SSAT Event at Elland Road 15/6/2007
As well as being on-hand to speak to people about Taecanet, and how we are helping to connect teachers, I also attended one of the seminars in order to increase my level of knowledge on Moodle. This was delivered by Mark Greenwood, of Our Lady's Catholic High School in Lancashire, and I was very impressed with the impact that a successfully implemented VLE can have on students and teachers alike. All too often, when speaking to schools, we will hear comments like 'We don't need Taecanet, as we have Moodle' (for eg) and I always find myself baffled by such responses, as we offer such differing services. Schools are increasingly finding Taecanet very useful as a source of content that can sit within a VLE, but some teachers lack the correct guidance and level of knowledge to make these calls which, in reality, will have a huge impact on our children's education, and skill sets of the future. It was very nice to see a high level of direction and purpose in the teachers that I met at this SSAT Event.
After scribbling down two pages of notes on the talk by Mark, I have picked a couple of sections which I thought were particularly potent and noted them here.
On conception of the Moodle project, it was decided that it would be the teachers who would train each other, which I think is one of the reasons they have had such profound success to date. Teachers have a trusted relationship with each another, and can easily relate to success/failure stories from one another, and therefore any advice coming from within the school walls will perhaps be better received than external advice. This is something that I can attest to in my experience of working with teachers, and this is the reason that we, at Taecanet, have had such success in harvesting local clusters, due to such 'word of mouth' appeal. In Mark's case, this type of training and support meant that within one month, all teachers and pupils were able to use the service, which is a very rapid take-up.
Another thing I was impressed with was how much of a Community focus the school had developed as a result of using Moodle. It has become very much more than an 'education repository', and has become a virtual area, which actually reinforces a sense of 'belonging' in the school community. By posting up pictures and slide shows of school life, this takes the concept of a VLE to a different level, by revealing a "positive school experience" (sorry if I have misquoted you there Mark). Parents can even gain a greater idea of their on child's experiences by becoming a part of this community, which can only help the school/pupil/parent dynamic, by offering a level of transparency and sharing. This concept of the 'shared experience' is something that we very much adhere to within Taecanet by offering 'shared learning' and an opportunity for teachers to become a part of our global knowledge share.
For the Departments which were slower on the take-up, regular 'show and tell' sessions were set up in staff meetings, so that teachers could share experiences. This meant that the teachers were introduced to different ways of thinking in order to expand their creative influences. Again, I think it was paramount that this was undertaken teacher-to-teacher. I was also impressed by how the English Department had developed a 'forum' to discuss various topics. Such discussion arenas will not only help to develop pupil's analytical skills, but also help to develop life skills on a number of different levels. By giving students responsibility in this way, Mark suggested that there have only been one or two 'unsavoury incidents'. This shows that children do not need an overbearing level of protection online. This is something that we also encourage in Taecanet, with children being allowed to share knowledge and ideas with each, we have also found that there have been a minimal number of incidents. Although there must be a mechanism in order to deal with such events swiftly, we should not feel the need to control output fastidiously.
There were many more things that I was impressed with, but in my opinion, these are some of the key proponents, that have made this scenario work for Our Lady's. I am sure it will develop further, and continue to be successful, and I think that by harnessing today's innovative technologies, schools can truly bring education into the 21st century.
To see how we are helping to connect schools, please visit http://taecanet.blogspot.com/2006/10/groundbreaking-day-at-ase.html and email email@example.com if you would like to know more about our innovative approach to teaching and learning.