Edmodo: Guiding development of PLNs

It may not be immediately topical, but its about time that I report on it, more for the benefit of our children. On Wednesday 30th January, three of our Junior 4 (year 6) pupils presented at the Digital Leaders “kidsmeet” at the BETT show. It is with great thanks to the team from the Digital Leaders Network for setting up the opportunity for 10 schools to bring some of their digital leaders to the show to share their learning and experiences. We were very excited about joining such an innovative moment in ICT in primary schools and very privileged, as an independent school, to collaborate with other inspiring children and teachers.

Our main focus was the use we have been making of Edmodo as our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). There has been much written about VLEs in schools, the tools and their efficacy. A 2007 briefing paper from JISC, is a good start. However, our use of Google Apps for Education and its integration with Edmodo, has lead us to start questioning how we might enable the children to understand and start to build a Personal Learning Environment or Network (PLE, PLN). And this is where it is getting interesting: Since a PLN is “personal”, just how much influence ought we have over the nature of the network that the children are building?

Edmodo enables the building and sharing of a library, curating discovered knowledge and making links with others near and far. Therefore, children, once familiar with the tool, can demonstrate learning, respond to teachers and others and have their progress assessed through the grading system and the awarding of badges. This is the VLE in action. Beyond this is the network of people, tools and applications that provide learning opportunities which make up the PLN and the suite of Google Apps available to the children offer an introduction to some these, e.g. google docs, YouTube, images, etc.

The next step is to engage the children in telling us what they feel they need in a PLN at their age and stage in school, what tools they find useful and how valuable such an approach is. We are looking forward to sharing or findings and would welcome the opportunity to undertake some shared learning with other schools looking to develop PLNs and the use of Edmodo. Please do get in touch.

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‘Dump f***ing everyone’: A cautionary tale

the inside story of how Michael Gove’s vicious attack dogs are terrorising the DfE – Education News – The Independent.

If the report in this story is even remotely true, then how is this “command and control” culture going to impact on the leadership culture in our schools?  For so long the approach to leadership in schools has been nurtured and encouraged towards more collaborative, enlightened processes.  Successful schools exemplify a strong sense of purpose, rigour, challenge and support but retain a moral and ethical standard for relationships with others within the school community.

Here are some points made by OfSTED in their annual report 2011/12 on schools rated ‘outstanding’ for leadership and management.

  • All leaders and managers, including those responsible for governance, are highly ambitious for the pupils and lead by example.
  • Staff model professional standards in all of their work and demonstrate high levels of respect and courtesy for pupils and others

The National College, in their document 10 Strong Claims About Successful School Leadership, point to the following:

  • The headteacher is the main source of leadership in a school and plays the lead role in promoting change for improvement
  • Schools that achieve and sustain improvement in pupils’ academic performance and wellbeing are led by headteachers who have strong ethical values and moral purpose
  • Trust and trustworthiness among staff, pupils and the community are key elements in the progressive distribution of leadership

We can only hope that the behaviour of those in ‘power’ is not considered an example for others to follow and that we remain mindful of the fateful statement on the pedestal at the feet of Ozymandias in Shelly’s poem:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains.  Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

 

The Heart of Education for Social Responsibility

Aside

As I have written about previously, our world is changing rapidly and the world our children will inherit will be significantly and unpredictably different. Our responsibility, as parents and educators, is in preparing for these challenges.

Working with fellow heads in the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), we now recognise that there are 5 components to equipping our children for the rapidly changing world they will face beyond their time in formal education.

  • An understanding of rights
  • A recognition of responsibility
  • A sound knowledge of their world and our history
  • A sense of well-being and self-esteem
  • A possession of the intelligent behaviours necessary to empathise, be creative, resilient and resourceful

In the 20 years that I have been working in education, and as we are all very much aware, trends come, trends go and we always appear to be in some state of flux or revision or even U-turn! However these 5 points provide a point of entry for schools, their leaders and stakeholders, to discuss what constitutes an effective Education for Social Responsibility (ESR). From these discussions, across our schools, however it is decided to be addressed, each community will, I hope, take a long, hard look at how we are readying our children and establishing the most appropriate values, behaviours, knowledge and skills.

Some moments from this week at school

tidy school
Children always surprise me.  On Monday in Assembly I announced that there would be an opportunity for children to volunteer to pick up litter around school and generally look to keep the place tidy and organised.  It started with about a dozen names on Tuesday morning and by today, as you can see, it has grown immeasurably   So much so that I have to now leave the organisation with the school council!  The enthusiasm is exceptional and we are assured of plenty of help!  The school will never have looked so tidy!

You may have picked up some news about our children’s involvement at the BETT show earlier this week.  Jack, Maddie and Millie created a presentation on their use of a virtual learning environment Edmodo.  The video below and the presentation (see link) are all their own work.  You will need to turn the sound up on the video!  The aim of this and the other presentations by children from 10 different schools is to promote the role of Digital Leaders in schools.  DLs are students who can use their skills to help others and share their understanding of ICT in learning.  It is an entirely new concept in enabling children and is something we are pursuing with all of the upper Juniors – and one or two lower Juniors too.  The children, naturally, were a credit to the school and we are very proud of the courage and skill they have demonstrated.

Finally, another first as we attempted our live radio broadcast using an online and iPhone app called Mixlr.  Juliet, James and Mia were our first broadcasters and Miss Martin kindly stepped in as a guest to be interviewed.  Due to what can only be described as technical difficulties we only got 3 minutes or so, but we will return next Friday at 12.30pm!  Here is the first clip and, amongst other items, you can look forward to a live piano recital by Grace W in next week’s show.