On Thursday 11 September, the DigiLit Leicester team hosted an evening of celebration, to mark the end of the project. The event was designed to showcase and celebrate the ambitious work carried out by the project team and participating schools over the last two years.
The evening began with an opening address from Cllr Vi Dempster, Assistant City Mayor for Children, Young People and Schools, highlighting the importance of the two year project and how it represents a new model for implementing digital literacy aimed at transforming the provision of secondary education across a city.
Following an overview of the 2014 Survey data, the team handed over to staff from a number of BSF ICT Innovation projects to showcase the innovative and effective ways that staff in Leicester schools have been using technology:
Bring Your Own Device Trial
Tony Tompkins - The City of Leicester College
Over the last year, The City of Leicester College have been carrying out the city’s first the first trial of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model in the city, with a Year 8 (aged 12-13) tutor group of 23 students. The scheme involved the students using iPad minis in lessons and at home – working with staff to investigate the ways in which the device could add value to the learning experience.
Tony led the project and carried out considerable work on developing a device management model for the school, details of which can be found in his project reports. The emphasis of device use within the school has been around students leading the innovation, with the support of their teachers.
Laura Iredale - Hamilton Community College
The Siyabonga project saw Leicester students use video conferencing to collaborate with children in Lamontville, South Africa. On March 8 2013 both groups of students took part in a live concert, involving performances from both sets of students.
The project really allowed Hamilton students to be part of something bigger than themselves, to gain an awareness of the struggles of others less fortunate than themselves and to think outside of the Leicester box!
Gearing Up to Mobile Learning
Peter Guthrie - Sir Jonathan North Community College
Staff at Sir Jonathan North worked on a project using iPads as a staff development tool, in order to integrate mobile technology into classroom practice. The project also included the involvement of Year 7 (aged 11-12) and Year 9 (aged 13-14) student groups, which were established to support students in developing their independent learning skills alongside their use of ICT.
The project enabled the school to provide training on the use of iPads to all of their staff, and to support individual staff members in engaging with self-directed exploration of the devices.
Improving Digital Literacy Continuing Professional Development
Martin Corbishley - Babington Community College
Babington’s project aimed to raise awareness of the web-based tools and services available for supporting teaching and learning. Martin achieved this through the delivery of a set of 11 workshops for school staff, covering a range of topics including; using twitter to extend the classroom and making use of online collaboration tools.
Martin felt that the course had benefited both the school as a whole and those that took part in developing their digital literacy. It opened peoples’ eyes to what is available and how the internet can be used to enhance how technology is used to deliver lessons. The school will also see further benefit because the digital champions who took part, will continue to share ideas and resources with their faculties.
Member of Parliament's 6
Sera Shortland - Hamilton Community College
The college’s MP6 Political Speaking Competition is an annual event open to all learners aged between 11 and 16 across the city. The school used the funding to develop a website which will host young people’s speeches, and provide information about the current year’s competition and links to resources for students and staff.
The innovation project itself was only the beginning of this new phase of work for Sera, providing the training and support necessary to set up the MP6 website and make best use of the project's new iPads for video creation. The project will now move into a new phase of content development for the site, which will be led by the students.
iPads as Alternative and Augmentative Communication Devices
Helen Robinson and Heather Woods - Nether Hall School
The majority of students at Nether Hall School have difficulties with speech and language, many requiring Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices: systems which support individuals with speech impairments to communicate. The iPad project aimed to evaluate the use of iPads as a replacement for traditional AAC devices; using The Grid2 computer access software - thereby enabling greater access for their students.
The project has proven that a tablet device together with appropriate software, such as the iPad and Grid player app, can be an effective and affordable communication tool for pupils with communication challenges. The work has had a lasting effect on the pupils’ communication skills, showing that where pupils are empowered with this voice, they are motivated and engaged in learning. This goes on to build confidence and engender trust and respect between themselves and other pupils and adults.
Ellen Croft - Ash Field Academy
The iPad Orchestra project focused on the use of musical apps and light systems to enable students with special educational needs to create a piece of music. The school worked with creative practitioners to design a scheme of work which culminated in a performance of the piece developed by the students. Explorations were also made into the use of visual representation of the music, to provide students with the opportunity to explore and create light sculptures.
The whole atmosphere around the project was that of celebration, achievement, fun and coolness. The creative practitioners were both supportive and challenging to the pupils, constantly pushing them to the next level. They managed to create something that the pupils could take ownership of and truly celebrate as their own achievement.
The evening was a great opportunity for staff from other schools and institutions to be inspired by how Leicester BSF staff are making use of technology to enhance learning and school communities. A highlights video of the evening was recorded and will be shared here once complete.