At NCET we are encouraged by the overall results of the phase 1 pilot of integrated learning systems and in particular by some of the learning gains, but we are conscious that the evidence is based on only a six-month trial in 12 schools.
Much remains to be done in establishing whether the mathematics results from SuccessMaker are sustainable, what the longer-term impact of SuccessMaker is on literacy, and in obtaining more reliable data on the use of the Global Learning System. It is also important to understand further the effectiveness of the various models of managing the use of ILS within a school and how the teacher most effectively integrates with these systems.
A phase 2 project will address these questions by continuing the use of ILS in the existing schools and bringing in new schools to address specific issues such as the effect of ILS use in early years and how the systems can be best managed for use by special needs pupils. Other parallel projects will investigate the use of ILS systems in further education and in the prison service.
We need to identify the characteristics of the systems which lead to successful learning outcomes in order to ensure that further developments of these or other systems are clearly focused on ensuring improvements in learning.
It is difficult not to be excited by these early findings in the use of integrated learning systems. However, we must build carefully on the evidence from the evaluations so that we can be confident that investments made in these products will result in real learning gains for the children and young people involved.
Margaret Bell is chief executive of the National Council for Educational Technology.