Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Roadshow comes to... Maidenhead

Ah, my teenage years... always wanting to go on the Radio 1 Roadshow when it came to Brighton, enter the Bits and Pieces quiz and win the mysterious Goodie Bag.
Well, that never happened and so the the South-East Grid for Learning Learning Platforms Roadshow Conference will have to do. Mike Woods and I were invited to give an overview workshop of what we've been up to in Buckinghamshire. There were about a hundred (or so) people there, mainly Headteachers / Senior Management, some LEA people and lots of 'learning platform vendors'. When I was asked to prepare something I thought it would be "one workshop to choose from many" - on seeing the programme it turned out there were only three. Oops.
The day began with a presentation from Barry Kruger from Becta (who I've just this received an email from about Moodle) on Becta's approach to learning platforms.
Next up was Greg Hill from SEGfL outlining what's happened in the region - a fairly simple answer might be "not much".
Most interestingly from my point of view was Steve Snowball from West Sussex, who we've been working closely with in the development of a common approach to Moodle with the folks at Atomwide. It was very interesting to see how they got to where they are - and very encouraging as well. It makes me think how much I could do with some support in working in schools in the area of learning platforms. My notes on Steve's presentation were the most extensive - talking to some Headteachers from Buckinghamshire afterwards they found it easily the most interesting of the first five presentations. There were presentations from Bill Gibbon of the DfES and the NCSL - the latter of which featured a clip from Teachers TV, including a clip of a I Survey Nit rep giving an vendor's vox pop on what a learning platform was - "a classroom without walls".
The view from the front of our workshopAfter coffee Mike and I were due to present in parallel with the other two workshops, so the large room was divided into three and after setting up I looked up to see our section of the room full to overflowing - extra chairs being put out, some people standing at the side, etc. Everyone was very pleasant despite my best attempts to send them to sleep by explaining about Moodle, Breeze, single sign-on, etc. As befits a Regional Broadband Consortium's meeting there was no access to the internet, so everything was done via a PPT of screenshots & video and the copy of Moodle running on my laptop. Most people were very positive afterwards and so many people wanted to ask questions that I nearly missed my lunch...
Lots of the questions were about using learning platforms in special schools - something that I'd love to explore, also a couple of people from Buckinghamshire and other L(E)As bordering it were interested on hearing about Learning Platforms - it's definitely something that's lacking awareness in primary schools. Also some people from within London asking about how to use Moodle in a grassroots effort which runs alongside (or under the radar of) the Dilating a Rib service that's the standard "VLE" in the capital.

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