Friday, May 06, 2011

ADE Inspirational Stories

Abdul Choham

The future is not what it used to be...

ESSA Academy had a very poor reputation and was on the verge of being closed down. Most of the pupils come from very poor areas - some of the most deprived areas in the country.

A new Principal was appointed and had the approach that "All will succeed". He wanted all pupils to leave with at least five good passes and that they would be prepared for the future. A number of changes we made. one was, they would move away from being a school where children are batch processed according to date of manufacture. Wanted to move from school to learner. Education is not "done to" the pupils but "done with". They wanted to move from organisation to response.

One of the first things they did was get an iPod Touch for every pupil. At first this was viewed with suspicion. People thought they were trying to bribe children into attending. One of the key things they did was engage with parents. They showed them what the devices could actually do. This had a major impact in the community.

There were things he expected and things he didn't. He was not prepared for the Creativity that the devices generated. He was thinking about the networking problems and the support infrastructure. The pupils took them and used them creatively from the off. For example Business Studies students trading on eBay and making a profit. Another boy, who couldn't speak English created flashcards on the iPod by searching Google in his native tongue for images, e.g. image for toilet, for dinner time, for pen... The pictures aloud him to communicate with the teachers and to learn the English for the pictures he found. Other children saw what he was doing and started doing the same thing with their language. The school subscribed to GCSE podcasts which were well used by students.

Staff did not all take to it so easily but are using it for admin (e.g. accessing Student Information Management systems) as well as teaching. In a sense, not doing anything they couldn't do with laptop/desktop but the ease of access, the always on nature, means that they can get straight to the required function without any fuss.

Even the ease of email means that pupils not only asked questions or raised problems but might just send a "Thank you".

They ditched their VLE and used the email, Edmodo (for bulletin boards), Dropbox to share documents and AirPlay to share video.

The costs are thought to be about 18p per day per student. Savings were made on folders, printing, paper. For example before iPod Touch - over 1,000,000 pieces of paper were printed. In the first year of iPods, this was halved. Huge increase in attainment. Now 99% got five Grades A*-C.

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