Posts filed under ‘VLE’

Blog’s away!

You may have seen the item on Breakfast TV news this morning (14th Feb) about the use of blogging in Heathfield School which is a fantastic demonstration of the massive potential of digital technology for education. If you didn’t see it the essence is that pupils of Heathfield Primary School, under the inspirational guidance of deputy head David Mitchell (@deputymitchell if you want to follow him on Twitter) are writing blog posts. Not only do they really enjoy this, it is also having a fantastic positive effect on their writing abilities.

This is happening at a time of immense change when the education ‘system’ is going through yet more changes on top of the constant fiddlings that have taken place over the last 20 years. This is incredibly destabilising and difficult for schools, but of course education must go on. The initiative at Heathfield School is a prime example of how a simple application of digital technology can have hugely beneficial effects, despite current uncertainties over curricula etc..

I think this is a real way forward, where we simply transcend the complications of platforms, technical compatibilities, even connectivity. Blogging can be undertaken anywhere, anytime on any device and doesn’t even need constant connectivity, simply the ability to connect to upload a blog, or to read someone elses blog (unless stored locally).

Yet it opens up the world.

This does open up the potential for what Mike Butler (outgoing chair of the Independent Academies Association [IAA] and chief executive of the award winning Djanogly City Academy in Nottingham) describes as a ‘guide by the side’ approach which gives the learners greater control of their own learning, with teachers in a more supportive, facilitation role.

Heathfield were also pioneers in the use of YouTube in the classroom. Some may feel that giving access to the vast range of videos on You Tube may be problematic if it gave young pupils access to disturbing materials but Heathfield got around this by installing software to filter out comments around the materials that may have been disturbing.

This gives access to an extraordinary free resource that can be used in a number of ways for learning, not least in the use of the ‘freeze frame’ technique that I blogged about a couple of years ago.

What I particularly like about both these initiatives, blogging and YouTube, is the simplicity of implementation from a technical perspective. None of this involves complex Learning Management Systems or VLE’s, no considerations of SCORM compatibility, no complex devolvement of new systems or technical standards. Just progressive thinking.and ‘guiding by the side’ (a term I an rather taken by).

It is no wonder to me that @deputymitchell has taken his rightful place in the ‘inner circle’ with the likes of Tim Rylands, Dawn Hallybone, Stephen Heppell, Derek Robertson et al.

More like this, please.

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February 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Here we go again

So another BETT passes us by. As ever the show was huge (although minuscule by say Frankfurt Book Fair standards).  For me this year was characterised by ‘very little to report’, a sense that we were seeing more of the same, no sense of any real visibility of things to come.

This is hardly surprising in times when so much is in doubt, not least the detail of how the application of digital technology for education will actually shake down. Eavesdropping on conversations between teachers at the crowded café areas seemed to indicate that the spectre of the implementation of Learning Management Systems was looming large.

Many schools continue to struggle with their own networks and adding the additional LMS layer can only serve to add further complication. It is not the capabilities of schools network administrators that is in doubt but the fact that teachers are not given the time, opportunity, training to really understand the implications of digital technology on what they do.

Goodness knows what it must be like for a teacher to make sense of the myriad digital offerings on display at BETT. I find it incredibly confusing, and I’ve been ‘in the business’ for over 20 years.

All of this is exacerbated by the fact that in all likelihood the VLE’s and LMS’s being rather painfully introduced into schools will quite quickly become redundant as the concepts of cloud computing, physical IT needs being met from out there in the ether, hits the world of education.

Seeing the gimmicky introduction by Smart (the interactive whiteboard people) of the ‘Smart table’ suggests to me that too much effort  is being made to introduce the next iteration of stuff (Gillette like) – technology rather than application led. I am old enough for these interactive tables to remind me of the old ‘Space Invader’ tables that enjoyed a brief sojourn in pubs across the land but died a rather fast death condemned to far corners under spilt drinks and distant memories.

The Smart tables use double touch technology and I imagine are quite fun….for a few minutes. Outside of that I simply ask the question, “Why?”.

The other big question on peoples minds is ‘what? That sense of not knowing where things will shake down does leave the purveyors of digital offerings in a bit of a vacuum.

As a colleague remarked at the show perhaps everything should just stop for a year or two, until there is some more clarity over where things are going.

January 22, 2009 at 4:02 pm 1 comment


Mick Landmann on education, digital technology, and the 21st century

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