Category: Guest Bloggers

Shetland Islands Council Q&A

Education Scotland’s DigiLearn team are always happy to provide their digital expertise and support to practitioners. In October 2020 the team took part in Shetland Islands Council’s two in-service days for practitioners, which for the first time were held on-line.  The DigiLearn team provided a wide range of sessions for staff on everything from digital pedagogy skills to unleashing creativity using digital tools.  In this Q&A Jacqueline Casey, Workforce Development Advisor at the time, and James Johnston, Quality Improvement Officer, from Shetland Islands Council, and Tracy Langley, Operational Lead For Remote Teaching for Shetland and Depute e-Sgoil, discuss the sessions.

 

Why are in-service days important for your staff?

 

The October In-service days are two dedicated days per year that are focussed on professional learning for our staff, therefore ensuring a varied yet appropriate programme for them each year is vital.  Usually our programme is planned and compiled based on the wants, needs and feedback from our frontline staff and management and also any national themes and focus at the time.  The opportunity for professional learning is very important for staff development and practice, and also contributes to staff being able to positively influence the lives and experiences of the children and young people they work with in Shetland.

 

  • This was the first time Shetland’s in-service Day has been held on-line. How did you find this compared to previous years?

 

At the start of COVID-19 we had started our planning, including contacting external trainers from across Britain on the premise that they would be physically visiting us in October.  So when we went into lockdown and realised eventually that it wasn’t going to be a short term thing, a quick decision had to be made as to if and how we were going to be able to deliver the programme.  It was decided that we would push on to try to organise a fully virtual programme, thinking that it would be far smaller than our usual offering.  We also decided on four themes to try to make things a bit more focussed – Health and Wellbeing (for pupils and staff), Digital Skills, Literacy and Numeracy.  These themes were decided both based on national themes but also on a reflection of what the year had been like for our staff, and where priorities had needed to shift so rapidly in response to COVID-19.

 

The actual programme itself went really well, and the feedback we got from our follow up survey was really positive.  We were delighted that we could provide such a large and varied programme and of course that the technology all worked on the day!

 

  • What topics were you looking for Education Scotland’s DigiLearn team to cover as part of the in-service days?

 

We have worked with Education Scotland for digital input for a few years now, and in conjunction with our Digital Skills Lead here in Shetland, to contribute to and build on our Digital Strategy.  So we were really happy to be guided by the digital team for our in-service programme – particularly where we were aware that remote teaching and learning had rocketed to the front focus of how teachers and pupils were now living and working.  We wanted this theme to be about the delivery of blended teaching and learning, but also about making the best use of the technology available to our staff.  Therefore the courses that Susan and her colleagues delivered were:

  • Flipped Learning to Support Blended / Mixed Delivery Model
  • Digital Tools for Assessment & Feedback
  • Digital Pedagogy Skills
  • Using Digital Tools to Capture, Create and Share Outdoor Learning Experiences
  • Unleashing Creativity Using Digital Tools

 

  • Why did you think these topics in particular would be of interest to practitioners?

The themes of literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing and digital are present in each year of the October In-Service programme but are usually supplemented by a broad range of other professional learning opportunities.  Central Officers, in conjunction with workforce development colleagues took the decision to narrow the focus in 2020 across these core areas in respect of the following considerations:

Manageability – in terms of the online nature of the programme and practitioners skills and knowledge to access learning from remote locations

Alignment – ensuring professional learning supported our strategic priorities with regards to recovery and renewal and reflected our local authority messaging around minimising the number of school improvement priorities

Relevance – understanding the needs of staff and learners and providing a meaningful and motivating programme to meet these needs

Capacity – giving consideration to teachers’ and practitioners’ own ability to consume and implement new learning in the context of the pandemic

Readiness – supporting staff to be confident in delivering within their school’s approach to blended and/or remote learning

The digital skills aspect of the programme stood out by itself but also supported innovation and creativity relevant to the other three areas.

  • How do you think practitioners will use the information provided in these sessions?

 

The October In-Service creates an opportunity to collectively ‘pause and upskill’ but is just one aspect of a cyclical, year round offer of high quality professional learning opportunities.  Teachers will use the learning in a number of ways depending on where they are at in their learning journey but broadly speaking the digital approach to professional learning is driving more engagement and collaboration:

 

Engagement Building on the success of approaches to remote learning in term four of 2020, sharing coursework and homework on digital platformsand engaging with pupils and parents in a more digitally agile way.  Monitoring learner engagement and participation and identifying where more support is required.

 

Collaboration – using digital platforms to collaborate at many levels.  For example, withinschools, across departments andlocal authorities as well as engagement at RIC level and participation in national conversations, regional improvement collaboratives and nationally.  The ability to share knowledge and practice with colleagues and gather insight and information from national partners has been strengthened.

 

  • Looking to the future – what digital topics do you think will be useful for your practitioners to learn about?

 

Practitioners will need time to embed new skills and ways of working and so the pace of change needs to be managed effectively.  It is important to create the right conditions to ensure that people feel confident, competent and supported in working in a digitally agile way.  We have paused the development of a digital and teaching strategy in order to understand and evaluate this period of rapid change and, given the period of significant change within the digital learning and teaching landscapesince March 2020 , revisit some of the consultation questions which were shaping the strategy prior to lockdown.  This will ensure we are moving in the right direction, investing our resources and time in the right way and building a digital education workforce where nobody is left behind.  In the meantime, for the remainder of this school year, we will take advantage of the range of professional learning opportunities to support our current position and listen to what our teachers need next.

Going forward digital skills training for the use of the Glow platform and Teams, SharePoint, PowerPoint, One Note Class Notebook and the Promethean interactive panels are to be made our standard offering. Our digital skills support package is updated throughout the year to direct all staff to these online courses which they can do at a time that suits them best. One off sessions delivered by Ian Stuart at Microsoft and the Education Scotland team can also be offered as and when needed throughout the year. These can complement each other and also allow for staff to revisit online courses andtutorials if needed.

 

Local authorities – if you would like advice or support from Education Scotland’s DigiLearn team please contact – Kirsty McFaul via email at Kirsty.McFaul@educationscotland.gov.scot

Aberdeenshire EAL Header

Aberdeenshire English as an Additional Language (EAL) Service

aberdeen council logoIn Aberdeenshire, our EAL teachers have been working to find the best ways to support bilingual learners and their families throughout the pandemic, as well as class teachers. If adapting to the challenges of the pandemic and online learning were not hard enough, many children and families have also faced the language barrier, as well as perhaps not being familiar with the Scottish Curriculum and routines and norms that may be taken for granted as something all children and families will think of as normal. Over the last year, our EAL teachers have embraced new ways of working and have developed a range of resources and approaches. Telephone interpreting used to be very rarely used but has now seen demand skyrocket with a lot of positive feedback on its effectiveness in breaking down the language barrier and building relationships between school and family. On several occasions schools have been able to speak to parents who they had not previously managed to reach, and as a result have managed to overcome some barriers that had prevented families from accessing online learning. EAL teachers have also been supporting bilingual learners by sharing advice and resources with class teachers, and also working with some pupils through video conferencing, including teaching SQA ESOL courses. The service has also produced translated comments and videos to support families who may be having difficulty in engaging with online learning.

 

 

Translated comments

A range of translated comments were develo­­­­­­ped to support home-school communication and have been used to communicate one way information to families, with comments being successfully used to overcome barriers to engagement:

 

“Aberdeenshire EAL Service covers a wide geographical area with a number of rural remote communities where our families can be distributed and which can pose communication challenges, particularly when schools are closed to most pupils during this time. One of my larger small town schools, that has a wide catchment area, have a family who were not responding to school information circulars and letters home. I sent the school the translated comments information which included a translation and the school came back and said they found it very useful and were discussing whether to send the translations out to other EAL families across the school.”

Sue Clutterbuck (EAL Teacher)

 

Translated Text Graphic

Telephone interpreting

Translated letters have also been developed to communicate to parents when the school would like to make a call and offer options that the parent can highlight for when they would be available. This has resulted in several calls with parents being arranged when the school had previously found it difficult to reach the parents.

 

“I supported a teacher in one of my schools in using the telephone interpreting service for the first time. By using the translated letters we had produced, parents were able to tell her when they would be free and she was able to call them and speak to them for the first time through an interpreter.”

Ian Brownlee (PT of EAL)

 

Our service has been strongly encouraging schools to use telephone interpreting and in general the feedback has been great (see examples of feedback in the picture below).

 

Telephone Interpreting Graphic

 

Translated Videos

We also worked in partnership with Aberdeenshire’s Learning Through Technology Team to develop translated videos that guide pupils/parents on how to log in to glow and how to use Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms. The videos were produced in the top five most common languages in Aberdeenshire and have been successfully used to support some families in overcoming barriers to accessing and engaging with online learning:

“They used the link, watched the video and it worked! Bingo. ️”

Sarah Jane Bennison (EAL Teacher)

“I sent the video on how to connect to google classrooms to 2 of the P1 teachers from one of my schools, I made sure they had a direct access to the video, so they didn’t have to look around for it. They sent the video to the parents of P1 pupils with little English, who had not been engaged and 1 child the following day was online and the other child the week after.”

Amanda Blackburn (EAL Teacher)

Colleagues in other local authorities have also  given positive feedback on the videos:

“Of course, we have also been signposting homes to the brilliant videos on the use of ICT/GLOW/Teams on the Aberdeenshire site!”

“I’ve watched the translated glow videos your service have made – they are amazing! Would you mind if I shared that link with some of our schools?; the teams one and logging into glow are so valuable right now.”

 

Translated Video Screen Shot

 

 

Some aspects of online learning and supporting pupils remotely have of course been challenging and we are continuing to try to find ways to support bilingual learners, their families and teachers through the continually evolving circumstances. However the above examples have been successes that we were really happy with and delighted to share.

Ian Brownlee

Principal Teacher of English as an Additional Language

Aberdeenshire EAL Service

Using Easi-Speak to develop storytelling and writing by Lynn Eileen Allison, Hoddom Primary in Dumfries and Galloway

We have been using film literacy and voice-recording to develop our learners’ comprehension of a text.

 

We watched this video: Dragon Slayer | A Short Film by Robert Kuczera and then used stills from it after the viewing to ‘read it’. The pupils in the class were given one picture each to make notes about what they
could see in their photo. They were then asked to put the photos in order that they felt the story took
place.

Having put the images in chronological order they were asked to use their notes to narrate the story by using an Easi-Speak microphone, which in a previous lesson they had been taught how to use, to record and download. Listening to what had happened, it was passed onto the next speaker to build upon the story with their own ideas.

The class loved developing the story and sharing their narration with other classes. So, the following week  they were given a storyboard with fewer shots and asked to retell their story by adding a twist to the story line. Once again, the children enjoyed developing their personal story, with the ideas they had previously generated as a class.

 

This is the story board they used:

Inspiring Digital Enterprise Awards, Grove Academy

iDEA Awards, Grove Academy

Gavin Pyott, PT Computing Science

I became aware of the iDEA awards by chance when it was first launched 3 years ago. I can’t explain how glad I am that I did. The programme is so well written and produced that all learners are drawn into the modules and are keen to do more. Due to the positive impact iDEA had with classes in my department l began promoting the awards and encouraging others to use it within their schools. As a result of this l was awarded the title of Teacher Ambassador from iDEA.  

The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, known as iDEA, is an international programme that helps students develop and demonstrate digital, enterprise and employability skills.

Since its launch, iDEA has established itself as the digital equivalent of The Duke of Edinburgh Award. The iDEA awards are recognised by universities and employers so are a great addition to any student’s CV.

The iDEA awards allow students to map their knowledge and understanding of the digital world through a series of modules (badges).

The badges have been designed to unlock new opportunities and raise awareness of the diverse range of careers in our digital world, all the while allowing students to gain an industry recognised award to help them stand out from the crowd.

To achieve a Bronze Award, students need to earn a minimum of 250 points, including at least 40 points in each of the core categories of the curriculum: Citizen, Worker, Maker and Entrepreneur.

CITIZEN BADGES cover digital awareness, safety and ethics.

WORKER BADGES introduce tools and techniques which are useful in the digital workplace.

MAKER BADGES cover digital creativity and building and making in the digital world.

ENTREPRENEUR BADGES explain how to originate ideas and bring them to life.

GAMER BADGES investigate gamification techniques and help people learn how to make games.

These badges are all very informative and explain complex concepts in a straightforward, easy to understand, way. All badges are designed to be interactive, allowing pupils to answer questions as they go, building up their knowledge step-by-step.

To help track student progress iDEA have launched ‘organiser codes’ and the organiser area. This allows you to provide pupils with a simple code to add to their iDEA profiles. This will then pull the progress charts for each pupil together into a handy, easy to use spreadsheet.

After completing the Bronze award, many pupils volunteer to move on to the Silver. Unlike Bronze, the Silver award has been written as a series of topics. Each topic is story-based with students being guided through a real-life scenario as they discover the skills required to progress.

Due to the amazing quality and excellent writing in the badges in the programme the target audience range has really been opened up. I have successfully delivered the iDEA award in S1, S2 and S3. We now have pupils is S4-6 who are also tapping into the programme as it has caught their attention. iDEA also works great in an upper primary setting. My own daughter liked the look of the badges and had a go herself. She successfully completed the Bronze award in Primary 6 and completed her Silver when in Primary 7. Not wanting to stop there she completed a total of 50 Bronze badges to become ‘Badge Champion’ and completed the remaining Silver topic to become a

‘Silver Star’. This determination to complete the modules has been replicated by students in my classes who applied the Pokemon ‘got to get them all’ approach to the badges and awards. I have to admit, I have done this too! The iDEA badges are so interesting and informative I found I couldn’t stop either! As an introduction to a new concept (block chain) or to brush up existing skills the iDEA Award is great CLPL for staff too.

Mr Pyott has created a Sway which will give you a full introduction to the work and process involved in using iDEA and his top tips. To view click here.

To see more from Mr Pyott you can visit his Twitter feed on @MrPyott

To see more from Grove Academy, please visit their Twitter feed on @Grove_Academy

You can find out more on iDEA Awards via https://idea.org.uk/ 

Title image - Q and A

DigiLearnScot Webinar Q&A with Claire Eade, Meethill Primary School, Peterhead

We have been speaking to teachers across Scotland to find out more about their experiences of using digital technology to support their learners. In this Q&A Claire Eade, Class Teacher at Meethill Primary School in Peterhead, shares what she has learned from joining webinars to build digital skills and the top tips she would give to other educators on using digital technology. Look out for more Q&As soon!

 

How has your use of digital changed since schools closed in March? 

My use of digital has changed a huge amount. I had used Teams a little bit before schools closed but not to the extent we then needed to. Initially I had no idea how to navigate Teams and upload assignments but taking part in the digital skills webinars helped me with this greatly.

 

Which webinar/s from Education Scotland’s DigiLearn team did you join and why?

I joined the webinar on using mobile devices to enhance and capture language learning and I joined webinars on using Teams. I also joined the webinar on Google Classroom in case I ever need to use that.  

 

Why did you pick these webinars in particular?

The descriptions for these webinars sounded exactly like what I needed to help with teaching the children on-line.

 

How was the experience of joining an online webinar?

They were absolutely brilliant. They were so easy to join. I was sent a link and I just needed to click on it to access the webinar. It’s up to the webinar attendees whether they switch their camera and microphone on. You’re given the opportunity to put questions in and if these aren’t answered at the time then the DigiLearn team will come back to you with an answer later. The webinars are recorded so you also have the option to watch it later which is great in case there is anything you have forgotten.

 

What have you learned from joining these webinar/s to build digital skills?

I’ve learned that it is not essential for me to be face to face with the children to teach them. When schools closed I thought I really needed to be in front of the children to teach them but I’ve learned that we can absolutely teach them on-line.

 

How did you use these skills to support your learners? Tell us more.

These digital skills have helped me to support my learners in many ways. For example I’ve learned how to use screen capture so that I can show my pupils videos or PowerPoints. I can also record commentary over a PowerPoint so that I can highlight and explain different points to my pupils. I can also use the whiteboard tool to actually demonstrate examples to them and aid their understanding.

 

How have you used Glow to help you support learning at home?

I found Glow very useful for finding resources. For example, I found a great resource for teaching activities in French through Glow. I also saw posts from teachers on social media suggesting resources they had found using Glow which I could then go and look up. Glow has also been very useful for communication as my class regularly contacted me through my Glow email while schools were closed.

 

From your experience, what top tips would you give to other educators on using digital?

My top tip is don’t be scared! Don’t be scared to ask questions especially on the DigiLearn Teams group. It doesn’t matter what the question is, and you might think it is a silly question, but there is always someone else wanting to ask the same thing. I posted a question recently asking about how to archive my Team and I got a response back really quickly. It’s important to make use of the expert knowledge out there as there is always someone who can answer your question.

Delivering learning from school to home, Sarah Clark, Queen Anne High School

When schools returned face to face this year in August I had thought that at some point throughout the years some of my students would be working at home for an extended period of time due to covid. That ‘blended learning’ approach we had been planning for back in June would still be needed but didn’t think I would be doing it so soon!

I am a biology and science teacher at Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline. We are a Microsoft Showcase School and are very lucky to have 5 MIEExpert member of staff this year. Most of our students are familiar with Microsoft Teams accessing via Glow and staff have been using it to set work and assignments even as we are back in the building.

However in my 2nd full week of teaching I had my first student leave class to isolate at home and that’s when my blended learning approach needed to kick in. I had spoken to all my classes about how things were going to work in our class this year with specific channels set up for ‘Home Working’ and ’Live Lessons’ but I was still scratching my head about managing this now it was a reality.

Class tasks for my senior pupils were set as assignments in Teams so pupils at home could see what work was expected of them. I have all my board notes in a Class OneNote so all students can see what content we are covering but live lessons that students could join from home we’re going to ensure they could still be part of the class.

I set up a meeting in the ’Live Lessons’ channel in Teams and when the student would normally be in class they joined the meeting.

Now I have tech in my classroom having a desktop computer, interactive panel and a Surface Pro device also. This isn’t all needed though.

I join the meeting on my desktop computer and share the screen so that anything I write on the board can be seen by the students in my class but also by the student joining us from home. Unfortunately I have no microphone for my desktop so I needed to join the meeting on a second device. This was what my ‘surface’ was used for but this could be done with a phone or iPad. This device I place pointing towards me and the board (or even towards the class) and I turn the camera and microphone on. This is the device that is picking up what I say and the student can see me too. If the student has their camera on, I can see them, hear them and I am able to check the chat panel easily if they have a question. It is much easier to do this on the second device instead of changing  views repeatedly on the board. I have to turn the sound off on my desktop computer as we did get a terrible echo and there was a few issues if I was showing a video as the sound and image was delayed but overall it worked very well and the students were fully involved in the class. I was even able to put the second device in the absent students seat and they could communicate with their friends while working on a task.

So far I have had 7 live lessons with my higher and advanced higher biology classes and this head meant students haven’t missed any work, there is less need to catch up sessions when they return and they have completed the same work as everyone else in the class. For the student they have also felt sully included in the class and were able to connect with me as their classmates.

This synchronous learning model however is not suitable for all students or all classes. It’s important to ask students if they are able to join live lessons. For my s2 class I have been making short video clips (2-3 mins long) to introduce them to the task they are to do as well as a brief overview of what we covered in class. I have found Flipgrid great for this as I can add the video to the assignments in team along with the task instructions (see the link below for an example of my video). I don’t want to be creating lots of work for myself and it only take me a few minutes to make my video and upload time the Team.

I think since lockdown, as teachers we have learned a lot about how we use technology and how we can integrate it into our class everyday. For home learning I am hoping it can ensure no student missed out of learning because they are at home but also how I can use it to reduce my workload. Blended learning isn’t easy. I’ve gone round in circles the last few weeks and my model may change throughout the year but it’s a start and so far it’s working for me and my students. As a school we are supporting teachers with guides, CPD sessions and links to resource.

My tip would be to test it out with a colleague and iron out any teething problems you have. Let students know your plans and walk them through how to access, how to find the home learning tasks and how to submit.

Sarah Clark @sfm36

Stay Organised with Wakelet

I would like to share with you, my fellow educators, a tool I have discovered recently. riverbank primary school logoIt is called Wakelet. Before, I used Pocket and it was good, but it had its limitations.  

Wakelet is a website and an app. It allows you to curate websites, tweets, pictures,  blog entries, newspaper articles, links, videos, songs, and other items in your Google Drive.  

You classify everything into collections. 

Regarding privacy, you can make these collections private, you can share them with certain people or you can make them public. You can choose the degree of privacy for each collection. Wakelet has a variety of uses: 

For example, Wakelet is a great timesaver, and will put your memory at rest. We can stop relying on remembering everything.  With Wakelet’s collections, you will not lose a thing.  

 Curation is a specially useful feature of Wakelet. As a teacher you read useful articles, websites, watch videos, do CPD etc. You will discover that curating  those items to refer back to and/or share with others is something easy and quick to organise and to find afterwards. You’ll stop saying : ” where did I read that?”. 

 I have a Wakelet colleague in South Africa who I met at the Microsoft Educator centre and again at Twitter.  I never thought before of the enormous possibilities that Wakelet offers to our profession. We share our Wakelet collections in such an easy way. We share ideas, projects, learning, digital literacy tips and good advice. Collaborating  with others is one of the perks of Wakelet. Colleagues can contribute to your collections and you can contribute to theirs. They can add to your list. 

In upper primary and in secondary it can be an exciting tool to to use with the learners. As a teacher, you curate information for the learners to use and master in an online or blended our in the class environment, while the learners can do the same as they organize research projects from a wide variety of digital resources and express themselves by using all the features of Wakelet. to reflect on and connect to previous learning experiences. Wakelet fosters communication. You create a hub for your learners, where they can be confidently  interacting with their classmates about the topic you or they have chosen. Online resources, pieces of work, videos, podcasts, photographs can all be great samples of the work that is being done in the classroom.  

Wakelet’s latest creation is called spaces, it helps you to be top notch organised. Several collections are part of a space and you again can choose its privacy. 

Come and ride the #WakeletWave with us. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop using it. Wakelet is a great tool to keep you prepared. As a Wakelet community Leader, let me know if I can support you with any queries you may have. You can find me in Twitter @pilararqued and Wakelet at https://wakelet.com/@MrsArqued

Blog Header - Rachel

Creating engaging, interactive lessons in Home Economics using Google Slides and Pear Deck

Using Pear Deck, a Google Slides Add-On, in Home Economics makes the lessons engaging, fun, interactive and accessible for all. My best lockdown find!

As we return to teach in a classroom at a social distance from our students, I can set the deck to work either at a student or instructor pace. Using the asynchronous setting Pear Deck allows students to work at their own pace unhindered by others. Nothing holds them back; the high flyers move on to extension activities whilst those who can struggle with their reading or have EAL can use the immersive reader feature. Everyone has a go at the tasks as although their responses can be displayed on my whiteboard they are anonymous so suddenly the quiet student who has never raised their hands contributes to the lesson. At any time the lesson can become synchronous. Left as asynchronous work can be completed when they leave class such as in Study or for homework. At all times during the lesson, I am able to see exactly what each student is working on, stop them and draw their attention to points raised without calling out any particular student and potential embarrassing them. Pear Deck has been my best find of lockdown and is compatible with many other EdTEch tools. Not all features are free but for approximately £10 a month it’s worth the upgrade.
Rachel Richards, PT for Faculty of Design, Technology and Home Economics
Kingussie High School
Highland

Click here to open the Google Slides presentation

Home Economics Google Slide
Guest Bloggers D Keenan and M Brough DCC

Our Lockdown Journey as ESO for Digital Learning

Our Lockdown Journey as ESO for Digital Learning

By Meg Brough and Dave Keenan

In January 2020 we gained the title ‘Education Support Officers for Digital Learning.’ After interview, it was decided we would job share for the duration of our secondment opportunity. We would each be allocated 2 days a week: one together, one independently. (Dave is PT Modern Studies and Meg teaches English and Media). This was totally manageable, right?

We sat with the previous Digital ESO Jenni for days, our heads spinning with new information about Computing Science, Computational Thinking, 3D Printing, Glow security and CRIS. We would be covering Jenni’s role when she moved to Education Scotland and were determined to learn as much as possible from her and keep continuity. “You have to make this job your own,” she said. Oh, how little we knew!

We began to support schools in Dundee, working with them to embed a robust digital infrastructure in schools and throughout the Authority. We developed a calendar of CLPL opportunities, attending meetings and enjoying the best part of the job – meeting new people. By the end of February we were steadily gaining confidence and making great contacts.

In March 2020, the schools closed and every practitioner in Scotland had to switch to engaging with Digital Learning. Our job started to creep into every aspect of our lives. The question of whether we were ready for this was irrelevant. It was imperative to provide our practitioners with the skills needed to continue to provide a high standard of education for our children and young people.
We had a few weeks to prepare for the impending closure, so we finished small jobs we had started and then moved on to creating help sheets and resources. Meg worked on creating the Dundee City Council Online Learning Hub. We didn’t want to restrict our support to staff, but to provide a central location to support pupils and parents too. This site would house Learning Resources, Information about Online Safety and Help with digital tools such as Glow. The website has been separated into sections for Staff, Pupils and Parents, and each houses information and links relevant to each kind of user.

We quickly realised that the volume of queries and support required couldn’t be managed by email alone. Dave had the idea of setting up the DCC Education Digital Support Team and adding every teacher in Dundee. No easy task! This was an area we could store our help sheets and answer any queries.

This grew arms, legs and many other limbs. So much so that the practitioners who were supporting us with Learning Resources had to split off into a separate support team. We worked with DCC’s amazing Pedagogy team to create a site where staff could access CLPL Opportunities and Learning Resources, which left the purpose of our Team purely for digital support. Since the creation of the team on the 6th March, we have had 1,268 active users leaving 258 posts. What is more impressive though, is that from those posts we have had 591 replies. This demonstrates a pattern we have noticed. We, as owners, are not the only people who are answering queries. By starting this support group we have upskilled staff to be able to answer each other’s questions. This fits in very well with our vision to promote Digital Leadership throughout the Authority.

We often see a peak in engagement within our Team when we host our Webinars. We have hosted a few webinars which have focused on setting up online classes, setting and marking assignments in Teams… the list goes on! Along with our own home-made efforts, we have hosted hundreds of staff in webinars with Ian Stuart from Microsoft and this is helping us build our MIE base across schools.

Staff uptake of MIE CLPL is really taking off and school managers are looking at how to take everything to the next level with Digital Schools, Microsoft Schools and Incubator status.We have also created a YouTube channel to house our tutorial videos. Reflecting on the help sheets we had originally made, we found it much easier to demonstrate how to use a digital tool by sending a link to a video. We were so fortunate that the Accessibility and Inclusion service provided us with videos which have been translated into Arabic. Our most popular video has been a guide to using Microsoft Teams Assignments and Immersive reader through Glow for pupils. Teachers have been sharing this with their pupils and have found it useful to see what their pupils are seeing.

The May Inservice day was planned to focus on Supporting Learners with Additional Support Needs. Our original plan was to deliver training to our Digital Leaders and in turn they would deliver this to their own school staff on the Inservice day. This was going to be a perfect example of the ‘Train the Trainer’ model we wish to develop. Our Digital Leaders are representatives from each school who have a vested interest in Digital Learning and who want to work with their colleagues to embed Digital Learning as a key component of the curriculum. As all events on our CLPL calendar had to be cancelled, we had to re-evaluate how to provide this kind of training. Instead used this situation to our advantage and tried to reach a wider audience by creating a presentation of all kinds of digital tools that could be used to support learners with ASN. In our Staff version we included links to training guides (such as the Microsoft Educator Centre) as well as information about how to use these in the classroom.

In our general guide we also included information about how these tools can be used at home to help parents and learners. We included information about Accessibility Tools on iPads, as well as Microsoft and Google products. We also plugged CALL Scotland who are fabulous at providing advice on these kinds of products. We had an extremely positive response towards this, particularly from members of the ‘Supporting Learners’ Microsoft Team which we have supported the Accessibility and Inclusion Service to set up. The effort from the AIS Team is just one example of the impressive work we have seen practitioners take on in order to up-skill themselves to provide the best support possible for our young people.

Unsurprisingly, we have seen the number of Digital Leaders across the authority rise as more staff realise the value and exciting opportunities involved with Digital Learning. We have set up a new Team for Digital Leaders who will be offered many training opportunities to support their schools in their Digital journey. We had aimed to work with select schools to achieve a Digital School’s Award and embed a digital infrastructure. We imagine that many of our schools, if they continue to engage with these digital tools, will be more than deserving of a Digital Schools award. A large part of achieving this is teaching Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety as a standard part of the curriculum. The first remote training opportunity our Digital Leaders will take part in is ‘Safe and Empowered’ training delivered by Jess McBeth from SWGfL. This is an excellent course which we attended as part of our own original training which takes the negativity away from conversations around internet safety, instead empowering young people to make responsible decisions online. We have really enjoyed working remotely with external partners to provide them with ways to engage with schools and staff remotely.

We also try to keep up to date and network with members of other authorities. Social media has been an excellent way to do this. We have also enjoyed taking part in the weekly Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert catch up on a Friday morning. This allows us to chat to other Microsoft Edu enthusiasts and try to emulate good practice we see in other authorities.

We continue to meet virtually, together and with partners (sometimes with the addition of a three- year-old climbing on Meg’s head) to develop the Digital Skills of all stakeholders. This week we have written a paper on “Effective Remote and Digital Learning in Dundee City Council” which we hope will complement the recovery plan of our authority as we move to into a Blended Learning environment. This outlines our vision for moving forward; we plan to build on the fantastic skills our educators have acquired and to make Digital Learning standard practice in every classroom in Dundee.

Finally, we’d like to extend our thanks to all staff in Dundee City Council for showing such passion, enthusiasm and resilience in the face of such an horrific situation. Personally, we can take so many positives from the lockdown situation which completely justify the hours we have put in! Digital Learning has exploded in Dundee and although we advise on the practicalities of using such tools, it is the practitioners who teach us all about the innovative ways to use these tools to deliver High Quality Learning and Teaching opportunities. From Virtual Sports days to online STEM challenges we are constantly amazed by the quality of Remote learning in Dundee and the positivity of our educators.

For helpful links, information or just to check out what we are up to, follow @DigiLearnDundee on Twitter.

@DigiLearnDundee@missmbrough@davekeenan8