Tag Archives: cloud

What I Think About: Shiny Things, The BETT Show and Buying Devices for Schools…

One of the most common questions I often get asked by colleagues in other schools is which devices should a school buy.  Laptops or Notebooks? iPads, Chromebooks or Windows 8?

My answer:  I’ll tell you what we’ve chosen at Simon de Senlis and why but I’ll also tell you why in almost all cases, I think it’s the wrong question to be asking.

The only example I can think where the choice of kit defines success is in Formula One, where the manufacturers seem to influence the eventual winners of the championship more so than the drivers.  In every other example I can think of, it’s the vision, commitment, mind set, execution and resilience of the individuals/team that makes the difference.  Cristiano Ronaldo would still be one of the word’s best ever footballers whether clad in Nike or Adidas, Ian Botham would still have taken the Australians apart in 1981 whether he was wielding a Duncan Fearnley, Gray Nicholls or Slazenger Bat and I’m willing to bet that outside of the sporting world, today’s most successful individuals and companies would have achieved equally highly, regardless of which car manufacturer, brand of clothing, deodorant, laptop or mailbox provider they chose to use. You get my point.

Moving this back into the educational world, my view is the same around a choice of phonics scheme, curriculum resource or data tracking package.  It’s never about what you choose; it’s always about how well you use it, how this supports the overall vision for learning and the leadership that follows.  With technology and in particular devices, this is critical as the stakes are high, both from a cost and time perspective with any new implementation.

I’ve written recently about the process that we have undertaken to create our vision for learners and digital strategy at Simon de Senlis and this has been crucial in supporting our implementation of Windows 8 devices and combination of Yammer/Office 365/LP+ SharePoint learning environment.

We have chosen Windows 8 ahead of other technologies because it offers us a combination of hardware and infrastructure, at a price that we can afford to implement with low ratios of student to device.  I believe that Microsoft offers the most manageable, cost effective solution to a school with  a (growing) range of quality educational tools that support our vision for learning.  Creating the environment for classes to be able to work 1:1 with mobile tablets and also the full functionality of office and an online/app environment gives us the platform and flexibility (we think) to support our vision of creating curious, industrious agile learners who make a positive dent in the universe.

Moving on to the BETT Show, this week thousands of teachers will descend on the Excel centre in London for the biggest educational technology show in the world.  Going to BETT always reminds me of this scene from Red Dwarf.  For those who didn’t watch it, the Cat is a humanoid who has mutated from the ship’s cat over several million years.  In this clip, he gets completely besotted by ‘shiny things’, like kittens do with balls of string.  Similar uncontrollable excitement will be available at BETT – but will we be able to articulate what it is that the shiny things will do to make better learning and teaching?  Or will our kitten-like enthusiasm forget to watch out for the vision, strategy and pedagogy that will inevitably sit behind any genuine school success story?

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My goal this year is to look for the learning not the technology; look for questions not answers and enjoy the shiny things!

TR

PS – One of the markers of aging in a school is when the NQTs start and declare their Dates of Birth.  Mr Prosser’s admission that he was born in 1991 was a cat amongst the pigeons last year and brought both hilarity and sheer panic to the staffroom.  The other arbitrary measure is how many people remember the comedy programmes that are referred to within conversation.  It used to be me who smugly shook my head and made jokes about UK Gold when well-respected staffroom elders talked about Monty Python; now it’s me that gets a bewildered smile and nod when quoting Blackadder, Ferris Bueller or The Fast Show.

Last week when we were planning our visit to the BETT show this year and I showed this video of ‘Cat’ from Red Dwarf, several teachers revealed that they were far too young to have ever seen it.

#gettingold

 

 

Our School’s Digital Vision: Colleagues, Mentors and Books for inspiration…

Recently, I’ve spent some time revisiting our school’s vision statement, looking in particular at the digital vision and strategy for Simon de Senlis.  Around 18 months ago, in my first year as Headteacher, we engaged in a process with all stakeholders called ‘Simon de Senlis Reimagined’ where we redefined the vision for the school, setting our sights on developing ‘curious, industrious, agile learners who make a positive dent in the universe’.  This helped give our school a real sense of character and belonging and has been the cornerstone of the improvements that the staff, children and parents have worked so hard to achieve in this time.  Now, with many good things embedded and the useful stamp of approval from OFSTED under our belt, it’s time to set our sights on how we make the jump from ‘really good’, to ‘really special’.

The image which our vision is built around is 'Dent' by Gaping Void and has helped to cement the vision for everyone at the school.
The image which our vision is built around is ‘Dent’ by Gaping Void and has helped to cement the vision for everyone at the school.

A key driver in our school vision is technology  and we have enjoyed some great projects such as the ‘Our World; My Future’ presentations at Northampton and work using Windows 8 and cloud technology which have resulted in our participation in the Microsoft Global Showcase Schools Project in 2015.  I reference these achivements not as bragging rights or to create an impression of us being the finished article with regards to the use of technology; more because I want to illustrate that however well developed a digital vision may be in a school, it is always the time to keep renewing our sense of purpose around WHY and HOW we use technology.  In a ferociously busy school world of conflicting priorities, implementing any new initiative, process or technology must be thought through carefully with a clear rationale and continually pitched well to staff in order for it to become part of common practice.

In November, I was privileged to sit round a table with Headteachers from the five other UK Microsoft Showcase Schools and get a taste for what goes in their organisations.  Their commitment to technology and high achievement was outstanding and  obvious but more powerful, was their sense of moral purpose: a commitment to sharing their journeys and ideas with other schools for the benefit of schools and teachers in the UK and further afield.   I came back from this meeting inspired to be a better Headteacher and to give children at Simon de Senlis even better opportunities to become digitally fluent – an essential competency for their future success.

In order to help this process, I called upon my friend and mentor, Peter Ford, who had worked with us (alongside his Notosh colleagues) through the reimagined process and has an incredible craft for transforming  these painful ‘can’t quite see the wood for the trees’ moments into (no less painful)  creative processes which help us to generate meaning into the inevitable actions that follow.  Peter has been instrumental in the Design Thinking influences which now run through our school, both in the curriculum model and as specific practices and tools which have made our creative processes more disciplined and effective.  Returning back to the vision statement was in order to unpick what it was about technology that would enable us to develop curious, industrious and agile learners and empower them to make a dent in the universe.

Below is a SlideShare of the Digital Vision which will develop further in the next few months as we talk, test and prototype our thinking .  I share this in the spirit of co-operation or collaboration so that others can have an insight into the process and ask that, should you choose to do something similar, you borrow the process but make the words specific to your school’s unique challenges, vision and community.

  Continue reading Our School’s Digital Vision: Colleagues, Mentors and Books for inspiration…

Press Release: Microsoft Global Showcase School Announcement

Simon de Senlis Primary School has been selected by Microsoft as a 2015 Microsoft Global Showcase School for its excellence in transforming its learning environment to deliver more personalised education to students, using mobile and cloud technology to better prepare students for success in the workplace.

Simon de Senlis joins an exclusive community of over 150 leading schools from around the world and just six in the UK who are recognised to celebrate their pioneering efforts and innovation in rethinking teaching, learning and assessment in order to equip the children with 21st century competencies.

Microsoft Showcase Award Small
The Team from Simon de Senlis receiving their plaque as a Global Showcase School at Microsoft’s ‘Classroom of the Future’ in London.

Examples of the school’s work include innovative use of Surface devices to capture learning across the curriculum and the use of cloud computing to allow children to give and receive feedback to each other on their learning. The work in the school is driven by Headteacher, Tom Rees and teachers, Charlotte Coade and Tom Prosser, both who were given Innovative Expert Educator status before Christmas at a prestigious ceremony at Microsoft Headquarters in London.

“Being selected as a Microsoft Showcase School is a great thing for Simon de Senlis and I am delighted that the passion our teachers and staff have for creating the best learning environments possible has been recognised in this way”, said Tom Rees, Headteacher at the school. “We look forward to sharing our experiences with other schools in our community and the world to continue finding innovative ways to equip our students with the proper tools needed for success inside and outside of the classroom.”

As a Showcase School, Simon de Senlis Primary School will work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education and communicate a vision for education enabled by technology through the hosting and mentoring of other schools in the community on transformational educational practices.  The school will be announcing details of how it will be able to support other local schools in the near future.

“Microsoft Showcase Schools are inspiring examples of how schools are using mobile-first, cloud-first technology to increase students’ productivity and develop the skills needed in the workplace,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president, Worldwide Education, Microsoft Corp. “With an innovative use of technology, these schools are transforming learning environments and delivering more personalised education to students, allowing them to do more and achieve more.”