East Riding User Group Session No.2 at Airmyn Park
Mike Sibley, from Howden Junior School is one of our most avid users, whose class has completed over 6000 Learning Journeys since January of this year! Mike spoke to the group for around 15 minutes about his usage and experiences to date, which gave us all a great insight. He suggested that he used the web in his teaching already, so Taecanet seemed like a natural progression to enhance his teaching delivery. His students are also familiar with learning online, so the extra security and time saving capabilities that we offer represented a significant step forward to assist with their learning. The students all log in from the school website (http://www.howdenjunior.eril.net/pages/viewpage.asp?uniqid=10928 ) via a small Taecanet icon, which negates the need for them to have to remember a new URL address. This seems a sensible way of keeping access as simple as possible.
Mike is releasing one Unit per week for his students to access, which matches his in-school activities. This means that students can access Taecanet on a 24/7 basis to reinforce the learning objectives that Mike concentrates on in school on a homework/revision basis. He reported that this seems to be working really well, with the Revision test being used to help his Year 6 students prepare for exams. In Mike's case, the revision aspect is proving to be the most powerful application for Taecanet, with the Explore section being left open for the more Gifted and Talented students to enhance their own knowledge in their own time. He suggested it is also a good starting point for projects due to the fact that children no longer have to research the internet, which can often take up value leaning time. Although it could be argued, internet searching provides students with a different 'skill set', this way of saving time and creating a direct link to the most appropriate materials was a welcome addition in helping to keep the task more structured, yet still offering a great degree of flexibility. Mike is then able to check the 'Detailed Student Report' to see how the children are getting on, and this enables him to identify any areas of weakness for the individuals, as well as to see which areas these students have been exploring. This ability to track individual students, as well as whole classes is something that Mike said is really useful. Although Taecanet can be used to give complete personalised ownership to students, Mike feels that retaining a level of structure helps. By advising the class that an ICT lesson will be a Taecanet lesson, and the students should complete Journeys 1-4 (for eg), this provides enough structure for the students to work more efficiently.
In terms of the rest of the session, all of the teachers present were shown the video diary of St Paul's, Addlestone, which I hope gave everyone a new perspective on how Taecanet can be used to help improve results. A direct link to this Case Study can be found at http://www.taecanet.com/Addelstone.htm .
The teachers were then given the chance to talk amongst themselves with a view to sharing ideas and best practice, and some 'cross-teacher' training and advice even took place, which was great to see. Other schools suggested that Taecanet is predominantly being used for Revision, with both in-school and home usage being exploited. Others are using Taecanet more as a whole class activity on a whiteboard (through the 'Unit Explorer' in the Teacher's Help Centre), rather than as a personalised learning tool. By offering a direct link to thousands of researched web resources, the teachers saw this as a good way of bringing subjects to life, while having the ability to lead the class, and offer some guidance for those students struggling with reading.
Other feedback related to the need to use a whiteboard for some of the KS1 topics, as some of the content is not 100% suitable. This is entirely understandable, and one of the restraints that we currently work within is the fact that we do not retain any editorial control over content, and therefore we are limited in our ability to create bespoke content. As ever, differentiation was a hot topic, and this is a feature which will be increasing as we further develop. During the meeting, I described our plans to create an assessment package which will differentiate assessment, and give teachers a better idea as to which Curriculum 'level' the student is working to, which was seen as a welcome proposition.
Mike Sibley also offered some good ideas regarding further developments. He suggested changing the layout of the Teacher Login page, so as to make it more obvious which centre you are about to log in to. As an extension to the reward 'tokens' and congratulations forms, Mike suggested that we could offer a type of reward (virtual badges for eg) that students could accumulate and post on a board to track their progress and achievements. Personalised messaging capability from teacher to student was also discussed, which would provide teachers with an email option to communicate with their class and pass on ongoing personal assistance and support. We also discussed whether we would be able to offer a pricing structure which makes it easier to buy KS2 (for eg) in isolation, which is something we can look into for the future.
Many thanks again to Peter for hosting the event and all of the teachers present for their valuable contributions. We have another event booked in for 10/7/2007 at Howden Junior School, where I look forward to another great session.