £250, whereas investing in a flat panel display with touch screen capabilities and a life span based on hours of use, will cost around £2,500. But these costs are dropping, and if this trend continues, schools will find that purchasing this type of technology will not be as expensive as they may have thought.

The same is true of tablets. The majority of schools cannot currently provide a 1:1 ratio of devices to students and will often have shared devices. But as many children are gaining access to personal tablets, iPads and smartphones, some schools are considering bring-your‑own‑device (BYOD) models. There are safety and security risks, discrimination considerations and pricing policies that need to be established for this strategy to work well, but this could be a viable option in the foreseeable future.

The important thing to remember when purchasing new technology is to think long term; higher prices may be off-putting in the short term, but in the long run, you will benefit from better quality and the total cost of ownership will be more than parity.

Being able to keep up with these trends is critical for schools, especially now that most young pupils will have grown up surrounded by technology. By adopting new equipment and methods, schools can revitalise lessons and increase that all-important engagement factor in the classroom.

Making a Difference in Primary English with Technology

Making a Difference in Primary English with Technology – By NAACE Junior Vice Chair, Dr Carol Porter

Some schools are fortunate enough to have lots of computing equipment, but many agonise over deciding what tech gadgets to spend their limited budgets on. It’s good to have a plan. Decide what you want to achieve with technology that you just couldn’t do without. Don’t settle for filling your lovely new tablets with apps for practice and drill activities, important though these are. Think big. Then have a look around and take advice on what devices will do the job you have identified.

Take English for example. Every primary schools teaches it every day. I can’t think of a school that doesn’t have an element of English identified on its school improvement plan. How can technology help?

Speaking and Listening

Simple devices like Easi-speaks can be used to gather recordings of children speaking. They could be reading aloud, describing real settings during a sensory walk, doing a ‘radio’ interview, or anything else that involves talking. The recordings can be played back immediately or downloaded to a PC for editing using free software such as Audacity.

PhotoStory3 is free software that allows children to construct a timeline of images, and narrate over the top. These could be narrative, persuasive, discursive, instructional, you name it. MovieMaker is free video editing software that behaves a bit like PhotoStory3 – upload your video, do any editing required, and record a narration directly into the software.

iCan Present cleverly combines an app for a tablet with PC based software, with or without green screen, so that children can ‘anchor’ a news bulletin from the ‘studio’ interspersed with video from a number of ‘outside broadcasts’.

iCan Animate is a stop-motion animation app. If exported to iMovie, children can record their characters’ voice directly into their iPad.

Of course, none of these speaking and listening activities rests in isolation from the rest of the English curriculum. Some are about reading, many involve plenty of writing: your pupils will find it much easier to narrate a PhotoStory or video in Moviemaker if they have first thought about and written notes to speak around. Note that I am not advocating reading from scripts here – speaking from notes is a valuable skill, and the recordings will sound far more natural.

SPAG

It’s difficult to be innovative about SPAG. There are plenty of interactive whiteboard resources in Promethean Planet, and in the various app stores.

Reading

As mentioned previously, allow your pupils to record themselves reading aloud. This will really help them to get to grips with abstract concepts like ‘fluency’ and ‘reading with expression’. StoryPhones, EasiEars and some eReaders will enable children to listen to stories being read by professional actors, possibly whilst also listening to the texts in real books.

Serial Mash is part of Purple Mash, and delivers books to children in serial format, one chapter per week. Books are published into Serial Mash in libraries for KS1, LKS2 and UKS2, and subscribing schools get to keep them all. There are also activities which the children could work through in independent guided reading time. Elsewhere in Purple Mash you can find Talking Stories, Stories 2 Tell and the Literacy Collection, all of which have stories with optional text reading and a range of activities – both digital and paper-based.

Phonics

Have you discovered Mr Thorne Does Phonics? There is a plethora of engaging instructional videos on You Tube, now supported by a suite of apps in the App Store. Speaking of apps, consider Pocket Phonics, Twinkl and Zapp2Learn. There are also plenty of phonics activities in Promethean Planet for use at your interactive whiteboard. Also check out the Phonics modules in Purple Mash. They are premium add-ons, but the feedback I’ve heard from schools that use them is very positive.

Writing

Is there a primary school that hasn’t yet heard of Purple Mash? Within this online suite of software there is plenty to help develop all areas of writing, at all stages of the primary age-range. For example, there are countless cross-curricular writing frames, all with appropriate support built in; 2Publish and 2Publish Extra are for desktop publishing; 2Write allows a group of children to collaborate on writing the same text at the same time; 2Create a Story encourages younger writers to add captions to their pictures and animations; 2Type develops speed and accuracy using both hands on a standard qwerty keyboard.

Your interactive whiteboard software, whether it’s Smart or ActivInspire, will allow your pupils to combine text, audio and video in creative multi-modal presentations using software that they see in use every day at school.

Get your class blogging. It’s fantastic.

Many of the Speaking and Listening uses of technology above also involve much writing: it is hard to record a play without first writing a script!

Publishing

Whether you use technology to support speaking and listening, reading or writing, publish the children’s finished work. Whether the learning artefact is audio, video, or text-based, publish it to your school website, learning platform or class blog. Get it out there to a real audience, for genuine feedback.

Want to know more? Details of Naace 1-day courses in ‘Impacting on Standards in English with Technology’ are here

Dr Carol Porter is Technology Curriculum Support Centre Manager, supporting schools in Bury LA with the Computing Curriculum and Technology-Enabled Learning. She is also a Naace Fellow, Naace Lead for Professional Development, Naace Lead for Standards in Computing, and Junior Vice Chair of Naace Board of Management.

Challenges in taking education to the next level.

Colleagues,

To prepare a session for Naace Strategic Conference (Have you booked yet? – http://www.naace.co.uk/conference2015) we have been collecting comments from members on what the key challenges are in taking education to the next level. A comment made by many of you is the difficulty in affording the technology the school wants.

Against this perception we have to set the view often expressed by Heads in the videos from schools that have gained the 3rd Millennium Learning Award, that they have got (most of) the technology they need, by making it a priority. Rosie Pugh, Head of Castledyke Primary School memorably told a Naace 3rd millennium learning course that she quaked in her shoes every time she saw her ICT Coordinator coming towards her. Because she knew it meant a strongly supported request for money and that she would somehow have to find the cash.

There is a large amount of ‘thinking the unthinkable’ about this. The ONLY place in a school budget where significantly more cash for technology can be found is the amount allocated to staffing. Services and buildings will be around 10% and there is no room for cuts. Resources is probably 5%-7% and without those teachers can’t teach. The remainder, 80%-85% in many schools is spent on staffing. So logic says that to find more money for technology staffing has to be cut. This can be done. Dominic Norrish from United Learning Trust told the Naace partners meeting last Autumn that in their trust schools they work hard to cap the spend on staffing at 70% of the budget.

Reduce the staffing budget by 2% and every year a typical primary school has an extra £20K to spend on technology, and a typical secondary school has an extra £100K annually!

This kind of change in staffing spend isn’t as hard as it looks, particularly once a school is using technology properly and is generating much higher personal responsibility for learning amongst the pupils. Lets look at a few concrete examples.

Primary schools use a lot of teaching assistants. And the research evidence says that they only have strong impact on learning when used in the right way. If a school has created a strong culture of pupils leading learning, what things that your teaching assistants currently do might be done by pupils, and add to their learning at the same time? Peer tutoring also comes out well in the research.

What scope do primary schools have for team teaching? And when team teaching, can one teacher and a teaching assistant be responsible for two classes, instead of two teachers? If so, then for that period of time the equivalent of probably an annual £10K is being saved by the school. I saw this approach operating many years ago in a secondary school, with 60 pupils in an ICT lesson together, taught by a teacher and an ICT teaching assistant. And the mix of teacher and assistant was actually better than having two teachers covering the classes, in terms of what help the pupils needed. Well structured work and the right attitude towards work amongst the pupils gets the work done without the teacher always having to be breathing down the necks of the pupils. In schools where pupils take this level of responsibility teachers can spend much more of their time focusing on raising outcomes.

As to secondary, Selly Park School implemented integrated learning systems in the 1990s, think tablets now. The teachers demanded the approach was extended because it worked so well, teaching half the group while the other half worked independently and then swopping over half way through the lesson. “Half the time with half the class is better than all the time with all the class” became the watchword. But for the Head, class size went from 25 to 30. Teachers saw the effective group size drop from 25 to 15, but for the school effectively 20% of the staffing budget for those English and Maths classes was freed up to fund the technology.

Streetly Academy has completely done away with supply teachers to cover teacher illness. They have created a room containing 90 computers, into which any class without a teacher are directed. Work is often set remotely by their teacher using their Frog platform, which the pupils then work on online. A single teacher or sometimes just the senior leader on duty supervises up to three classes. The school is saving £80K a year on supply teacher costs, which in one year has paid for the technology.

This is possible. You can re-balance teaching and learning, getting significantly more learning for just a little bit less teacher time. And have more fulfilled teachers and pupils working more effectively. There are only two things you need to do – think outside the box and create the pupil engagement and attitudes that make new approaches possible.

This is what 3rd millennium learning is all about. And as we now have so many schools with the 3rd Millennium Learning Award showing us how to develop this much higher engagement, there is no reason why your school can’t do this too. Developing a whole-school culture of pupil engagement with learning can make what may seem impossible to you now quite easily achievable.

Roger Broadie.

A Word from the Chair

As the chair of the NAACE Board of Management (BOM) at the time of writing, I am delighted to be able to kick off this NAACE BOM blog.

We hope that this will be an opportunity to share, with our members and beyond, the work we do as a board to ensure that NAACE continues to be a vibrant and successful organisation that champions the use of technology to enhance learning.

The board met recently in Bury for one of our ‘strategic’ meetings. On this particular occasion we took the opportunity to revisit our vision and values. This is always a useful exercise and ensures that the board and our Chief Executive, Mark Chambers, remain of one mind and are aligned in our planning for the next few years. Central to those plans are the continuation and development of some of our significant projects such as the Self Review Framework/ICT Mark and the 3rd Millennium Learning Award, to mention just a couple of things.

Foremost in our minds at the moment and a source of great excitement is the prospect of our forthcoming annual conference, taking place in Nottingham on 25th and 26th March. We have adopted a title of ‘Failing to Succeed’, a play on words that identifies the importance of encountering and overcoming difficulty in the learning process. We have a stunning lineup of speakers from the internationally renowned to the inspirational classroom practitioner and we have a range of sessions and content that will thoroughly engage delegates, whatever their background. Importantly there will also be the space for those essential, professional conversations between practitioners, consultants, school leaders, policy makers and industry that have always enriched our conference so well.

At and beyond conference, we also hope to engage more with members and partners internationally, and on a personal level, I am very much looking forward to attending our Irish neighbours’ (CESI) conference in a week or two – another great opportunity to share in the excitement of those who are taking learning to another level. We are also constantly seeking ways in which we can further our aims with and through our members and partners, whether that be through professional development opportunities, networking, the sharing of best practice or accreditation.

I hope to see you at our conference for a chat, but do feel free to engage with the board through this blog and its comments.