First Exc-el Meeting of 2007

Update 10/1/07: Tess Watson was present too!

Here are notes from Monday’s meeting. Comments welcome. (Word doc: Notes of Exc-el Meeting No.1, 8.1.2007)

See also:

Exc-el Board Meeting



Notes of Exc-el Board Meeting No.1, held in John Muir House on Monday 8th January 2007
Tess Watson, Knox Academy
Karen Robertson, Education ICT
Elizabeth Cowan, Education ICT
David Gilmour, Education ICT
Anne Johnstone, Dunbar Grammar School
Don Ledingham, Head of Education
Ollie Bray, Musselburgh Grammar School
Ronnie Summers, Musselburgh Grammar School
Lynne Lewis, Pencaitland Primary School

Ewan McIntosh, LTS

Don Ledingham briefly reviewed the history of Exc-el:
– web site idea came from 20-30 key people in L&T policy review research
– purpose is as a vehicle for change within the authority
– principles: not top-down, multi-user, distributed ownership
– strategic intent to become a leading authority
– now working as part of LTS, with Ewan McIntosh secondment
– David Gilmour in support role to end March
Following the pilot stage, it is now planned to build more structured arrangements. These will include, for example, a tighter agenda, more formal meetings and a regular work program.

There was a discussion of how people had become involved in Exc-el, and possible next steps.

Some risks were identified:
– perception of blogs as being about self-promotion
– blogs being seen as an end in themselves, not a tool to improve T&L
– too much active encouragement to get involved could generate push-back
– Exc-el “brand” is known to staff, but doesn’t mean anything to pupils
– having to wade through staff blogs to find student blogs is off-putting for children
– lack of ICT skills, or confidence, could be a barrier
– potential overlap between Glow and Exc-el/eduBuzz

Introduction of a new brand, eduBuzz, is in progress to better reflect the emphasis on improving teaching and learning through use of narrative and conversation.

It is planned to build on an idea Ronnie Summers had for using blogs to enable cluster-wide sharing of Primary/Secondary transition experiences, thoughts and questions. Experience with two existing S1 blogs at MGS showed that these students became intrinsically motivated to engage with writing about a range of topics. Writing often took place outside school hours. In this way, blogs offered potential to link a students school life with the people they work with on hobbies and interests outside school.

Karen Robertson described the ongoing training arrangements being run as part of the CPD programme. Education ICT had piloted a “TeachMeet Roadshow” session at Law Primary. Ollie Bray had run popular twilight ICT training sessions at MGS. Both enabled teachers to learn with colleagues, an approach found to be popular and successful. Coverage of basic tips, not just new topics, had been found beneficial. Future Roadshow sessions would cover film, animation, digital imaging and podcasting.

A key insight with the training is that focussing the session on an educationally useful productyou’re going to make this today – works well, and helps avoid the risk of technology taking centre stage.

Other authorities had been in contact with ELC about possibility of assistance with developing their own arrangements. The possibility of setting up commercial arrangements for this purpose is being considered, in line with the original Exc-el objectives.

To provide an opportunity for student views to influence decision-making it is planned to invite two P6 pupils from Pencaitland Primary and one secondary student from Knox to the next meeting.

The relationship with Glow was discussed. Because the current design of Glow does not yet include social software such as blogs, there is little overlap. Where there has been potential for overlap, such as with Learning Management Systems, we have used guidance from LTS to minimise this risk. Current work in East Lothian is seen as informing future development of Glow into these areas.

A vision of the future could be useful in guiding decision-making. Work is to be put in hand to try to develop a vision of how education in East Lothian might be expected to look in 3 years time.

26th February 2007.

Published by

David Gilmour

Learning Technologist East Lothian Council

6 thoughts on “First Exc-el Meeting of 2007”

  1. “Other authorities had been in contact with ELC about possibility of assistance with developing their own arrangements. The possibility of setting up commercial arrangements for this purpose is being considered, in line with the original Exc-el objectives.”

    As part of the secondment arrangement, with me working for LTS, other authorities are entitled to know regularly online and for free what and how we are doing. Should LAs require additional help on site that might be where a potential opportunity arises, but the basic know-how is very much ‘Open Source’.

  2. Good to hear that other authorities can access what we are up to Ewan.

    The casual reader might conclude from your comment that “Open Source” just means something like “freely available”.

    In fact Open Source describes a software package that allows free access to its source code (the programming code that makes up the program), and is provided under a license which guarantees to any recipient of the package the right to distribute the package freely.

    More generally one might apply “Open Source” to a situation in which one offers some artifact along with all the information necessary to recreate that artifact. Thus one might talk loosely about “Open Source Beer” if the full recipe and production methods to produce the beer were distributed with the beer. So in this context, it makes sense to say “Open Source” if you mean that you are providing all the technical information necessary to allow another authority to recreate what has been done in East Lothian.

    I know I sound like a pedantic nag, but Open Source is a very important, profound issue, and I can’t resist an opportunity to raise awareness. I feel a blog post coming on 🙂

  3. What Robert said is exactly what we are doing in East Lothian. It is an Open Source project in the true sense of the word. Technical spec is often recorded as we go on David’s blog and management, distribution, ideology, teaching ideas etc are recorded on multiple blogs around the Exc-el service, including my own. My job, at some point in time, is to pull information together at Version 1.0 and let LAs take advantage of it. I don’t think we’re there yet because WE are still learning. Once we’ve all passed some more significant milestones we’ll have more to share with other LAs.

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