NAACE Impact Award Nominations

We're very happy to announce that we're up for nomination for Naace Impact Awards in both the Primary and Secondary categories.  If you're not familiar with these awards here's a bit of blurb on them:

Naace has no doubt about the impact that technology can have on learning and teaching when used well by skilled and creative professionals. Technology makes a real difference to learner’s achievement and engagement; it offers access to resources that would otherwise be beyond the reach of any school or college, it allows communication and collaboration beyond the physical and temporal limits of the classroom; it allows learners to think more clearly and see the world from another perspective. Naace has a long standing history of supporting those working in education to use technology to achieve the greatest possible impact, and now seeks to provide some formal recognition of outstanding work in this area.

It's a huge deal for James and I at LearnMaker to get this level of recognition. Only 15 months ago LearnMaker didn't exist, and we talked lots about how we could use our expertise to further learning in the UK through effective use of technology. It was those conversations that prompted us to quit our jobs and invest all of our savings into getting LearnMaker up and running, and today the recognition from Naace means we've begun to achieve the goals we set out.

I'd also like to issue a huge thankyou to both the schools who had the vision and confidence in LearnMaker to run their projects. If you've seen our work before you'll know we take a unique approach to training and development when it comes to technology in schools. Years of sitting through INSET training ourselves as teachers taught us that one off sessions are an ineffective way to train staff. One of the founding principals of LearnMaker is that our work delivers impact to the school, and our approach to that is to work closer, and at a deeper level. Here's a little bit more about the projects that got us nominated in the first place. 

Primary Impact Award: Invicta Primary School App Development Project

Way back in early 2015 we spent 5 days with Invicta Primary School on a challenge based learning project. Taking 15 students for a week, we worked with them to plan, design, develop and release a fully working iPad app. The students designed every aspect and element of the final app, but better than that they did it with minimal prompting. One of the biggest benefits of technology at a primary level is it's ability to offer completely new tasks for students to complete. The biggest of these is content creation, and if you set up the activity so that students must work collaboratively like we did with Invicta you'd be amazed at the results that follow. There's a big focus on creating independent learners in UK education, yet this is unachievable when children are spoon fed information, prompted or taught rote examples. In the App Development Project the students had a completely blank slate as to what they could create, and this ensured they had to step up and work independently. Over those 5 days we saw children as young as 5 assessing and making critical decisions as to what they needed for their app, how they would get it and how they would use it. It was amazing, and proved that young people are capable of just about anything. The key is that you have to believe in them for them to achieve it. You can find out more about the project here 

Secondary Impact Award: Broadgreen School Maths Department Transformation

The Broadgreen project is special to me for two reasons. The first is that it was the first project we undertook as LearnMaker, and this was a big vote of confidence that we had something unique to offer schools that they saw as valuable. The second is that Broadgreen is in my home city of Liverpool, one of the old great British cities that fell into decline after WW2 so it really felt like I was giving something back when we started this cutting edge project. Broadgreen came to us wanting to improve the performance of a core department (Maths) in a short time frame (2 terms) with a limited budget. They had a number of key competencies they wanted to track student performance across and it gave us something to really get stuck into. I like tracking data because it's a clear indication of impact. Many tech projects don't think about what impact they're looking for, so they don't track any data which means they can't drive improvements. Schools don't know whether their technology is having an impact or not, and as this has become the standard practice for over a decade in the UK we've now reached a point where battlelines are drawn between opposing ideologies when it comes to tech in the classroom. I love technology but I'm more obsessed in moving things forward and when it comes to education that means you use what is best for the situation. We spent 10 days with Broadgreen over a 10 week period, and we prioritised the marking and feedback process as the 'hinge factor' (the area that could transform the department). By digitising this process we reduced the turnaround time from 14 days to 48 hours. This had a huge impact on students as they were getting richer feedback (audio and video feedback was now available to teachers through use of an iPad) at a much faster rate. The 2nd impact was that it significantly improved student-teacher interaction. This increased 300% as students asked more questions, sought more guidance and interacted with their teachers much more. At the end of the 10 weeks all the competencies that the school had been tracking had significantly increased, and independent working had increased by 97% alone. You can read the full breakdown of this project here.

We'll be finding out in the next month of so whether we've been shortlisted for the final awards. With some really exciting projects starting this year with schools we're already confident that whatever happens this year with the Impact Awards that we'll be in the running again for 2017! We're always looking for new schools to work with to help transform learning through technology and if you think that could be you then get in touch.