Before today’s Glow Mentor training started, Paul Trickett of Preston Lodge High School gave an impromptu demo of some 3-ball juggling.
Juggling Maths teaching and Glow Mentoring, we feel, won’t cause Paul any difficulties.
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This week’s Times Education Supplement Scotland (Friday, April 6th 2007) includes a feature we’ve been awaiting with interest on the use of social software in schools. Sue Leonard, the author, set out to investigate recent events where public web sites had been used to post anonymous comments on teachers. As part of her research, she contacted East Lothian to hear how we were using these tools.
You can read a cut-down version of the article on the Times Ed site. It’s in two parts, and the on-line version provides about 3/4 of each:
- THE BAD – a discussion of problems arising from the use of a US-based site by students to make comments on teachers in Scottish schools. Perhaps inevitably, and despite inclusion of supportive arguments from the site’s founder, it paints a dark picture.
- THE GOOD – a review of Exc-el, based on interviews with Don Ledingham, Lynne Lewis and Barry Smith. In addition to the on-line text, there’s coverage in the full article of the Pencaitland Primary blog and Preston Lodge High School’s Active Learning Partnerships (ALPs) programme and the student learning logs.
I’d been a bit worried that the article could so easily have painted a negative picture. It’s a relief to find that Sue’s interviews with some of the Exc-el community have provided more than just an abstract sense of balance: they’ve provided a tangible example of an alternative, positive way to view, and use, social software. I hope that’s helpful to people making decisions elsewhere.
It does make me think, though, we’ve got a much stronger story to tell, though, than can be covered in just a couple of pages. Although we’re trying to share what we’re doing via blogs, for example, we know that – by their nature – they’re preaching to the converted. They also tend to focus on a short time period; what we’ve done today, or this week, rather than what we’ve achieved over 6 months or a year.
There’s a gap here. We need to find ways of making it easy for people new to Exc-el to quickly get their heads round not just what it’s all about, but to find stories about successful examples they can build on.
There’s now a prototype web site to support inter-authority work on A Curriculum for Excellence. We’d appreciate feedback on it.
This site, which is based on an Exc-el blog, is is the first step towards building web support tools to help Scottish Borders, Midlothian and East Lothian local education authorities collaborate on new curriculum development.
The basic idea is to develop that site as a “big picture” entry point which enables visitors to find out about, and engage with, ACfE developments at inter-authority level. It provides links and information to put the work into context and to provide an overview of what’s happening. Because comments are enabled on every Page and Post visitors can contribute their perspectives. There’s also an Event Calendar.
Visitors can then easily browse, click through to, and engage with more detailed information on individual pieces of the picture. An example you can look at just now is the Active Learning Partnerships project page from Preston Lodge High’s Althernative Curriculum project. There you’ll see summary paragraphs being fed from the main ALPs project blog.
Feedback on this site would be welcome. It’s currently operating in “Stealth mode“, so shouldn’t yet be picked up by search engines such as Google and Technorati, and isn’t appearing in the “Latest Post” lists on the eduBuzz blog.
- planning for the first “new technologies” CPD session the Education ICT team are doing at Law Primary soon
- quick meeting with website team at Preston Lodge to check the WebsiteBaker arrangements are going OK
- got to end of Ollie’s session at Musselburgh, then took MGS WebsiteBaker planning a bit further forward there
There were so many people at the Musselburgh twilight session, I thought I’d got the room wrong. It was great to see that this approach can work so well. There’s clearly a large latent demand.Came back to number of emails about blogs. I’m now finding the blog handy for answering these, which is great. It’s surprising how often time can be saved by sending a link. And you don’t even have to remember what you wrote, too, which is handy…
It’s interesting to see how busy the Exc-el site is becoming. Noticed today we’ve already exceeded the number of visits for the whole of October, and we’re only 70% of the way through the month.
Today – at last – a pilot of WebsiteBaker was installed for Preston Lodge High School. This was promised for Monday, but I fell ill. Sorry Linda! Experience from Pete Gray at East Lothian’s Museums Service indicates it’s a product that people familiar with a modern word processor find easy to use. This is true: it’s realistic to consider S1 students as potential authors.
The bones of the site are here – but there’s nothing much to see yet. Curiosity led me to try a Wrapper Page, which was a surprise – have a look at this.
Current thinking is to use it as a Content Management System to enable multiple users within the school to easily update the “notice board” type content that people expect to find on a school web site.
Experience has shown that if this isn’t easy enough, the site will soon become stale. Also, it’s important not to be over-reliant on a single editor. We’re keen to build a network of contributors within – and perhaps beyond – each school, and avoid funnelling every change through a single person.
WebsiteBaker is already in use at Dunbar Grammar, where Anne’s migrating existing eZpublish content across. Ollie Bray at Musselburgh Grammar is having a look at WebsiteBaker too, as it could solve the same problem there.
Preston Lodge High School doesn’t currently have a web site – but that’s about to change. I met up with some of the people involved today. Interestingly, despite not having a site just now, they were unanimous that the school site they want needs to be one that isn’t just a dull electronic equivalent of a notice-board. There was a real recognition that students had to have a voice on the web, not just “the school”. Continue reading Preston Lodge High School – web developments