You probably know that the UK Education team have a number of different blogs (I’ll share a bit more detail later, but the list includes blogs for teachers, universities, colleges, live@edu users, and Chris Poole, our BSF Business Manager is taking his first tentative steps on his new “Where is School?” blog).

The Teachers blog, which is written by Kristen & Stuart (Sounds like the beginning of a good joke “An American, a Welshman and an Englishman start a blog…”) is written specifically for classroom teachers, which means it has a different focus to this blog – where the audience is mainly non-teaching staff who are responsible for running the ICT systems in schools, or taking strategy decisions on school or local authority education ICT systems.

Sometimes there are things that are relevant for more than one blog, but there’s normally a different perspective. Take this post from Kristen on the Teachers’ blog:

FirstquotesMaking your life a little easier - the Innovative Teachers Network Web part

We have been talking to schools and teachers all over England, Scotland and Wales about the Innovative Teachers Network. We've been recruiting new members and working with teachers and partners to start new communities and post new content that we hope will be useful to all of you when you're teaching with technology.

One of the things we've been reminded of during our conversations with teachers is just how little free time you have. We both knew this, of course, having been teachers. But when you're in a job where you can go to the loo whenever you want and on most days have more than 10 minutes to cram down your lunch, it's easy to forget some of the restrictions you face as a teacher every day.

We also know that many of you are required to log on to your school or authority's virtual learning environment each morning, and that you seldom go to any sites other than that during the day. (For those of you in Scotland, this will soon be GLOW, if it isn't already.) You may be restricted as to which sites you can search on the Internet while at school, thus limiting your search for lesson plans or learning activities you can use with your students. (Of course, this is assuming that you actually have time while at school to do any planning for future lessons...)ITNWebPart

Taking all of this into account, we've created a Web part of the Innovative Teachers Network itself, which can fit into  any SharePoint-based virtual learning environment. This enables you to log in to the ITN and search for resources, communities or professional development without leaving your VLE. (Here's what it will look like in your VLE.)

This Web part is available FREE, of course, and it can be downloaded from our partner Hunterstone's site HERE. You're going to have to contact your IT director or other person in charge of IT to make this happen, but Hunterstone has very kindly agreed to support them in this installation if they run in to any problems.

We hope this will make it easier for you to access the resources, communities, discussions and other teachers on the ITN that we talk about all the time. Let us know if your school or authority decides to use it.

NOTE: If you show this to your IT director and they are unable to download the Web part from Hunterstone's web site for whatever reason, we can send it to you on a memory stick. Please have them contact Stuart or Kristen directly to request this.Endquotes

This blog post is obviously entirely relevant to you too – because it is a way that you can help all of your teachers in your school. If you’re running a Learning Gateway in your school, then this web part can help your teachers to easily lay their hands on more teaching resources.

The difference between the Teachers blog and this one is that Kristen says (in red above) “go and see your IT people to get this done” (ie bottom up) whereas I think if you’re reading this you’re the one who can do something now to help all of your colleagues (ie top down)

So here’s three things you can do to help your teaching colleagues:

  • Take a look at the Innovative Teachers Network, and share it with your colleagues
  • Add the web part to your Learning Gateway
  • Tell your colleagues about the Teachers blog, as there’s useful things popping up there regularly for classroom teachers