Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Forward Planning at Amersham

This afternoon I went to The Amersham School at the Head's invitation to share the idea of a learning platform with the school's Extended Senior Leadership Team. Amersham doesn't yet use the main elements of our learning platform offering, but this was very much a planning meeting. Anyone who's seen presentations on change management, introducing a VLE or Learning Platform will have probably come across this image (click on it to see it larger):
Essentially this is a matrix which predicts likely outcomes if any of the five dark blue elements are missing, or if they're all present. To take Amersham as a case in point, what might these be for a typical school which hasn't yet started to use a VLE or Learning Platform across the whole school? Here are some suggestions (not just for Amersham!) - they're by no means exhaustive:

  • Vision - How do we hope this will affect learning & teaching within the school and the school's overall culture? Do we know what we'd like learning and teaching to look like when it's supported by something like this?
  • Skills - What are the skills required to achieve this? Are they technical or pedagogical? Who currently has them in the school? Who else needs them? Who doesn't at the moment?
  • Incentives - What are the benefits for staff undertaking this? Are the benefits immediate or do they only become apparent after a while? What are the benefits for students and those who support them? How could our work with other schools benefit from this?
  • Resources - How much time, CPD and technology is required to enable this to happen? Can we invest time and training wisely so that it has other outcomes across the school?
  • Action Plan - Where are we now and where do we want to be (and by when)? Do we have measurable milestones ("...by the autumn term we will have one course in each faculty supported by online learning elements and being used by students...")? How do we involve learners in planning and evaluating what happens?

It was quite unusual for this to be the first input I've had with a secondary school other than with the Head. In many other schools the interest comes from an individual or group within the school, what then happens is a struggle to (a) make it show up on the SLT's radar and (b) when it does, ensure that the members of the leadership team have an understanding about the significance of this and how it will both reflect and affect the way learning happens in the school - for both staff and students. I'm in touch with the person responsible for strategic use of ICT across the school and, even though the school's specialism is Business & IT, it's to be hoped that we get to start moving forward in a number of curriculum areas.

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