Every year in the lead up to the BETT exhibition, we traditionally to share a number of guest posts contributed by valued members of our partner network. This year is no different, and we’re pleased to be able to kick our BETT 2016 partner content off with another post from Learning Possibilities Ltd.
In the closing months of 2015 we ran a series of guest blogs from Learning Possibilities, looking at the new LP+365 platform, and here we have a post from Denise Phillips, Maths & Computing Logical Thinking Lead at Townhill Junior School, Southampton, and looks at her experiences with LP+365 from Microsoft Education Partner Learning Possibilities Ltd.
You can find Learning Possibilities in at BETT 2016 in the Microsoft Partner Village.
I approached Learning Possibilities when I heard they were looking for a school to pilot their new LMS (learning management system) with Microsoft, and thought it would be the perfect setting in which I would be able to introduce my students to Office 365 tools in a centralised and engaging space. They would be able to build on their digital literacy as well as other transferable skills.
As an LMS that is easy for students to access from anywhere with an internet connection, I knew that this was something that could potentially help in building communication and learning between school and home. The other aspect of LP+365 that I liked was the fact that it’s set up on market leading software, the type of technology that students would be using in secondary school, as well as further education and/or employment. Anything that enables students to take a sense of ownership towards their learning, and lifelong learning in this way, has to be a positive tool to introduce them to.
When it came to the pilot, I wanted to focus usage on a tool that would help towards other objectives at school. We’re always working towards improving on and building on literacy skills, and with this in mind I decided to go with the blogging functionality. The students would develop their writing skills in a collaborative environment and an area where they would have a sense of an audience to their work.
I wouldn’t necessarily have recognised that the blogging tool was available to us in our school’s Office 365 tenancy, but the fact that LP+365 centralises everything in a clear and colourful dashboard means it’s difficult not to recognise the valuable toolsets on offer.
We began the lesson by revising and agreeing on rules for conduct of bloggers, and for those commenting as I also wanted my students to develop a deeper understanding for digital literacy, plagiarism, and being respectful to others when sharing ideas.
When it came to actually using the platform I was pleasantly surprised that no formal instruction was needed on how to navigate it, or even to create an actual post. Once a couple of children had caught grasp of the functionalities on the platform, they were actually taking initiative to support their peers. This isn’t something I had thought would happen, as to date we’ve not used technology in the classroom substantially. Though this is definitely something we are looking to change, especially now we’ve seen how well our children can take to it.
The peer led learning continued throughout the lesson, as the group discussed and supported each other with the structures of their sentences and paragraphs to make up engaging blog posts, as well as inserting images, formatting text and so forth. Apart from the ease of use, one thing that was made clear to me within the lesson was that my students were keen to use the platform and the tools on offer.
Some of the feedback they gave included:
“Can I log on again at lunch time and add some more?”
“Can I show…How to login and add a post to the blog?”
“Can I get this on my phone?”
“Can I have my login and then use it at home? I can show my Mum then!”
“I might do my homework if I got it this way!”
“I usually hate writing, but this actually makes me like writing – don’t tell my teacher though!”
…refreshing comments from a Year 6 group who were using LP+365 for the first time.
I found the lesson very straight-forward to run and overall – a success! Children wanted to write, to share, to engage and reflect on what others had written. They wanted to make sure that their writing was good, because it was being made ‘public’, and other children would be able to comment on it. The lesson, although set up by me was driven by them. I am very excited for the next term, in which we’ll be continuing to develop the use of LP+365 within the classroom. Watch this space.