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MirandaNet Fellowship Casestudy
Strategies for increasing independent learning
The power of personal devices
Year of posting: 2013
This mixed secondary state school with 700 pupils is in an area of deprivation in a coastal town (Figures One and Two). The new building completed in 2009 after a 2005 fire promotes the technology specialism. The 2012 OFSTED inspection reflects good conduct, but judges the school ‘requires improvement’ because of the achievement, leadership and management grades. Literacy is a key area for improvement.
The vision is to use technology in innovative and exciting ways despite financial constraints and wifi access problems in the new building. Student to computer ratio 3:1. Three network staff support 5 PC suites. There are IWBs and computers in each room. Some departments have sets of devices as well. The intranet is widely used inside and outside school for administration and personal planning. Every room is wifi enabled, but the costs of a complete service have prevented full installation until 2013.
The SLT has been working towards independent learning over five years with early work focusing on effective use of the VLE from outside school by staff and pupils: student planners and mail to parents are existing services. BYOD/BYOT is the next step. Pupils usually bring Smart phones or tablets. Currently those who can use their parents’ Hotspot in school until full school wifi is secured. The number of staff with devices is growing. Humanities, Maths, Music, Design and Technology now have sets of wifi enabled devices that can be used to supplement BYOD/BYOT for those who do not have their own device.
ICT management, changing pedagogy, professional development
Working slowly and inclusively in pilot mode has insured high expectation of success in full implementation over the next year. Some key points have arisen for inclusion in the emerging policies:
- Research into ownership was essential in planning the pilot and also in engaging staff, pupils and parents. Ownership of devices at 38% was lower than expected and has slowed up progress. Provision must be developed for students and staff who cannot fund their own device.
- Currently some staff still ban the use of devices in their classrooms despite changing policy. According to the pupils more staff need their own devices and specific training in order to ensure a new teaching and learning policy is embedded. Pupils have offered to teach the teachers informally;
- Wifi is essential through the school if take-up of BYOD/BYOT is to be improved. An affordable solution has now been found but the absence of overall wifi in the pilot was a barrier to change;
- Pupils using their own hotspots where wifi is not available has raised concerns about how the school will control what websites pupils are accessing;
- The SLT needs to trial more thoroughly key online administrative and teaching software as poor performance dampened enthusiasm for the pilot amongst staff and pupils.
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