In the last post I included a couple of videos to the blog using an embed code from YouTube, the site synonymous with a web 2.0 world. One other site I regularly use for embedding resources is Slideshare, the document presentation sharing site. How many people are using this service? I only use it as an easy way to pull the presentations through on my blog but never really thought about how many people go directly to the site to see presentations. The 10 Power Points I have uploaded on Slideshare in the last year have actually been viewed over 2,300 times in the last 6 months. With this in mind I thought I would give you the top 10 most viewed PowerPoints I have uploaded:
Although the Windows 7 PowerPoints are at the bottom of the list they would actually be the top 5 in terms of views per day. The fact that failure in user adoption is number 1 but only went up in July is perhaps telling of the state of Learning Platforms in the UK.
Well it seems a long time ago but it is actually only 72 hours since the first European SharePoint Best Practices Conference kicked off in London. The three days were very intensive with 63 possible sessions to visit and our decision to send 4 colleagues was fully justified with so many inputs available. Looking back at day 1 we arrived for the Keynote with Mr SharePoint, Joel Oleson, running the opening session. Joel presented an overview of the 10 factors you should consider when deploying SharePoint in your environment. For our team at Twynham this was really encouraging to see that most of what we have done aligns with the views of the SharePoint Community.
Joel has kindly made his Keynote deck available from Slideshare and I have added it below with permission. It is well worth working through and most of it will make sense without the input we received from Joel. Below are my thoughts on what instantly made sense to us and aligns with what we have already done.
What made sense- Top 3 things we have already done.
- Adoption is what counts. For our SharePoint setup we have always believed that the most important measure of success will be user adoption. This drives everything and at the end of the day if your SharePoint is not being used it is likely to have failed. How did we achieve this? Perhaps one motto sums up our philosophy at Twynham- Content is King. Whilst this is an over simplified statement, in education too may people spend endless hours discussing and searching for VLEs. If you build rich and varied content into your Learning Platform which makes the end users experience richer they will use it. This leads nicely into point 2 which is…
- Keep it Simple Stupid. Most of the discussion I see in education focuses on ‘The Magic Bullet’ with online learning and so many people avoid the easy gains that can be made with a learning platform by waiting for the killer app (VLE with SCORM compliant resources) which has shown little sign of appearing. This fits in with a third ot Joel’s 10 top tips which resonated with us- Build a Service not Install Software. A classic example of how we have done this is The Revision Gateway which was envisaged as a ‘One stop shop’ for all your revision needs.
- Get a Passionate Executive Sponsor. This was something we only realised we had done when seeing Joel’s deck but it instantly made sense. I have spent most of the last 3 months talking about how we engaged end-users with SharePoint but looking back none of this would be possible without the engagement of our Headteacher and to some extent the whole Leadership Team. They provide the financial resource and allow the time, input and focus in the school which ensures our SharePoint deployment is successful. It is no surprise that our number one point on the School Development Plan is the Learning Gateway- we have full Executive buy-in and it is essential for success.
Tomorrow I will cover the three key messages we took away from the keynote which we feel we need to work on to develop our SharePoint deployment further. My 3 colleagues who came along to the conference are busy polishing their more technical posts which will appear from Saturday onwards for a week so look out for them.
Filed under: Online Learning, SharePoint, Twynham School
Over the last two days we have been talking about producing online content to support and engage students. Having produced a working GCSE Revision Gateway and spent time talking with 30+ students about design was this enough to ensure success? At this stage we needed to identify if students were using the sites we set up and what they thought about them. One of the best ways to find out what students think about absolutely anything is to set up a SharePoint Survey. In SharePoint 2007 there is a great survey function which we use extensively to get feedback from staff and students at Twynham School. I will not spend any time going through how you make a survey as this has been done elsewhere. As a reference take a look at the brilliant blog piece by S.S. Ahmed here which gives an excellent step by step of the process. Microsoft also produce a guide here which is really useful.
What I want to focus on here is what we wanted to find out and what our students told us? We focused on 6 areas as follows:
- Internet and broadband access
- Computer access (shared or own, desktop or laptop)
- Usage and navigation
- Preference of Gateways over Public Drives (being used at the time)
- What other things would the like to add to the sites?
- What would prevent them using the Revision Gateway?
Here is a slide deck I used with staff to show them the results of the survey.
From the survey (in case you don’t want to read the slide deck!) we found out that almost all our students had broadband and access to a computer. Many had their own laptop (the stats now are even higher- one of the biggest purchases for a student starting their GCSEs). Navigation was simple and easy and students wanted their own area for revision resources. As a result we are now implementing ‘My Site’ as an online portfolio.
We have run a number of surveys with students and found them an exceptional tool in moving beyond those students who are already engaged and feeding back to us and reaching the quieter or more reluctant students. As a school we wanted to end study leave and ask the students to come into school during their final exams to keep studying with their teachers. Another example of the results from a student survey is shown below.
Filed under: Online Learning, SharePoint, Twynham School
Yesterday I spoke about our first venture into designing an online learning environment for our students (see here). Having spoken to our students at length we decided creating a feature rich web 2.0 environment was beyond us as a first project. More importantly our students were not demanding this- so what did they want? A second round of student voice interviews identified some key themes. Students often disliked school based sites with each subject laid out differently, making it difficult to navigate. They wanted a functional site with everything laid out in the same place on each subject site. For our students revision was something they wanted to be productive and useful and the online learning site needed to reflect this. Below is long scroll of one of our sites- The History GCSE Revision site.
We originally set out with only 7 areas on each of the sites which were decided by our students. These were:
- Student Notices
- Key websites (links- students insisted we restrict to 5 only)
- Syllabus Guide (use their languaue- What you need to revise)
- Exam Technique Guide (all the students own ideas- student friendly language)
- Revision Resources
- Video and Audio links
- Past Papers and Model Answers
note- over time we reduced the restriction on staff so the site above has evolved with additional areas but the initial restrictions were essential to success.
The key to all of this development was not the technology- it was talking to the students about design (and by design I mean structure and organisation!). When we showed students the result above they were delighted and in their own terms saw it as ‘a one stop shop to support their revision’. I sometimes talk about this development and find teachers who say ‘your students are well behaved and want to learn’ and this is then followed up by ‘it wouldnt engage our students- they want games!’. Last summer we started supporting a school in very challenging circumstances and as a quick start measure we gave them our Revision Gateway. What was interesting was their students use of the Revision Gateway was actually higher than ours! The key to engaging learners is not always how much interactive technology we provide it is far more important to think about the pedagogy contained within the resources and listening to students so that we understand their needs.
Filed under: Learning Gateways, Online Learning, SharePoint, Twynham School
Back in March 2007 we started developing SharePoint beyond our use with staff at Twynham School in order to support students in their preparation for GCSEs. Students had a ‘Student Gateway’ page before this which was used for notices and key information but at this time we had not ventured into providing significant content. How did we go about engaging students back in 2007 when web 2.0 was an emerging term (in our world)? With our 2 year anniversary nearly here our work has enjoyed significant success with 50% of students using or online resources on a recent snow day without direction.
When we started to think about making content available our first question was ‘how do students use the internet?’ We did our research then and I have repeated this today which shows the same trends but with new ideas emerging.
- Teenagers spend 31 hours online a week- Top 3 activities are messenger (50% of teens are using MSN messenger in the UK at last count), You Tube (instead of TV) and then homework.
- Teenagers main driving influence online are music and gaming.
- Teenagers are increasingly moving away from email as a form of communication.
This information left us daunted as we considered how we might compete (or at least co-exist) with the influences on a teenager’s social life. Our next decision was perhaps the most important in engaging teenagers- we decided not to compete or be compared with a teenagers web 2.0 world until we had the right resources available. The key to this decision was student voice and in particular interviews we ran with students. They told us that they didnt want or need us to replicate their web 2.0 world and school should be functional and not attempt to be cool. Most importantly we found a need that the internet did not fulfill- a clean and simple one stop shop to help students revise efficiently and effectively for all their GCSE exams. BBC bitesize and other sites are simply too generic, trying to cover all topics and exam boards.
What was really revealing is they way students approached the internet. One student gave this example saying, ‘Google is great but I spent 3 hours searching for a good Maths GCSE revision site and couldnt find one. There was just to many options’. What became clear is teenagers are not as good at searching the net as we think and evidence suggests they are less succesful than adults. Talking to students at length showed us that they wanted high quality resources, produced by their teachers (who they trusted) in an simple and easy to use interface. The result of all this preparation and talking to students was our Revision Gateway. Were we succesful? Within one month of building a site we had 70,000 visits from the 240 students in year 11. Below is an image of our Revision Gateway homepage and tomorrow I will explain how we built this relevant online learning resource for our teenagers which has gained such high user adoption.