The project is currently in its consultation phase, the aim being to refine the framework through discussion with school staff and experts in the field of digital literacy. In the last week two sessions were held, the first with school staff and leaders and the second with Doug Belshaw and David White. In addition to these sessions, external consultation has been collected from a number of other experts.
Schools Expert Advisory Panel
Representatives joined us from Babington Community College, Judgemeadow Community College and The Lancaster School. The underlying issue throughout the discussion with school staff was the importance of supporting staff in a way that positively contributes to the requirements of their jobs and supports on-going school improvement. Attendees commented on the emphasis on social networking and social media sites, in the context of current restrictions in accessing these. They also highlighted the importance of staff being aware of issues around safeguarding and data protection when using sites with learners.
A useful point raised by one member of the group related to the order in which the strands were presented. The first strand was initially Technology for Professional Development and it was felt that as the majority of staff will be unfamiliar with the ‘connected learner’ approach to professional development it could be seen as intimidating and off putting to begin with this area. However, Finding and Evaluating, an area of work that school staff are very familiar with would be more likely to ease the user into the process. Therefore, the proposed new order for the strands is as follows:
- Finding and evaluating
- Creating and organising
- Assessment and feedback
- Communication collaboration and participation
- Technology for professional development
After considering the strands of the framework, we moved onto the levels. It was felt that an entry-level was needed for those members of staff who were just beginning to interact with new technologies. It was also noted that the expert level of the framework, which had explicitly been identified as unlikely to be attainable by the majority of staff, was off-putting and affected the balance of the framework. With these changes made a beginner would then be half way up the scale, rather than at the bottom of it – which is likely to be more motivating for users. Staff commented that they felt labelling the levels with titles such as beginner and intermediate did not have positive connotations and that perhaps a numbering or other abstract labelling may be more appropriate.
Digital Literacies Expert Panel
It was highlighted in this session that in order for the project to be successful, the approach taken would need to be carefully considered to ensure that the intentions of the framework were made clear to all stakeholders. A few methods were discussed; meetings with school leaders, presentations to whole schools and an introductory page in the framework expressing the benefits of participation. Whatever the method, it is very important that we make clear to teachers why they should utilise the framework.
There are 25 schools within the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme in Leicester. There is great diversity within schools; enrolment ranges from 1,570 to 50, mainstream to severe disability SEN, secular and faith schools. It became clear during the schools consultation and was highlighted in more detail during this session that implementation of the framework would need to be differentiated across the secondary estate, negotiated at a local level with school leaders.
As mentioned above, the levels of framework were discussed in much detail during the school experts consultation. Dave and Doug suggested a new structure to the framework where instead of levelled statements each section was broken up into skills, practices and understanding. Staff then check the boxes which apply to them and the system tallies their responses. The levels will still essentially exist, only in grade boundaries rather than explicit labels. This way we can pinpoint the actual skills, not merely skill levels of our staff, allowing for much greater tailoring of future CPD opportunities. This alteration should also make completing the framework much simpler for staff, particularly those who fall across level boundaries in the original design.
For a while we have been considering the inclusion of Open Badges within the framework project, not only to provide staff with proof of CPD progression, but also to add a little fun to the experience. We were lucky to have Doug with us this week so that we could clarify our ideas for integrating badges into the framework tool. We had worried that awarding badges for completing the framework itself may not add any value to the process and Doug agreed; he felt that badges would best be used to award staff for participating in CPD opportunities – networking, training, sharing and supporting others.
Next steps for the project
Over the next few weeks, the comments and ideas collected throughout this consultation phase will be used to inform the next iteration of the self-evaluation framework. Once this is complete a further open web consultation will be released for open comments on the revised draft.
Throughout February a qualitative pilot will also take place with a small group of school staff, from a mixture of schools across the city. The pilot will help us to improve the end user experience and ensure that the terminology is clear. It will involve focused interviews with members of staff where they fill out the framework and we will discuss the process as they go along.