Innovative Teachers …. The new A-Team !

I recently attended a great gathering of teachers at the the E-Learning Conference in imageJersey (and got to see the Red Arrows performing at the Island’s Battle of Britain celebrations, which was very cool). I think the conference challenged and certainly enthused us all; I've provided links to some of my favorite presentations here:

  •  Joe Dale, a teacher from the Isle of Wight spoke about how to successfully use Podcasting in the classroom

  • the highly entertaining Russell Prue, who had loads of great ideas for the creative use of technology in the schools

  •  Microsoft's own award winning Ray Fleming talked about ‘Shift' happening in schools

  • DK from MediaSnackers spoke about how to successfully use social networks and YouTube in schools,

DK also told me about this great presentation on creativity in schools (or the lack thereof) by Sir Ken Robinson; if you have not seen this TED talk, you must, check it out here.

I ran a workshop at the conference about the Innovative Teachers Network, during which teachers voiced their frustration that they can't use many of the most interesting web-based classroom ideas they had seen at the conference. This is not due to a lack of resources or technology, but is simply because, a result of a directive from the Local Authority, the web sites they need are not accessible through their school networks. When I was teaching I experienced a similar situation, with the directive coming from the Minister of Education in Wales.

I understand the issues around safety and appropriate use of web technologies, but I am beginning to hear more and more people say that students enter school and ‘power down’, meaning that they can’t use the technology and associated skills they have mastered outside school to support their learning. Do any of you have the same frustration? Have you managed to overcome these issues?

One thing I have learnt is that whatever the issue we have with technology, a teacher or school somewhere has solved the problem. This is where the Innovative Teachers Network can prove invaluable. Clare Satchwell, a history teacher from the Priory City of Lincoln Academy has recorded in a Virtual Classroom Tour (VCT) how her school have managed to use MSN Messenger to support learning - something that other schools don't often allow. Clare’s VCT, which she presented at the European Innovative Teachers Forum in Zagreb as an award winner from the UK, describes her idea as simple, but the issues they have managed to solve are complex. Clare’s VCT describes how students use MSN Messenger to contact their teachers to support their learning at home. It is a great idea and is having a measurable impact on exam results.

You can download Clare’s VCT from the Innovative Teachers Network. Joining the Network is free and will give you access to even more resources and communities. So in the words of the 80s TV programme The A-Team, ‘If you have a problem and no one else can help, then you need the [Innovative Teachers Network]. I love it when a plan comes together’.

Please feel free to contribute any other A-Team quotes -- or any innovative ways you use technology to support learning -- and share them as a Virtual Classroom tour on the Innovative Teacher Network site.

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