Microsoft’s UK education team has launched a major online resource featuring extensive video and text resources to support the transformation of learning in primary and secondary schools. Designed for use by everyone involved in schools, from learners and teachers right up to government ministers, The Innovative Schools Case Studies focus on four UK schools: Bowring Community Sports College, Knowsley, Shireland Collegiate Academy, Sandwell, New Line Learning Academies, Kent, and Broadclyst Community Primary School, Devon. They are expected to be used for Building Schools for the Future and the Primary Capital Programme, and will be shared and promoted at th BETT 2009 educational technology show at Olympia, London.
Ray Fleming, Microsoft's UK education marketing manager, says "The project was about building examples of good practice, to get at the deep experience not the superficial experience, to dig below to the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. It’s about curriculum, pedagogy and physical spaces underpinned by enabling technology and solid learning outcomes.”
The site is full of examples of best practice. For example, in the video above, Bowring staff, governors and students talk about the "massive impact" on learning and parental involvement created by the "laptops for students" project. Bowring even has a 24-hour telephone hotline.
The new Microsoft site features extended case studies, helpfully recorded as video interviews and presentations, all in accessible bite-sized chunks which can be played live, streaming across the internet or downloaded for use elsewhere. They are presented in a web-page matrix of icons which are arranged in nine subject chapters horizontally across the four schools: Introduction; Change Management; Student Experience; Learning Outcomes; Parental Experience; School Administration; Local Government View; Use of ICT; Where Next.
There are also extensive text materials, including case studies written by the excellent Gerald Haigh, well-known for his work with the Guardian, The TES and the National College for School Leadership (http://future.ncsl.org.uk). Others include “Envisioning” and “Business Value” Guides with input from Professor Joe Peppard, professor of information systems who runs the Cranfield IT Leadership Programme at Cranfield University, an Evidence White Paper on ICT’s role in improving learning outcomes by Dr Elizabeth Hartnell-Young, of the University of Nottingham's Learning Sciences Research Institute, and a Technology Guide from, as you would expect, and the only promotion of MS technology, Microsoft Consulting Services.
Ray Fleming says that one of the spurs to create the reports came from a McKinsey report for the Government which revealed a significant gap between schools successfully using ICT for change and those that are struggling. One of the aims is to inspire schools facing challenges and demonstrate that the keys for change lie in learning and teaching rather than in the technology itself which is an important enabler.
The challenge for Microsoft is to spread the messages it has extracted in a variety of media. Ray Fleming feels that the most effective way will be if the information travels from the bottom or middle rather than top-down. That's why Microsoft has provided a "back pack" for visitors to take away the "chapters" they find useful. For example they could download the video chapters on Change Management across all four schools. He says that schools could even download all 2 Gigabytes of video materials for use when and where needed.
You can see what Ray Fleming means in the video clip above in which deputy headteacher Jonathan Bishop is joined by a Broadclyst governor and parent to explain how outcomes have improved because of the school’s vision which is to meet the specific needs of their children - supported by technology - for a personalised curriculum. Material of this kind can be shared in a variety of contexts for BSF work “The secret to success is success," says Jonathan Bishop, "and unless children feel successful they often become frustrated and demotivated.” ICT access has made the biggest difference he adds. "Outcomes have been a real raise in expectations and achievement."
Microsoft's Innovative schools Case Studies
UK Innovative Teachers scheme
The new Microsoft web materials will be featured at the BETT 2009 educational technology event at Olympia, London.
Bowring Community Sports College, Knowsley
Shireland Collegiate Academy, Sandwell
New Line Learning Academies, Kent
Broadclyst Community Primary School, Devon