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Case study 1 – Planning, piloting, and implementing technology use

In this video, hear from secondary school leaders about their journey with education technologies and the benefits their school has experienced.
I think looking back over our experience and our journey with technology, we’ve always thought technology was really important and we’ve always had it as a priority, but it’s now for us about a strategy and it’s about whole school improvement so it doesn’t sit aside as a bolt-on or it doesn’t sit as a, you know, add-in to a lesson, just to tick a box. It’s now very much about creating a culture and an ethos for the school and that takes time and it takes planning and investment at all levels but particularly from a senior level to make sure that it sits on that school improvement priority with a specific role.
It’s not just about us leading from the top down, it’s about also learning from the students so our digital leaders would be a great example, where we know, you know, the speed at which technology is moving on is something for a shared responsibility and our students are absolutely ambassadors for that, so we learn a lot from them and we also appreciate where technology is continuing to move forwards and it is about, with all school improvement, it’s about being ahead of the game and being able to see what the future means for technology in schools. I would say your first step is obviously to stop and look and reflect, you know, like any strategy, where are we at, at the minute?
What technology are we using in school? Is it effective? And be brave about that, don’t feel, particularly when sometimes technology can cost a lot of money, just because it’s cost a lot of money doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right thing for you and your school. So stop and reflect on what’s currently happening but do that at all levels, you know, ask your students, ask your teachers, ask your parents, then set your objectives - what is it that you want to achieve from using technology in your school and be really clear about that and don’t feel that that’s going to be achieved within the first half term or the first term.
It takes time but a well thought-out and well planned strategy around achieving your objectives is really, really crucial. Seek support and advice from other schools and establishments, what does the research say? And then bespoke it to your school so that you’re confident in the pilot process, that it’s going to have a good effect. And in an actual fact for us the pilot is the most important part.
We feel it builds the confidence in the teachers, it builds the confidence in all stakeholders to ensure that this is the thing we want to focus on but where can we learn and where can we develop it before it becomes that big culture, that big ethos and I think we’ve got proof from examples of our Chromebook project where that small project for a whole year; we saw the impact, we saw the progress and then we were able to launch it to the whole school and it didn’t come as a big surprise because it was being spoken about, people in the staff room during the pilot would be talking about it.
You know, there were teething problems but not the teething problems we anticipated which is interesting so without that pilot we wouldn’t have picked up on certain aspects where we didn’t envisage there to be some teething problems, but it does make sure that when you do then distribute this to your staff, you can talk about the issues that you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them to ensure that when you do launch it into the whole school that it’s ready to go and it’s fit for purpose. A phrase that gets used a lot at Denbigh is measured innovation. It’s certainly taken Denbigh, sort of, five, six years to get to the point that we’re at now.
But that journey, that process has been so valuable because it’s meant we’ve been able to sort of stop and evaluate it every step of the way, which has been great. Starting in year one, very much it was a case of being realistic about what the network, for example, could and couldn’t do, so we had this one year plan which involved the CPD, which also involved the retiring of equipment that was no longer fit for purpose and we also introduced some things that didn’t cost any money as well, so for example one of the things that we’d identified was that in order to help raise pupil aspirations, it would be really, really good to get more links with businesses and particularly sort of technology businesses so we ran the first year of the Apps for Good programme which had no charge to the school and which was an absolutely amazing pupil programme, which allowed pupils to engage with big businesses, to actually speak face to face via Google Hangouts with industry experts and was a really exciting new development in the school that we hadn’t we hadn’t done before.
We also started to make use of the access that pupils had at home to mobile devices so we started setting online homework, we started introducing the use of things like Google Classroom, we started making it the norm that when we talked about anytime, anywhere access to learning, pupils were actually able to do that and were able to make use of the the access that they had at home. So you have to be realistic about what’s achievable and you have to take those those little steps one at a time and you can obviously…
you can make your plan bigger and broader as you then go into year two, year three, year four, year five but you need to be very realistic with what you set as your goals for that first year and it should always be based around what you are trying to achieve, not what equipment you want to be using, are you keeping pace with the school down the road or a school elsewhere in the country? It should be about what do you want to be doing in school that you cannot do at the moment. To the students, I think it’s really brought them up to speed with technology in today’s society.
I think we better prepared them for their journey in school but their journey onwards after school. They are digitally prepared. Some of the feedback with some of our technology projects is around the confidence so students being more confident, not necessarily with the technology but with their own learning because of the technology and having that platform, like I say, as a tool. It’s not replacing other things that we use within teaching and learning within the school, it’s about enhancing what we already have. I think the big thing with staff is about again that shared awareness in terms of pilots but also about professional development.
You have to invest in the training and development for your staff at every single level and utilising your young staff that are up to speed with all the digital forums but also making sure that it is an expectation and again, coming back to it being part of school improvement and not a standalone bolt-on.
And I think our staff here are now absolutely on board and they’ve done an exceptional job, not just to be engaged with it but to embrace it and to move the technology on in their own classroom and in their own areas of the school and in actual fact they’re now coming to us with new ideas of how they’re, for example, you know, embracing the the G suite and using it to good effect in the classroom.
My personal journey has been a rapid journey in terms of embracing and engaging with technology and I’m really pleased with where I am at personally but also how I’m leading technology within the school and I think it’s important actually at all levels to role model that because if we’re not engaging and, you know, embracing that technology the expectation won’t be there for others but I’m really pleased with where we’re at. You know, as a leadership team we now come to meetings without lots of paper which saves money, which is great but it’s also, we’re working smarter and more effectively because of our use of technology so I’m really pleased with where we’re at with that.

In this video, we hear from Emma Darcy and Donna Neely-Hayes at Denbigh High School, part of Chiltern Learning Trust, about their journey with education technologies and the benefits their school has experienced.

Key learning points from this case study

  • Investment had previously been made in technology and network staff but the school didn’t feel they were experiencing the impact of this investment
  • Speaking to leaders, teachers and pupils to understand present technology use as well as identifying the key strategic priorities for the school was the essential starting point for the school’s new strategy
  • Measured innovation has been their approach to the use of education technologies so that new approaches could be piloted and evaluated fully

You can view the school’s approach to the use of education technologies in the UNESCO case study linked below.

Once you’ve reflected on the points raised, click the ‘Mark as complete’ button below and then select ‘Case study 2’ to explore the next case study.
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Leadership of Education Technology in Schools

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