Exc-el Update

East Lothian Education’s Exc-el development has gained momentum this month.

The 2-month-old WordPress-based Exc-el Edublog system is extending its reach into classroom teaching, with large numbers of students now able to contribute. Some have their own learning blogs, others are contributing posts for their class, and some are simply using comments to ask for help with exercises – and to help support other students. There are now over 130 blogs and over 200 registered users. A number of these blogs have been publicised through links on the Exc-el web site, and are generating positive feedback, and interest, well beyond East Lothian.

We’ve also been exploring how best to develop school web sites. Schools have been asking for tools that make it easy to keep their web site up-to-date, and which aren’t expensive. We’ve now got a couple of schools, Preston Lodge High and Law Primary, developing websites on Exc-el using the free, easy-to-use Website Baker product, and feedback is very positive.

Plans are under way to migrate Exc-el to a new, more student-friendly name that reflects the emerging focus on the use of web-based conversation and narrative to improve teaching and learning. As part of that, we’ll be redesigning the web site to make it easier for visitors to find, and contribute to, those conversations.

Training in new technologies continues to be in demand. A new, short, whole-staff TeachMeet Roadshow format was tested by the Education ICT team at Law Primary on Friday 24th November, and proved successful. The format was based on staff groups working together to share hands-on experience. This one was on digital imaging, and included how to use existing software as well as some newer web-based tools. Others are planned to cover such things as video, blogging and podcasting.

A range of new technology CPD courses has also been arranged, and can be booked in the usual way.

Finding the right tool for the job

There are about 3000 start-up companies sitting in Silicon Valley at the moment, each producing more or less cool, engaging web tools which could feasibly be used in the classroom. It’s great fun to play around with these but, if like most teachers your playtime is shorter than you would like, good opportunities might pass you by. Frustrating, but sadly inevitable. That’s where I might be able to help. In my new role in Learning and Teaching Scotland’s Futures Team I have been given the opportunity to help East Lothian continue to be at the front of new technology use to improve the students’ experience and attainment at school. If you would like to increase the choices you have to help your students to learn then I am online, on the phone or in a school near you to help you* Find the best tool for the job (sharing? Showing best work? Visual? Textual?)* See how best to use the tools you already have access to* Explore what staff development needs you might have. I will also be leading several new CPD opportunities within the Authority covering basic to advanced blogging, podcasting, using digital images for learning and learning how to get the internet to come to you (no more visiting a million Googled sites and still not finding what you want). Please sign up for these at; – Staffdevelopment.ecs@eastlothian.gov.uk In the meantime, if you have an idea for a collaborative or creative project and would like to explore what technology is available to make it possible, better or more fun, please get in touch: E: e.mcintosh@LTScotland.org.ukB: http://edu.blogs.comSkype: ewan.mcintoshM: 0793 23 43 188  

Calling all Innovative Teachers

I am on secondment to the ICT in the Curriculum Team, with a remit of fostering and sharing creative practice in ICT in East Lothian schools.  A main focus will be supporting and recording the Extreme Learning projects, liaising between schools who are running pilots and so forth. Another strand is identifying and sharing other forms of good practice, using ICT creatively. If you regularly use ICT in your teaching and learning, please get in touch. I’d really like to discuss and see what you do, and how well it works. We may be able record your innovation for others to share. It might be an incredibly small but useful idea, or an ambitious, long term project. We really want to credit creativity, and share expertise.  In the longer term, Glow will be the medium for sharing the good practice. Microsoft are funding my secondment, which sadly is only one day a week. But I am able to work flexibly, and I really do want to hear from innovative teachers.  I can be contacted on school emailegriffiths@stoneyhill.elcschool.org.uk, or yellsound@hotmail.com Emma Griffiths

East Lothian Mathematics wireless laptop pilot project 2005/2006

The presentation of the findings of the wireless laptop project was held on Friday 10 November.  The project goals were to find out information about the use of wireless laptops in the secondary maths classrooms of two of our High Schools – Knox Academy and Preston Lodge High School – as well as testing the robustness of wireless networks within a secondary department.  The pilot also wanted to find out the differences there may be between using PC Laptops and Tablet PCs.  The end result of this pilot was one of modest success, some of the successes noted as being* Access to information and resources on the internet* General enjoyment and motivation, with a resulting boost to confidence* Particular help with low achieving pupils* Investigative activities on topics in mathematics made possible* Pupils adopting strategic approaches, not merely tactical ones.There were some surprises too* Competence on the part of the young people in dealing with new challenges when using the computer, and the speed of their learning.* Good behaviour on the part of the young people.* Visualisation was made easier by using the computer* Regular use helped to develop good habits.* Helped to promote a positive ethos in the classroom.Should anyone wish to have a copy of the full report then email stodd@eastlothian.gov.uk

School ICT co-ordinator technical support meetings

Three meetings between the IT department and the School ICT co-ordinators have been arranged to support schools address some of the most common technical issues affecting them.  The meetings are as follows: 15/1/06      How to make an accurate IT Helpdesk Call/Common Printing issues19/2/06      Solving and reporting Network problems12/3/06      TBA The meetings will run from 4 to 5.30 and it is hoped that feedback from the first 2 meetings will constitute the agenda for the 3rd and potentially subsequent meetings.  We hope that these meetings together with the additional IT officer posts, will enable East Lothian Council to provide a responsive, high quality support service.