(Guest post by Mark Reynolds, Schools Business Manager – South)

The partnership between Hampshire and Microsoft has developed over many years, but two major advances in the last 12 months have started to bring significant change and exciting possibilities to the county’s schools. They have also given us a new way to think about how Local Authorities support and enable great teaching and improve outcomes for children in Hampshire and beyond.

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We’ve written previously (in the School in a Box eBook) about how Hampshire have used a combination of Microsoft technology in their “Private Cloud” combined with Office365 to deliver the Hosted School Service (HSS). So having offered their schools an innovative way of delivering IT Infrastructure, how do they follow that through and ensure that innovation is also happening in the classroom? I’ve been speaking to Andy Martin (IT Manager for HCC Children, Schools and Partnerships) about their new eLearn eTeach programme, to find out:

“Technology has revolutionised the classroom for both teachers and learners. The challenge is no longer “What do you know?” but “Do you understand and can you use what you know?”. Technology is exciting and has the power to motivate and engage learners and to provide access to a whole world of knowledge, experience and opportunities within the classroom. Microsoft is a key partner of ours in promoting the vision of eLearn eTeach. The centre not only provides Microsoft accredited training but industry experts will give sessions on using Microsoft software and products in the classroom.”

 

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Hampshire’s vision for eLearn eTeach is to help schools to help teachers and learners by:

  • networking with other professionals and sharing good practice
  • keeping up to date with curriculum and technological developments
  • understanding how technology can be used as an effective tool for learning
  • investigating how current and developing technologies used outside the classroom can operate within a formal learning environment
  • gaining transferable skills that can be used to support all areas of learning now and in the future.

One of the six priorities in Hampshire’s Children and Young People’s Plan is to: “Provide opportunities to learn that raise children and young people’s aspirations, encourage excellence and enable them to enjoy and achieve beyond their expectations.”. But for teachers it can be a challenge to capitalise on the increasing technological expertise of their learners. They have to be able to keep-up, but also where possible to get ahead – so they can introduce new and engaging technology which their students may not have access to at home. So how are Hampshire dealing with the challenge of teacher CPD?

“eLearn eTeach offers flexible professional development with access to the latest interactive teaching technology. In addition, teachers and students have the opportunity to learn together through personally designed programmes at The eLearn eTeach Centre, in their own institution or online. This flexible approach is further promoted by ten flightcases of equipment that can be delivered to sites, along with associated training.”

In addition to delivering face-to-face training courses and the use of “kits” which schools can hire, Microsoft is also helping Hampshire explore the possibilities of Distance Learning using Lync. The Open University has already used Lync to great effect, highlighting the ability for teachers in Hampshire to learn new technology and attend a “classroom” environment, without having to travel to the eLearn eTeach centre every time.

There are 8 “sides” to eLearn eTeach. Andy gave me some more information on those 8 sides and how they can help schools develop their use of technology:

Data to inform

Getting the best out of the data in your school, turning it into useful information available to the right people at the right time. This is where an advanced knowledge of Capita SIMS is vital (built on Microsoft SQL server) combined with better use of the simple “business intelligence” features in Microsoft Excel.

Hands on Technology

Schools can hire technology-packed flightcases which let them let try new hardware before they buy. And we’re inviting technology suppliers to come to Hampshire and run workshops for school staff at our venues.

Digital literacy

It’s essential to use technology to locate, organise, evaluate, analyse and communicate information effectively. We will help people learn effective methods of teaching to promote ICT skills and capability in learners. We’re running courses on Microsoft Office, eSafety, Web 2.0, and Control Technology in the classroom.

Computer studies

Computer Studies at GCSE has become a highly valued subject that promotes higher order thinking skills. Our experts will help schools understand the concepts that sit behind Computer Studies, learn essential computing and coding, and identify effective methods of teaching students to become the next generation of software developers.

Sharing expertise

Great learning uses the experience of others and develops it further. We want to create opportunities to find real life examples of good practice, to talk with colleagues, and benefit from resources that have been shared by others for use elsewhere.

The cutting edge

It can be difficult to navigate through the endless changes in technology and apply them to learning. Partners (including Microsoft!) will meet our delegates and share the latest technology with them, showing what it does and how it can be used in learning and teaching.

Curriculum development

Looking at developments in the ICT curriculum, examing models of planning and assessment and considering how these could be implemented in school.

Further education

With the leaving age due to increase and the changes in the ICT curriculum, level 2 courses are going to be taught post-16 more often. Our courses will support schools with these developments, both with software and in understanding the delivery of the specifications.

Microsoft is very proud to be involved in such an exciting partnership and I think Hampshire are an excellent example of how Local Authorities can “buck the trend” and operate innovative sustainable business models in the current political climate. I asked Andy Martin to sum up what their work on both the IT Infrastructure and CPD for schools would mean to the young people of Hampshire:

“We have two main ambitions for all of our school services: to improve the outcomes for children and schools through embedding excellent practice in the every day, and to help teachers and other professionals gain confidence in using appropriate technology to provide interesting, challenging and relevant learning experiences. If we can help professionals to network either on-line or face-to-face and share a wealth of expertise and experience this will help greatly towards these goals. As much as anything, it’s about connecting people through technology to high quality teaching and learning experiences. Where we have expertise, we want to be able to permeate this through all of Hampshire’s schools to help all the children and families in Hampshire. Essentially this is what eLearn eTeach is about.”

For more information on eLearn eTeach visit www.hants.gov.uk/elearneteach