As part of sharing fantastic examples of how IT is being used in schools, we have decided to highlight schools or individuals that are using IT in unique and exceptional ways.
We have decided to dub these schools or individuals our “Technology Heroes”. Hopefully, by sharing these success stories, this will give other schools great ideas to take away and implement in their own school.
So, on to our very first of our Technology Heroes!
We have seen some fantastic use of IT in schools throughout Hampshire and Dorset so there were a number of schools we could have chosen. The reason we chose this particular school is that technology is used at the heart of the school and goes beyond the curriculum to bring together pupils, staff, parents and the wider community. This school is The Oaks CE Learning Federation.
A bit of background on The Oaks CE Learning Federation. This is a Federation of three infant schools located in the beautiful New Forest in Hampshire. These are; Copythorne CE Infant School, Netley Marsh CE Infant School and St Michael & All Angels CE Infant School. They are successful schools for a number of reasons, including that the schools work together as a team and encourage an environment of collaboration. Or as they put it “our three schools are able to share expertise and resources and are therefore able to achieve more together than any one school can individually.”
Here are some of the ways that the Oaks CE Learning Federation have embraced technology:
Using YouTube to raise money for refugee children across the globe
Technology has enabled us to have a truly connected world where we can reach others, regardless of location.
The Oaks Federation contributed to the ‘A Million Voices’ charity by recording and creating a video of the song ‘A Million Voices.’ This has been posted on YouTube and on the ‘A Million Voices’ website, raising money through YouTube sponsorship fees, public donations and donations via the Justgiving site.
This has helped raise money for charities including: TearFund, Save the Children, UNHCR and International Refugee Trust who work in refugee camps ensuring that there is sufficient food and water for refugee children throughout the world.
Keeping parents entertained and informed with class blogs
Blogging is not exactly a new technology but its popularity is continually on the increase. This is a fantastic tool for teachers and pupils to publish news and stories and to document the pupils ongoing learning. Each class at the Oaks has their own blog full of colourful pictures and videos showing exactly what the pupils are up to.
These are frequently updated with current posts. The blogs have a given parents a fascinating insight into what their children have been busy doing throughout the day. An opportunity that they would not have had without the technology being available. As a parent myself, the chance to see pics and videos of the exciting lessons – whether this is creating an erupting volcano or seeing the latest chicks hatching – is a great privilege.
This has also encouraged a dialog between the schools and the parents. Parents will often read and comment on the latest class news, getting them fully involved in their children’s learning.
Check out the excellent Blog from the Swallows Class Blog at Copythorne as a perfect example.
Moving seamlessly between schools and working together using technology
As already mentioned, the Oaks CE Federation consists of three schools located in the New Forest. When we took over supporting the IT for the school, they were very keen to find ways that the schools could use technology to allow the schools to collaborate. At this time, each school had a server, each running a completely separate IT system.
We saw an opportunity to join all three schools together under a single domain which would allow users to log in at any of the three schools using the same account. File shares are replicated seamlessly between sites meaning that users can access their files, no matter which school they log in at.
The school has embraced this opportunity to work together whenever possible. Staff such as the executive head, Tina Daniel, move across the three schools on a weekly basis and she can now access the same familiar system regardless of location. This flexibility also extends to the pupils as well. The schools regularly plan days out where the pupils can visit the other schools in the Federation and are able to log in and use the IT systems seamlessly. If you are interested on the technology used to links the schools together, check out the Oaks CE Learning Federation Case Study for more details.
Encouraging the journalists of tomorrow with social media
We have been very impressed by how the schools of The Oaks CE Federation have embraced social media. In a similar way to how their class blogs allowed the schools to communicate with the parents, The Oaks have taken this one step further by using social media to interact with the community and beyond.
Each school and the head all have their own twitter accounts, which are frequently updated with informative, entertaining and often very amusing content. See below for an example:
Rather than just posting content and leaving it at that, the schools actively use Twitter to strengthen relationships with local schools. Useful information, ideas and success stories are shared between local schools by liking, retweeting and commenting on each other’s feeds. The idea being that when schools work together, everyone benefits.
As always, pupils are encouraged to contribute fully, which each Twitter account full of images and videos of them at work and play.
Using WhatsApp to communicate quickly between staff
The WhatsApp instant messaging phone app probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of using technology in schools. But this is another example of how the Oaks CE Federation are using technology to work for them.
More traditional forms of digital communication such as email are fine but are more formal and suited to official correspondence. When a quick message needs to be distributed to staff – whether this is notice of an imminent Ofsted inspection or a school closure – using WhatsApp is a much faster way of getting it out there. The big advantage of the app is that separate groups can be created such as school, federation, leadership team, ICT team and so forth. This encourages idea sharing between staff, and makes everyone feel part of the team. The other advantage is that all communication is securely protected by end-to-end encryption which eliminates any eSafety concerns.
So, here are just some of the ways that the Oaks CE Learning are using technology. How your school is using technology? Get in touch as we would love to hear from you!