The DigiLit Leicester project is a two year collaboration between Leicester City Council, De Montfort University and 23 of the city’s secondary schools. The project focuses on supporting secondary school teaching and teaching support staff in developing their digital literacy knowledge, skills and practice, and their effective use of digital tools, environments and approaches in their work with learners.
Using recommendations generated from the 2013 Survey Results, a wide range of activities, projects and events have taken place across the city – designed to support and develop staff confidence in the use of technology to support learning. In keeping with the project team’s commitment both to working in partnership with schools, and to supporting access to opportunity as widely as possible, we organised activities in two key ways:
DigiLit Leicester team managed activities
Centrally supported activities provided opportunities across all schools, allowing individual staff members to participate. Activities were either promoted openly to all BSF school staff members, or targeted at specific groups – either to staff role (for example, school leadership) or to survey area or area and level (for example, entry level staff in Technology supported Professional Development). The majority of activities took place within BSF Programme schools, allowing colleagues from across the city to visit other – often newly built – teaching spaces, and increasing accessibility for staff working at the host school.
This category includes our digital literacy focused TeachMeet, our e-Safety Pioneers Event and our Autism and Online Safety project – a collaboration between Childnet International and three of Leicester’s SEN schools.
School led activities
These projects were supported through calls that were open to individuals and schools. Individual projects were designed to support members of staff in carrying out small scale projects which help them to take their practice forward in one or more of the DigiLit Framework strands. School level projects may have been led by an individual or team of staff, e.g. a department, and focused on developing practice across the school in one or more of the DigiLit Framework strands.
This category of activities includes projects such as Hamilton Community College’s Siyabonga project, which involved learners collaborating via Skype on a live concert with children from South Africa and The City of Leicester College’s Bring Your Own Device trial, the first of its kind in the city, using iPad minis with a Y8 tutor group.
To date, we have carried out six projects centrally and supported 21 school based projects. We’ve rounded up all of the DigiLit Leicester project activities, and provided links to further information and related resources. These can be downloaded here. The short version provides brief summaries of all of the projects – the longer version provides more detail.
Feedback from schools has been very positive in relation to all of the approaches taken to support staff development this year. ‘Lessons learnt’ that will be taken in to account in next years planning and approach include:
- Staff ambition relating to project opportunities is high and this has sometimes resulted in over commitment to project activity and outputs. The team have worked with some school staff to help reduce project scope in order to better focus on the quality of their outputs and the manageability of their project schedules.
- Schools often need or would welcome additional support in the production of outputs, particularly relating to framing projects in research terms and having capacity to provide very high quality outputs.
- Pressures on staff time remains one of the key reasons staff cannot engage with opportunities and activities. The flexible approach taken to by the project team, supporting a range of ways that staff can engage with project opportunities, has helped address this to some extent.
- Significant activities relating to the project focus have taken place across the schools. Communications relating to work not directly carried out or supported by the project team have, however, been limited. This is an area that needs improving, so that we can promote and share all of the great work that takes place in the schools.
The approach taken for the Autism and Online Safety project recognised issues relating to capacity and the schools’ need for external support for larger projects – particularly in relation to brokering external partnerships and connecting projects to external expertise and organisations. It allowed us to trial a hybridised approach to support for staff development. The DigiLit team took responsibility for preparing the project scope in consultation with the schools who proposed the project, and managing the appointment process through public tender. This approach has proven to be very effective, and we will be looking to implement and manage further projects in this way.
The 2014 DigiLit Leicester survey was open between 17 March and 16 May 2014. We are currently analysing the new data to review current the projects recommendations and action priorities, in the context of this year’s successes and identified issues.