Well, I guess it was bound to happen that as funding changed and the LA didn’t purchase the Learning Platform on behalf of schools that other providers would begin the process of ringing round and offering their products.
It presents a bit of a dilemma as one the one hand, I frimly believe in a school’s right to choose what is best for them, but that is balanced by the feeling that life is smoother in some instances if their is a commonality amongst schools. Such is the case with Learning Platforms. Some of the benefits of one platform are central support, cluster support, familarity of the platform as staff and pupils move from school to school and the discount available on an LA aggregated purchase.
In Hull, we won’t have one Learning Platfrom as some secondary schools have declined the BSF offering and have gone elsewhere, so will we be able to maintain a single platform the primary sector? I suspect not as some schools will be tempted by the look of another and see it as better than the one we currently have. Well, define better. At regional meetings we can’t agree which one is best in terms of facilities and once we factor in prices, we’re even further away from a concensus.
One problem in deciding is that at any given time, you’re comparing products who are constantly developing, and what’s missing in your LP this month might very well be in the development plan for release the next: these companies do keep an eye on each other you know! I’m also aware that it is the job of a sales person to sell, and to do that they show you the ‘good bits’ and neglect to mention some of a products weaker areas and there isn’t a Learning Platfrom on the market that excels in all areas yet.
My feeling, and one that I shared with the eLearning Strategy Group, is that a primary school should, if it wants a Learning Platfrom, should stick with the current one for this year and the eLSG will undertake an evaluation of the LP market over the next 9 months and come to a preferred option for Hull primary schools for 2012 onwards. If a school really feels that the current option isn’t delivering the goods for them and are determined to change, then at least get a trial account and use it in anger before moving or signing up to a different service.
If you’re in one of those schools that is considering not adopting a Learning Platform because you haven’t used it I wonder if the reason is that because it has been bought for you in the past and it’s suffered from ‘free band syndrome’. Folk don’t listen to a band in a pub unless they’ve paid for a ticket. If you’ve forked out the cash, you’ll listen to the gig. The adoption of anything new, and perhaps more so if it’s new and ICT related, can be a long process and I can say that it has taken a while for schools to begin using the LP with pupils.
However, in those schools where it has begun to have been used, the benefits are beginning to show: Y2 pupils completing work online at home and submitting it using the LP’s built in tools or the JIT extension, a group of reluctant writers using it’s and J2E to improve their work, Y3-6 pupils using their own dashboard to have a private and safe online space, Y4-6 pupils in a lunchtime club (now an anytime/anywhere club!) using the blog to write book reviews that others can comment on and Y6 pupils submitting work for marking and assessment online and just some of the success stories I can recall at the moment.
I’m equally sure that there are other excellent uses going on round the city and perhaps the challenge is to capture and showcase those uses so that schools unsure of the benefits of a Learning Platfrom can see them?
I seem to have set myself a task!