Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Re-imagining the school network

Re-imagining the school network

Firstly, let me say that I don’t believe technology will solve all our problems in education.

Our best resources in schools are human ones. Technology at its most useful should enhance teachers and pupils’ propensity to teach and learn. Technology should be the servant of the user not its master.

Currently most schools buy into standard vanilla office networks. These are designed for standard business use. Large business corporations adapt these models quite substantially to make these systems serve their business. Schools rarely go beyond low level folder design. These standard vanilla systems are very unconnected and were never designed for schools.

The following is an attempt to re-imagine some new tools and systems to help teachers and pupils make the best use of their time. Hopefully in any roll out schools would choose which functions to use and which to ignore. A key feature of good systems is flexibility.

The heart of a good network is a comprehensive database, not as an add on designed to manage pupil’s names and addresses and lately assessment but as a core service. Pupils, teachers, classes, tutor groups, assessment strands, subjects etc all linked together.

Do more with files in a shorter time

When teachers and pupils create things they should be offered time saving options that allow them to share resources with a study group in the case of pupils or other work group colleagues in the case of teachers, save copies in key areas or share resources online with their favourite sharing sites. The school might setup key sharing requirements as needed but teachers and pupils would be able to easily define their own. School users would also be able to search using spoken key words.

Marking 2.0

Marking and responding to marking takes a tremendous amount of teacher time. Often teachers repeat the same comment over and over again. Wouldn’t it be good if teachers could dictate oral feedback? This could be label printed using speech recognition software and stuck into books or these short snippets of speech could be saved into the school database linked to the pupil. A bar code could be printed and stuck into the book. Pupils can then scan the bar codes to hear the feedback. They could even choose to respond to it using their cheap pupil feedback device which would tag to that pupils on the database.

Teacher oral marking wand

Bar code reader on the bottom. Teachers can scan a barcode on each book identifying the pupil. Simple microphone allows teacher to dictate feedback and upload it with one press or spoken command. Barcode writer on the other end to allow pupils to access the feedback. Can store comments so same comment can be used more than once. Teachers could also use this to input assessment data based on marking.

Pupils feedback wand

Barcode reader on one end to call down teacher comments from the school database and speaker to play these. They could also have a button to record pupil response. Pupils could hold these to their ear so that feedback is personal.

Capture the teaching & Learning

Teacher interactions with pupils is precious. Why don’t we work smart and make more of it? Why don’t we carry a personal teacher recording device? A small personal clip mounted video camera and recording device. 5 mins at the end of the session to cut out key snippets and tag them to pupils or groups of pupils to enable overlearning or help with homework. The same device could be used with pupils or pupils work to record assessments, photo evidence and tag it to aspects of literacy, maths or any other part of the curriculum. We could build up a library of useful teaching and learning that pupils can use again to help them remember or revise.

Teachers personal recording device

This could be mounted like google glasses and take photos or videos on command or just record everything and teachers could choose what to keep at the end of the lesson. If it was built into a pair of glasses, it could combine with virtual reality software and face recognition software to display assessment info above each pupil’s head. The device would stay in school and only stream to the secure school network between certain hours to reduce the safeguarding risk of such a powerful tool. Whilst we are waiting for this maybe a great tablet assessment tool that linked into the school database can help us capture and assess learning opportunities. It could also be linked to rewarding good behaviour and tracking behaviour we wish to help students modify.

Assessment without levels

The school database would have a basic progression of skills and knowledge based on the NC starting on 0 which represents no knowledge. The school would be able to break these steps up into micro steps at any time. These could be fed into via the teacher oral marking wand, teachers personal recording device or directly via any connected network device.

These are just a few ideas I wonder what you would add to this?

Of course anything can be misused but that shouldn’t stop us trying to imagine how tech can save time or improve learning.

All of the things I have mentioned so far are achievable with today’s technology so why do our networks represent a very boring medium sized company from the 1990s?

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