Things move quickly at Flint High School.
The school plans to implement itslearning school-wide by September, just four months after activating the platform, says Russ Davies, the school´s curriculum coordinatorof design and technology. “The process is really moving fast,” says Russ, who is also a teacher at the school in Flint, Wales. “The learning platform looks brilliant, very clear. It should be very useful.”
Flint became the first school in Wales to use itslearning when it signed a one-year contract in June.
Head Teacher impressed with platform
The school started considering the platform when Head Teacher Pamela McClean saw a former student using it in January. McClean was impressed with what she saw. Her school needed a new platform because their open-source platform was underwhelming.
“A lot of people thought the old platform was too complex, and too awkward for simple tasks,” says Russ about the school´s experience with the former platform. “A big bulk of our students was frustrated with it.”
Things went quickly after the school chose itslearning. An itslearning trainer visited Flint High School in June, followed by activation and implementation.
Teachers impressed with itslearning
The school recently filled out its hierarchy structure in itslearning, which adds students into the platform by grouping them into years and courses. Russ also created dashboards for some courses and teachers are now posting course-related news and learning resources.
Russ says Flint teachers are impressed with itslearning.
“The feedback has been really positive,” he says. “The teachers like the look of it and they like the idea of the dashboard. The enthusiasm to take it forward is definitely there.”
Students love the personal learning space
Eager to see how students respond to itslearning, Russ ran an itslearning pilot project with his food technology students. His students, who are 15 and 16 year-olds in Years 10 and 11, had a few questions about the platform, but they did not run into any obstacles.
“The students were not hitting those hurdles, they were just ploughing through,” Russ says. “They loved to get their own personal area on the learning platform. Everything was a lot more clear and graphical. They loved the colours. They are ready to get stuck into it.”
Students reported that they appreciated being able to add comments when uploading an assignment. This allows them to update their teacher on their progress in real-time. They also liked being able to upload numerous files into one place.
“They really seemed to like the interface – that it was colourful and clean,” Russ says. “They certainly welcomed the chance to move on to something new and different. itslearning will just make the whole process a little bit easier and a little bit more fun.”
Flint teachers already populating courses with content
Hylton Cornish, an itslearning education and training consultant who led the staff training sessions at Flint, says flint teachers are eager to learn how to use the platform. “By the end of my first training session, all staff had made personal courses and were already creating digital teaching content to use with their students,” Hylton says.
Another teacher told Hylton she went home and created content for her course late into the night after the first day of training. “The staff were really enthusiastic and positive,” says Hylton. “Hopefully, this is the start of a very long lasting working relationship between Flint and itslearning. We hope this will be the first school of many in Wales.”
All coursework on itslearning
Russ plans to make all of his coursework available online in time for school start in September. He will then use the platform for submitting assignments and facilitating group discussions.
He also plans to use itslearning´s audio recording function when giving feedback on student assignments. With just a few easy clicks, he can embed audio or video recordings when communicating with students. “A lot of feedback and assessment will take place out of class time,” Russ says.
Platform will cut school costs and facilitate student planning, teacher says
itslearning enables teachers to present and organise information digitally, but Russ also views the learning platform as a tool for students to set and achieve goals. The teachers plan to make good use of itslearning´s individual learning plan (ILP), a simple tool that gives teachers an overview of each student’s learning.
Students can add comments to the ILP to show how they are progressing towards their goals, and teachers and parents can add information, tips and encouragement to help them stay on track. Russ anticipates that the platform will also help the school cut costs, because making student and teacher resources digital will reduce the need for photocopying.
About Flint High School
The school, which is located in Flint, Wales, has 750 students in years 7 to 13. It has four feeder primary schools. Flint High School offers the Welsh Baccalaureate, a recently introduced pre-university qualification in Wales. Flint signed a one-year contract with itslearning in June 2012.
Tue, March 25, 2014
by Leslie Ahern