Learning Platforms: 2 Resources and a Conference

UPDATE: Please note that the websites for Becta, QCDA and TDA have now gone the way of all flesh. The TDA website has been replaced by the Get Into Teaching website. My thanks g to Andrea Parise, of Get Outbound, for drawing my attention to this and other useful links.

One of the things we tend to forget when it comes to major upheavals – such as, in Britain, the so-called “bonfire of the quangoes”, which has seen the disbandment of Becta, Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency and the Training & Development Agency – is a fundamental law of nature, namely Nature abhors a vacuum. Thus it is that the work of Becta in regard to Learning Platforms is largely being continued by the Learning Platform Network.

The Learning Platform Network is a relatively new organisation which is furthering the work done by Becta in a way that is more in keeping with the times. Less top-down, more peer collaboration and sharing, the LPN is described on the Northern Grid website as:

an ambitious initiative to connect and support schools in their use of learning platforms.

I’ve known about this for some time, but was asked not to “go public” for a while. Now it appears to be enough in place for the organisers themselves to go public, which I’m pleased about. It means that I can now openly refer, when necessary, to an online resource that I think looks very promising. The site features the case studies and also some videos that were originally on Becta’s site.

One of the resources on the site is the downloadable pdf, From Adoption to Excellence. This is an excellent document, but a further development is set to make it even better. Simon Finch, e-Learning Officer at the Northern Grid for Learning, tells me:

Our multimedia developer is developing a more user friendly interface which will be online and have a ‘tracking’ facility. What this means is it will allow schools/individuals to log in and identify:

  • Where they are;

  • Actions;

  • Progress.

This info will be stored online so when they return, on any computer, in any location they will be able to resume their progress. This will make the adoption model even more accessible to schools and that’s what we want – effective use of learning platforms to improve schools.

We have an aspirational completion date for end of Feb and an actual completion date of end of March.

The LPN is running what looks likely to be a great conference. Called “From adoption to excellence” (what else?!), the conference aims to provide clear and real life examples of how schools and providers can work in partnership to use their platforms to support school improvement and raising standards. That takes place on the 7th and 8th February 2011.

Another excellent resource is Learning Platforms Info, run by Jim Fanning of Tideways School. Jim has been very active in this area, and indeed wrote an article for the original version of this website back in 2007, with an article entitled Learning Platforms: The Experience of One Secondary School. He also spoke recently at the BETT show, as mentioned in my BETT Bulletin #2.

Jim is doing research for a Doctorate, and has been publishing draft versions of his chapters on the site. Jim’s main research question is:

Does the use of a learning platform in the secondary school classroom support approaches to personalised teaching and learning?

There is lots of other good stuff there too, such as case studies and reports, as well as links and guidance. One feature I especially like is the Readings links, under the Links menu. In these, Jim has summarised the central theme of particular books, and linked them to the educational value of learning platforms.

I’m currently doing some research into learning platforms myself, so if you have any great examples of where they’re being used in schools, anywhere in the world, do let me know.