Building a Personalization Project from Scratch: Week 1

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Let's start with a state school in the UK which is average in terms of deprivation indicators and budget, below average in terms of the condition of the buildings, but which has been recognised internationally for successful innovation despite these starting points. The school is Saltash.net Community School in Cornwall and over the next few months we will be designing and implementing a large scale personalisation project from scratch. Saltash_net_Community_School_-_geograph_org_uk_-_1195908Each week I will add our progress as a blog post and ask for ideas and comments from all of you in the PiL community so we can collaboratively gain greater success.

Often it is the theory that is easiest to read on the web and when you do see examples of best practice it is normally after the event when all the mistakes and problems have been ironed out. This is why it occurred to me that maybe keeping a weekly (sorry in advance if I miss the odd week!) blog of the discussion as it happens may be useful. Is it an idea worth pursuing?

Week 1 of the project ---------------------: Surveying students and staff to find out what the project needs to achieve. We have asked students and staff a simple question to get us started. "If there were only three things we could guarantee to help you improve during your time at this school, what would they be"? We collected in responses from each tutor group (all students have a tutor and are in groups of approx 30). Tutors first asked each student to decide their own answer, then combined the most common responses for their group. These responses then were sent to me. 80% of responses were back to me from the 1400 students and 100 staff the day after we asked staff to do it. OK I agree, the school is well above average in terms of the number of excellent and reliable staff.

Anyway the result so far - Students and staff agree that our school should…

  1. Help students build their self confidence,
  2. Help them set and achieve their own personal goals and
  3. Help them improve team work skills.

Core aims 2 and 3 are basically a request for student centered personalisation which gives us a clear direction for this project. Core aim 1 requires us to set challenges that are achievable, personalised to the confidence of each student and with high, earned praise built in. Given the range of goals that are possible I am going to look at a project that gives individual access to students or teams of students to ICT for part of the project. Previous experience has taught me that personalisation projects are greatly enhanced by such access but like most schools we only have funding for around 1 device between 4. I would like the project to fit between now and the end of our school year which is mid-July. Finally, I need to build evaluation into the project so that we know which bits have worked and so can build on this knowledge next year.

Week 2: ------- This week we need to think of projects that might fit these requirements. Any suggestions or comments welcome…

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