Gerald Haigh's regular column on leadership issues and information and communications technology (ICT) this week looks at:
One of the toughest lessons – HIV/AIDS; Academies need advice – or pay; Schools switching on to unified comms; Why pay for tech that kids already have? BYOD; Big History – our place in the universe.
HIV360 – a good way in to a tough subject for schools
An estimated 34 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide, one in ten of them children. If you’re interested in keeping your students up to speed with global issues, then you can’t ignore HIV/Aids.
And if you’re wondering how to tackle it in class, a good starting point is HIV360, a project currently running on the online learning community site Rafi.ki. There are lots of resources, and opportunities for interactive work, with the opportunity to have students’ work shown in international exhibitions and published in material sent to governments around the world.
Rafi.ki has resources on many global issues around health, poverty and exploitation. In July 2010 we highlighted their resources on ‘Blood Diamonds’. Expect more soon on HIV360 too.
HIV360 on Facebook
Academies giving scam artists new leases of life?
Remain alert about your leasing deals. In December 2010 we published ‘Licensed to print money - the school rip-off artists’, with stories about unwary schools lumbered with huge and increasing payments on ageing photocopiers.
As you’d expect, far from going away, the scams are getting cleverer and moving to other equipment. Compounding the problem is that schools becoming academies can lose contact with good advice, and lack the experience to go it alone.
Earlier this year, BESA Director General Dominic Savage wrote to schools following a BBC report about a ‘schools kit scam’, that highlighted a scheme involving ‘free’ laptops that masked a very dodgy leasing contract.
Dominic’s points can be summarised as:
If it looks too good to be true then it surely is;.
Work with reputable national companies, recognised within education and who are BESA members;
Take advice from a recognised procurement expert.
The missing Lync for schools' unified communications?
Take a close look at Microsoft Lync, the unified communications technology which is going to be free for schools with the ‘A2’ version of Office 365. ‘Lync’ has been proving itself in universities – providing telephony, desktop sharing, video conferencing. It’s showing itself to be a very cost-effective way of replacing an ageing PBX system for example. Now schools are starting to become aware of Lync. Shortly, there’ll be short case study of Lync at Benenden School on the Microsoft Schools Blog, and now Alan Richards of West Hatch School has a post on his blog about his plans for Lync 2010.
'Bring your own device' recognition growing – at last
I’m sure that as we go through the summer and on towards BETT 2013, one of the hot topics is going to be ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD). On financial grounds alone, with budgets as they are, schools can’t ignore the thousands of pounds' worth of kit that students bring into school every day. So I’m gathering as much information as I can about schools that are already embracing BYOD.
The general feeling about BYOD is that the technology is not the issue. It’s all about management and reassurance – and the more sharing of ideas and experience the better.
Dominic Tester's blog post
Where does Big History start? The Big Bang of course
How do you make history appealing to children? There’s always the Terry Deary Horrible Histories route of course. But for real excitement I’d go for the Big History project.
It’s actually a course – free, online and in class – for secondary schools that describes itself like this: "Big history covers 13.7 billion years of shared history, from the Big Bang to modernity. Unlike more narrowly focused courses, big history seeks out common themes and patterns spanning vast time scales, helping us better understand people, civilisations and the world we live in."
Ambitious or what? Run by Professor David Christian, it’s certainly seized the imagination of teachers across the world who are currently involved in piloting the course. It also captured the enthusiasm of Bill Gates who is funding the project through bgC3 (Bill Gates Catalyst 3). And as Ollie Bray explains on his blog, Scottish schools are poised to join the worldwide pilot and be there at the cutting edge. If you want a quick heads up, look at this short video
David Christian at Ted Talks
Gerald Haigh’s ‘Five Things to Think About’ column first appeared in The Times Educational Supplement and then online on the National College’s Future website. Its adoption has been made possible by support from Microsoft UK’s education team led by Tim Bush.
Artwork by Maia Terry