Just before Christmas I was asked to give an overview of a Learning Platform to the staff of a primary school and it got me thinking, as these things sometimes do. Firstly, it struck me that the school has had access to this for over 2 years now and why had they left it so late for an introduction to the staff? A: A change of leadership, which straight away highlighted the pivotal importance of the SLT/Headteacher and how they view such things.
I then began to wonder how many other schools had been paying for their Learning Platform and not using it beyond a shared online area for staff for a shared calendar, school email account and a shared online document repository. It’s tricky, because I’m usually asked in at the beginning of the process and for all sorts of reasons, less likely to be invited back to see how things progress. I do, however, know of some good use throughout the city and can point to examples where it is becoming a regular part of the curriculum, but suspect that it lies under-used in many an establishment.
I know some schools have dropped a Learning Platfrom altogether, but have they replaced it with anything that caters for the out of school learning agenda? I suspect not.
A colleague of mine further inland were discussing the LP issue a while back and we thought that none of them are perfect… and probably never will be as we consumers are a fickle bunch and always want something that isn’t in ‘our’ Learning Platform but is in ‘theirs’. There’s also the freely available collection of resources out there on the web that some folk argue could do away with the need for an LP altogether. I could give my tuppence worth at this point, but as I’m more or less in agreement with Dughall on this and he wrote about the issue on his blog a while back, it makes more sense to point you at his article. So here it is.
So, as it comes round to Learning Platform renewal time, maybe schools ought to ponder whether they’re getting their money’s worth from their LP. I’ve often used the 20% rule for ICT investment, which is if you don’t invest 20% of your budget on CPD, then you might as well not have bothered purchasing in the 1st place as whatever you bought will probably gather dust. Not always the case, I admit, but look round your school at expensive ICT equipment or software that isn’t used for the sake of some CPD.
In summary, if you’re just using the LP as a Virtual Staffroom, you’ve made a laudible start, but it’s costing you £3-£4 per head for the privilage and there are cheaper/free ways to do that.
If you’re already using it with children, then you’ve made progress and will be nearer to getting value from that money. The more use, the better value it is.
In the near future I’ll be able to offer an onine toolkit as either part of my SLA or just at a discounted purchase for schools not wishing to take up that option. Either way, I think it’d be about £175 well spent. Or you could just have a conversation with me about it. Either way, you’ll either decide to renew and get better value from your LP, or decide to not have one and save yourself money… though in this web-enabled 24/7/extending learning opportunities/improving home/school/parental links, is this really what we ought to be considering?
Which Learning Platform? Well, there’s no time for that at the moment and maybe that conversation is an good example of one that would be better done verbally.