New term, New Learning and New Devices

Originally posted on Microsoft UK Teachers Blog.

clip_image001A guest blog post from James Stuttard. who brilliantly describes the start of their 1:1 journey at Spratton Hall School , Northampton

In the spring of 2012 I was sat in a heads of department meeting in the Library. Surrounded by books and the 20 aged computers, the future of the Teaching and Learning at our school was being debated. Ideas were thrashed around, concepts and acronyms shouted across the floor and the discussion was getting jolly exciting! Every idea that was proposed faced a problem; at peak times, we did not have enough computer rooms to satisfy demand. It was clear, however we changed Learning at Spratton, we needed to massively increase our IT provision.

We weren’t comfortable with the idea of BOYD, and the school's governors didn't like the idea of leasing devices to the pupils. The proliferation of low cost, but powerful Windows 8 devices made it slightly cheaper to give a tablet to each child in a number of year groups then it would cost us to replace our 3 IT Suites. Microsoft's offering, the trifactor of a Store with modern apps, the compatibility with our existing equipment and management tools we were used to, was a compelling choice for us.

Staff needed to be using the same platform as the pupils, and they need more time to adapt to the tools that the pupils picked up in minutes.

We bought all teachers a powerful Windows 8 Tablet, and signed the school up to Office 365. We then embarked on an extensive training program with teaching staff, where we broke them into small groups that met each week for 40 minutes. The thing we kept emphasizing within the training is how modern tools like the amazing OneNote app can be used to support learning and how to cope with 20 devices in a classroom.

Teachers, well some took to it immediately and some needed more time. We established a small list of suggested tools to complete different tasks, and focused on them with the most nervous.

This summer we have bought 100 Toshiba Encore devices for the first group of pupils to use. The school's Digital Leaders helped pick it out, they liked how fast Kodu ran on it, the Head Teacher loved the price and I loved the support we got from Toshiba and Microsoft - 6 free days of training from Tablet Academy!

You cannot give each child a device and have Office covered under your normal EES Licensing, it is for shared computers only. Thankfully, there is something called Student Advantage and it is simply a brilliant solution. Working with our reseller, NS Optimum we were their first customer to take up Student Advantage as a free license option on our EES renewal and it couldn't have been easier to do.

Setting up Student Advantage took 4 minutes to sort out.

Once NS Optimum added Student Advantage to our EES, all we had to do is add the license key to Office 365. Then it's like applying a license to any user. It was so quick I thought I had made a mistake. Student Advantage even lets us use the fabulous Microsoft Office iOS app with the handful of ipads we use in some parts of the school.

It won't change everything just yet

This is a project that is seriously long term, it is going to take time for our Teachers and Pupils to get used to using tablet devices in their lessons, we are going to continue the regular staff training, and our digital leaders are going to be even more important in supporting our work.

Click here if If you want to know more about Student Advantage

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