At one with the kids (and the teachers): Education Leaders Summit, 24th November

Last Friday I was delighted to be one of the presenters at the Education Leaders Summit held at the Scottish Parliament.  This event was aimed at school Headteachers across Scotland to help share practice, ideas and challenges of implementing the National Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy.

There were a great range of speakers including Professor Judy Robertson, University of Edinburgh, Ian Fordham, Director of Education, Microsoft UK and me.  For me though,the most exciting speakers were not the keynotes (though they were good) but the teachers and the pupils whose work they shared.

GLOW, the Scottish Schools intranet, really seems to be coming into its own now and there was a huge amount of enthusiasm shared in particular for One Note and Sway.  The collaborative, accessible and personal aspects of both were demonstrated to great effect.  It was lovely to see pupils and teachers talking so enthusiastically and honestly about the “stuff” this, and an internet connection can provide.  There was also a powerful reminder of the struggles we still have to work on around the digital divide.

Paul Flemming is Headteacher at Kinneil Primary School in Bo-ness. His school is in one of the most deprived areas of the country.  I can’t even try to describe the challenges Paul and his team face. But it was inspiring to hear how they are using Facebook to successfully connect with some very hard to reach parents, how a few google cardboard virtual reality sets took the school to Africa, to the moon, how a group of pupils won a national Enid Blyton story competition.

These and other stories over the day were really heartening in that they should the power of digital technologies to make a difference in education. But that’s not to say there aren’t still huge challenges. In my (very interactive) presentation I asked what they main challenges delegates faced in using technology in the classroom – IT, wifi, infrastructure, staff confidence, council rules, doing “other stuff”, lack of skills and knowledge of what’s out there, accessibility, levels of motivation – were just a few of the responses.

I kept shutting who owns all the services/data monster out of my head too. Maybe because it was a Friday and maybe because  it was just so nice to see so many positive stories being shared. And, also to see hope in an emerging generation that they are digitally savvy enough to start asking the right questions that – as long as we don’t give it all away before then.

And once again I found mentimeter  a great tool for getting audience interaction – I think one or two schools might be using it this week! You can see the results of the questions I asked here and my slides are below.

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