Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Phew, What A Scorcher.

title has nothing to do with the contents, it's just The World's Hottest Day today...
This morning started with a meeting in one of our local Grammar schools, who are interested in creating podcasts to give students a sense of audience (as well as a real audience) - and emulating Ricky Gervais's success in dominating iTunes would only be a spin-off, but a nice one. As the school doesn't yet have a VLE, it's really important that any use of a VLE is part of a whole-school move, hopefully documented in a development plan or strategy document... however, there's so much potential for this, probably even a podcasting-based scheme of work, that I hope we get to move on with it.
Around lunchtime I met with four Year 13 students & Greg Mr Hodgson from Chalfonts to reflect on their use of ChaCCLE for their A2 Contextual Study over the past year. We sat outside a pub, drank diet Coke, tried to avoid the sunshine and recorded the audio of the conversation on a video camera in the middle of the table. Like yesterday, here are some appropriately edited quotes...

Even if (the VLE) is there just to post work on then it’s still worth it
Some people are too lazy to use it.
I was really anti-it at first, but it was problems with having a login, when I actually started to use it it did help.
(A classmate) always did loads of research for everyone else through the VLE .
In group discussions you don’t take notes or remember what people say, so the VLE is more useful.
I’m up at 1am and can’t sleep, everyone else has gone, you can’t MSN or call them, so you have time to yourself (to work) – I could work and do a bit of research, read other people’s work and put my own comments up. I probably wouldn’t have read a book at that time.
Having deadlines was good – it made everyone post stuff and that helped, you have a framework to work in. Otherwise we would have done it, but it would have dragged more.
Try and get the teachers to go on it more.
It helped putting up chapters ‘cos then you could read everyone else’s work.
You could see other people’s writing styles – you wouldn’t have read other people’s work if it were handed out to you on a piece of paper.
It was good to see how other people laid out their work.
I can’t think of many subjects that it wouldn’t be useful in.
They tried to start it in (another subject) but we got no feedback so it was pointless.
In Psychology you could use it to learn each other’s essays – we normally put them on our own areas (on the network) so you only see your own.
There are teachers who would take to this, but teachers in (another department) wouldn’t be ready for it.
Not every student would do this – not everyone has computer access.
99% of them do – and the others can use it in school.

Thanks to Ellie, Lauren, Michael, Jenny and Mr Hodgson...

My final school visit this afternoon was to a school which isn't on the BucksGfL but still wants to do Moodle. There are a number of schools like this across the Authority and it's always a difficult balancing act between ensuring that everyone gets to use the tools and insisting that they're involved in the collaborative / corporate infrastructure. There's no point in dismissing a school's reasons for going their own way but at the same time I'd be doing them a disservice not to point out that the government's vision (actually, "vision" sounds a little too grand, let's say "idea") and targets are based around schools working with one another rather than creating islands of practice (both bad and good) in isolation.

Anyway, we left it that we'd pilot using Moodle in the school in a few curriculum areas, with a view to demonstrating it to other staff once a few groups of students and staff had got used to the idea.

Tomorrow I'm going to Oxford to meet Ben Werdmuller, he of Elgg and all things ePortfolio, with a view to... well, I don't know, let's see!

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