A sample of Digital Leaders from some of the 36 Bradford Primary Schools now active with the programme demonstrated how they can work confidently with new technologies; communicate ideas clearly, and in some instances help to upskill school staff and students so that they are able to embed new technologies creatively.
Many of these Digital Leaders (DLs) had to undergo a rigorous application process to prove that they had professional credentials, and that they were conscientious and reflective learners who could take responsibility for organising themselves, and could commit to attending regular Digital Leader sessions and meetings in schools for the duration of the programme.
Through the DL programme students have developed whole school improvement strategies using new learning technologies. The programme is highly evaluative and Digital Leaders are asked to reflect on the appropriate use of new learning technologies and also how they might be able to teach or present in INSET sessions or assemblies etc.
They have set up their own blog for communication so that they can keep each other updated on progress, share ideas and provide each other with an authentic audience. The setting up of blogs is of course a transferable skill which they are now able to replicate in many other schools and settings.
Digital Leaders often kick start the process in schools with an audit which asks staff and students what they think are the priorities for the programme and through this they have been able to uncover such hot issues as eSafety, effective collaboration tools, technical problem solving, gap tasks to identify strategic priorities, use of iPads, Kindles, blogging and presenting.
Shipley CE Primary School started the conference with a bang by showcasing their self produced and highly polished Digital Leadership video.
Holycroft Primary School introduced their published materials on eSafety which are now becoming widely distributed amongst schools and feature common sense tips regarding security of passwords, cyberbullying, plagiarism, keeping your personal information private and much more. They are using their materials in assemblies with all year groups.
Bankfoot Primary School have been busy teaching Smartboard 10 to both students and teachers, including how to insert pictures and web links. They have been careful to invite evaluations from all students and teachers who attended and these have proved to be very supportive, and some comments have highlighted how fun and exciting the sessions are and how children in some instances prefer learning from their peers!
Young Digital Leaders at Bradford Moor went on to treat us to a live real-time demonstration of how they have been teaching games creation using Microsoft Kodu. Games can only be created by mastering some code and programming, and the visual nature and user friendliness of the software has proved to be very helpful to some struggling readers.
St Oswalds Primary School followed suit and gave us a whistlestop live demo of creating animations using Zoo 3D including using onion-skinning and importing sound files. They have even gone as far as teaching Chroma Key (green screen) technologies such as those used in live weather reports to several year groups using differentiated teaching approaches and materials.
Mrs Hegney (St Oswald’s assistant head) shared the benefits of a sustainable programme which empowers young people, boosts their confidence and prepares them for the world of work.
Killinghall Digital Leaders have been very persuasive encouraging all staff to RiskIT and take some chances with new learning technologies and pedagogies including iPads, Macbooks and digital cameras. The students then stepped up and completely lived up to all expectations by delivering a stunning presentation including tracing out letters using a pocket phonics app.
The Bradford Digital Leaders conference 2012 truly was a conference by students, for students and teachers. One of the key messages stressed by all of the young Digital Leaders at the conference was their apprehension at having to ‘power down’ when they transfer to Secondary School, which is as good a reason as I can think of for why Secondary Schools should get involved in the programme and seek to continue their astonishing work.