Thursday, October 23, 2008

Review of Becta's DVD "Learning Platforms in Action"

Becta Learning Platforms in Action DVD
What seems like an age ago I was contacted by Becta to ask if I could recommend some schools who had progressed well with their Virtual Learning Environments Learning Platforms (I'll explain the amendment in a moment). There were many candidates to choose from, but some of the most interesting work was being done at Buckingham Primary School and Chalfonts Community College. Becta said that they wanted to do some filming of the schools' use of their VLEs LPs. Well, dates were set, people with cameras duly turned up at schools, and filmed staff, parents and pupils, both in school and, in some case, at home using, in the case of our schools, Moodle and Adobe Connect. Naturally, the days (from our point of view) were busy and in some cases the tools they were using got stage fright, but the results on the DVD look really interesting. Here are some stills:

One of the interesting things (from talking to two of the staff featured on the DVD) was that, where in normal conversation they refer to the VLE, for the purposes of the video they were obviously scripted to say the Learning Platform. This leads to both Moodle and Connect (in the case of the videos from BPS and Chalfonts) being referred to as the Learning Platform. Now, obviously from Becta's standpoint that makes sense, since Learning Platform is the phrase to be used in all communications, but I wonder if this makes sense when the diversity of functions that a Learning Platform can encompass is considered. I guess this makes sense from the point of view of a reluctant school watching the DVD as they could see that having a Learning Platform means more than just making the school's MIS available online, or having handouts online (the paper behind glass approach to online learning). A cynic might say that with every tool featured on the DVD being referred to as the Learning Platform then this plays very well for those vendors still on Becta's Learning Platform Services Framework Agreement , since they can approach schools present themselves as a simple answer for to any question which begins How do I get what I saw on the DVD?
Mind you, everyone's got a Learning Platform now, haven't they? I'm always interested to find out which (if any) Local Authorities still haven't offered all of their schools a service, and of those who took a last minute approach, what they did and how it's gone down with the schools.
However, back to the DVD. It's well worth watching (for me it's just amusing to see Paul from Buckingham Primary dressed up as Dracula) and most of the examples are practical (and only a couple look staged...).
Becta delivery arrives
If you want the rest, you'll need to order the DVD from Becta. I ordered it on a Monday and it arrived by the Thursday (don't worry, it's free). It's an excellent resource to put governors, senior leaders, or even parents in the picture, so if your tongue sometimes get tied when you're trying to explain Harnessing Technology to someone who's quizzical yet relatively uninformed in this whole area, then give them a copy of this.
The copyright on the DVD says that it's fine to reproduce the videos as long as they're credited to Becta, so here are the ones from Buckinghamshire, uploaded to Google Video:

School Newspaper

How Buckingham Primary School used the VLE element (Moodle) of their Learning Platform to change the way the school's newspaper was put together and distributed.

Online Parents' Evening

How Chalfonts Community College used the videoconferencing & collaboration tool (Adobe Connect) within the Learning Platform to open up access to parents & carers to find out more about what their children were learning.

A Virtual Residency

How Chalfonts CC used the videoconferencing & collaboration tool to work with an artist as part of a Virtual Residency.

Musical Experiences

How Buckingham Primary School used the VLE to allow children to share & showcase work they had being doing outside of school.

Teaching Digital Art

How the teaching of digital art is supported by the use of a VLE at Chalfonts Community College.

Whole-School Creativity - the BAFTAs

How Buckingham Primary School used their VLE to support their use of digital movie making as a tool to involve parents in the learning process, and rounded it off with their own version of the BAFTAs.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to watching the videos. The vocabulary used is confusing and unhelpful - I just say VLE and don't explain what it means just what it can do!
    We've moved back another round with the Herts learning platform as it doesn't work with CMIS and it's not got much to offer us for the cash