I have a dream, corny start I know but I have got a dream, well a concept anyway and it is regarding accessibility to ICT in schools. Many commentators are constantly labouring the importance of 'technological adeptness'. The 21st century has seen a plethora of technological advances and if we blink then we truly do miss them. The exponential growth of: wireless technology; The Internet; touchscreen technology and mobile communication to name but a few is staggering and my vision is not about me not missing it, I try hard to keep up, but about ensuring I am party to assisting my colleagues and the students around me in recognising and embracing these changes. I had the privilege of being party to designing and implementing our new school 'ICT solution'And the culmination was, in my opinion, a teacher friendly, child orientated, ICT rich learning environment. The problem was ensuring that the wealth of opportunities available to the school were recognised - so was born ICT Enrichment Week. I gave it the title 'Out of this World' and ran from there.
No rocket science was involved in the set up of the week:
1. try to give as many opportunities to the children and staff to 'play' with a variety of ICT software and hardware.
2. Make this access as simple as possible.
3. Ensure the correct levels of support are provided for everyone.
4. Communicate openly with all parties.
See timetable below:
Day 1 - MYST
I chose Myst following the success of Tim Rylands and the use of this game to inspire creative writing. I wanted the staff to see their new Interactive Whiteboards (IWB's) us in a multi-sensory way to engage and inspire children. Armed with a copy of Myst 3 and my laptop I visited every class in the school and took them on a tour around parts of the game. The response was very positive and I got some amazing vocabulary from children in Nursery through to upper Key Stage 2. The level of engagement was testament to the all consuming nature of the stimulus and not necessarily to my delivery. Nevertheless I am confident that the children benefited from the sessions and the teaching and support staff recognised the opportunities presented by this medium.
Day 2 - Photostory & Activote.
Mandy Barrow (Advisory Service Kent - ASK) arrived to use our new ICT suite and deliver session on Photostory to all classes. The resultant use of the software was beneficial to all the children and their own technological ability was utilised to good effect. Staff feedback was positive and the potential cross curricular uses of this application were realised. Andy Place (ASK) was also in school for the day and visited every year group to show how Activote (KS1) or Activexpression (KS2) can be used to assist in assessment and raise engagement. The children thoroughly enjoyed this medium and remained excited and animated throughout. Teacher feedback was equally enthusiastic and I have several requests to install software and demonstrate lesson set up. Hopefully this equipment will be used in the classroom now.
Day 3 - 2Simple software
Having recently purchased the entire 2 Simple collection for our network it was important that teaching staff were aware of the potential of this software. James Barrett (ASK)came in for the day to work with Foundation and Key stage 1. His affinity with the children and his enthusiasm for this area of ICT rubbed off on the children and staff. Some excellent work was produced and requests for him to return and host a twilight session for staff was seized upon. We look forward to that evening in a couple of weeks time.
Day 4 - ICT in PE & NXT Robots
As PE coordinator as well as ICT I was keen to impress the cross curricular capability of ICT. Kirstie Hemmingway (SSco) had originally intended to bring in Dartfish to show our upper Key stage 2 children. Technological difficulties prevented this from happening, nevertheless Kirstie was able to work with a range of children to produce using: PE equipment, digital cameras and the ICT suite, a range of 'activity cards' to break down different PE skills. These cards, once laminated will provide illustrations for younger children and teaching aids for staff. Five children from different classes in the school had attended a cluster 'Control Day', they returned with 3 NXT robots. Throughout the course of Thursday, supported and led by two capable TA's (Mrs M & Mrs F)these children introduced the whole school to the NXT robot and fascinated the school with its capabilities and personality!
Day 5 - My plan was to host an inter class video conference in place of celebration assembly which is normal after an activity week. A practise run during Tuesday's staff meeting and some running about from me to make sure all classes worked. Culminated in 8 classes, all connected to Flash Meeting, viewing on IWB's images of their family and friends (using visualisers as webcams), The WOW factor was huge and walking into Reception class or Nursery and seeing children with their mouths agog at their older siblings talking to them from the screen was a high point for me. The quality of the conferencing left something to be desired, but nevertheless our whole school experienced video conferencing first hand.
Asus Minibooks - The school has 60 Asus Minibooks - these tend to reside in year 4 and year 6 where they are used regularly. By timetabling the minibooks in each class for a day, every child was able to access them and the staff were able to see the potential from using them to support some curricular areas. The big positive moment for me was when the reception teacher came to sing the praises of the mini books. Apparently her class were totally engaged for an hour( a long time for reception apparently, outside my knowledge remit), she was assisted by some year 6 pupils who were invaluable in scaffolding the younger children's access to the computers. This is the same teacher who had been overtly negative to the use of the minibooks in reception when I had given them to all the staff over a half term earlier in the year.
Webquest - As a competition for all children I offered an MP3 player as a prize per class for completing a webquest on outer space. I placed these as a document in the school website to encourage its use. Whilst I thought the prize was quite exciting, the response was quite poor, especially from the key stage 2 children - perhaps it was too hard, perhaps they all have MP3 players!!!!
Negatives - It wasn't all good. I asked the staff to take on a lot and generally they rose to the challenge. I wonder if this overloading of information may actually be detrimental to their development. Visualisers work as webcams but are not as efficient as the real thing, may need to invest in a webcam per class (if I ever get any more money!!!). Video conference needed more structure to be an effective tool , I think I knew this but the experience was disjointed. The webquest could have been differentiated further which may have encouraged more entrants. I failed to check the website counter before and after the week to see if our hit rate increased due to the competition.
Positives - I felt positive about the whole week. I am still awaiting evaluation forms from the staff and will be interviewing some children to get their ideas on what happened. The concept of offering an insight into a range of hardware and software was achieved, with the assistance of the aforementioned people I was able to give staff and pupils a range of ICT experiences that they can utilise in other areas. I cannot make anybody embrace the change but by introducing it perhaps I can precipitate some.
The dream - I want to be a party to our children's technological awareness being as 'Future-proof' as possible. My small part is to remain an enthusiastic practitioner and, where possible, providing my colleagues and my students with the support, the experiences and the vision to operate outside their own comfort zones.