Digital Literacy

OER Schools Conference

OER schools icons Leicester City Council, in partnership with De Montfort University, are holding a free day conference on the 29 January 2015, focusing on finding, using, creating and sharing Open Educational Resources (OER). The event builds on the council’s recently released OER guidance and resources, which can be downloaded from http://schools.leicester.gov.uk/openeducation

The resources were produced by Dr Bjoern Hassler,  Helen Neo (University of Cambridge) , and Josie Fraser (Leicester City Council), and have also benefited from the input of school staff, through review and practical trailing.

The majority of school staff use and create digital resources to support their learners and schools – including presentations, lesson plans, and study guides. However, the DigiLit Leicester project identified a gap in support and information for teachers relating to the use and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER). An understanding of OER and open licencing will support schools and staff in sharing and accessing resources, and in developing staff and learner digital literacy skills and knowledge.

OER are learning materials (including presentations, revision guides, lesson plans) that have been released under an open licence, so that anyone can use, share and build on them for free.  Many openly licensed resources are available for schools to use and develop. At a time when schools increasingly work with, and rely on, digital and web based materials, understanding how copyright works, and making the most of available resources, is essential for staff and schools.

Creating OER allows schools to connect and collaborate with others through sharing work. Sharing can also help promote the great work that school staff and schools are doing.

Programme

10am – 11.30

OER Leadership Briefing and Q&A

Chair:    Richard Hall

Panel:  Miles Berry, Josie Fraser, Marieke Guy, Bjoern Hassler

11.40am -1pm

Workshops

  • Introduction to OER for school staff – Bjoern Hassler

  • School Policy  – Josie Fraser

  • Computing, Primary  – Miles Berry

1pm-1.40 pm

Lunch & feedback

1.40pm – 3pm

Workshops

  • Introduction to OER for school staff – Bjoern Hassler

  • School Policy – Josie Fraser

  • Computing – secondary school – Miles Berry

  • Creating accessible OER – Dave Foord

3pm – 3.30

Next steps & close

Speakers and Workshop Leads

Miles BerryMiles Berry  (@mberry on Twitter) is principal lecturer and the subject leader for Computing Education at the University of Roehampton. He teaches initial teacher education courses, and his principal research focus is the role of online communities in the professional formation and development of teachers. Other professional interests include knowledge management in education, use of open source software and principles in schools, provision for the gifted and talented and independent learning. Miles was part of the drafting groups for computing in the 2014 national curriculum. Until 2009, Miles was head of Alton Convent Prep. In his former post as deputy head of St Ives School, Haslemere, he pioneered the use of Moodle and Elgg in primary education. His work on implementing Moodle was documented as the dissertation for Leicester University’s MBA in Educational Management, and won the 2006 Becta ICT in Practice Award for primary teaching.

Dave FroodDave Foord(@davefoord) is an experienced teacher, who during his years of teaching, developed and perfected many techniques for providing high quality, innovative, and differentiated learning. Some of his best known work is in the area of learning technology (also known as ILT, e-learning, ICT) – using technology to enhance the learning experience. Dave has been a keen advocate on accessibility considerations within this area of work, and specialises in the creation of resources that are highly accessible, mobile optimised, and easily adaptable. Dave works for his Loughborough based company A6 Training and Consultancy Ltd, which provides training, consultancy and resource development services to education providers.

 

Josie Fraser

Josie Fraser (@josiefraser on Twitter) is a UK-based Social and Educational Technologist. Since June 2010, she has lead on technology for Leicester City Council’s multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme, one of the most accelerated building programmes in the UK. She is also responsible for setting, promoting and delivering on a city wide agenda for educational transformation in relation to the use of technology within schools. She developed and leads on the DigiLit Leicester staff development project, run in partnership with De Montfort University and the 23 BSF schools. The project achieved recognition as one of five global winners of the Reclaim Open Learning innovation competition, organised by the MacArthur Foundation, The Digital Media and Learning Hub, and MIT Media Lab. 

 

Marieke Guy

Marieke Guy (@mariekeguy on Twitter) is a project co-ordinator at Open Knowledge, a global not-for-profit organisation that wants to open up knowledge around the world and see it used and useful. Over the last two years she has been exploring open data in education and its relationship with open education as part of the LinkedUp Project. Her current projects are PASTEUR4OA , developing and/or reinforcing open access strategies and policies across Europe, and Europeana Space, creating new opportunities for employment and economic growth within the creative industries sector based on Europe’s rich digital cultural resources. Marieke has been working with online information for over 16 years and was previously employed by UKOLN, a centre of expertise in digital information management at the University of Bath. Marieke co-ordinates the Open Education Working Group.

 

Richard HallRichard Hall (@HallyMK1 on Twitter) is Professor of Education and Technology at De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, UK. He is DMU’s Head of Enhancing Learning through Technology and leads the Centre for Pedagogic Research. Richard is a National Teaching Fellow and a co-operator at the Social Science Centre in Lincoln, UK. He writes about life in higher education at: http://richard-hall.org

 

 

Bjoern HasslerBjoern Hassler (@bjoernhassler on Twitter) focuses on pedagogy, Open Educational Resources (OER) and digital technology. He led the JISC-funded ORBIT project, which produced an Open Resource Bank on Interactive Teaching for teacher education, focusing on innovative digital technology use in mathematics and science education. He is co-leading the OER4Schools project, introducing interactive teaching and digital technologies in Zambian primary schools.

Register

Registration for the conference is available here.

Leicester City Council and OER for Schools

A guest post for Open Scotland  about Leicester City Council’s ground breaking work in promoting and encouraging the development and use of openly licensed educational resources in the school sector. This post was published by Open Scotland on November 20th 2014, and is shared under CC-BY 4.0.

OER banner

Leicester City Council has recently become the first Local Authority in the UK to give permission to school staff to openly licence the educational resources created by employees in the course of their work. We’ve given the permission in order to take open education forward across the city – with the aim of ensuring all school staff are aware of and able to benefit from the use of openly licensed resources – and also able to create and share open educational resources (OER). We’ve also released a range of guidance and resources to introduce open licensing and open educational resources (OER) to school staff to help with this.

In Leicester, I’ve been working with schools to support the development of staff digital literacy skills. Our work has highlighted that many staff aren’t aware of open licensing and don’t know what open educational resources are. As well as providing practical, introductory information for schools about finding, using and accrediting OERs, we want to encourage the adaptions and creation of OER – to support schools in promoting and sharing the great work that is being produced across Leicester, and to actively contribute to open education.

There are many different types of schools across the UK. In Scotland, the picture is relatively straight forward, with the 32 Scottish Local Authorities in the position of employer for local, special, and denominational schools. In England, the Local Authority is the employer of staff working at community and voluntary controlled schools, but not of other types of school – for example academy, foundation, and voluntary aided schools, where the governing body is typically the employer. In Leicester, there are currently 84 community and voluntary controlled schools. The council is the legal and beneficial owner of copyright of materials produced by these employees in the course of their employment. This isn’t something that is specific to school employees or to Local Authorities as employers– it applies to all employees working under a contract of service, unless a specific agreement is in place. Sometimes there will be an explicit statement in an employee’s contract that references this, for example:

Copyright

The council shall be the legal and beneficial owner of the copyright in and all other rights to the results of the development of and the application of all work produced by you during the course of your employment and as a consequence of your employment.

However, not all employees (including school employees) have statements like this in their contract – typically, whether it’s there or not, unless a specific agreement is in place, the expectation is that employees should obtain permission from their employer to share work created in the course of their employment. The rights to work created outside of the course of employment – for example, a presentation a staff member creates on their own time for an event that they are not attending as part of their job – belong to the employee. Students also own the rights to their own work.

Staff don’t have an automatic right to take copies of this work from one employer to another, and they don’t automatically enjoy moral rights – the right to be acknowledged as the author of the work.

Schools and school staff have a great culture of sharing, most of which is informal. Sharing educational resources benefits everyone – learners and educators can benefit from the care and expertise that have gone into producing resources, and energy can be put into developing work to better suit learners and school’s needs, rather than starting from scratch. Most schools and educators will at some point have adopted someone else’s, lesson plan, activity, or policy.

This informality potentially leaves staff vulnerable in a number of ways. Others might adopt or use their work in ways they aren’t happy with, or they may not get proper credit for their work for example. Leicester City Council has providing formal permission as an employer for school staff to openly licence their educational resources in order to address some of the issues that might arise ahead of time. It sends a clear message that we are encouraging staff to share their openly licensed work, and enables schools to put in place local policies.

A fraction of what currently gets shared by schools is openly licensed. Open Licences build on the existing legal copyright framework to provide clear permissions for flexible uses of work – an open licence provides an opportunity to clearly signal how the work can be copied, shared and developed, and who should be given credit for the resource.

Along with the permission, we’ve produced a leadership briefing note giving more information, and provided two model school policies – one for the schools where the permission is in place (i.e. Leicester City Council has provided it, as employer) and one for schools where the governing body could put permission in place, through the adoption of a policy. In this way we are raising awareness of OER across all schools in the city, and hoping to encourage them in taking a similar approach.

Looking at OER in relation to schools policies and practices can promote organisational awareness and discussion of copyright, ownership, and accreditation – all important areas that staff can model good practice in for their learners. Online and digital resources are routinely made use of and created in all our schools. This increased use and creation of digital and web-based resources means that understanding the copyright rules and permissions that relate to the use of digital and online teaching and learning materials is very important. Digital resources are protected by copyright in the same way as other resources.

Permission to share educational resources through open licence represents an exciting opportunity for schools to take a fresh look at the original materials staff are producing, and how these can best be used to promote the school and build connections to other educators and organisations. I very much hope that other Local Authorities will look at Leicester City Council’s model, and make use of the resources we have created and shared to take the use and creation of OER forward.

All of the resources mentioned in this post are available under open licence and can be downloaded from: http://schools.leicester.gov.uk/ls/open-education/

The ‘Policy Pack‘ resources include Leicester City Council’s formal notification of permission for community and voluntary controlled schools, as well as model school policies and a briefing for schools on why the council has provided school employees with permission to openly licence their educational resources.

The briefing is also available here:

OER School Briefing (PDF)

OER School Briefing (Word)

The digital native question

NIACE debate 2014

Picture credit: Sarah Knight

 

NIACE, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (the UK’s lead organisation for lifelong learning) held its annual digital learning conference last week. I was very happy to be invited to contribute to the conference debate, ably chaired by Go On UK CEO Rachel Neaman.

Panellist were invited to put forward and argue for a key action to help “prepare learners for life, work and learning in the digital age”. My proposal was that we stop using the term ‘digital native’ to characterise young people (and by extension, the term ‘digital immigrant’ to describe not so young people). My notes are here:

The term ‘digital natives’ was coined by Marc Prensky in 2001. It’s the most popular of several terms that characterise young people as different from those born before the early-to-mid 1980s –and brought up in a society where mobile, gaming and internet based technologies have become pervasive. Prensky describes this group as fundamentally different from those born later – not just culturally but neurologically – his writing at this time suggests that engagement with (then) new technologies from an early age means that the brain development of digital natives is significantly different from previous generations. Digital natives have grown up with technologies, and are “used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work” (Prensky, 2001). Digital immigrants have difficulty in accessing new technological cultures and practices, and are characterised as learning “…like all immigrants, some better than others – to adapt to their environment,” But “…they always retain, to some degree, their “accent,” that is, their foot in the past” (Prensky, 2001).

This idea of a clear-cut, homogeneous generational divide has been disputed by researchers since at least 2006 – see for example, Digital Na(t)ives? Variation in Internet Skills and Uses among Members of the “Net Generation” (Hargittai, 2010); The Net Generation and Digital Natives (Jones & Shao, 2011); Beyond the Net Generation Debate: A Comparison of Digital Learners in Face-to-Face and Virtual Universities (Gros et al, 2012).

The immigrants/native dichotomy has however persisted in its popularity. ‘Digital native’ recently made it on to the shortlist for the Chambers Dictionary word of the year and the nostalgic spectre of digital immigrants is periodically raised again. I’d argue that this popularity in part is down to its easy adaptability into a blunt metaphor of difference. This populist use equates young people’s immersion and proximity to mobile, gaming and web-based technologies with knowledge, skills and confidence. Young people are ‘good’ at tech stuff, older people aren’t. ‘Tech stuff’ is a thing, rather than a diverse, overlapping and developing landscape of technologies, practices and environments.

Assumptions about young people’s familiarity with technologies risk exacerbating inequality. Access to devices and connectivity isn’t equal across all young people, and neither is support in developing skills – from peers, parent/carers, or schools, equally distributed. Socioeconomic status remains a key issue in relation to access, with a small but significant number of young people having very limited access.

While the majority of young people do have more routine access, it certainly doesn’t seem inevitable that these young people have innately developed the kinds of creative and critical skills that support active citizenship in digital environments. Ofcom’s 2014 Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitude Report reports improvements in young people’s understanding of search engine results, with just over half (52%) of 12-15s who use search engines now understanding that some of the sites returned will be truthful and some won’t be, compared to 45% in 2013. While the picture in terms of basic digital literacy is improving, it’s still a long way from the glossy wholesale assumptions called up by the idea of a ‘digital native’

Search engine understanding Ofcom 2014

We need to continue to challenge unhelpful assumptions and stereotypes about people based on when they happened to be born, and ask people what they mean when they use these terms. Native and immigrant assumptions obscure the actual picture for both younger and older people. We need to ensure learner of all ages have access to the  knowledge and skills necessary to make to most of technology in terms of educational, social and economic opportunities and challenges.

 

 

DigiLit Leicester Celebration Event

On Thursday 11 September, the DigiLit Leicester team hosted an event to showcase and celebrate the ambitious work carried out by the project team and participating schools over the last two years. The evening was a great opportunity for staff from schools and other organisations to be inspired by how Leicester BSF staff are making use of technology to enhance learning and school communities. The highlights video (above) captures some of the of impactful projects presented by Leicester school staff.

The evening began with an opening address from Cllr Vi Dempster (Assistant City Mayor for Children, Young People and Schools), and an introduction by Professor Richard Hall (DigiLit Leicester’s academic lead), which highlighted the importance of the two year project, which represents a new model for implementing digital literacy aimed at transforming the provision of secondary education across a city.

Following an overview of the 2014 Survey data, the team handed over to staff from a number of BSF ICT Innovation projects to showcase the innovative and effective ways that staff in Leicester schools have been using technology:

Bring Your Own Device Trial

Tony Tompkins – The City of Leicester College

Over the last year, The City of Leicester College have been carrying out the city’s first trial of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model in the city, with a Year 8 (aged 12-13) tutor group of 23 students. The scheme involved the students using iPad minis in lessons and at home – working with staff to investigate the ways in which the device could add value to the learning experience.

Tony led the project and carried out considerable work on developing a device management model for the school, details of which can be found in his project reports. The emphasis of device use within the school has been around students leading the innovation, with the support of their teachers.

Siyabonga

Laura Iredale – Hamilton Community College

The Siyabonga project saw Leicester students use video conferencing to collaborate with children in Lamontville, South Africa. On March 8 2013 both groups of students took part in a live concert, involving performances from both sets of students.

The project really allowed Hamilton students to be part of something bigger than themselves, to gain an awareness of the struggles of others less fortunate than themselves and to think outside of the Leicester box!

Gearing Up to Mobile Learning

Peter Guthrie – Sir Jonathan North Community College

Staff at Sir Jonathan North worked on a project using iPads as a staff development tool, in order to integrate mobile technology into classroom practice. The project also included the involvement of Year 7 (aged 11-12) and Year 9 (aged 13-14) student groups, which were established to support students in developing their independent learning skills alongside their use of ICT.

The project enabled the school to provide training on the use of iPads to all of their staff, and to support individual staff members in engaging with self-directed exploration of the devices.

Improving Digital Literacy Continuing Professional Development

Martin Corbishley – Babington Community College

Babington’s project aimed to raise awareness of the web-based tools and services available for supporting teaching and learning. Martin achieved this through the delivery of a set of 11 workshops for school staff, covering a range of topics including; using twitter to extend the classroom and making use of online collaboration tools.

Martin felt that the course had benefited both the school as a whole and those that took part in developing their digital literacy. It opened peoples’ eyes to what is available and how the internet can be used to enhance how technology is used to deliver lessons. The school will also see further benefit because the digital champions who took part, will continue to share ideas and resources with their faculties.

Member of Parliament’s 6

Sera Shortland – Hamilton Community College

The college’s MP6 Political Speaking Competition is an annual event open to all learners aged between 11 and 16 across the city. The school used the funding to develop a website which will host young people’s speeches, and provide information about the current year’s competition and links to resources for students and staff.

The innovation project itself was only the beginning of this new phase of work for Sera, providing the training and support necessary to set up the MP6 website and make best use of the project’s new iPads for video creation. The project will now move into a new phase of content development for the site, which will be led by the students.

iPads as Alternative and Augmentative Communication Devices

Helen Robinson and Heather Woods – Nether Hall School

The majority of students at Nether Hall School have difficulties with speech and language, many requiring Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices: systems which support individuals with speech impairments to communicate. The iPad project aimed to evaluate the use of iPads as a replacement for traditional AAC devices; using The Grid2 computer access software – thereby enabling greater access for their students.

The project has proven that a tablet device together with appropriate software, such as the iPad and Grid player app, can be an effective and affordable communication tool for pupils with communication challenges. The work has had a lasting effect on the pupils’ communication skills, showing that where pupils are empowered with this voice, they are motivated and engaged in learning. This goes on to build confidence and engender trust and respect between themselves and other pupils and adults.

iPad Orchestra

Ellen Croft – Ash Field Academy

The iPad Orchestra project focused on the use of musical apps and light systems to enable students with special educational needs to create a piece of music. The school worked with creative practitioners to design a scheme of work which culminated in a performance of the piece developed by the students. Explorations were also made into the use of visual representation of the music, to provide students with the opportunity to explore and create light sculptures.

The whole atmosphere around the project was that of celebration, achievement, fun and coolness. The creative practitioners were both supportive and challenging to the pupils, constantly pushing them to the next level. They managed to create something that the pupils could take ownership of and celebrate as their own achievement.

 

 

iPads as Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices

Using an iPad as a ACC device

 

Nether Hall School provides education for pupils with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. They’ve been working on a DigiLit Leicester innovation project, evaluating iPads as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC) devices, to support communication for learners with speech impairment. The majority of students at the school have difficulties with speech and language, and many use AAC devices to help them to communicate. The school identified several issues with commercially available ACC devices: bulky design and look; limited functionality (for example, only supporting a few words); and cost (with many priced between £4,500 and £14,000), which limits the number of devices the school is able to afford to provide.

Helen Robinson, Head of sixth Form, and Heather Woods, Communication Specialist, discuss the final report and reflect on the project:

Project Process

The project began with identification of the students who would participate in the trial and the software that would be used. Through discussions with the school speech and language team, The Grid was chosen as the most appropriate software for the project as  it was seen to have more facilities and, most crucially, linked to the school’s current systems, for example Eyegaze and Communicate: in Print. Sensory Software, the makers of The Grid, provided staff training and have provided additional support throughout the project.

Initially, the team had intended to create a standard grid for use with all learners throughout the project. However, it became clear early on that with the diverse needs of their learners, and the capabilities of the software, bespoke grids could (and would need) to be created for each child. The training provided to the school was key in enabling them to create personalised communication grids for each of the students involved in the trial.

Working with Students

The first stage was to introduce the device as a tool, with a grid that was appropriate to each individual pupil. Serious consideration, based on assessment and experience, was given to deciding whether to use True Object Based Icons (TOBI[1]), photographs or symbols for each student.

One to one teaching sessions with the Communications Support Coordinator (CSC) were given to demonstrate to the pupils that if they touched the photograph or symbol, they would receive the item they had requested. In this way, a relationship of trust was built around the use of the device. For some pupils, simply recognising that they could interact and take control of the proceedings was sufficient to motivate them to use the device for communication.

Once the iPad was established as a communication device, the grid was developed.  This was bespoke to each individual pupil:

On the simplest level, the photo began true to size and gradually became smaller and moved to a different part of the screen after selection meaning that the pupil had to be more accurate to request the item or activity. Next, an item that was known to be disliked was added.  This was to test whether the pupil was selecting an item or simply pointing and touching the screen randomly. If this item was selected, the pupil had to hold it and interact with it. The next step was to make the icon move after it had been touched, again to check that this was not random.  The pupil had to look at the icon and touch accurately to make their choice.

On a more complex level, photos were the starting point; in some cases these were photos of the class and staff. Pupils would then use the device to participate in registration activities. This led quickly to adding symbols for lessons. Alternatively, the standard grid on ‘The Grid 2’ was used and simplified to the level that worked with the individual pupil.

Project Report

Since the beginning of the trial, the school have seen significant benefits to their learners through the use of the iPad as an AAC device. Learners have made improvements not only in their communication skills, but also in terms of behaviour and their relationships with staff and family. As the project progressed, it was decided that funding would be used to bring in Karen Cameron and Sarah Younie, researchers from De Montfort University, to work with the school to support the research element of the project; specifically the writing of the project report.

Benefits

  • A device which can be tailored to an individual childs needs which can then grow and develop with the child.
  • Costs a fraction of other equal more expensive communication devices on the market.
  • Looks cool and appropriate for children, teenagers and young adults.
  • It’s high picture and sound quality reduces confusion compared to other communication devices.

Next Steps

  • To write use of iPads into the schools policy for devices as communication aids.
  • To train staff in supporting Pupils with AAC devices
  • To establish a Parents support group –  Promote wider  community  use of devices and bespoke for individuals home use.
  • Investigate bags for portability
  • Extend project to more students

Report

An Evaluation of the use of iPads as Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices (Word) (PDF)

Case Studies only (Word) (PDF)


[1] A T.O.B.I. can be a line drawing, scanned photograph, etc., which is cut out in the actual shape or outline of the item it represents.

 

Cross-posted from