The e-Learning Hub page and resources are managed by Hub Leader, Lee Ferris
- LFE (Hub Leader, ILC)
- CBE (Maths)
- KJO (English)
- JRY (Science)
- AHA (Performing Arts)
- ANH (Technology)
- AJD (Technology)
- LHI (ICT)
- To use e-Learning to embed a culture of ‘growth mindset’ by empowering students, staff and parents to become engaged, confident, independent, resilient, information-literate users of e-Learning
- To develop personalised e-Learning resources for staff (teaching/pedagogy), students (learning) and parents (to support learning process as active participants)
The young people in our care have grown up in an age extremely far removed from their parents. The dawn of the Internet in the late 1990s means that schools are now full of students for whom being ‘active’ online is nothing out of the ordinary. The facts speak for themselves:
This means that, in many ways, teachers find themselves frustratingly chasing the tail of the very people they are educating when it comes to e-Learning. The world of websites, apps and portable devices offers a wealth of opportunities for learning to be enhanced – that is beyond doubt. However, it is precisely because of this generation’s adeptness with ‘new technology’ that the development of effective e-Learning in education is not quite as simple a task as it may seem. How do we engage students so that they make full use of the resources available to them in their ‘natural habitat’? How do we educators ensure that we are not merely teaching old dogs (or puppies in this case) new tricks?
To enable me to glean a clearer idea of the status quo in school in terms of teaching colleagues and their experience of e-Learning thus far, I conducted a survey using Google Forms. The results were interesting. What the survey found was that, of the 41 teachers who responded, only 1 (2%) feels that e-Learning is fully integrated into their teaching. Perhaps more encouragingly, 66% of respondents reported that they are in the process of incorporating e-Learning into their Teaching & Learning ‘palette’ but that they feel they have some way to go (growth mindset exemplified!). 32% of teaching staff, however, are at the earliest stage in terms of their e-Learning journey, having taken no initial steps to integrate it into their teaching.
Are you already a facilitator of e-Learning in your teaching?
|Yes, e-Learning is fully integrated into my teaching||1||2%|
|Yes, but I still have some way to go||27||66%|
|No, I have not begun to integrate e-Learning into my teaching||13||32%|
As with any demographic group, teachers are a diverse set of people from a range of backgrounds and with wholly divergent experiences. I was therefore interested to find out what the barriers are in terms of fully integrating e-Learning into ones practice:
If you are not an active facilitator of e-Learning, what barriers stand in your way?
|A lack of time||25||61%|
|A lack of confidence with technology||18||44%|
|A lack of personal interest in apps and web-based learning||6||15%|
|Not being sure of the academic merit of e-Learning||7||17%|
There were no particular surprises thrown up by the responses to this question. Overwhelmingly, the key barriers are time and confidence. This is where an e-Learning hub can be at its most effective; giving colleagues the time to learn about and experiment with various facets of e-Learning is a sure-fire way to increase confidence levels. Perhaps most worrying is the 17% of respondents who felt that the academic merit of e-Learning is uncertain. This will be where my Key Improvement Priority of training e-Learning hub participants to act as ‘e-Learning champions’ will be absolutely crucial.
Thinking in a general sense, I was keen to discover the extent to which apps specifically are currently being used to aid Teaching & Learning:
Do your students use specific apps in your subject area, either in class or independently?
|Yes, this is an established element of teaching and learning for me||5||12%|
|Yes, but I am just beginning to get to grips with apps||4||10%|
|No, apps are not part of teaching and learning for me||13||32%|
|No, but I am keen to exploit apps as a teaching and learning tool||19||46%|
Although only 22% of respondents are facilitating the use of apps in their subject area at present, it is heartening that almost half of teaching colleagues (46%) nonetheless keen to expand their use.
Of increasing educational importance and value is the principle of Project Based Learning (PBL); providing students with the means and support to complete a task with a wider interpretation, independently. This could be, for example, a multi-stage homework task, culminating in a sizeable piece of work consisting entirely of the students’ independent research and application. Of all respondents, 41% had never had their students engage in PBL. No colleagues claimed that their students do this very often, whereas 17% responded with ‘Fairly often’, ‘Seldom’ or ‘Barely ever’. This points to a need for the e-Learning hub to equip participants with the knowledge and skills required to facilitate online PBL effectively, to the benefit of our students and their growth mindset.
How often do your students engage in online Project Based Learning (PBL)?
Edmodo has formed the basis of much of my personal work on e-Learning over the course of the last year. Indeed, it is something I have led staff development sessions on. For schools without a VLE fit for purpose, Edmodo provides the perfect platform for setting and assessing tasks online. I was keen to see the degree to which Edmodo had taken root in everyday practice:
Do you use Edmodo to set homework and other tasks?
|Yes, every week||1||2%|
|Yes, every so often||5||12%|
|Yes, but I am only just getting started||8||20%|
|No, I tried it but didn’t like it||2||5%|
|No, I find it time-consuming||2||5%|
|No, I’ve never tried it||23||56%|
Currently, 34% of staff are using Edmodo to some extent or another, compared to 56% of respondents who have not engaged with the site at all. VLEs and use of ‘clouds’ to facilitate organisation, administration, learning and assessment is a core element of my work as AAHT this year.
QR codes have also swiftly become a key tool in e-Learning due to their potency in increasing student curiosity and engagement, as well as their usefulness in speedily directing students to online resources. The results below show that 61% of colleagues have never used QR codes in lessons, compared to 15% of staff who use them ‘sometimes’. 5% of colleagues reported not knowing what a QR code is. It is therefore likely that the specific use of QR codes to enhance learning and promote growth mindset will be a central tenet of an e-Learning hub session over the course of the year.
Do you use QR codes in your lessons?
|I’m not sure what a QR code is||2||5%|
Guy Claxton’s ‘Building Learning Power’ revolves around the idea of developing, maintaining and promoting certain learning ‘dispositions’; the ‘5 Rs’, if you will. Some schools have taken Claxton’s theories, blended them with a sizeable dollop of Carol Dweck’s work on mindset and fully integrated the nurturing of the key dispositions into their everyday practice. Indeed, in some schools, students are able to articulate their progress in these areas as proficiently as they can their academic progress. So, where do our staff see e-Learning in this process?
Which of these learning dispositions do you feel can be enhanced through e-Learning?
|None of the above||0||0%|
Predictably and correctly, 83% of respondents identified Resourcefulness as a skill which e-Learning can enhance. The second most popular skill was Responsibility at 61%. I would be keen to explore this further, in order to discern whether or not this is connected with the idea that e-Learning is mainly student-led. It is logical that Resourcefulness and Responsibility may well be bound together as mutually complimentary in the minds of educators. 34% of teachers named Reflectiveness as an e-Learning-linked disposition, with 29% selecting Reasoning. I am eager to convince colleagues this year that all five of these skills can be enhanced through effective e-Learning.
So, what needs to be done, in practical terms, in order to make colleagues confident and competent e-Learning facilitators? Certainly, the e-Learning hub is a hugely significant initiative, enabling interested colleagues to spend 12 hours together over the course of the academic year, discussing and developing Belmont Community School’s approach to e-Learning and linking that to the kind of students we wish to nurture during their time with us. The whole essence of the hub is ‘end goal’-orientated.
I started by asking colleagues about the kind of devices they are confident users of:
Which of the following devices are you a confident user of?
|Tablet (e.g. iPad, Nexus)||31||76%|
|PC or iMac||33||80%|
This is an important question as it gets to the crux of teachers’ own hands-on tech capabilities. It also has implications for us when considering the kind of technology we might ultimately invest in. What emerges from the responses to this question is that our staff are very clearly more adept in the use of Apple devices, with 68% declaring themselves to be confident iPhone users and a further 51% who feel that they can use an iPod confidently. An additional 76% are confident users of some sort of tablet, with just 32% feeling confident in the use of an Android smartphone.
My final question pertained to the kind of training that colleagues feel would be most beneficial in assisting them on their e-Learning journey. Reassuringly, 68% of respondents selected live demonstrations of apps and devices as of most benefit. This makes perfect sense as it is beyond doubt that seeing apps and devices in action is an immensely powerful tool in convincing educators of the potential potency of e-Learning. Certainly, feedback from the first session of the e-Learning was that my demonstration of apps (one teacher-led, the other student-focused) was of particular interest.
What kind of training do you feel would be of most benefit to you in becoming more confident with using e-Learning as part of teaching and learning?
|Live demonstrations of apps and devices||28||68%|
|An e-Learning newsletter||3||7%|
|A communal e-Learning blog||1||2%|
|Being given specific apps/sites to evaluate||8||20%|
The research I have conducted leads to some indisputable conclusions: firstly, there is clearly an appetite at Belmont Community School for e-Learning to become more integral to our everyday practice. We must find ways of seamlessly incorporating ‘new’ technology into our planning so that the ‘what’s in it for me?’ factor is fully covered. Paying lip service to e-Learning or over-reliance on gimmicks will not provide the outcomes we require. As a hub, we must research, experiment and evaluate a variety of approaches so that our students are enthused and inspired with the ultimate aim of e-Learning becoming just one colour in the Teaching & Learning palette. The basic knowledge is clearly largely in place, given the number of colleagues who feel confident in the use of at least one device. I intend to nurture colleagues’ curiosity and knowledge by training our hub participants to become e-Learning champions, so that enthusiasm for this form of learning is disseminated throughout our school.
Learning Hub 1 Autumn Term
Presentation available to download below:
Learning Hub 2 Autumn Term
The aims of the second session of the e-Learning hub were as follows:
- To engage in some research and feed back to the group.
- To review the results of the recent teacher e-Learning survey and identify emerging priorities.
- To develop a pupil e-Learning survey to enable further planning.
- To gain an insight into another Edu-app.
The group was divided into pairs, each of which was given a recent article relevant to e-Learning. After reading and discussing the issues addressed, the pairs fed back to the hub on what the articles tell us about e-Learning and the related issues. The findings largely supported our previous discussions pertaining to the need for an e-Learning offer to be non-gimmicky and relevant to the 21st-Century learner:
Article 1. ‘Let’s get together’ – Jan Willem Brands
- ClickShare can connect up to 64 devices wirelessly to connect to a ‘shared screen’.
- An adequate network would need to be in place.
- We would need to check that the devices are available.
- The metal walls in school could be a hindrance.
- Online collaboration is playing an increasing role in education.
- Needs to stay focussed on pupil progress, not just enjoyment.
- There was a sense that the article was trying to sell a product.
- e-Learning entails a need to keep things ‘professional’.
Article 2. ‘Only connect’ – Neil Stonehouse
- Headteacher trying to engender love of learning where it hasn’t always been present.
- The school is an internet-enabled building.
- The article raises the need for a fit-for-purpose network.
- Teachers were given the opportunity to try the hardware and software before implementing, demonstrating the need for teacher competence before implementation to pupils
- The project aimed to engage the wider community: parents/carers, post-16 providers.
- 450 new laptops and tablets for lessons and for taking home.
- BYOD in place.
- The article underlined the natural way in which young people use their devices.
- Risk of students being disenfranchised by gap in devices/internet access emphasised.
- The school had a great deal of support from the Local Authority.
Article 3. ‘FUTURE Perfect’ – Sal McKeown
- The article’s focus is SEN and the pros and cons of e-Learning for SEN students.
- Positives: Technology can help students save money and boost exam success. E-books increase engagement. Tech can help students who have problems reading black print on white background. Google Translate can be useful for for EAL students.
- Negatives: Maybe a risk of overstepping the boundary. Using Siri in exams may take away literacy skills. How will students cope in later life? Some tech might ‘disguise’ the problem rather than solve it. Using GPS to track students could be intrusive.
Article 4. ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ – Craig Wicking
- This school has bought into an accessibility scheme whereby students get access to the latest technology.
- Parents lease the device and after 2 years, can return the device or buy it outright.
- Creating independent learners is the priority.
- Students decide when to use their device in school.
- Would the students be more inquisitive with access to an online device?
- Problem: how do we know the student is actually accessing educational resources and not e.g. social media?
- Tech advances rapidly: how do we keep ourselves up to date?
- 75% of students are accessing the network; only 25% are accessing the VLE, highlighting the importance of an attractive e-Learning platform.
- Financial savings over time but entirely reliant on decent network.
I then demonstrated ClassDojo as a teacher-led classroom behaviour management app. There was a great deal of interest from the group and two members were keen to trial the app in lessons. This will entail use of the ICT department’s iPads.
We then moved on to the findings of the recent staff e-Learning survey. The hub was given time to consider the findings of the survey and to discern the key issues and barriers identified in the data. They then considered potential actions or solutions to these barriers, most of which revolve around the need for professional development in e-Learning, in various forms.
The rest of the session was spent formulating questions for an impending pupil e-Learning survey. The hub discussed the information we would wish to glean from such a survey and enabled me to proceed with developing and disseminating this key piece of data gathering.
Hub 2 presentation is available to download below:
Learning Hub 3 Spring Term
The aims of the third session of the e-Learning hub were as follows:
- To analyse the results of our self-designed pupil e-Learning survey and identify emerging priorities.
- To develop the core principles of our ‘e-Learning charter’.
- To gain an insight into the cross-curricular e-Learning resource
At the previous session, hub members had worked collaboratively to design a series of questions for our pupil e-Learning survey. The purpose of the survey was to discern the ‘lay of the land’ in terms of our pupils’ readiness for and prior experiences of e-Learning.
The first part of this third hub session was spent analysing the results of the survey to identify the key issues and to draw conclusions as to the attitudes and preparedness of our students.
These were our conclusions:
- Are parents likely to want to pay for 3G/4G for students to use in school?
- Reliability of network: lots of students working online at the same time.
- We need to ask ourselves whether or not BYOD is better than a laptop per 4 or 5 students.
- Having class sets of e.g. iPads takes away inequality.
- Survey gives a positive impression of students’ readiness for e-Learning.
- Students will need to be taught how to use technology productively and independently.
- Edmodo has created mixed experiences: survey shows 49% don’t like it.
- Issues with restrictions on access in school?
One of the hub’s priorities this year is the development of an ‘e-Learning charter’ which spells out the principles of what we are trying to achieve. The charter will include:
- RATIONALE (Why do we want/need effective e-Learning in school?)
- LEARNING DISPOSITIONS (Which dispositions should e-Learning nurture and how will it happen?)
- SAFETY (What are the ‘ground rules’ of e-Learning to ensure that it is safe for students?)
The hub divided into pairs to discuss and come up with ideas covering the three parts of the charter. After discussion, we concluded that parts 2 and 3 would require greater input from other members of staff, most probably our realsmartcloud champions, i.e. our Curriculum Team Leaders. We will be in a better position to surmise how certain learning disposition will be nurtured through e-Learning once plans are in place for how each subject area will exploit e-Learning’s potential through our school’s strategic ICT plan. Safety is an area we would be keen to collaborate closely with the ICT Department on, e-safety being one focus of their work.
We did, however, develop a rationale for our e-Learning charter:
The teachers of Belmont Community School recognise that our students are part of an ‘online’ generation. We recognise the potential power of e-Learning in increasing motivation and achievement. We are committed to working together and with students to develop the best possible e-Learning practices that build on our students’ knowledge of the online world and to exploit the endless possibilities offered by online learning to nurture a ‘growth mindset’ in our school community. We recognise that the development of successful e-Learning requires staff and students to experiment with and evaluate resources as part of a process of learning and growing together.
For the third phase of the session, I demonstrated memrise to the hub members. The ILC Department has being using memrise this academic year to encourage the independent learning of French and German vocabulary, a crucial element of success in the listening and reading components of a language GCSE.
memrise was developed by Professor David Shanks and Dr Rosalind Potts. David Shanks leads a research team at University College London (UCL) which is dedicated to understanding how we acquire and retain new information and skills, and how we use our knowledge to make decisions. Rosalind Potts is a Researcher and Teaching Fellow at UCL, and Senior Lecturer at Westminster University. She has a degree in languages from Oxford University, and a PhD in Psychology from UCL.
The science of memrise is comprised of three elements:
- Elaborate encoding (‘memrise helps you vividly assimilate new knowledge, promoting deep encoding and superior memory.’)
- Choreographed testing (‘Testing strengthens memories in a variety of ways.’)
- Scheduled reminders (‘By spacing reminders, learning can be made up to x3 more efficient.’)
The science of memrise is aligned with other most current research on memory and how best to nurture it.
I demonstrated how the site works to members of the hub and also showed them how to create their own course. The ILC Department is developing course for KS3 on memrise as a result of its popularity at KS4 and I was keen that participants be convinced of the site’s potential power as well as the ease with which teachers can create bespoke courses for their students.
Hub members were given time to explore memrise, search for suitable ready-made courses for their classes and create a course for use with a class. Initial feedback on the site was very positive. Hub members were eager to complete their course and trial it with a class in time for the next hub session, when we will evaluate memrise as a group.
Hub 3 presentation is available to download below:
Learning Hub 4 Spring Term
The aims of the fourth session of the e-Learning hub were as follows:
- To consider the benefits of ‘flipped learning’ in enhancing a ‘growth mindset’ culture.
- To consider the best way of engaging parents and carers in e-Learning.
- To plan for the implementation and evaluation of an e-Learning action research project.
Flipped learning is not a new concept for Belmont Community School. Indeed, Julie Ryder, Associate Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for Teaching and Learning – and an e-Learning hub member – led a session on flipped learning as part of our ‘Magic Mondays’ programme of CPD last academic year.
Essentially, flipped learning consists of a complete revolution in the way we deliver teaching and learning. Instead of a teacher ‘transmitting’ knowledge at the start of a lesson with limited time for the students to manipulate and synthesise, the students access the knowledge in advance of the lesson. This usually, but not exclusively, consists of online video which present the key facts to the student. This means that students should arrive at the next lesson ready to proceed immediately to the stage of applying what they have learned.
Of course, e-Learning is an integral part of the flipped learning process. The creation of online content and the act of accessing the material on the part of the students, be it on a laptop/PC or on a mobile device, constitutes e-Learning and requires a considerable degree of independence on their part. With this in mind, I demonstrated two apps to the hub, both of which enable teachers to create engaging online content for the purposes of flipped learning; Explain Everything and Educreations.
As well as that, I pointed out to the hub participants that there is a plethora of ready-made content courtesy of platforms such as YouTube, TED and iTunesU.
We have always been convinced as a hub that the engagement of parents and carers in the process of implementing successful and meaningful e-Learning would be key. We held a discussion on what we could do to make this happen, using a Why→What→When→Who model. Our discussions led to the conclusions in the table below.
In the end, we decided as a group that the Who box would be kept empty for the time-being, as we felt that the implementation of the strategies suggested would be assigned to key members at the appropriate time.
I was keen that a considerable portion of the time allocated to us would be spent actually implementing what we had discussed and learned in the hub thus far.
This will take the form of a piece of action research, requiring participants to identify a key strand of e-Learning that they wish to pursue further. To enable them to do this, I created an online form in Google Documents:
As the form shows, participants will select two parallel classes, one of which will be ‘exposed’ to the identified e-Learning method, the other being taught more ‘traditionally’. Staff were asked to identify how the research would fit into the departmental Scheme of Work for the classes concerned, as well as the key skills that would be potentially ‘honed’ by the e-Learning method used. Finally, staff were asked to set a deadline for completion and to identify how they would measure the impact of their research.
Ultimately, of the five participants present, three opted to trial flipped learning, with one member choosing to trial the use of Edmodo and the other Flipagram. The focus of the next hub will be on an interim evaluation of this action research.
Hub 4 presentation is available to download below:
Learning Hubs 5 + 6 Summer Term
The aims of the fifth and sixth sessions of the e-Learning hub were as follows:
- To plan and hone plans for e-Learning action research.
- To evaluate our e-Learning action research.
- To produce student and parent-friendly guides to an e-Learning resource or method
Due to the absence of some participants at one or more of the hub sessions, session 5 in particular was used for individual mentoring of colleagues to ensure that plans were underway for the implementation of an e-Learning action research project.
One colleague in particular was at the stage where she had implemented her project and analysed the outcomes. This means that she was eager to move on with another method/resource so as to further enhance her palette of e-Learning tools.
Over the course of the final two sessions, the hub participants completed an evaluation of their work on e-Learning so far. As of 04.06.15, only two colleagues were in a position to meaningfully evaluate the impact of their project. Nevertheless, their evaluations were interesting.
When asked to rate the overall success of their research in terms of raising pupil attainment and/or engagement, one colleague rate their work as ‘Highly Successful’, the other as ‘Fairly Successful’. However, when asked to explain the reason for their answer, the colleague who had responded more positively had this to say:
“Half the year group were asked to learn their spellings through memrise. The other half were given the traditional method of being given the spelling on a piece of paper. I have noticed that students who used memrise all gained higher scores than the other half of the year and significantly higher than previous test results. Students have mentioned how it was easier to learn them and a lot more enjoyable. I have already seen an impact on classwork and test results as students have a better understanding of what words mean and the work therefore becomes a lot more accessible for them.”
This is a very heartening assessment of the potential impact of e-Learning on both engagement and attainment. As with all successful research, the colleague has now resolved to implement the method fully across her groups.
The other colleague, having rated her project as ‘Fairly Successful’ gave this reason for her conclusion:
“Evidence at the moment is improved levels in class but GCSE results in September will give me a better understanding of the impact. This is why I have only selected a 3 for success; it will go up or down depending on GCSE results.”
It seems perfectly reasonable that this particular colleague wishes to await the results from the GCSE classes before forming a judgement on the project’s success. Both of these responses demonstrate a clear understanding on the part of hub participants that e-Learning, as well as being a potential level of engagement and enjoyment, should ultimately be evaluated against pupil attainment and achievement.
Colleagues were asked to be more specific about the impact of their project on student motivation. They were asked to ‘rate’ the impact on a scale of 1-5, 1 being ‘Highly Successful’, 5 being ‘Highly Unsuccessful’. In this case, one colleague selected 1 and the other 2. Their comments were as follows:
“Most students used Google Classroom as a revision resource. I also completed a student voice questionnaire. All of the students who used Google classroom would recommend it to others and would use it again.”
“Students are a lot more engaged in the homework when they are asked to do it online. It does not feel like a normal homework for them. They like the competition factor (against staff and students) that memrise offers them. The fact that it keeps track of words they are struggling with also helps them succeed and not give up.”
I then asked the participants to consider whether or not, with the benefit of hindsight, they would change any particular aspect of their project:
“No, I would not change any aspects of the project. This has been highly effective and will be implemented throughout the department. Students have been engaged with the programme and love beating both peers and teachers on memrise. Results have been impressive, particularly from lower attaining students.”
“Student Voice revealed a number of things that students would like to be added to Google Classroom e.g. revision quizzes so I would add these next time.”
I am particularly fascinated and pleased that the first colleague, a Maths specialist, has been able to implement a resource originally intended for languages and literacy-based subjects in her area. What is even more impressive is that memrise is now integrated throughout the department.
Finally, I asked colleagues: How likely are you to integrate the e-Learning method or resource into your teaching long-term from now on? Both colleagues selected ‘Very Likely’.
Although a small sample, I am pleased with my colleagues’ responses. Other participants are still implementing and evaluating their work and the outcomes of the e-Learning hub will need to be further evaluated once all information has been gathered. However, this is an incredibly positive first glimpse.
Colleagues in a position to do so, namely those who had completed their evaluations, were then invited to begin work on student and parent/carer-friendly guide to the e-Learning method or resource that they had successfully implemented. These will be collated for distribution so that all relevant parties are fully au fait with the mechanics and purpose of the specific resource/method. These are a work in progress but in an initial draft from one particular colleague looks promising, with the inclusion of a QR code for quick access to the site (result!) and instructions in student/parent-friendly language.
Overall, I have been impressed with the participants’ engagement over the course of the year. They have proven to be open-minded learners whose research has been guided entirely by their desire to raise pupil engagement and attainment in their particular area of expertise. This bodes well for the future of e-Learning at Belmont Community School.