Five things artworkGerald Haigh's regular column on leadership issues and information and communications technology (ICT) this week looks at:

Using technology to monitor behaviour; saving money with ICT; 'Next-Gen' skills report; Serco's Progresso stirs the MIS pot; keeping up with the blogs and tweets.






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Be ready for the consequences of monitoring behaviour

Using ICT to record a stream of relatively minor incidents at classroom level uncovers trends and provides evidence.  It will also, though, reveal some teachers to be better class managers than others -- so they may fear that they, too,  are being monitored.

As a result, leadership’s usually advised to back down from an approach that’s too ‘top down’, instead encouraging a collaborative and supportive ethos, where teachers non-judgmentally share ideas and techniques. It needs careful handling, though.

“It’s been a big issue for us,” according to one teacher I spoke to. “I’m not sure we’ve got it right yet.”

Behaviour tracking is included in the main MIS products and there are independent products such as Sleuth,  Tasc Software’s PARS and IsisBehave that claim ease of use and more detailed analysis.


Five things artwork 2Stay focused on how ICT can save money for the whole school

Ray Fleming’s e-book “Saving Money with ICT”, which he finished just before departing Microsoft UK for Oz at Christmas, is still a valuable source.

I keep finding further examples, though. The Microsoft FE Blog now includes a story from Brockenhurst College where they’ve saved £73,000 over four years through the adoption of live@edu for their email. And another FE college – Highbury in Portsmouth – has driven down costs to the tune of  £13,990 a year simply by making sure they use to the full the software that comes with their Microsoft Campus Agreement. It’s mainly a matter of making sure a discounted – or free – product is used wherever possible rather than a more expensive alternative. That may seem obvious, but experience shows it takes time and determined IT management.


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Serco ups the MIS competition with Progresso

Keep an eye on Serco’s new cloud-based MIS, Progresso. It’s been on the development stocks for a long time – presumably there’s determination not to let it out into the big bad world until it clearly meets all needs.

The current position is that 25 ‘pioneer’ schools are being supported through an implementation process that will see them going live with “Progresso” during the coming school year. The schools represent all education sectors, and all are users of Serco’s current “Facility” MIS. I’m in touch with some of the teachers and network managers and though their schools are all different, they’re all fair minded, questioning, very determined not to lose what they have already, and highly aware of the work they’ll have to do with their own staff and leaders. I’m looking forward now to seeing the first ones go live.
Progresso features on the MS schools blog


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ICT skills for the economy? Check out the ‘NextGen’ skills report

Usually referred to as “The Livingstone-Hope Report”, after its authors, it was published by Nesta earlier this year. It’s important, and hasn’t had the attention it deserves outside the core audience.

Commissioned by the last government, the 88-page report points out that the UK video games and visual effects sectors, massively important to the national economy, depend heavily on recruiting creative people with skills that aren’t sufficiently taught or valued in school. Essentially, says the report, the industry cries out for combinations of computer programming and art, while schools are teaching office skills.  There’s real food for thought here, in the context of the current debates on curriculum and qualifications. The report is a free download at:


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Keep up to date with blogs and tweets

There are some helpful and knowledgeable bloggers out there, and for my money the way to meet them is on Twitter. That’s how I found Simon Haughton, ICT manager at Parkfield Primary School in Rochdale, who publishes one of the most useful and readable ICT blogs you’ll ever see. It’s primary orientated, but any teacher up to and beyond degree level will learn something from it.

I first came across Simon when I was researching music and ICT earlier this year. Needless to say he had useful things to say, but then Simon has valuable, always creative ideas about everything to do with ICT in primary, and most of what he thinks and does is there on the blog.

Not only that, he’s astonishingly well connected, so his blog is alive with links to the work and ideas of others.  So if you’re sitting there pondering a classroom ICT issue, I’d put money on Simon having the answer. He’s particularly good and thoughtful on early years, a sector which some people genuinely feel should be ICT-free.

Gerald is proud to host Gerald Haigh’s ‘Five Things to Think About’ column which 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.

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Artwork by Maia Terry

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