They had been at work since 10am. That, by any measure, is successful training. Where did it happen? Cheltenham College. The occasion? A BECTA and Apple course on digital video. The reason for success? All the teachers could see the relevance of the practical work to their work in school.
Above all, it was relaxed, collaborative, stimulating and exciting. The intensity and impact of that training is something to be aimed for.
But can any of that be transferred to Online CPD? The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Online CPD strategy pushing ICT into subject areas will be launched at BETT 2004. The real title is Enhancing Subject Teaching Using ICT (ESTUICT).
The four contractors that have worked on the materials include 3T Productions (Indigo Visions), New Media, SfE and mPowerNet. The materials, based around ICT in subjects, cover a range of areas - key stages 1 and 2 literacy and numeracy (including foundation stages) and KS3 science.
Further subjects developed at KS3 include English, maths, design and technology, ICT, modern languages, PE, geography and art, and these are planned for release in LEAs in January 2004.
SfE will be responsible for ICT in KS1 and 2 literacy and numeracy. SfE's belief is that teachers should acquire subject knowledge and skills from programmes that are supported and guided by subject specialist tutors.
Teachers will have access to a bank of resources, including lesson planning.
A programme for secondary art and geography teachers will be on offer from mPowernet. Its online programme will be supported by face-to-face training to give practical help to teachers to use ICT at KS3. Self-paced, differentiated programmes tailored to individual needs will be the main feature.
The aim of New Media's online programme is to ensure science teachers have the skills to use ICT creatively. It uses model lessons, tutorials and activities designed to show how ICT can be used effectively and innovatively in the classroom. The course has both online mentoring and face-to-face sessions, with the provision of new resources. Key issues from the KS3 National Strategy for Science will be addressed and the work will try to ensure a whole department is able to use ICT effectively.
Indigo Visions is responsible for English, design amp; technology, ICT and modern languages. The programme is for all teachers regardless of ICT skills and experience. The modules are designed to fit the needs of individuals. There are lesson plans, resources, and ideas for assessment, differentiation and homework. The use of online tutors means that teachers will be supported at a one-to-one level.
Unlike the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) training, this has to be paid for.
The DfES points out that funding has been allocated to schools through the standards funding. Although this is not ring fenced for CPD, the standards fund guidance emphasises the need to prioritise CPD, the standards fund guidance emphasises the need to prioritise CPD in spending plans. Schools will not, however, be able to spend their e-learning credits on this initiative.
So how do you tell if the training programme is going to suit you? You are going to have to look behind the gloss. Although you do not have much choice you are not compelled to take this training. There are still many independents and subject associations who will continue to offer alternatives. In 2004, online courses should use many imaginative interactive techniques. So first you need to find out if the course you are considering does this. What's more, does the course provide you with a mentor that you will be in constant touch with?
Some other questions worth asking are:
* Will the course deal with issues and areas that you need?
* What resources will you gain?
* Is there a process by which you can give feedback if the course does not meet your needs?
* Does the course lead to credits for a further qualification? Is the course harmonised with other national strategies?
* Does the course provide you with any support above and beyond the actual period of training?
On face-to-face courses, the networking with other students is often very valuable, so it pays to ask how you can learn from others going through the same process.
This initiative outside the government strategy is a joint CPD (continuing professional development) programme from BBC Worldwide and the Open University. It is a fully online CPD service for all schools that covers the full range of topics and issues.
One way of putting your e-learning credits to good use is to improve the teaching of basic skills. A number of companies offer ECDL courses.
Special Needs ICT Training Directory
A new directory includes a wide range of training, information days and exhibitions from a range of providers. The directory also includes details of how educators can access training by the Inclusive Consultancy and Training Syndicate that took place under NOF. Details from Alison Littlewood Tel: 01457 819790 Other contacts...
Apple E34 Tel: 0800 039 1010 www.apple.comukeducation
Aston Swann Tel: 01432 341 344 www.educatorsecdl.com
BBC OU W25 www.teachandlearn.net
Electric Paper Tel: 0800 626328 www.electricpaper.ie Inclusive Technology Tel: 01457 819790 www.inclusive.co.uk
Indigo X10 Tel: 0845 3000 371 www.indigo-visions.co.uk
mPowernet O70 Tel: 01245 226930 www.mpowernet.anglia.ac.uk; New Media L19 L22 Tel: 0870 444 1232 www.new-media.co.uk
SfE X90 Tel: 0117 983 8800 www.sfe.co.uk