“That sounds a bit technical”; why do Ofsted rarely mention #edtech

The use of technology for learning in schools is inconsistent in my experience. Schools with a reputation for embedding technology effectively into teaching and learning are in short supply. Is this because…

  1. #edtech has no impact on progress?
  2. Training is not prioritised? See OECD report
  3. School are nervous to change the way they use technology as they fear Ofsted won’t like it?
  4. Curriculum needs to change to enable the best use of technology (a greater focus on projects, blended learning or flipped learning?)
  5. Ofsted inspectors don’t agree or know what best practice looks like?

As someone who works with schools and teachers on their use of technology to support learning I encounter some extremely competent, knowledgeable and capable professionals at their most vulnerable when technology and change are thrust upon them. 

Ofsted are working hard to dispell some myths around inspections.

Many school marking policies reference “books” rather than marking and feedback wherever it may occur. I am suggesting to schools working with cloud drives such as office365 or Google Drive that teacher-student interactions captured in Onenote or on a Google Doc can be shared with an ofsted@myschool.org account should they wish to showcase it to inspection teams in addition to their SDP or SEF ( ideally laden with comments and discussions of a truly working document).
This is a response I have heard to such an approach.

“That sounds a bit technical.”

For who? The school, or the Ofsted inspectors?

Are #edtech references infrequent in Ofsted reports because;

  • schools are nervous of going down this route as it is different?
  • we don’t think Ofsted inspectors have the technical nows to navigate a login and shared folders?
  • Ofsted inspectors don’t know what good #edtech for learning looks like so avoid mentioning it in reports?

In an entirely unscientific search I found an area for improvement for a good specialist college.

the use of technology to support and enhance students’ learning and progress is underdeveloped

Ofsted 2015 

If I were being flippant I could claim this suggests to be outstanding schools must use technology but we know this is not an appropriate conclusion. 

It is expanded on in the report. 

Managers should extend the use of technology to support and enhance teaching, learning and assessment by learning from the best practice in colleges, and training staff further in the most effective use of technology such as interactive smartboards and tablets.

Ofsted 2015

This would suggest they have tablets already.

I would love to hear from schools using technology for learning if you make any concessions for Ofsted or have had your use of technology identified as contributing to good or outstanding progress. Ofsted will not specifically reference a technique or apprpach, preferring to speak in general terms to avoid a mass rush to copy the approach. 

I would also love to hear from Ofsted inspectors (on or off the record) about your experience of technology use to support learning and progress.

If you are interested in a summary of technology references in Ofsted reports you should read this post which was written by Mike Cameron in response to a TES article about disruptive technology (causing disruption rather than the type referred to in the Innovator’s Dilemma). Mike has searched a range of reports for references to “tablets”, after the article claimed a report suggested 30% of schools opporate a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. If that many schools do try to engage technology in learning Ofsted reports would be picking up these are strengths or weaknesses? Once again your input would be welcomed as I explore what great #edtech is.

More and more schools are investing in technology and we must ensure this investment has a positve impact on the efficiency of teachers and the learning outcomes of students. Ofsted has a role to play in that and I would like to investigate a bit more.

Enjoy your new year,

Ben

Pedagogy with #GAfE – Marking and Feedback in Google Docs

Since introducing Google Apps for Education (GAfE) at my school in September 2013 I have been struck by the way that individuals will begin using the tools in their own way to improve their pedagogy. It shows how great teachers pick and choose the tools that are right for them and their classes.

As with all good edtech, the tool just refines the great pedagogy.

One great example of this is a language teacher who I work with who has developed her marking and feedback using Google documents. She has made critical choices about how to use the tools and has worked hard at training her class to submit their work via Google Drive and respond to her feedback. This demonstrates some key features of how to develop pedagogy with technology.

  • Embedding technology takes the same time and effort as any pedagogical tool
  • Your class need to be trained in how to produce the work your expect
  • Be persistent
  • Don’t expect it to go smoothly (just like any lesson or change in your classroom)

In preparation for their language qualifications the students have to develop a text covering some key topics. This teacher identified the sharing and collaboration of Google docs as a perfect tool to help with drafting, re-drafting and providing feedback. The benefits have been:

  1. saved time
  2. improved the impact of teacher feedback
  3. changes can be reviewed and tracked
  4. better student outcomes!

Not my interpretation but the feedback of the teacher. It has not been a smooth ride, managing your Google Drive and that of the students is a necessity, something that can be dealt with by using Google Classroom. This teacher understands how Google Classroom works but having spent time developing her class to use a system of sharing their work with her and then she would organise it in her folders, she did not want to change. We have discussed trialling Google Classroom for the same task in the summer term when there is a little more time to develop new strategies.

I have taken a piece of work completed by one of her students and used draftback.com to show the evolution of the document to try and demonstrate the power of feedback via a Google document over the traditional piece of paper that can be lost by the student or ignored as they write their second draft without the teacher’s invaluable feedback. I hope the video gives a good idea of the development of the piece of work thanks to great pedagogy from a great teacher.

As with all good edtech, the tool just refines the great pedagogy.

Enjoy

Ben Rouse

#GIEsummit Sweden 2014

I am joining Appsevents for another Google in Education summit in Sweden. I will be joining a range of educators using Google tools to share ideas and learn about the tools that are engaging students in our schools.

I will presenting on

The links go to the slides I will be using in the sessions but most of the sessions are hands on, giving the delegates a chance to create in the sessions.

There are a range of interesting sessions and you can have a look at the schedule here.

21sr Century Teacher Toolkit at #TL21c

This post accompanies my session at OSpedagogy’s event “Transforming Learning in the 21st Century” in Birmingham.

A few nanoseconds for you…

Here is my presentation – goo.gl/GM2Zva

I am sharing some tools I use in my classroom to enhance learning with the free technology accessible to teachers. From a simple timer in Google Chrome to a Google form that can send personalised feedback to students immediately after they submit their answers via some AfL on your personal device.

My use of technology for learning stems from the idea that if it is possible for our students to speak to the space station surely we should make it happen. If we can do anything to enhance the experience for our students… we should try and do it.

The session shares some of the inspirations for the use of technology to support learning and how the technology freely available changes the skills we need to develop in our learners.

After giving delegates a chance to test their 21st century learning skills we move on to try out some tools for learning

1. Timer

2. QR codes

3. AfL apps to make use of student devices

4. Automating feedback from a Google Form

5. Videos for learning

If you would like to find out more about any of these tools or their use in the classroom do not hesitate to contact me.

Technology is nothing without good teachers. A good teacher with technology can be exceptional for the students they work with.

Hope the session proves interesting and useful for those who attend.

Enjoy

Ben Rouse

 

BETT2014: What’s in your classroom

The educational technology conference at Excel in London draws to a close today and I have been in attendance on Friday and Saturday. As I write this I am sat on a sofa at the show as the noise builds on the last day. A few stands are checking their microphones work… they do!

I have spent a considerable amount of time watching presentations on the Google stand. My current role is leading the roll out of Google Apps for Education at my school. I have also spent some time getting my head around the numerous and quite expensive ways in which you can display and share information with the students in your classroom. Our school has a new building in construction and the relevant people are discussing how to furnish the rooms for learning. Our default has been Smartboards in classrooms but if you actually tour the school they are often not used, or purely used for annotating notebook or presentation files. Therefore I am of the opinion that for the amount you can spend it would not seem cost effective to automatically install these in all our new classrooms. I was therefore asked to look at the options available at BETT.

There are an array of LCD touch-screen TV’s on show and projectors mounted from every conceivable position to project onto floors, walls and any surface you care to use. None of this comes cheap and is it necessary or useful?

A distinction I find myself making is whether the projection needs specific software or can be utilised with web-tools. I am inclined to avoid purchasing software as free web tools have served me well.

If you want a really cheap interactive whiteboard… watch this:

One development that seems worthwhile is being able to connect a phone or tablet and therefore annotate from anywhere in the classroom. This would also allow students with devices to contribute from their seats and would potentially make the board interactive, something many “interactive whiteboards” have not achieved.

My preference is for some simple and cheap projection, whiteboards around the whole room and great wifi to support use of devices.

This leads me to ask, “What would you have in your classroom if you could start from scratch?”

Please leave a comment with your answers to the question.