As I come to the end of a two-year training plan for Hampshire’s VLE, I am still struck by the amount of teachers and schools that seem to be approaching the use of technology in a strange way. Maybe it’s our fault? After all, we have invited them on 6 days of VLE training, spoke about the importance of the VLE and we monitor the usage of it, so maybe we are to blame.

What am I talking about? It’s all about where you start with tech.

Most schools we work with are looking at the VLE and asking ‘what shall we do with it?’, they then try and fit it into literacy, numeracy, homework etc. As we have got further through the two years, I have been trying to tell schools that this might not be the most productive way of working. Surely they should start by asking ‘What do I want to achieve?’ or ‘What are my targets/goals/aspirations?’ and then finding the tech tool to match.

So where do you start? At the ideas and planning? Or at the software/tech?

Someone said it’s a bit like asking about eggs and chickens, which do you start with? You do need to play around with the tech first to know what it is capable of doing and more importantly the limitations, but there needs to be a purpose behind it too.

On training we show the VLE (of course, that’s our job) but we also show other web2-type tools such as ebooks, prezi, animoto, voki, wallwisher etc. I want teachers to know there is a whole wide world out there for them to explore. Then once they know this, they can start matching the tools to their objectives.

For example, one objective for me in September will be to showcase the children’s learning with a wider audience. How will I achieve it? Well we’ll be posting pictures and examples onto the blog and website, we might be presenting them in one year group as an ebook and another as a video (possibly using animoto) and another year group will make a presentation in good ol’ PowerPoint or new-kid Kizoa. But first, before the tech, I need to think about ‘what I want to achieve’, then there can be some evaluation from myself, the staff and the children about the best medium and tool to use.

For lots of schools that we work with, working online, sharing, collaborating and exploring are totally new concepts that I hope we’ve opened their eyes to. We do have good usage of the VLE and for that I am very proud of our hard work, but I also want them to think about why we are doing it, it’s not just to meet a target! I want the teachers we have trained to be inspired by the use of other tech too and to really make an impact on the children that they work with.

So don’t just try and squeeze in different tech for the sake of it, think about the goal and the outcome. I know for many people, especially those up-to-date with Twitter etc, this is common sense, but for some schools I’ve worked with, it might be a change to the way they work.