East Riding cluster event 28/11/06
Firstly, we heard from Liam that he and his staff think that Taecanet has been a great success in their school. They have used it mostly in lessons with the Year 4 students and for homework, which has resulted in children asking for more, which is very encouraging. Liam also suggested that the new Reports system within Taecanet is a welcome addition. He told us that as teachers have so much raw data to process, it makes a nice change for everything to be so easily accessible and presented so simply.
We mostly hear about how students respond to learning on Taecanet, but the group also told us that Taecanet is a very useful teacher tool. The fact that other teachers have already done the time consuming work to search for material, retrieve it, and then give it an educational context was seen as a bonus. As the end user has minimal input (in terms of simply administering the work) this seemed to be appreciated, meaning that it was freeing up teachers valuable time. This is a direct result of the research that we undertook before we built the service, with teachers telling us that a resource which was 'pre populated' and 'ready to go' was important to them. Liam also came up with a nice anecdote, telling us about how his daughter came home asking questions about tectonic plates, some of which he could not answer. His response to this was 'let's check Taecanet' and there was a ready made unit of work for him to use as a reference point. This proves that 24/7 access to a learning resource can have a great impact on the eager learners of today (as well as helping the adults whom they can depend so much on). In terms of motivation, we were also told that the younger students can be motivated to complete the work so that they can access the games. We heard this at the Holy Trinity RBWM cluster meeting too, which you can view on this blog (posted 24/11/06).
Taecanet is being used in a number of ways amongst this group, such as: as a homework tool, as a revision exercise, as a whole class resource (with teachers using the 'Help' file to gain direct access to the online materials), and with small groups of students, all of which seem to be working well. These small groups of students apparently respond very well to working on Taecanet and often wanted more work to get on with. I wish I had Taecanet in my school as this idea of 'more work' was just beyond me!
In terms of improvements, we had a very open discussion with the following outcomes: 'Differentiation' was a hot topic with teachers expressing an interest in being able to allocate differing levels of work to different student groups, which is an idea we are exploring. At a previous cluster meeting in Bath (http://taecanet.blogspot.com/2006/11/bathnes-cluster-meeting-7112006-update_09.html) it was suggested that differentiation should be present through the assessment questions, rather than the actual materials, but we appreciate all feedback and will consider it all for future developments. On this theme, some of the reading within Taecanet was seen as a slight problem for some students, but this is being dealt with in a number of ways. Firstly, the voice over technology which we will be adding, will reduce the need for reading, and also as the content improves and expands within Taecanet, we are passing on advice to our content creation teachers about which materials work best. Proof of this is coming to light in the fact that the new content we are adding into the service is taking longer to load than it has previously, due to the vast improvement to the interactivity and the quality of our new content. Some teachers also expressed that on occassions home use had been hampered by technical problems, which is probably due to home PC's lacking some of the most recent free software upgrades that are available. We will have to create a simple document which will enable parents to check these details and upgrade if necessary.
Other suggested areas for development were that ICT as a subject would be a welcome addition to the Taecanet service, as well as Modern Foreign Languages, specifically French and German. The idea that teachers may one day be able to pick and choose existing Learning Journeys to create their own Units of work was well received, meaning that more cross curricular topic based work, such as 'exploring Brazil', would be better catered for. With more schools moving away from the linear QCA method of teaching, this is something that we must consider implementing.
All in all, it was a great session and Peter from Airmyn told us that it was such a useful session that he would gladly host the next one, which we have now pencilled in for 20th March 2007. We look forward to working with this cluster and hope that we have even more positive reports next time. Most teachers agreed that before exams, many Taecanet units will be allocated, so that students have the chance to revise their units of work, so we should expect some heavy usage around this time by the sounds of it!
Thanks again to all involved.