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Making a success of learning tech in schools

By Adam Hodgess, Learning Technology Manager, Lipson Co-operative Academy, Plymouth

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | December 19, 2016 | Secondary

As a large inner city secondary school we are faced with many challenges. One such challenge is ensuring that we provide our large and diverse school community with the very best in learning technology services. But how do you anticipate the myriad of issues before they arise? In this post I’ll share some of the challenges we’ve faced and how we’ve worked to overcome them. 

In our academy we are fortunate to have a small but dedicated and highly skilled team that provide learning technology support not simply IT support. Our aim is to ensure that the use of technology is purposeful, makes a positive impact with teaching and learning and is sustainable. We want to ensure that our students access valuable learning materials and also develop a wide range of transferable skills to support them in the future.

As a support team we try and be as proactive as possible to ensure that the most common issues experienced are rectified before they prohibit access to teaching and learning materials. One such area identified as problematic was the quality of projection image in classrooms and learning spaces throughout the building. The impact of this was frustration for both students and staff who were not always able to see quality images on the board during lessons. 

In order to resolve this, we began a whole school review and longer term project that aimed to replace each projector with a higher quality device that would also be more sustainable. With the low rate of lamp replacement and the extended guaranteed hour output from the Casio LED models, our aim was achievable and would also give us lower maintenance cost in the future. The outcome has been a far superior projection image with a much greener impact and lower running costs. Students and staff appreciate the investment in providing higher quality visual equipment as this is a key resource in a wide range of curriculum areas.

Disruption to, or complete loss of connectivity, is a concern that would have a wide ranging impact

With an ever-growing need to access information anywhere and at any time, one of our greatest tools in education is now the internet. It provides us with cloud platforms for document creation and sharing, access to our management information systems and provides an outstanding resource for teaching and learning. As well as this, our reliance on the internet to provide communication channels, whether this is via email, social media or our website, is critical.

Disruption to, or complete loss of connectivity, is a concern that would have a wide ranging impact. In order to mitigate this risk we ensure that additional capacity and backup arrangements like failover are in place to provide basic level access should main services be affected. Strong Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with our Internet Service Provider (ISP) also ensure that the likelihood of such downtime is very low. As an example the agreement includes a single point of contact to deal with any disruption to service. 

Thorough assessments and pilots of learning technology tools are a good way to demonstrate the opportunities and avoid anything which would result in greater frustration. Battery life has always been a potential frustration, especially as devices are used more often and as they age. By taking time to select the correct tools for teaching and learning we have found that this particular issue has decreased. For instance, Google Chromebooks last throughout each lesson of the day.

Our three key success factors

Our service meets the needs of teaching and learning for three key reasons: 

1. It’s built from the ground up. We speak with our staff and students at all levels to ensure that as we move forward in providing this service that it is done so based on learning needs.

2. Regular learning technology reviews ensure that we share outstanding practice throughout the school

3. We support each other with strong links between the learning technology team and the academic teams to deliver a sustainable, purposeful, quality learning technology service for teaching and learning.


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