Today we ran our first Teachmeet Roadshow at Musselburgh. The roadshow was supported by East Lothian Council’s Education IT Team. We ran workshops in on-line publishing (blogs), on-line broadcasting (podcasting), animation, digital photography and digital video.
I took a bit of a chance when organising the workshops. I asked subject PT’s (after discussion) to sign their departments up to a particular workshop, rather than getting individual teachers to opt into workshops. I am keen that departments become ‘experts’ in one or more types of technology and then look at ways in how they may take this forward as a department.
I don’t like it when some children get a more positive and creative learning experience than the class in the next room because the classroom teacher has not embraced an initiative. I also don’t like it when lots of departments all try to embrace the same initiative. I remember a few years ago when many departments were trying to introduce digital video. Children moved from one department to the next with the teachers going over similar skills and techniques. The final result was a lot of bad digital video projects.
Overall the workshops went well and the feedback was positive considering it was a two hour CPD slot during the last week of November! I heard that some staff were a little negative – but with schools there is never really any avoiding this. We had a couple of technical hitches with the publishing workshop, but these were managed really well. I looks like that on some of the new build computers the additional programme to export Audacity has not been installed – but we can fix this. And, some people thought the digital video and digital photography workshops could have been more advanced – but then they did sign up to an ‘Introduction to Digital Video / Digital Photography’.
The main things though are the positives. The majority of staff are buzzing with ideas on how we can take this technology forward. Lots of people are talking about class websites, as a way to set homework and communicate more with home. A number of departments are talking about the possibility of creating audio and video revision guides for students. The art department are keen to embrace animation within the S1 or S2 curriculum – the skills could then be transferred to other subjects further up the school. Two of the guidance teachers at the animation workshop thought that animation could be used to get students talking about controversial issues – this to me is the sort of cross curricular links we should be developing within schools. The music department have identified good links between podcasting and SQA evidence. There are also lots of other ideas drifting around.
So as a school, how are we going to maintain this momentum? Well, we are proposing to do it in two ways.
1. Follow up. We have another Teachmeet Roadshow planned for the 14th December. At this workshop, specialist staff we be available to assist staff in refining skills and thinking about developing departmental initiatives. Additional optional support will be available between Christmas and Easter. Next year departments will be asked to consider taking forward ICT and Creativity as part of their departmental development plan.
2. Resourcing. We have invested some money in peripheral equipment. I am convinced that the reason that teachers have not embraced initiatives such as digital video, photography etc… before. Is because, they haven’t had enough equipment. Its ridiculous that some schools have one video cameras in ten different departments. The cameras hardly get used, because its impossible to teach 30 children with one camera. What would be better is to consolidate resources and then departments book them out. In the same way that they would book a computer room. So in response to the resourcing issue we have created class sets of the following equipment the teachers / departments will be able to book out:
- 10 digital video cameras, 10 tripods, 10 external microphones and 10 clapper boards.
- 10 animation cameras, 10 mini-tripods and a box of animation accessories.
- 10 digital cameras (each with 1GB Card) and back up card reader.
- 10 USB Microphones, 10 Voice recorders and 10 copies of Audacity portable.
All of the above equipment can be signed out as a set of five or as a set of 10.
Now the only think to do is to wait and to see if the technology takes off. Only time will tell – its interesting times.
Finally, I am grateful to the following individuals for offering their services and support for today’s training:
- Digital Video- Dave Rawson and Elizabeth Cowan
- Podcasting- David Gilmour and Alan Coady
- Digital Photography- Brian Cunningham and Robin Strain
- Online Publishing- Tess Watson
I ran the Animation workshop (I'll post some of the movie premiers later!).