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MirandaNet Fellowship Profiles (MirandaNet Archive - as of March 2015)
I was formerly the Deputy Head Teacher at Tolworth Girls' School, where the eMate project reported on below took place. I am now a semi-retired freelancer.
Tolworth Girls' School
Deputy head teacher
This is Inset but not as we've known it.
The eMate Project
January 1998 - January 1999
We have now completed the one year project to raise the ICT competence of all the teaching staff by giving each teacher an eMate mobile computer. The cost of the provision was met by funding from the Learning Circuit which we received to match the two stages of the project.
First we introduced eMates to twenty staff who subsequently became mentors to the remaining forty teachers who took part in the second stage of the project. This model worked effectively because it provided well dispersed mentoring that could solve problems for people at the time and even the place when the problem occurred. Many of our staff had previously experienced only the negative impact of ICT - time wasted, a sense of failure and loss of creative energy. The combination of a mobile computer designed for a limited number of uses and on the spot mentoring has avoided the negatives and produced some rather impressive positive gains.
The most important gain is that all the staff are using ICT more in all aspects of their work. They have extended their range of competence to include all the generic functions- word processing, desk top publishing, spreadsheet and database.
Another plus has been in reducing or even exterminating tedious jobs. The minutes of meetings are produced at the event and beamed across to any who want their own record. We have changed our reporting system too and reduced the workload through the use of our eMates. Some staff use their eMate as an electronic organiser and have thrown away their paper diaries- a real sign of confidence in technology.
One of the most significant gains however, has to be the extent to which different staff are working together in more creative ways on lesson preparation, assessment, recording and reporting. This is lightening the work load whilst raising standards and people working together generally seem to be having more fun. A review of the success of the project carried out by GNVQ Business Studies students illustrated a huge acquisition of ICT skills which alone would justify the in vestment. However, perhaps the most powerful benefit is the intrinsic motivation achieved when the teaching staff know that their professional development has been taken seriously through a significant injection of time and funding at the point where the work happens ..in the classroom during the day and at home during the evening. They have enjoyed learning by working in their own environment at their own pace.
When asked to make comparisons by the GNVQ students, no one believed that the alternative model of a two day inset course on some Microsoft package would have been as effective in either the short or the long term. Perhaps it is important to also note that the eMate has technically delivered complete reliability. Of the 63 purchased none have gone wrong and none have been broken - even when dropped.
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