College Leader project – Final Report

Tony Tompkins, ICT Strategy Coordinator, has lead on the DigiLit Leicester supported College Leader project for The City of Leicester College. The project makes use of the DigiLit Leicester framework to support staff development and embed digital literacy across the college. The project established a new educational technologist post (College Leader – New Technology), and provided training sessions focusing on the digital literacy strands to develop the use of technology to support practice. Tony provides a final project report, outlining the approach he has taken to supporting digital literacy across the college (project resources are shared at the end of the post):

The College Leader project consists of four distinct strands:
• Continuation of the post for College Leader – New Technology for two further terms.
• Delivery of six x two hour training sessions on each of the Digilit Leicester strands.
• Support for a number of staff to run small innovation projects, making better use of existing technology.
• The development of a viable whole school 1-to-1 scheme.

College Leader post

In 2012, The City of Leicester College (TCOLC) created a four term secondment role to the College Leadership Team. The post of “College Leader – New Technology” was tasked with developing the strategic vision for the college within new technologies, and to help deliver on this vision as part of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) process.

The role has been critical in helping the college further develop its long term vision, devising a sustainable approach to 1-to-1 ICT provision, and to lead on staff development in digital literacy. The extra time to focus on staff development in relation to technology has meant the college has been better able to support the bedding-in process of the new build and new ICT solution.
During the extra two terms, the college took the decision to create a new permanent post of “ICT Strategy Coordinator” at leadership level, and have now successfully appointed to this role. The post directly derives from the College Leader role supported by this project, and holds overall responsibility for the strategic direction and development of new technologies within the college and also leads on Continual Professional Development (CPD) aimed at boosting the skills of our staff team.
Since appointment, the ICT Strategy Coordinator has overseen the introduction of fortnightly whole school CPD sessions developing staff competency and confidence in using new technologies in the classroom. The Coordinator has also developed and delivered the first stage of the TCOLC 1-to-1 iPad scheme for year 9 students and will continue rolling this out to the rest of the school over the next 18 months.

Raising Capacity & Confidence in ICT

Part of the College Leader – New Technology project was to develop staff capability and confidence in using new technologies. As part of this drive, the college developed a number training sessions based around the DigiLit Leicester strands, aiming to develop skills in using the new systems and software delivered through BSF to better support teaching and learning.
We have delivered three out of the six training sessions aimed at moving staff on to the next level of competency within each DigiLit Leicester strand. Twilight sessions proved extremely popular, and were fully booked. We gave priority to staff who identified as currently working at the lower levels of the framework, at “entry” or “core”, in order to raise the baseline of staff confidence in their professional use of technology across the college.

The sessions were created and delivered by our own Pioneer (advanced) level staff, and tailored to suit the technology and software available within school. In terms of technologies, we focused predominantly on SharePoint and the use of iPads, as these are key components of our ICT provision, and as newly introduced technologies, least familiar to our staff.

The three sessions run were on the following DigiLit Leicester strands:
• Creating and Sharing
• Communication, Collaboration and Participation
• Technology supported Professional Development
Below is a synopsis of the three sessions and the main objectives:

Session 1 – Creating & Sharing
Synopsis: An overview of how to use SharePoint to quickly and easily create, edit and share documents with students using OneDrive, and how to use the very powerful Sites tool to create a central bank of resources for staff and students to use for years to come. This includes looking at basic word, PowerPoint and Excel documents, as well as sharing rich media content such as images and videos with students. We will also spend some time looking at different approaches to sharing, and how to effectively draw students’ attention to important documents and information easily.
Objectives:
• Be confident in creating documents within OneDrive
• Be able to share documents in OneDrive with other members of the college
• Be able to add resources to a SharePoint Site
• Understand how to use Newsfeed to draw attention to SharePoint content

Session 2 – Communication, Collaboration and Participation
Synopsis: A look at collaborative learning tools on the laptops and iPads. During this session staff learnt how to create a documents and presentations via SharePoint that groups of students can work on simultaneously. On the iPads, Socrative was introduced for whole class polling, and Evernote create shared notebooks. Work was displayed to the rest of the group via Apple TV.
Objectives:
• Create documents and presentations for groups of students to work on at the same time.
• Use Sharepoint Newsfeed to guide students to your content.
• Learn how to create a quiz in Socrative and play along with one that someone else has made.
• Understand how Evernote can be used by students to share their work with you.
• Know how to use Padlet for a quick evaluation, feedback or brain-storm.

Session 3 – Technology supported Professional Development
Synopsis: A practical training session using TES Resources and Twitter to make, develop and share teaching and learning resources including lesson plans, presentations, assemblies, and games, to save time and enhance the effectiveness of planning and teaching time, as well as providing opportunities to build personal learning networks (PLNs).
Objectives:
• Create/develop a twitter account to source, share and promote teaching resources.
• Use hashtags to join or start discussions about education, training or CPD.
• Create/develop a Times Educational Supplement (TES) account to source and share teaching resources online.
• Start to look at teacher/educational blogs to follow and/or make your own.

Evaluation of all 3 sessions was extremely positive, with most staff rating the sessions as outstanding and all staff rating them good or better. Where sessions were criticised, it was mainly around the fast pace and the desire to fit a lot into each session! I have appended all the resources created for the three sessions are accessible from this post. We intend to run a further three sessions (covering additional DigiLit Leicester strands), and re-run the existing three sessions to allow more staff the opportunity of improving their skills.

Trialling and Disseminating Innovative Practice

The Digilit surveys had revealed that there is a pool of pioneer (advanced) level staff within the college whom we could draw on to share their digital literacy skills and help move the college practice forward. We felt it was important to harness the skills of these staff to ensure we made proper use of and got good value from the new ICT equipment made available to the College through BSF investment.

The idea behind the small innovation projects was to allow staff to pursue an identified project which aimed to improve teaching and learning in their area through the use of technology.
We invited applications from our staff team through a competitive process, and agreed to support six individual innovation projects across the College. The six agreed projects and their main objectives were:

1. Technology – Develop the use of the Laser Cutter
To develop the use of the Laser Cutter for use with Key Stage 4 & 5 students, including:
• Learn how to use Coral Draw software.
• Learn how to use the Laser Cutter & experiment with a variety of materials including leather and denim.
• Support learning of Key Stage 4 & 5 students to incorporate the use of new technologies in their coursework, and to develop knowledge and understanding of industrial practice.

2. Art & Design – Video Resource Bank
To develop a ‘Video Resources Bank’ which can be used to:
• Support progression for different abilities in lessons.
• Demonstrate health and safety with machinery/tools.
• Recap practical tasks – (play on loop as a visual aid).
• Support learning during cover lessons when the class teacher cannot be present.

3. Business – Content for the Learning Platform
To increase awareness, and then use of the new learning platform that the college is developing – SharePoint- for the business education area, with a view to expanding this to the Business/Art Design & Technology Hub.

4. English/Modern Foreign Languages – Developing use of ShowMe app
Develop the use of audio/visual feedback/marking – the use of Show Me app to produce marking that students can respond to:
• A trial of using Show Me to mark books in a way where students then respond to feedback in English and Modern Foreign Languages.
• Developing an area where students can access their feedback through the school network.
• Evaluating use of Show Me and whether it could be used more widely in the school.

5. Social Sciences – Use of Interactive Whiteboard
To develop the use of eBeam so that all teachers are confident with all its features and capabilities so that they can save lesson plans, annotated and voice recorded power points and email them out to students.

6. Inclusion – Using New Technology to support students with Special Educational Needs (SEN)
As we are working towards dyslexia friendly school status, one of the recommendations for dyslexic students is the use of a laptop or similar device in the classroom. Many of these students have difficulties with handwriting and spelling skills that affect the speed of hand written work. Pupils can become frustrated and behaviour can become an issue. This can also slow progress, especially in subject with heavy coursework workloads. In particular:
• A number of dyslexic students were provided with a personal iPad mini which included the Dragon Dictation App. They used it very successfully to take notes in the classroom and to produce independent work. Dragon dictation has now been added to the list of recommended apps for all students on our 1:1 scheme, and the use of iPads to support dyslexic students has become part of the College offer.
• 2 students were provided with a laptop. This was less successful due to the long bootup times, short battery life and less portable than the iPad mini.
• Paid software was explored, including WordShark and CVC Word Builder, but we were disappointed with these and found that the additional functionality did not warrant the cost.
Information around the use of technology to support dyslexia was reviewed and updated on the College website.

Staff have been working on these projects over the past year and have been provided up to 10 hours release time on request to help develop their projects and prepare resources for their classes.
Overall I think that the small innovation projects has been a positive initiative. All staff made some progress on their projects, and there have been some very effective results for individual staff concerned. However, a minority projects produced less results than hoped, due to the staff concerned not taking sufficient time out of teaching to devote to developing their project over the course of the year. This is partly their own reluctance to leave exam classes, and partly constraints made by the College due to the large amount of cover already taken across the school this year.

Developing a whole school 1-to-1 Model

The College had previously run a very successful “Bring your own Device” (BYOD) trial and were looking to build on the ideas and successes generated by this to create a whole school 1-to-1 scheme based around the iPad mini.

The TCOLC 1-to-1 iPad mini Scheme commenced in November 2014. It costs £170 to join, which parents can pay all at once or as a £50 deposit followed by 6 monthly payments of £20. Students who join the scheme receive an iPad-mini pre-installed with all the apps required for the classroom, a case and one year’s insurance against accidental damage and theft. It has proved extremely popular with our Year 9 parents and we will be inviting other year groups to join the scheme over the coming months.

Once the £170 has been paid, there will be no further payments required, other than a renewal fee of around £10 if parents would like to extend the insurance policy for a further year. The devices remain school property whilst the student remains at the College. However, when they graduate or leave to join another school, they can purchase the device for £1, and full ownership will be transferred from the College to the parents/guardians. Our Mobile Device Mangement (MDM) software will be removed and students are free to use the device as they wish.
The scheme is currently optional and only devices purchased through this scheme will be allowed in school. The devices have Lightspeed MDM software pre-installed, and all traffic will pass through our College web-filtering.

Parents are offered the choice to either restrict their child’s device to our pre-selected apps for learning, or opt for a more open setup where students are able to install their own age-appropriate apps, allowing both educational and leisure use. Currently, only one set of parents have asked us to place restrictions on the device, due to concerns that their child was on the device too often at home playing games.

All students joining the scheme need to sign an Acceptable Use Policy, along with their parents. This policy only applies to devices provided through the 1-to-1 scheme, and the College retains its existing mobile device policy, which covers all other devices. We have created some specific codes in our behaviour system to track iPad misuse. The College reserves the right to remove certain apps, features or content or to restrict devices in the case of inappropriate use within the College. So far we have had a few issues with inappropriate use of iMessage, and this feature has been temporarily withdrawn for 5 students, initially for two weeks.

The College is very pleased with the initial take-up. Over 110 of our year 9 signed up on the first offer, which is around two-thirds of the year group. Students in this year group will have a second opportunity to join the scheme. We are looking to push membership levels of existing students up from the initial 70% take-up rate to above 90%.

We do have a backup plan for parents who do not wish to join the scheme. The College currently has around 200 iPad-minis in class sets distributed around the building, and once all year groups have had the opportunity to join the scheme, these devices will be repurposed for these students. Students who are unable to or do not want to join the scheme, but who require a device for lessons, will be able to borrow a device on a per-lesson or per-day basis. As long as take up is reasonably high, then this should be manageable.

Additionally, the College has employed an additional technician, whose role is specifically to help with device rollout and to support the students. This is initially on a temporary contract whilst we evaluate this role. Successfully setting up and managing so many devices requires time and considerable expertise. The College has also invested in a local internet filtering solution. This means that no matter where the students iPads are, their internet traffic always routes through the College filtering system. It is difficult to apply parental controls to tablets, and we felt that this, along with the age restrictions enforced through our MDM, would provide a level of safety for our students that parents would find it difficult to achieve themselves.I am confident that the current scheme will continue to grow in popularity as it is rolled out across the school. We are proud to be one of the first schools in the area to be offering this exciting opportunity to our students.

Resources

• Creating and sharing (handout) SharePoint How To Guides 10-10-2015 (Word) SharePoint How To Guides 10-10-2015 (PDF)
•  Creating and sharing (presentation) Creating and Sharing with SharePoint presentation 10-10-2015 (PowerPoint)
• Technology Supported Professional Development (handout) Signing up for your Twitter account 10-10-2015 (Word) Signing up for your Twitter account 10-10-2015
• Technology Supported Professional Development (presentation) Twitter for school staff CPD 10-10-2015 (PowerPoint)
• DigiLit – Communication Collaboration Participation (presentation) Communication Collaboration Participation 10-10-2015 PowerPoint
• 1-to-1 Scheme – Acceptable Use Policy 1-to-1 Scheme – Acceptable Use Policy 10-10-2015 (Word) 1-to-1 Scheme – Acceptable Use Policy 10-10-2015 (PDF)
• 1-to-1 Scheme – Loan Agreement 1-to-1 Scheme – Loan Agreement 10-10-2015 (Word) 1-to-1 Scheme – Loan Agreement 10-10-2015

 

 

About Josie Fraser

UK-based Social and Educational Technologist, currently working for Leicester City Council (Local Government) as ICT Strategy Lead (Children's Capital). I support schools across the city in making effective and innovative use of technology to support learning, teaching and whole school development.
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