BectaX: the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

Attending BectaX gave me a bit of a buzz. It was a privelege to be invited. (Thank You @tombarrett)

The agenda was to see where we need to go next to advance the use of ICT in education.

Professor Xavier took this! Click to see more.

Speakers were lined up from education, media and industry. Lots of movers and shakers present. Creative explosions were the order of the day. ‘Where might this merry dance lead us?’ I w[o]ndered lonely as a cloud (great pun? probably not) …

I have discussed the issues raised at BectaX with FutureLabs, the TDA, NAACE, the DCSF, the SSAT and more – I have thoroughly enjoyed these conversations. The conclusions were more-or-less the same: generate some kind of portal of teaching practice, the number one destination for all teachers looking for inspiration and answers. By teachers, for teachers.

A common response to such a proposal (from those more in the know than I am)  is that it has happened before with the decommissioned NGFL (http://ngfl.gov.uk/), which now re-directs you to Becta Schools (http://schools.becta.org.uk/). Part of the NGFL was the National Strategies. I thought these were marvellous. As an ICT teacher I was invited to work with other ICT teachers – a revolution as I started to work with teachers of my subject and I was provided with resources that had been tested and improved in the classroom and I was free to adapt them. Yippee-eye-ay! Genuinely very good. Other than that I have recollections of NGFL talking about digital brain and dragging broadband into schools and receiving credits for software. I have been in the private sector for four years and therefore lost touch with current progress on this front. I am aware of RBCs and various Grids for Learning around the country but I am not really sure what they do.

From here (national strategy stuff delivered at my local CLC) I went to FutureLab and  Moodle which took me to MirandaMod who introduced me to twitter and from there EdTechRoundUp, then TeachMeet and from there the world. There are a lot of people I have to thank so I won’t name them – suffice to say I can pinpoint five or six people whose responses to my online exploration were very very important to me. I hope they know who they are.

I share this because this is my hub of all things teaching.
Is that what BectaX was asking for? The big key that unlocked my door was building this network of educators. I forged this. I said the right thing at the right time that got me sufficient attention to keep me moving forwards – like a frontiersman racing for the land near the creek on which to stake my claim – it was mine.

If BECTA puts together a hub it will be great for some people. I need something teachers can go to and find inspiration, true enough, but they have to be able to find it easily. But, having said that, I love my network and it was not easy to build.

What I would like from BectaX?

At the end of the day I hogged the mic and said it was important that:

1. Becta produced documents that outlined the importance of open internet filtering in schools. Get rid of the porn and other stuff that offends a classroom but do not ban blogs just because they have some indecent images on them. Let the teacher and the Pupil Acceptable Use Policy handle this.

2. Petition OFSTED to make this benchmark a requirement for being an outstanding school. This way Headteachers and LAs will have to pay attention and it won’t be little old me fighting to take the risk.

3. Write a document that insists software should only be locked on a network if it is essential to the health of that network. By this I mean internet browsers. If I cannot use my plug-ins to bookmark and retrieve and search and access my tools then I am unproductive. Why is this any different to the kids. I do not need an expensive single sign-on system. I need to be able to customize my browser. The question for me is what is the best way to do this on shared computers? Roaming desktop? Virtualised desktop? I’m not in the know about this.

BectaX was fun. It is always great to meet up with the people I work with online because I am genuinely very fond of them. I hope some constructive work ensues that builds on BECTA’s already impressive collection (VLEs, technicians, leadership). I have used some of these and they are very helpful to any school. This is where the value of BECTA lies in my opinion. BECTA could, however, develop into something more (funds allowing).

My apologies for heckling Tom Barrett via twitter – imagine having everyone in the room check to see if your flies are down???