These thoughts are my own and don’t represent my employer’s, my wife’s or the those of Father Christmas. 😉
On the one hand, the Conservatives’ education policies heavily (and negatively) influenced my vote in the recent General Election. On the other hand, now that we’ve got Mr Gove, at least he’s had the courage of his convictions to get rid of three bodies:
Probably the most useful of the three to go, Becta was the government’s advisory service for educational technology. I was part of their Open Source Schools project and attended events such as BectaX. Unfortunately, they became less relevant, increasingly unwieldy and seemingly more subject to internal politics as time went on.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency advised the government on the National Curriculum, assessment and qualifications. The new coalition government believe that its functions can be discharged more effectively in other ways (e.g. Ofqual). I didn’t have much dealings with them, but never really knew why they were there.
The QCDA’s sample National Curriculum schemes of work were unfortunately taken as gospel by some Heads of Departments and Senior Leaders – rather than as a basis upon which to innovate. Sometimes it is your fault if the tools and resources you produce are used as instruments of repression…
I have never hidden my utter contempt for the General Teaching Council for England, noting how ridiculous their ‘code of conduct’ for teachers was. The fact that they took money off you and then gave it back if you were employed as a teacher seemed utterly pointless. Their only purposes seemed to be to send out glossy magazines and discipline teachers who take drugs. I found their lack of proper consultation, their arbitrary stance and their waste of public money shocking.
I’m really pleased that these three organizations have gone together rather than in a piecemeal fashion. I think it signals a bright future for schools in England – so long as the Academies programme isn’t used just to shuffle the money from quangos to consultants. I hope that getting rid of these organizations means that money can be channeled more effectively to schools, partnerships, federations and authorities who in a position closer to the ground to gauge its impact.
Grassroots innovation and sharing of practice through online networks should now take centre stage. Instead of people being able to hide behind (their readings of) recommendations made by quangos, they’ll have to actually engage and think about their particular context. That can only be a good thing.
A note of caution, however. Just because a tool such as Twitter is open and decentralized does not make the networks it facilitates open and decentralized. We need to be careful not to fall prey to the age-old “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and gatekeeper-ism. 🙂
I’d really like to hear YOUR views on this. Are you a teacher in the UK? What do you think? If you’re not, what’s your take from the outside?
You may want to read my post What is a VLE? as an introduction to this post!
It’s the nature of blogs that they reflect the ideas and interests of those who write them. As a consequence, this particular one has, of late, featured much on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of E-Learning – i.e. the systems and processes that enable Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), for example, to work effectively.
In my new role as Director of E-Learning (and I quote from my job description) it is my responsibility to:
Ensure the creation of the virtual learning environment (VLE), identifying clear targets, time-scales and success criteria for its development and maintenance in line with the Academy Development plan.
As such, in conjunction with the ICT Advisor from the Academy’s consultants, I need to come up with some ‘functional specifications’ for the VLE. We shall be using the existing VLE that is in place in the current High school, either developing that or replacing it for the new build in 2011.
Becta’s list of functional requirements can be found here, but I wanted to ask those in my network if they had any other suggestions. Here’s what they came up with in a short space of time (click to enlarge):
In terms of what I want to see in a VLE, I think it needs to:
Be a collaborative space where students and staff can collaborate on documents and web pages (like Google Apps)
Enable users to have appropriate contact with others within the Academy and the wider community by a range of methods (e.g. Twitter-like microblogging, instant messaging, shared whitetboards, video conferencing,email, social networking)
Promote learning by have clearly structured course elements, rather than be a file repository.
Process appropriate data quickly in a visually-appealing and easy-to-understand way for Academy staff, students, and parents.
Allow students to publish their work to various parties: peers, teachers, the Academy, the world.
Enable outside agencies to access appropriate data on students, staff and Academy issues.
OpenID login so users have a single sign-on and have more control over their digital identity.
I’m off to BETT 2009 on Friday, one of the largest educational technology-related trade fairs in the world. This year I’m speaking about my use of Linux-powered netbooks as part of a Becta-funded Open Source Schools project of which I’ve been part. Last year, if you remember, I spoke with Futurelab about barriers and enablers with regard to the adoption of educational technology, and in particular Web 2.0 tools, in schools.
If you’d like to see me and others from the project in action, come to the seminar on Saturday 17 January at 10.45am in the Club Room!
I’ve been granted cover for my one ICT group on Friday afternoon, meaning I’ll be able to get from Doncaster to London in time for the TeachMeet. Last year’s was great and I not only got the chance to do a 2-minute nanopresentation about EdTechRoundup (thus officially launching it), but met lots of great people for the first time. I can remember Lisa Stevens and Jo Rhys-Jones accosting me and talking as if they’d known me for years because they read my blog! I can remember meeting José Picardo for the first time at the ‘TeachEat’ meal at Pizza Express afterwards, and having a debate with Ian Grove-Stephensen about the future of schools. In fact, I met so many people there for the first time that I feel like I’ve known for years! 😀
This year, if I get a chance to do another nanopresentation at TeachMeet (people are randomly selected using the ‘fruit machine’ from ClassTools.net) I’m going to give an update as to how far we’ve come with EdTechRoundup and hopefully recruit even more regulars. :-p
If you’re heading to BETT 2009 on Friday or Saturday and want to say hello in person, please get in touch via Twitter (@dajbelshaw) or the contact form.