Out of sight

What makes transformational teaching and learning using ICT possible are the unseen elements, Andy Davies tells us more

You have just launched the ‘Innovation Fund’, providing £10,000 to Berkshire secondary schools. Tell us more about it.

We are seeking to work with schools to develop students’ great ideas into reality. We are open to any concept but it must contain three elements, one – clear educational purpose; two – a new or innovative component, certainly different to the norm; three – a degree of technology in the concept, although this could be how the end result is shared.

Which technologies have you witnessed first-hand that are changing how students learn in the classroom?

I have seen a wide range of technologies that are making significant impact, not only on the way students learn but also on the way they are engaged in the classroom. This ranges from individual learning devices, through to interactive technology and resources with students tackling assignments in a variety of ways, according to their own preferences and being led by creative teachers.

However, what makes transformational teaching and learning using ICT possible are the unseen elements, which include enterprise quality infrastructure and networks. This results in ICT services where the teacher or student never questions its reliability or ability, just as a stockbroker never questions whether the IT system on a trading floor is going to work or be slow. He or she just knows it will be there to conduct business without question. That is how ICT must work in a school whenever and wherever it is required and that does change the way teachers teach and students learn.

What are the benefits and dangers of the use of social media by students?

I think so often the negatives are allowed to outweigh the really positive elements that social media can bring.The main benefits include greater student engagement and collaboration between students and teachers. Additionally projects can include collaboration between students from different schools both in the UK and further afield.

This also plays into a theme of student engagement in school life. If you look at the average Key Stage 3 and 4 student, you will find them fully engaged in social media on a wide variety of platforms and tools including Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and SnapChat. Additionally, many games are very social in the manner that players interact and communicate. Then you look at the way that many lessons are delivered which are not social, interactive or collaborative and people wonder why young people can be disengaged at school.

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Whether one likes it or not, most young people are fully engaged in social media. I think schools need to find ways to engage positively and set out the ground rules about how students and teachers utilise such ‘tools’. One of the biggest issues from an e-safety perspective is anonymity, so if schools configure social platforms so that participation is only permitted with full identification and traceability, then many of the issues melt away.

Finally many of the critics of social media either don’t use it or don’t fully understand it, so many of the myths concerning social media perpetuate.

What impact has BYOD had on students, and what obstacles are faced when implementing this initiative?

BYOD is having a dramatic impact in many schools. It provides teachers with the freedom to adapt and use online and internet without the need to book devices or ICT suites. In essence it’s making teaching more flexible and efficient. From a student perspective it promotes personalised and independent learning.

What are the future plans for Ntegra’s continued work in education?

Our plans are simple really: we want to work with a number of schools who believe IT to be a critical element of their school. We want to work together in partnership with schools to transform the quality, reliability and security of their systems. We bring our enterprise knowledge and experience of IT together with our growing team of education specialists who understand how schools and education work. The education team we are building at Ntegra are a special group of people who are passionate about education and making a difference to the lives of young people through high-quality ICT provision.

Furthermore, we are establishing a ‘Knowledge for School Leaders’ group that will allow head teachers to learn about leading-edge technology and its potential use
in education.

A successful BYOD rollout must include:

✔ A robust enterprise quality wireless network that segregates the BYOD network from the general teaching networks.

✔ Personalised authentication so that identity is not shared and users can be de-registered through Active Directory.

✔ A full and comprehensive Acceptable Usage Policy that has been signed by parents and students.

✔ A comprehensive registration process, so that the school controls who connects to which devices.

✔ Parental engagement so that parents are fully aware of the scheme.

✔ Training for teachers so that they are confident with BYOD in the classroom and confident enough to allow students to access web resources and also confident enough to know when not to use them.

✔ Management tools that monitor usage and log, and alert issues concerning inappropriate behaviour.

W: www.ntegra.co.uk 

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