Making Learning Last: final report

As part of their BSF ICT Making Learning Last Innovation Project, Beaumont Leys School has been using classroom observation technology to look at three issues: supporting self and peer observation and reflection for Newly Qualified Teachers (NTQs) and new teachers; recording teaching materials for use within a flipped classroom approach; and creating a bank of good practice resources, for example, starters, plenaries and experiments. These resources are shared via the school’s website and YouTube channel.

You can also read the initial project blog (March 2014) post and an update (July 2014) on the project.

Alex Vann, the school’s Assistant Head Teacher, is project lead, and provides a final report:

Observation Deck

Observation deck after Hurricane Sandy by Ashley Spratt/USFWS shared under CC BY 2.0

Classroom Observation

The classroom observation system (we are using IRIS) continues to be a huge learning tool for staff at Beaumont Leys School. It was introduced as part of our professional development and induction programme, and is being used extensively by our Teach First, Newly Qualified Teachers (NTQs), and first and second year teachers. An account is created for the teacher that allows them to access their video once synced to the website, and they were encouraged to change their password if they wanted to. This means that they have control over who views their lesson video, and they would choose to share the file if they wanted it to be used for professional development with a colleague. Teachers have also used the system for self-reflection away from any formal developmental observation process especially when attempting new techniques or styles. This is only possible using the video system and provides unique feedback for the teacher.

Reflection

Classroom observation systems are designed to let teachers watch themselves teaching, a view point that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. Teachers can analyse their own performance on video without having to recollect the lesson or events within the lesson which is a hugely powerful tool. Peer discussions between colleagues have been enriched and are more valuable as both viewers can stop the video and discuss events or write notes at time stamped points for later discussion. We have found that the discussions support professional learning rather, than observation for performance management.

Authenticity

The video system is far less obtrusive than having observers in the class. This means that the ordinary dynamics of the classroom are easier to capture, especially if you are creative about camera placement. Students act as they normally do which benefits the teacher as the discussion can go ahead without being affected by another member of staff being in the classroom.

Reduced disruption

Additionally, the fact that no cover needs to be arranged for an observation reduces disruption across the school as a whole. Once the lesson is recorded it can be shared (with the teacher’s permission), and viewed at any time. This has led to multiple people observing the same lesson but with different foci. It has also allowed comparison of lessons after coaching conversations. Teachers are able to view the changes they have made to their teaching of the same lesson in some cases, and the impact different approaches have had on progress in the classroom.

Good practice library

We have used the video technology to create a good practice library. This consists of short videos that either explain/demonstrate a particular teaching technique, strategy or tool, or show those techniques in a classroom situation. This is seen by staff as valuable, as they can observe colleagues using techniques in the classroom that work with the same students as they teach. The videos have supported staff in being more open to trying new approaches and taking risks, as they can see what works.

The good practice library has also acted as starting points for discussion or led to further developments in areas such as questioning/Assessment for Learning (AFL), use of Point Evidence Explain (PEE), Rock Star maths (a sequenced programme of daily times tables practice), or using technologies such as Plickers and our Epsom interactive projectors.

At present, staff can access the good practice library via the school intranet but development is underway to have these videos hosted via YouTube and available through a team site using SharePoint. We have guided staff towards the videos through our in house continuing professional development (CPD) program and during morning briefings, where we are developing a 3 minute CPD program. This format allows us to quickly introduce an idea or signpost a resource that staff can investigate at a later time.

We have also used the equipment in our professional learning for Lesson Study, a professional learning approach where a particular area of focus is identified by a teacher. Working in triads, a lesson is planned that will enable the teachers to look at the chosen area. The students are then the focus of the observation rather than the teacher – the lesson observation cameras can be set to view the whole class or a specific group of students. Having cameras in the room rather than two other teachers means that the class behaviour isn’t altered by the physical presence of observers. All three Lesson Study group members can view and discuss the recording in order to collaboratively develop and refine the class.

One teacher involved in this approach has commented:

“We used the Iris system for our lesson study triad. Our purpose was looking at techniques to engage Year 9 boys in maths with an active learning style used in Modern Foreign Languages (MFL). The advantage straight away was that there were no other teachers in the room therefore the dynamic was unchanged and we could get a true reflection of the techniques being used.

The method for the lesson study was this; a triad planned maths lesson was delivered to a Year 9 class by an MFL teacher who used active learning methods taken from her teaching in MFL.

We had the camera focused on three boys for the whole lesson and were looking at their reactions and engagement at different points during the lesson.

We met post lesson to view the video and discuss what we saw. It was very interesting watching the video, it facilitated a thought provoking discussion which we were all able to take something from and learn from.

We will be repeating this lesson study method using the iris system for a similar group of Year 9 boys in both an English and an ICT lesson later in the year.”

Flipped Classroom

Since the last project update the science faculty at Beaumont Leys have embraced the flipped classroom model and are at present building the resource bank through videoing particular parts of teaching. The Flipped Classroom model was introduced to them in a flipped classroom manner. We watched videos such as this one published by Keith Hughes in 2013:

This led to an evaluation of schemes of work and classes in terms of which would be suitable to trial the approach with and then detailed planning of what would be videoed, when and how it would be made accessible to students prior to their lesson.

It was decided that the priority for this model was Year 11 with the reasoning being that this method would be particularly effective in the delivery of practical information (experiments), which would be available pre and post lesson to augment the revision programme. This has been embedded as part of our Year 11 revision programme with the videos produced hosted on a dedicated YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5Me3Ek6YHKDOebZZ2BrRwg

The development plan is to continue building the video resource bank whilst also linking to sites such as www.khanacademy.org/ to help develop independent learning and allowing deeper learning to occur in the classroom. Further development of the video resource bank means that more homework will be ‘Flipped’ and viewed as necessary prior learning for the class. This has its drawbacks with student access to the videos or not viewing the homework which is something or teachers are working hard to negate. They are pushing the importance of the prior learning but recognising that sometimes there will need to be a backup plan.

We will continue the focus with Year 11 and move onto Year 10 in time.

Both teachers and students have given positive feedback about of the impact flipped learning. Watching short videos pre lesson that contains the major messages for learning fits in with the way students at Beaumont Leys like to learn and generally mirrors other techniques such as Point Evidence Explain (PEE). The school is going to continue to develop its use of video, particularly through flipped classroom approaches and use of the lesson observation system, both of which support increased flexibility of learning which would not otherwise be available to staff and learners

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iPads for writing, using voice activated technology!

Ruth Fairley is a Special Education Needs (SEN) teacher at The Lancaster School – an all boys secondary (age 11-16) school in Leicester. Ruth’s innovation project explores the use of iPad accessibility features and apps to support students with learning disabilities. The project enables her to develop her own skills, and represents a new approach to working with SEN learners in the school – who will be involved in evaluating and recommending approaches and tools. Here, Ruth introduces the project:

Many people find the physical act of writing to be difficult, demanding, and in some cases, painful.

Let’s face it, it can be quite a demanding task. Not only have you got to have an idea of what to write about, you have to get that idea clear in your head, organise it so that it makes sense and make sure you know the rules that accompany good sentence writing. All this, and you haven’t even got to the point where you have to put it down on paper. Think of the demands that this brings: you have to have the right writing equipment handy, an appropriate piece of paper and only then are you ready to commit these now sometimes forgotten thoughts to paper. Then you have to think about, punctuation, grammar and the actual physical handwriting itself. For many of our students this is too much and they simply give up, or panic. These are the students that many of us have in our classes every day. This is the reality of teaching.

I wanted a way to make this experience less daunting and more accessible to students who struggle to pull these many demands together to produce a coherent piece of work.

Firstly, I thought the answer would be laptops and students would be able to write their work down on laptops and get it printed off. Seems pretty straight forward! However, this does not work for some students particularly students who have motor control problems or issues with one of the many facets of dyslexia.

At Lancaster we were lucky to have the services of a touch typing teacher who was very good at looking at a variety of innovative ways of teaching our boys to touch type. However for some boys they just couldn’t speed up enough for this to be a viable option for them to use in class. Also having nearly every word you write come up with a red line under it indicating a spelling error can be very frustrating for intelligent boys who just want to be able to express themselves like everybody else could.

Having updated my smart phone to one with voice activated searches I began looking around for apps that would let our boys do the same for their work. A way to get their good ideas down on paper without all the accompanying difficulties. I discovered Dragon Speak, an app which would allow the boys to dictate their ideas and the program would translate this into a document, which could be used as the boy’s own work.

Initially I trialled this with my bottom set Year 7 English group and I had some astonishing results. In particular one boy who is severely dyslexic was previously working at a L2c for writing was able to secure a L3a for writing – which is much more in line with his cognitive ability.

I then was drawn to the DigiLit Leicester innovation programme and thought that this might be a way to enable a number of our boys to access this and to improve their work and their confidence in writing. My DigiLit bid was born!

My bid included funding for six iPads for which I would download ‘Dragon Dictation’ (an updated version of Dragon’s Speak). Six boys could take them to each lesson where they were expected to write, and use Dragon Dictation to record their ideas and later to print off and use in their books as their own work.

The project is limited to working with six boys – I wanted each boy involved to have across-the-curriculum access to an iPad, so there was no question of sharing.

I then had to make the decision about which boys I would choose. Ideally I wanted boys who found writing difficult and that this in some way impacted on their ability to achieve their potential - able boys who were dyslexic or had motor skills issues.

In order to identify these boys I looked at the school’s SEN register. I looked for boys who tended to underachieve in literacy based subjects but whose targets were quite high. I selected two boys with motor skills issues and four with diagnosed dyslexia.

In order to assess the impact of using mobile devices with speech recognition software in their lessons,  I did a number of things before issuing the iPads. Firstly I spoke to the boys’ English teachers to determine their current writing levels. I look at their behaviour management log and jotted down any negative behaviour points the boys had, and finally I asked the boys to complete a short questionnaire on their views about writing. I felt that all of the actions would give me an idea about where the boys were with regards to writing and I would be able to repeat this process at the end of the project to see if there was a measurable impact.

Moving into a new building (with a new ICT system) slowed things up as I was not able to get the iPads set up as quickly as I had hoped. It is now time to start. As they say in many good books, ‘More anon.’

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Rushey Mead – evaluating iPads

Last year, Rushey Mead School expanded their use of iPads to support a range of subjects areas, investing in 45 new devices. The school is sharing successes and lessons learnt through a variety of channels, including the Rushey Mead Twitter account - @RusheyMeadTL. Here, the school reflect on the early impacts of introducing iPads to the English, Maths and Science departments.

What staff training and development has taken place in relation to the iPads? How was the effectiveness of this training measured? Is any additional training is being provided?

The e-learning Theme Group were visited by Apple Trainer Fil Crisi who shared many ideas for using iPads in the classroom.  As some Science staff had not used iPads before, Ms Clementson (Teacher of Science and iPad Sci Champion) ran “iPads for complete beginners” in September, which was open to all staff. She also ran a session for  science faculty staff on using the Quizlet and Socrative apps as part of school professional development programme. All training events were evaluated via a Survey Monkey questionnaire, which the Professional Learning team use to capture feedback.  iPad techniques were also shared at the school e-learning theme group meeting in January, which includes Maths and English ‘pioneer’ level staff. The IT Support team are currently investigating the use of AirPlay to display iPad content via the classroom projectors and share students’ work. We are measuring effectiveness through faculty reviews (Maths and English), staff surveys (Science), and through the forthcoming Challenge Partners Review.

What has been the impact of the devices purchased in June 2014?

Case Study – Ms M Cliffe: English

ClassroomIn the English Faculty iPads have been successfully used in the classroom to support a variety of teaching and learning strategies. Almost immediately we were able to facilitate students in carrying out quick, effective and impactful on-line research (social/historical context, history of the language) where traditional laptops would have proved too slow, cumbersome or time consuming. During creative writing the iPads have proved useful as a dictionary / thesaurus either on-line or through the excellent dictionary apps available. This has in particular benefitted and supported our less able students who can find a traditional dictionary difficult to engage with and are put off using them. Use of dictionary / thesaurus apps have allowed students to widen their vocabulary far more readily than before. The app ‘Showbie’ has been used for sharing mark schemes/resources, to allow students to self / peer assess and actively engage with feedback to move their learning on. This has also had the added benefit for the faculty budget in that it has greatly cut down on printing costs! The students have also made use of the iPads built-in audio/video recording capability to record role plays/drama activities allowing them to gain evidence of their speaking and listening skills which they can then reflect on, improve and see progress. More generally the iPads have been used to create interactive presentations to share with the rest of the class, read on-line News articles using the ‘Reader’ feature and readily access revision apps / sites.

In the coming terms we aim to begin creating Storyboards / Books with Year 10 using the ‘Book Creator‘ App and are working with the e-Learning Group and Educational Technologists in School to investigate more efficient ways of downloading work from the iPads for sharing.

Case Study – Mr K Ronald: Maths

Rushey Mead Maths on YouTube

Year 10 students have been using iPads in lessons to access and engaging with the Rushey Mead Maths YouTube Channel to view videos explaining syllabus material as many times as students need.  For example, how to graph data and look for correlations. Lower ability learners, a focus group for the Maths faculty, have especially benefitted as they are able to revisit and reinforce instruction allowing them to build confidence and develop skills. In addition for formative feedback, Socrative has also been used to poll students on what they know and don’t know, which allows the teacher to work with targeted students and address misconceptions more readily.

Case Study – Ms P Patel: Maths

Linear Graph Pictures displayA Year 9 set 2 out of 5 (group 1 is the most able) used the iPads with the focus of ‘Drawing and exploring the properties of straight line graphs.’ Desmos is a graph plotter which was used via the iPads, it is available online and free of charge. Desmos allows the user to input a function and it will plot a graph of that function within parameters provided by the user, this made the plotting of line graphs far more engaging, meaningful and immediate for the students. Their task was to create a picture consisting entirely of straight line graphs using Desmos.  As Desmos is very user friendly the students were able to work independently and explore how it works, supporting ‘discovery learning’. Once the students were confident with using Desmos they were set the task to creating a picture. The group were engaged and enthused throughout, many producing more than one picture. This resulted in line graphs being successfully grasped within a week (2 lessons plus one homework). Such was the impact of this case study that the iPads are now regularly used in Maths for Socractive quizzes with various groups across both key stages.

Case Study – Ms S Clementson: Science

In Science it was decided that each iPad would have a number of apps installed, which were to be categorised as: ‘Student tools’, ‘Staff tools’, ‘Subject (Bio, Chem, Phy)’, ‘SSSI’ (sites of scientific interest), ‘Games and quizzes’ and revision. It was envisaged that these would be in appropriate folders but we have abandoned that idea as students could easily move around the app icons. From this original list we have now added other apps more recently: ‘Colour uncovered‘, ‘Interactive science glossary: Physical science‘ (cpo science)’, ‘Sound uncovered (explotorium)’ and ‘BioBots Undersea Rescue’ – pictured being used below.

Learners

So far, five of the 12 Science Faculty staff have used iPads with their classes. Staff are using the following apps: Socrative, Quizlet, i-motion, QR code reader, Reaction Test, Show Me. The devices are also being used for internet research. One Year 8 group of students has requested quizzes on Quizlet to prepare for topic tests with some students using it to help with other subjects. This has been a particularly enthusiastic group who hopefully will participate in a school Bring Your Own Device pilot. Interestingly 9M5, a lower ability group, wanted to write out the words and the meanings when we used Quizlet. This served as a useful reminder of the needs of different groups of students and to take account of this when using the iPads. Where staff have used the iPads student engagement has improved, students worked more independently and staff were able to quickly receive and act on assessment feedback (in particular, using Socrative). At first the pace of lessons was slower as students and staff familiarised themselves with apps, however, as more staff are using the iPads, confidence is growing.

iPad with rugged caseAt least one group in every year has now been given the opportunity to use the iPads. We are now looking to move forward by integrating the iPads into schemes of work which means preparing more resources for apps such as Quizlet and Socrative. To facilitate this a departmental Quizlet account has been opened with quizzes categorised by year and by subject and started to populate them. At least 5 teachers have set up groups for their classes to make quizzes easier to find. Still a way to go but we are certainly moving forward with the best of intentions!

 

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OER Schools Conference Report


OER schools icons

The OER Schools Conference – the first event of it’s kind in the UK – took place in Leicester on 29 January 2015, organised by Leicester City Council in partnership with De Montfort University. 92 attendees from 48 primary, secondary and specialist provision schools took part in the day, as well as representatives from five UK universities.

Delegates reviewing the OER Schools activity materials

The conference was designed to take forward the council’s recent work in ensuring school staff are benefiting from understanding, finding, using, creating and sharing Open Educational Resources (OER). The day focused on exploring two key recent developments:

The council is a global leader with respect to it’s work in this area, which is itself shared under open licence so that other educators, schools, local and national governments can benefit from and build upon the resources.

OER Schools Resources

OER Schools Conference reports:

More on the council’s OER work from around the web:

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OER Schools Conference, 29th January 2015, Phoenix, Leicester

Leicester City Council, in partnership with De Montfort University, held a free day conference focusing on finding, using, creating and sharing Open Educational Resources (OER). The event builds on the council’s recently released OER guidance and resources, which can be downloaded from http://schools.leicester.gov.uk/openeducation

The resources were produced by Dr Bjoern Hassler, Helen Neo (University of Cambridge) , and Josie Fraser (Leicester City Council), and have also benefited from the input of school staff, through review and practical trailing.

The majority of school staff use and create digital resources to support their learners and schools – including presentations, lesson plans, and study guides. However, the DigiLit Leicester project identified a gap in support and information for teachers relating to the use and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER).

An understanding of OER and open licencing will support schools and staff in sharing and accessing resources, and in developing staff and learner digital literacy skills and knowledge. OER are learning materials (including presentations, revision guides, lesson plans) that have been released under an open licence, so that anyone can use, share and build on them for free. Many openly licensed resources are available for schools to use and develop.

At a time when schools increasingly work with, and rely on, digital and web based materials, understanding how copyright works, and making the most of available resources, is essential for staff and schools. Creating OER allows schools to connect and collaborate with others through sharing work. Sharing can also help promote the great work that school staff and schools are doing.

Speakers and Workshop Leads

Professor Richard HallRichard Hall Richard Hall (@HallyMK1 on Twitter) is Professor of Education and Technology at De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, UK. Richard chaired the OER Schools Conference opening panel and led the conference closing session with Marieke Guy. He is DMU’s Head of Enhancing Learning through Technology and leads the Centre for Pedagogic Research. Richard is a National Teaching Fellow and a co-operator at the Social Science Centre in Lincoln, UK. He writes about life in higher education at: http://richard-hall.org

Bjoern HasslerBjoern Hassler (@bjoernhassler on Twitter) focuses on pedagogy, Open Educational Resources (OER) and digital technology. He produced the OER Guidance and resources for schools, along with Helen Neo and Josie Fraser. Bjoern provided the conference with an introduction to the guidance and resources on the opening panel, and led two workshops for school staff looking at practical ways to use the resources to support teaching practice. He also led the JISC-funded ORBIT project, which produced an Open Resource Bank on Interactive Teaching for teacher education, focusing on innovative digital technology use in mathematics and science education. He is co-leading the OER4Schools project, introducing interactive teaching and digital technologies in Zambian primary schools.

Marieke GuyMarieke Guy (@mariekeguy on Twitter) is a project co-ordinator at Open Knowledge, a global not-for-profit organisation that wants to open up knowledge around the world and see it used and useful. Marieke spoke on the opening panel about the international context of open education, and also led the conference closing session with Richard Hall. Over the last two years she has been exploring open data in education and its relationship with open education as part of the LinkedUp Project. Her current projects are PASTEUR4OA , developing and/or reinforcing open access strategies and policies across Europe, and Europeana Space, creating new opportunities for employment and economic growth within the creative industries sector based on Europe’s rich digital cultural resources. Marieke has been working with online information for over 16 years and was previously employed by UKOLN, a centre of expertise in digital information management at the University of Bath. Marieke co-ordinates the Open Education Working Group.

Josie FraserJosie Fraser (@josiefraser on Twitter) is a UK-based Social and Educational Technologist. Since June 2010, she has lead on technology for Leicester City Council’s multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme, one of the most accelerated build programmes in the UK. She is also responsible for setting, promoting and delivering on a city wide agenda for educational transformation in relation to the use of technology within schools. She developed and leads on the DigiLit Leicester staff development project, run in partnership with De Montfort University and the 23 BSF schools. The project achieved recognition as one of five global winners of the Reclaim Open Learning innovation competition, organised by the MacArthur Foundation, The Digital Media and Learning Hub, and MIT Media Lab. As part of this work, she has lead on the OER Schools project. As a panellist, Josie talked about why Leicester City Council has provided permission for school employees to openly licence their work, and the benefits for educators and schools in engaging with open licencing. She also ran two workshops, focusing on school policy and practice in relation to OER.

Miles BerryMiles Berry (@mberry on Twitter) is principal lecturer and the subject leader for Computing Education at the University of Roehampton. He teaches initial teacher education courses, and his principal research focus is the role of online communities in the professional formation and development of teachers. Miles was part of the drafting groups for computing in the 2014 national curriculum. Miles spoke on the opening panel about the importance of OER and open licencing in relation to the primary and secondary computing curriculum, and ran two workshops, one for primary practitioners and one for secondary level staff. Until 2009, Miles was head of Alton Convent Prep. In his former post as deputy head of St Ives School, Haslemere, he pioneered the use of Moodle and Elgg in primary education. His work on implementing Moodle was documented as the dissertation for Leicester University’s MBA in Educational Management, and won the 2006 Becta ICT in Practice Award for primary teaching. His other professional interests include knowledge management in education, use of open source software and principles in schools, provision for the gifted and talented and independent learning.

Dave FroodDave Foord (@davefoord on Twitter) is an experienced teacher. Some of his best known work is in the area of learning technology (also known as ILT, e-learning, ICT) – using technology to enhance the learning experience. Dave has been a keen advocate on accessibility considerations within this area of work, and specialises in the creation of resources that are highly accessible, mobile optimised, and easily adaptable. Dave provided the conference with a workshop on basic accessibility considerations for producing OER, including this simple checklist he produced for the workshop:

Accessibility checklist for schools creating OER (PDF)

Accessibility checklist for schools creating OER (Word)

Programme

10am – 11.30

OER Leadership Briefing and Q&A

Chair:    Richard HallPanel:  Miles Berry, Josie Fraser, Marieke Guy, Bjoern Hassler

11.40am -1pm

Workshops

  • Introduction to OER for school staff – Bjoern Hassler
  • School Policy  – Josie Fraser
  • Computing, Primary  – Miles Berry

1pm-1.40 pm

Lunch & feedback

1.40pm – 3pm

Workshops

  • Introduction to OER for school staff – Bjoern Hassler
  • School Policy – Josie Fraser
  • Computing – secondary school – Miles Berry
  • Creating accessible OER – Dave Foord

3pm – 3.30

Next steps & close

Opening briefing session

City school leaders who were unable to attend the whole day were encouraged to register for the opening briefing session which provided them with information to take their schools forward in relation to copyright and open licensing. The session covered key legal and practical issues for schools – including copyright and open licensing, international approaches, and employment and policy.

Workshops

Introducing OER – this hands on session was designed to get staff started with finding, using and creating open educational resources. Attendees found out how to tap in to a wealth of free openly licensed resources, and how OER can help staff and schools connect to local and global communities.

School policy workshop – This session took school leaders through the process of creating a school OER policy, to support staff development, classroom practice and resource sharing.

Computing curriculum workshop – This workshop looked at what computing staff need to know about open licensing, and what their students need to know. Two workshops were held – one for primary, and one for secondary schools, and looked at how the OER guidance and materials can be practically incorporated into lessons to support Key Stage 1,2,3 and 4.

Creating accessible resources – all staff and schools have a responsibility to consider the basic accessibility of electronic resources – whether these are only shared within the school community, or more openly available. This session introduced staff to the basic accessibility issues all schools need to be aware of when creating digital resources.

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Panel Videos and Presentations

The majority of school staff use and create digital resources to support their learners and schools – including presentations, lesson plans, and study guides. However, the DigiLit Leicester project identified a gap in support and information for teachers relating to the use and creation of open educational resources (OER). An understanding of OER and open licensing will support schools and staff in sharing and accessing resources, and in developing staff and learner digital literacy skills and knowledge.

The opening briefing session provided school leaders with the information to take their schools forward in relation to copyright and open licensing. The session covered key legal and practical issues for schools – including copyright and open licensing, international approaches, and employment and policy.

Intro – Richard Hall

OER Guidance for Schools – Bjoern Hassler

OER and Open Education around the world – Marieke Guy

Permission, Policy, Practice – Josie Fraser

Open Educational Resources and Computing – Miles Berry

Richard Hall chaired the panel and introduced the OER Schools Conference.

Richard’s introduction highlighted the global importance of the DigiLit Leicester project, a collaboration between Leicester City Council’s Building Schools for the Future Programme, De Montfort University and 23 of the city’s secondary and SEN schools. The project focuses on supporting secondary school teaching and teaching support staff in developing their digital literacy knowledge, skills and practice, and identified that school staff and communities would benefit from support in relation to copyright education, specifically with regard to open licensing and open educational resources. The council’s open educational resources (OER) schools work is designed to address this.

Bjoern Hassler introduced the recently released OER Guidance for Schools

“Practice changes and policy has to play catch up”. Bjoern introduces the OER Schools Guidance, explaining it’s designed to underpin existing practice and support schools in using, creating and sharing digital resources. OER aren’t exclusive to Leicester, or something that the project team has made up! He talks about the importance of attribution and giving credit where credit is due, and the ease of finding and using OER.

 

Marieke Guy talked on OER and open education around the world

Marieke Guy, from Open Knowledge, talks about the international context of open education and OER. She co-ordinates the Open Education Working Group and is involved in a range of open knowledge projects, including work around open access, education data, and work with galleries, libraries and museums. Marieke talks about the global open education community : “anyone can be an open practitioner, it involves people from all over the world, and we are really keen to involve as many people as possible”. Open education includes a wide range of areas (including policy, resources, licences, accreditation and practice) with initiatives and activities taking place worldwide.

 

Josie Fraser talked about the permission Leicester City Council has given to schools to openly licence their educational resources

Josie talks about how the permission provided by Leicester City Council to school staff is designed to recognise the current legal framework relating to intellectual property rights, and enhance the position of school employees in relation to this. Staff rights in relation to the work produced in the line of work are by default very limited. Josie talks about the benefits for school staff of understanding and engaging with open licensing and open educational resources (OER). Supporting knowledge about OER is a positive way to extend staff understanding of intellectual property and copyright issues in relation to professional practice and the terms of their employment. By providing the permission, the council is focusing on the promotion of OER as a constructive conduit for school communities to take a fresh look at how digital resources are used, created and shared. Josie poses key questions for schools.

Miles Berry talked about the relation of OER to the new computing curriculum

Miles was instrumental in the development of the new English national curriculum computing programmes of study. In this talk he outlines the relevance of open licencing to the new computing curriculum at Key Stage 1, 2, 3 and 4. Miles discusses how knowledge of copyright, and open licencing in particular, links to and can support learners to “use technology respectfully” (KS1); “be discerning in evaluating digital content”; “recognise acceptable/unacceptable behaviour” (KS2); “create, reuse, revise and repurpose digital artefacts”; “use technology respectfully and responsibly” (KS3); and “develop their capability, creativity and knowledge in digital media” (KS4).

Many thanks to Leon Cych for filming and editing.

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OER Schools: Policy and Permission

Leicester City Council has recently become the first Local Authority in the UK to give permission to its school employees to openly license the educational resources created in the course of their work. This permission was formally provided to community and voluntary controlled staff at 84 city schools in September 2014. Briefing notes and model policies for all schools were also circulated. During the OER Schools panel session, Josie Fraser looked at why the council have provided this permission, and how it benefits learners, staff, schools and the city. Josie asked school staff to consider the following key questions:

  • Do staff in your school know about open licensing?
  • Are all staff in your school aware of the OER permission Leicester City Council has given?
  • What existing or new resources should/could staff in your school be sharing?
  • How can we support school staff to share work openly?

The permission and a briefing containing further information for schools can be downloaded here:

OER School Permission (PDF) OER School Briefing (PDF)

Policy Workshops

DSC_0132aJosie ran two workshops designed to support staff in thinking through the process of creating and implementing a school OER policy. She stressed that an OER policy should be linked to everyday school practice, supporting staff to share their resources openly and benefit from using OER other people have shared. The workshops went through the model policies which have been provided to schools to help frame discussion and decision making: OER School Model Policy – Community and VC (PDF) OER School Model Policy – VA, Foundation and Academy (PDF) Editable versions of these resources are also available to download from the OER Schools Resources page (under OER Permission and Policies – zip file).

Staff also worked through three scenarios, in small groups. These were:

  • A staff member applies to you to because they have accepted a commercial offer to sell materials they have developed for their class. How do you respond?
  • A staff member has created some excellent learning materials. You suggest they openly licence and share their resources more widely. The staff member refuses point blank. Why do you think they might not want to share their resources?
  • As Head of Department, you are looking to embed open sharing of educational resources in order to support professional development and collaboration. What key practices would you implement to support staff in sharing their resources?

These worksheets can be downloaded here: OER Policy Scenario A worksheet (word) OER Policy Scenario B worksheet (word) OER Policy Scenario C worksheet (word)

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Benefits

Giving permission to community and voluntary controlled school employees to openly license digital resources provides a wide range of benefits. These are worth keeping in mind when developing your own schools approach and implementing local policies:

  • Schools and school staff have a great culture of sharing, most of which is informal. A fraction of what currently gets shared by schools is openly licensed. Open Licences build on the existing legal copyright framework to provide clear permissions for flexible uses of work – an open licence provides an opportunity to clearly signal how the work can be copied, shared and developed, and who should be given credit for the resource.
  • Online and digital resources are routinely made use of and created in all our schools. This increased use and creation of digital and web-based resources means that understanding the copyright rules and permissions that relate to the use of digital and online teaching and learning materials is very important. Digital resources are protected by copyright in the same way as other resources. Looking at OER in relation to schools policies and practices can promote whole school awareness and discussion of copyright, ownership, and accreditation – all important areas for staff to be modelling good practice for learners.
  • Leicester City Council wants to support schools in promoting and sharing the great work that they are producing. Openly sharing high quality educational resources helps other educators and learners benefit from, and build upon the work staff are doing.
  • The council is committed to public value – to deriving all possible benefit from publicly funded work. We want to support schools and school staff in increasing access, fostering collaboration and ensuring value for money.
  • Without knowledge of how to find and use OER, staff are likely to spend unnecessary time creating original resources when they could be adopting or adapting existing works. By using OER, learners and educators can benefit from the care and expertise that has gone into producing resources, and energy can be put into developing work to better suit learners’ and school’s needs, rather than starting from scratch.
  • The creation and use of openly licensed resources can promote the development of connections and collaboration and the sharing of expertise across professional communities.

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Feedback sheet

 

OER Schools Conference Feedback

We asked conference attendees to feedback on three questions: their key take away, a follow-up action, and challenges to embedding the use of open licences across their schools.

  • What is your key take away from today? We asked staff members to tell us what they considered to be the most important thing they found out about, or were prompted to think about.

I know basically now what OER isA staff member told us “I know basically now what OER is!” This was great to hear. The guidance and the conference are starting points on our journey, as individual schools and as a city, to having a schools workforce that are confident and conscientious about copyright and open educational resources and able to model great practice through their work. Embedding OER into everyday practice represents a big cultural change, but one that’s essential for educational professionals who daily use and create electronic resources. One of the key aims of the conference was to introduce open licensing and OER to schools – since they can’t take advantage of the wealth of opportunities they represent without knowing about them! The conference let us talk to staff directly about the OER schools guidance resources.

The majority of staff feedback on key issues related to copyright knowledge, copyright awareness, how to create OER, and the importance of attribution. Attendees flagged the importance of “increasing staff awareness of copyright and licensing”, “staff awareness of OER”, “copyright attribution” as key takeaways. Some attendees key take away was a recognition of the importance of having conversations with staff about where and how they are currently sharing material . The idea of unregulated sharing of resources prompted mild panic in some. It’s important to remember that sharing resources is really important to encourage, and that the permission is provided in order to promote resource sharing and support staff in adopting best practice in resource sharing.

One staff member commented “Resources created by teachers belong to Leicester City Council and not the teacher”. Many staff are not aware of the terms of their employment in relation to copyright. The legal position is that unless a specific agreement is in place, the employer is the legal and beneficial owner of copyright of materials produced by these employees in the course of their employment. This is not specific to school employees or to Local Authorities as employers– it applies to all employees working under a contract of service, unless a specific agreement is in place. Leicester City Council has become the first Local Authority in the UK to give permission to school staff to openly license the educational resources created by their school employees in the course of their work. This permission has been given to support staff in their use and sharing of work. It’s important to be clear that the permission does not represent a change in the position of staff in relation to copyright ownership, but an enhancement of the rights of school staff to be named as the authors of their materials (if they want to be) and to share their work under open license with the support of their employer. “Sharing is a good thing” was also highlighted by participants as a key message, as was the “need to ensure staff understand the importance of copyright and the benefits of open licensing and OER”

Other areas flagged by participants included practical information – particularly in terms of basic accessibility checks for creating materials, how to search for openly licenced materials in different mainstream sites and search engines, and information about the computing curriculum. We planned the day around workshops which provided practically focused activities with concrete outputs - so it was great to see staff validating the benefit this approach in their identified key takeaways.

One participant identified Leicester’s position at the forefront of school open educational resources awareness and activity as the most important message of the day :”Being a trendsetter is the best position to be in!”

  • What do you see as your biggest challenge in embedding open licensing? We asked attendees to name the issue that they felt might hold their school back.

Awareness and understanding was cited as the key issues faced by schools, and in particular, current levels of staff familiarity with copyright and licensing. Current practice which included the use of unlicensed and/or unattributed materials was felt to be indicative of this.

Time and competing priorities was cited by one delegate as the key challenge. Typically, for staff in the schools workforce, this is the most common challenge listed by participants in relation to any new initiative. It was heartening that only one delegate listed this as an issue, and hopefully indicative that the general message of the conference – that work in this area builds on everyday, existing activities and supports staff in relation to baseline professional practice. Creating and using OER isn’t ‘one more thing’ that staff have to do, but a way of developing and enhancing their existing practice and sharing their excellent work. OER can actually save schools time in the longer term – staff can reuse or build on existing OER legally, giving them time to focus on the needs of their learners in the class or in personalising materials for learners. Incorporating OER into practice also supports staff in modelling and communicating good copyright practice to their learners.

Attendees also asked for more support in relation to how schools many use of learner created resources – given that the student is the owner of these.  with  The copyright belong to the student, so schools are interested in how they can manage consent around the use and open licensing of learner created resources.

  •  What one thing will you be doing when you get back? We asked delegates to let us know if the day had prompted any actions.

The majority of delegates replied to this question in terms of  staff development. Ensuring staff were aware of what they could and couldn’t do with their current licences (particularly the CLA and ERA schools licences), understanding copyright, becoming better informed about open licensing, looking at whole school training for staff in relation to open licensing and OER, and raising awareness about the permission provided by Leicester City Council. Staff also planned to sign-posting and sharing the OER schools guidance across their school.

Discussing and agreeing an approach with head teachers, the Senior Leadership Team and governors was also high on the list of ‘what’s next?’

 Jo Badge tweet

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OER Schools Conference

OER schools icons

 29 January 2015, Phoenix, Leicester

Leicester City Council, in partnership with De Montfort University, are holding a free day conference focusing on finding, using, creating and sharing Open Educational Resources (OER). The event builds on the council’s recently released OER guidance and resources, which can be downloaded from http://schools.leicester.gov.uk/openeducation

The resources were produced by Dr Bjoern Hassler,  Helen Neo (University of Cambridge) , and Josie Fraser (Leicester City Council), and have also benefited from the input of school staff, through review and practical trialing.

The majority of school staff use and create digital resources to support their learners and schools – including presentations, lesson plans, and study guides. However, the DigiLit Leicester project identified a gap in support and information for teachers relating to the use and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER).

An understanding of OER and open licencing will support schools and staff in sharing and accessing resources, and in developing staff and learner digital literacy skills and knowledge. OER are learning materials (including presentations, revision guides, lesson plans) that have been released under an open licence, so that anyone can use, share and build on them for free.  Many openly licensed resources are available for schools to use and develop.

At a time when schools increasingly work with, and rely on, digital and web based materials, understanding how copyright works, and making the most of available resources, is essential for staff and schools. Creating OER allows schools to connect and collaborate with others through sharing work. Sharing can also help promote the great work that school staff and schools are doing.

Programme

10am – 11.30

OER Leadership Briefing and Q&A

Chair:    Richard Hall

Panel:  Miles Berry, Josie Fraser, Marieke Guy, Bjoern Hassler

11.40am -1pm

Workshops

  • Introduction to OER for school staff – Bjoern Hassler

  • School Policy  – Josie Fraser

  • Computing, Primary  – Miles Berry

1pm-1.40 pm

Lunch & feedback

1.40pm – 3pm

Workshops

  • Introduction to OER for school staff – Bjoern Hassler

  • School Policy – Josie Fraser

  • Computing – secondary school – Miles Berry

  • Creating accessible OER – Dave Foord

3pm – 3.30

Next steps & close

Speakers and Workshop Leads

Miles BerryMiles Berry  (@mberry on Twitter) is principal lecturer and the subject leader for Computing Education at the University of Roehampton. He teaches initial teacher education courses, and his principal research focus is the role of online communities in the professional formation and development of teachers. Other professional interests include knowledge management in education, use of open source software and principles in schools, provision for the gifted and talented and independent learning. Miles was part of the drafting groups for computing in the 2014 national curriculum. Until 2009, Miles was head of Alton Convent Prep. In his former post as deputy head of St Ives School, Haslemere, he pioneered the use of Moodle and Elgg in primary education. His work on implementing Moodle was documented as the dissertation for Leicester University’s MBA in Educational Management, and won the 2006 Becta ICT in Practice Award for primary teaching.

Dave FroodDave Foord(@davefoord) is an experienced teacher, who during his years of teaching, developed and perfected many techniques for providing high quality, innovative, and differentiated learning. Some of his best known work is in the area of learning technology (also known as ILT, e-learning, ICT) – using technology to enhance the learning experience. Dave has been a keen advocate on accessibility considerations within this area of work, and specialises in the creation of resources that are highly accessible, mobile optimised, and easily adaptable. Dave works for his Loughborough based company A6 Training and Consultancy Ltd, which provides training, consultancy and resource development services to education providers.

Josie FraserJosie Fraser (@josiefraser on Twitter) is a UK-based Social and Educational Technologist. Since June 2010, she has lead on technology for Leicester City Council’s multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme, one of the most accelerated building programmes in the UK. She is also responsible for setting, promoting and delivering on a city wide agenda for educational transformation in relation to the use of technology within schools. She developed and leads on the DigiLit Leicester staff development project, run in partnership with De Montfort University and the 23 BSF schools. The project achieved recognition as one of five global winners of the Reclaim Open Learning innovation competition, organised by the MacArthur Foundation, The Digital Media and Learning Hub, and MIT Media Lab. 

Marieke GuyMarieke Guy (@mariekeguy on Twitter) is a project co-ordinator at Open Knowledge, a global not-for-profit organisation that wants to open up knowledge around the world and see it used and useful. Over the last two years she has been exploring open data in education and its relationship with open education as part of the LinkedUp Project. Her current projects are PASTEUR4OA , developing and/or reinforcing open access strategies and policies across Europe, and Europeana Space, creating new opportunities for employment and economic growth within the creative industries sector based on Europe’s rich digital cultural resources. Marieke has been working with online information for over 16 years and was previously employed by UKOLN, a centre of expertise in digital information management at the University of Bath. Marieke co-ordinates the Open Education Working Group.

hally_1Richard Hall (@HallyMK1 on Twitter) is Professor of Education and Technology at De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, UK. He is DMU’s Head of Enhancing Learning through Technology and leads the Centre for Pedagogic Research. Richard is a National Teaching Fellow and a co-operator at the Social Science Centre in Lincoln, UK. He writes about life in higher education at: http://richard-hall.org

Bjoern HasslerBjoern Hassler (@bjoernhassler on Twitter) focuses on pedagogy, Open Educational Resources (OER) and digital technology. He led the JISC-funded ORBIT project, which produced an Open Resource Bank on Interactive Teaching for teacher education, focusing on innovative digital technology use in mathematics and science education. He is co-leading the OER4Schools project, introducing interactive teaching and digital technologies in Zambian primary schools.

Register

Registration for the conference is available here.

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Developing SharePoint as a Learning Platform: Final Report

Maths Teacher Peter Williams, from The City of Leicester College, concludes his innovation project  – an exploration SharePoint (part of the Office 365 package) as an alternative to a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for the school.

You can find Peter’s previous project updates here:

Investigating SharePoint as a Learning Platform: Final Report

After spending a year exploring and developing SharePoint for our college I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. SharePoint is a huge collection of very flexible tools which can be applied in so many different ways, and as I have discovered more about it I have continually found new ideas being sparked.

My focus was to create a functional replacement for our old VLE, and to investigate the social networking features of SharePoint to see how they could be used in the classroom. The transfer of content from the old VLE was straightforward and relatively painless, and the social networking tools were quick and easy to access and use, so by all counts SharePoint has been a successful investment in time.

What follows are some reflections on the benefits and drawbacks to using SharePoint, along with a rough outline of some other potential applications for this very flexible system. This development work is very much on going, and I would expect that how we are using SharePoint in a couple of years’ time will look very different again!

Benefits

Integration

Integration has been by far the most obvious benefit of using SharePoint instead of a different VLE. When we transferred over to Office365 for our mail and user account system it was obviously going to be useful to leverage the other tools built into the system. Students don’t need to log in to multiple sites, remember different log in details, they can just navigate to SharePoint via their e-mail, a system they log in to regularly and are already familiar with.

Searching

Fully indexed and searchable documents have proven to be a huge bonus as well, and not one I was anticipating. Every file is automatically indexed when it’s uploaded, and office documents are internally indexed, so a search will bring up Word documents or PowerPoint files with the search terms within them. This is hugely useful, particularly for the personal document storage part of SharePoint, as it makes finding stuff very quick!

Flexibility

SharePoint is not a VLE, and that’s a good thing. It’s actually a document storage system designed for businesses, and it comes with a very robust set of tools which can be manipulated to create exactly what you want. You aren’t forced to do things someone else’s way, you can utilise all of the tools in SharePoint to make your learning platform do exactly what you want, in exactly the way you want to do it!

Sharing

A core feature of every part of SharePoint is that stuff needs to be easy to share. This means sharing resources, ideas, information and work with other people is quick and easy. It even means documents can be shared and edited at the same time by multiple different users. I have used this system to get small groups of students creating a single PowerPoint together at the same time on different computers. I have also used this to allow students to create a portfolio of work which I have access to. This was I can always see their most recent work and there are never duplicate copies of a file, so you are never looking at an old version of something.

Security

All of the document storage and social networking features are completely secure. No one outside of the college can have an account, and so no external interaction can happen through the social networking tools. Documents can be shared externally, but this is easy to control and is done per-document. With the exception of e-mail, all of the social networking tools are open forms of communication, so staff can monitor any interactions very easily.

Cost

SharePoint is completely free. The only cost this year has been the time I spent developing it, so it has saved our college thousands of pounds (annually).

Drawbacks

Of course no single system is perfect, and there are plenty of issues with SharePoint which are worth considering. These are the main issues I have encountered, some of which could be a major barrier for deciding to use SharePoint, others have just been annoyances.

Flexibility

If you choose to adopt dedicated VLE software, the initial structure of the VLE will already be in place. This can be a big benefit, particularly if that structure roughly matches what you want to do, and you want to get it up and running fairly quickly. The openness of SharePoint meant that I did have to spend a considerable amount of time early in the year working on the organisation and structure of the content, rather than actually adding content in to be used. Sometimes what you want is a rigid system to just fit into, rather than a blank slate!

Technical Expertise

Prior to teaching I spent some time as a freelance software developer, focused on web applications. Because of this background I was able to tweak and change things in SharePoint which were not trivial! There is a lot you can do without needing more than basic computer skills, but there are also some aspects of SharePoint which required some much more involved work and thinking. There are ways around this, either simply avoid that level of tweaking and adjustment, or look to a third party to do the more technical work for you, but then you either lose the flexibility, or have to spend some money.

Reliability

The core of SharePoint is solid as a rock, and we have had no issues at all. There are however some ongoing issues with OneDrive for Business (the personal document storage system in SharePoint). These are confined to users who have been using the desktop synchronisation app with OneDrive, the web based stuff has all worked perfectly from the start. This has caused some frustration though, so use with caution.

Conclusions

I have been very pleased with the results of the development project, and the feedback from staff and students has been overwhelmingly positive. This is a tool which we are continuing to develop across the college, with a number of other subject areas expressing interest in creating their own sections for learning resources. It has also been nice to see other members of staff think creatively about ways they could use SharePoint, beyond just giving students access to revision material.

Last term I had the opportunity to give a presentation to our college leadership team on the work that had been done so far on SharePoint, and put forward some suggestions for potential future developments. Here is a slightly condensed version of the list of suggestions (in no particular order):

  • Maps of the school to help students find their way around (particularly for year 7 and new arrivals)
  • List of key staff in the college for students to be aware of, and how to contact them
  • Daily menu from the cafeteria and zone
  • Timetable of extra-curricular activities
  • Student can see details of their rewards and behaviour points for the year
  • Careers information for different subjects
  • Options information for year 9 and 11 students making choices
  • Current notices and announcements
  • Upcoming key events (i.e. fundraising activities, non-uniform day,…)
  • Personalised exam timetable
  • Student friendly schemes of learning outlines for all subjects
  • Student homework diary, showing clearly homework set and due dates
  • Lesson timetable (could integrate with homework diary, and include lesson materials from teacher)
  • Ability to submit homework online, or mark as completed on paper to track their current tasks
  • Discussion board for a class to chat about their subject, asking for help and sharing ideas with peers and their teacher
  • Independent learning resources for different subjects
  • A central place for exam revision material which is easy to find
  • Place for learning support team to access lesson materials when students are not in class
  • Every user has a personal blog by default, could be used as a learning journal for subjects
  • Safe and secure social networking for quick communication and sharing of information between all members of the college
  • Students can access grade collection data for each subject
  • Parents can access grade collection data for their children
  • Parents can access attendance and rewards and behaviour information
  • Portal for parents to easily communicate with teaching staff
  • Collaborative work between students using OneDrive, including simultaneous document editing
  • OneDrive as an alternative to the network drives for students to store work, accessible from any internet ready device
  • Homework management system for staff to set homework tasks with due dates
  • Online hand-in system, with ability to mark and return work electronically
  • Clear tracking of which students have handed homework in, and which work has been marked and returned
  • Feedback and grade/level on homework can be recorded and viewed by student online
  • Upload material from lessons for students to review and revise from (or in advance of lessons for a “flipped classroom” approach)
  • “Paperless” lessons, no need to print out worksheets!
  • Staff friendly detailed schemes of learning stored centrally for all course teachers to access and update
  • Central document repository for teaching and learning resources (searchable and easier to organise than folders!)
  • Workflow processes for completing administrative tasks, particularly useful for tasks involving input from multiple members of staff
  • College calendar stored on SharePoint, searchable and filterable by even type
  • Room and asset bookings system
  • Policy documents can be stored centrally, including versioning information and automated systems for initiating policy reviews
  • Staff noticeboard / announcements
  • Document store for archived information such as briefing minutes
  • Connected to school network drives for staff and students to access resources from a web device
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Eye Gaze for Assessment

This year, Netherhall School embark on an ambitious research project. The school will create a report exploring whether the eye gaze system can be used to support and provide accurate assessments of learners with disabilities to inform and guide the school, families and other professionals, along with support materials for staff wanting to use eye tracker technology with learners. The project is being led by Erica Dennies and Helen Robinson. Erica writes:

Netherhall school caters for pupils 4-19 years with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. An increasing number of these pupils require specialised communication tools. One of these which we have recently started to use with pupils is eye gaze technology which allows the user to control a computer with the movement of their eyes.

The aim of our project is to research if this eye gaze technology could be used to accurately assess pupils, not just to determine if this technology could be used with them as a communication tool, but also to assess their cognitive understanding, interests and motivators. This then better informs teaching strategies that practitioners are using when working with those pupils. Our focus is particularly on pupils working at P levels 1-3 who may be difficult to assess.

We started the project by attending a study day to investigate the different assessment packages available, and to help us learn more about how pupils can use the eye gaze technology. It was also an opportunity to network with other teachers, parents and speech and language therapists who are interested in augmentative communication.

One assessment package demonstrated, called Gaze Viewer from Tobii, could collect evidence by recording real eye tracking from any application. Once analysed this helps understand the pupil’s physical capabilities, cognitive understanding and ability to use the eye gaze technology.

In December we invited a supplier in to demonstrate a range of different equipment and programmes in school. This has helped us decide on the approach we are going to take to start assessing our chosen cohort in January.

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Project Programming update

Alan Wileman, Head of ICT at English Martyrs’ Catholic School provides us with this update on the school’s Project Programming work. Staff at English Martyrs’ will be working in collaboration with students on a project which will create resources and activities for the new Computing Curriculum. The resources created through the project will be shared openly for other schools to use and build upon. The school is also setting up a student Digital Leaders group.

Alan writes:

Project Programming began earlier this year with an idea to get students learning a variety of programming languages and hoping to create lots of resources in the process. The small group of students who have been working with me are making some excellent progress and below is an update on the project so far.

To date, we have looked at the use of scratch in Year 7 and downloaded several learning resources to review, focusing on providing students with a useful and practical experience of simple 2D programming. The resources we have looked at are free to download and use from a variety of teaching websites. The main site used was TES Resources and were created by David Phillips.

The students are now working on creating the Scheme of Work to enable staff to teach the students how to program.

Our Year 8 students will soon be learning Kodu. Anyone can program in Kodu using keyboard controls, however, the software is designed to work well with xBox controllers as well – these and have had a fantastic impact on the students and their “love” for programming in the software. Likewise with the scratch resources, lots were obtained online and reviewed. However, there wasn’t as many resources out there that aided a student from a very basic level to learn the software without completing just the online tutorials, so this proved to be more of a difficult task for my group of students. All the ones they sourced and reviewed, are available from a variety of site, however, I found the site created by Nicki Cooper – Interactive Classroom to be the best. Nicki’s teaching resources are licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which means they are free for educators to use, share and remix, as long as proper acknowledgement is given.

The students are now in the process of creating a Scheme of Work for staff to use in classes. A completed copy of the finished workbook will be available at the end of the project once the files have been combined into a new document.

In addition to the xBox controllers, we have been using Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits with learners. This was going to be, and we are still hoping for it to be, the year 9 programming language of choice. So far, the students have had fun making some of the models. Next steps are to get the software installed and complete training by Lego. Training will also be offered to local schools to attend to see the benefits from using Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits in a classroom environment.

We are also planning to use some newly purchased Raspberry Pi kits that came with manuals, bread boards, keyboards, mice and the main Pi board. Unfortunately we have hit a small hurdle with regard to the monitors we have, which are not compatible without purchasing some new leads, something we are sorting. The other option is some dedicated monitors. We will be working with these and creating some useful resources.

All resources we have added to the booklets will be available to all at the end of the project.

 

 

 

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Developing a digital literacy framework

Lucy Atkins and I delivered a workshop at the Association for Learning Technology annual conference, ALT-C 2014, looking at staff digital literacy. We used the DigiLit Leicester Framework strands, descriptors and questions to create two sets of worksheets (which you can download at the bottom of this post) to help structure the session. Workshop participants were mainly working in universities and further education. The aim of the workshop was to use the framework resources to model a practice embedded approach to context/workplace specific digital literacy. In Leicester, we use the framework as a self-reflective tool, to support individual staff members and schools in better understanding their strengths, and any gaps in knowledge and skills they might have. We also use it as a strategic framework to understand the city wide picture and support staff and organisational development.

The first set includes seven worksheets – a high level description of each of the six DigiLit Leicester strands  - Assessment and Feedback; Communication, Collaboration and Participation; Creating and Sharing; E-Safety and Online Identity; Finding, Evaluating and Organising; and Technology supported Professional Development, along with a mystery strand sheet (below) that we included so that participants could come up with their own digital literacy strand area.

Mystery Strand

Each sheet also includes the description of the four levels we work with (Entry, Core, Developer and Pioneer, with the descriptions being the same for each strand), as a prompt to participants.

We asked everyone work with another person or in a small group, and to either pick an existing strand area (with Assessment and Feedback being the most popular) or come up with their own – one of the groups for example chose to focus on ‘online course delivery’ as a competency area, and another chose to look at digital literacy for higher education learners.  We then gave all of the teams 15 minutes, flipchart sheets and marker pens to develop their own ideas, descriptions or questions relating to their chosen strand, practically framing these through how the strand would look at each of the four levels.

It was a busy and successful workshop – a lot of discussion was generated and groups worked hard at getting to grips with linking their ideas to practice. The DigiLit Leicester Framework has been developed with and for secondary and special school staff, so the stands and questions directly relate to them. However, much of the actual content is relevant and transferable to other groups - working within HE, FE, primary or adult education, or within a different profession or sector. This workshop demonstrated how the framework content can be used to scaffold and support organisations looking to take a strategic approach to understanding what the key digital literacy areas are most relevant to a particular group are. You can see how we have made use of the framework to structure staff development work in Leicester schools by looking at our 2014 staff digital literacy survey results, and our recent project activities report.

Assessment and feedback flipchart sheetDistance learning flipchart sheet

Teams fed back to the whole group on their discussion and initial thinking. We also provided groups with copies of our framework statements, linked to each level for the six strand areas.

Communication, collaboration and participation strand statments

These form the basis of the survey we’ve carried out city wide, with staff asked to mark the four statements groups as ‘none’ ‘some’ or ‘all’ (you can find more information about the survey methodology in the 2014 report).

If you’d like to use the worksheets to structure your own workshop or as a starting point to develop your own digital literacy framework, please do:

Pack 1 worksheets: strand and level descriptions PDF

Pack 1 worksheets: strand and level descriptions Word

Pack 2 worksheets: strand statements PDF

Pack 2 worksheets: strand statements Word

 

 

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OER Schools Guidance

OER schools icons

 

Leicester City Council have released four guidance documents and a range of practical information to support school staff in understanding, finding, creating, and sharing Open Educational Resources (OER).

The OER Schools resource packs can be downloaded from http://schools.leicester.gov.uk/openeducation.

Josie Fraser (Leicester City Council) worked with Dr Björn Haßler and Helen Neo (University of Cambridge) to produce the resources, which have also benefited from the input of school staff, through review and practical trialling.

OER are learning materials (including presentations, revision guides, lesson plans) that have been released under an open licence, so that anyone can use, share and build on them for free.  Many openly licensed resources are available for schools to use and develop. At a time when schools increasingly work with, and rely on, digital and web based materials, understanding how copyright works, and making the most of available resources, is essential for staff and schools.

Creating OER allows schools to connect and collaborate with others through sharing work. Sharing can also help promote the great work that school staff and schools are doing.

The DigiLit Leicester initiative, designed to support schools in making the most of the city’s current investment in technology, identified a gap in support and information for school staff relating to the use and creation of OER. In response to this, Leicester City Council is releasing a range of resources to help schools get the most out of open licensing.

The Leicester City Council OER Schools project provides information to school staff about open licencing, and in particular, Creative Commons.

Leicester City Council has also given permission to the 84 community and voluntary controlled schools across the city to create and share Open Educational Resources (OER), by releasing the learning materials they create under an open licence.  By default, the rights of work created in the course of employment are assigned to the employer, unless specific agreements have been made. This permission makes sharing resources simpler for everyone, and provides additional opportunities for schools and school staff. Leicester City Council is the first local authority in the UK to provide its school employees with permission to openly license their resources.

The OER Schools project resources include:

School permission & policy documents:  This pack includes notification of permission from Leicester City Council to city community and voluntary controlled schools, explanatory briefing notes relating to this permission, and model school policies (which builds on the Albany Senior High School Creative Commons Policy) for schools where the LEA is the employer, and for schools where the governing body (or equivalent) is the employer.

Guidance documents: Four documents which introduce OER and open education; look at copyright and Creative Commons licences; support staff in finding, attributing and remixing OER; and cover creating and sharing OER.

Supporting Documents:  Six supporting documents designed to help staff in delivering OER workshops; provide walkthroughs for finding, using and attributing CC Licensed materials; and include an extensive list of annotated resources and related materials.

Additional materials:  A pack of existing openly licensed resources that are either referenced in the guidance or in activities in the supporting documents, provided on a standalone basis to make life easier for school staff.

All of the materials build upon existing openly licensed works and are themselves released under a CC-BY licence. They are provided in editable documenr formats as well as PDF.

The council is also encouraging voluntary aided schools, foundation schools and academies across the city to review their own approach to digital resources, and to see how they can make the most of open licensing.  At these schools, the governing body (or equivalent) is usually the employer.

All of the resources can be downloaded from http://schools.leicester.gov.uk/openeducation

 

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