Sunday, March 8

Supporting the Shift

Part of my role within School Support Services, Waikato, is to assist other advisers to integrate e-learning into classroom activities by supporting them to model the effective selection and the use of ICT to meet students’ needs. This role would have lots of similarities with a person in a school charged with e-learning responsibilities.
I must admit sometimes the barriers in getting everyone ‘on-board’ feel too great and the need for greater support from management at a systems level seems the only way forward.
I see this report Six ways to make Web 2.0 Work, and the education lens applied to it by Derek Wenmoth as a great focus for dialogue with management.

Although no real surprises , school leaders might find that this report provides some useful leverage for reflection and dialogue.

What would you consider are your organisations strengths and weaknesses in terms of the factors identified below? How might these ideas assist us?

Thanks Derek for your fantastic post about this report and for your useful paraphrasing of its contents for education.

From Derek’s blog:
“My paraphrase of this advice for our school leaders is as follows…
1. The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top. - the evidence shows that the leaders in our schools must lead by example - if they want staff and students to use these tools, then they must be users of them also! Bottom-up initiatives will only scale and become embedded with the support of those who can ensure that the appropriate support systems are in place, and that the systemic barriers (eg firewalls, network access, spam filters etc) are dealt to at a policy and implementation level.
2. The best uses come from users - but they require help to scale. - rather than try to dictate how ICTs should be used in your school, watch for what the early adopters are doing with them select the things that are working well and give them the support to ’scale up’.
3. What’s in the workflow is what gets used. - stop treating Web2.0 tools as an ‘add-on’, or ‘nice-to-try’ part of what is happening in your school - bring them into the mainstream! Start using a wiki to record minutes at a staff meeting and a place to further the discussion after the meeting finishes. Use online video and slideshow tools to encourage the sharing of completed assignments etc.
4. Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs - not just their wallets. We all respond well to receiving recognition for a job well done, or for the innovative things we do etc. Make sure you encourage the innovators and early adoptors, not with empty words, but with encouragement that demonstrates you recognise the value of what they are doing. Encourage them to attend conferences - not just to listen, but to present. Profile them at staff meetings, or parent evenings etc.
5. The right solution comes from the right participants. Be strategic in who you target to become users of ICT solutions. If the group has an authentic reason for using the technology then it has more chance of succeeding (eg blogs for records of learning in junior school, wikis for student collaborative projects further up)!
6. Balance the top-down and self-management of risk. Fear is a great deterrant to change and innovation. There is risk associated with the deployment of Web2.0 applications - and the response to that needs to be something that everyone on the staff takes responsibility for. Principals should work with staff to establish reasonable policies, such as prohibiting anonymous posting on blogs for example. Ownership and responsibility for ensuring these policies are adhered to must be a two-way effort. Students and parents must also be included in the loop here, as they will also need to continue with these behaviours at home and out of school hours.

1 comment:

Craig McDonald said...

I think a lot of the development happens at a peer-peer level. I learn a lot from sticking my nose in the classes next door and seeing what is happening there. Perhaps this is where the 'bottom-up' aspect of it fits in, and the ICT decision makers in the school, as well as offering expertise and support need to be listening to these conversations. Not always easy, but my school does a pretty good job of it. Our ICT head always encourages us to get past the bells and whistles to the real learning objectives the technology is trying to achieve. Taking the bottom-up and focusing it in the most effective way. I think this is the way forward for schools.