SSaT Learning Platform think tank event – Birmingham

Written by admin

Topics: E-Learning, Technology

I was not going to post much about today, but a couple of tweets (thanks to #siborg) prompted me to be a little more reflective on my day up in Birmingham (Maple House – nice venue) attending the SSaT Learning Platform think tank event. When I saw the words ‘think tank’ in the course literature my eyes lit up as I thought, great – the chance for some real blue sky thinking with other innovators in education. I was intrigued as to what would form the main topics of discussion during the day. On the whole it was an interesting event, with the opportunity to touch base with colleagues in other specialist schools and see how they are progressing with the challenges of E-Learning. I always think that opportunities like this are often the most engaging and insightful sessions. I certainly came away from the event confident and re-assured that we are well ahead of the game in terms of our vision and implementation plans here at Costello. However, my aspirations and expectations of what I want to be embedded in the culture at Costello are high, there is still much work to do. By far the most productive parts of the day were the periods allocated to tabled discussions; with 60 delegates in attendance it provided us all with ample opportunity to share experiences and thoughts on a diverse range of topical issues in smaller groups.

The first keynote was by Toby Holman (Assistant Head) from Kingwood Community School, Warminster (I streamed this live from my phone for other to see, if you missed it you can see it at – an interesting overview but not really relevant to Costello as we have exceeded this in terms of our implementation plan already, personally I could not see anything new in this from what schools have been doing over past few years. However, I did take on board a few ideas that I am going to take away and shape – these were mainly around the topic of broader community engagement. What was obvious was that so much talk was focusing on products and not pedagogy and practice, leadership, fostering cultures of innovation and change management. In my mind these are core to successfully unlocking the potential of 21st century learning. So many LA’s are still denying teachers access to tools to help raise levels of attainment – many still blocking Youtube and some of the more collaborative elements of the web – a real shame, yet many are wary of management of such technologies – surely this is part of the sub-context and culture that schools have got to develop. What was apparent was the clear need for strong innovation and leadership within SLT – to drive the culture change that so desperately needs to take place in schools to enable as many positive outcomes in the use of technology as possible. The number of schools that had a total ban on mobile phones was frightening in our tabled discussion group.

The most reflective comment I made today was probably a comment I made via twitter (you can get an interesting summary by searching #lp09) during the day and that was: Vision drives the use of new technologies in a school, yet it is technology that shapes and redefines the vision over time. Encapsulated a few comments that others made.

Ian Usher (#iusher) provided an interesting keynote on the perspectives from a LA (Buckinghamshire Grid for Learning) and the work they have done through moodle, his presentation is available online ( and pupils as drives ). It was interesting that both keynotes had open source solutions as the driving force behind them – would have been nice for the SSaT to have something a little more balanced with perhaps some of the work showcased from a commercial provider too. Each delegate had to provide a micro-study of the work they have completed so far on E-Learning – am looking forward to reading all of these later to see if there are any other golden nuggets that I can pick up on. A limited amount of time was given to the discussion of e-portfolios – should these be independent of learning platforms? There was a consensus that these are a lot more than online filestores and there is a huge amount of potential for learners to carry much more with them online – IEP/ILP’s, work experience logs etc..) Ian Usher mentioned mahara – open source e-portfolio software.

Where am I going from here? Easy really, just continuing the journey we are already embarked on. 95% of the really innovative stuff that was talked about is either a current project or in the pipeline, this is good as it means that our school improvement group really has thought out of the box. What I did pick up on were some useful resources that may add value to what we are doing and how we are achieving it. Some points made during the day have got me thinking about developments to FROG – will be touching base with FROG in due course about those and how they might be interesting future developments (Wiki’s/resource tracking/automated emailing based on learning events).

The SSaT has set up a wiki for the event, this can be accessed at – this resource is a private area of the site so you will need to logon with your SSaT username and password. It looks really good, going to be full of dynamic comment as well as feedback from groups (Images of their brainstorms). An excellent reason to register on the SSaT site and get a logon if you have not already got one!

1 Comment For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. TonyParkin says:


    Thanks for the write-up of the day from your perspective – I love the bit about the day’s wiki being a reason to get an SSAT login!

    For the record we did approach all the major LP providers (including our friends at Frog, of course!)for their potential engagement in a variety of ways – but they did not take up the offer. As you know the day was platform-agnostic and maybe they were not keen to be involved on that basis? But maybe it also says something about the enthusiasm engendered by Moodle? (Though to be fair I saw similar enthusiasm at last year’s Frog Conference!)

    Tony Parkin

Leave a Comment Here's Your Chance to Be Heard!