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Digital Leaders Update

This post is a bit of a diary / mind-empty on my progress so far in launching a Digital Leaders programme in our school.


As per my previous post, Kristian Still asked me to become involved in developing the Digital Leaders idea into my school and others in collaboration with Vital.  

A strange set of coincidences has blossomed this project into something greater than I could have imagined already.  The open letter in my previous post to ICT suppliers received a positive reply from Len Daniels at Toshiba.  I met with Len and Bob Harrison, Educational Advisor to Toshiba to discuss the project.  The coincidences started here as Bob is also School Governor for Lostock College, the school we will potentially be merging with in September.  He had also seen Kristian and his Digital Leaders present at the SSAT Conference last year so was aware of the programme and their considerable success.

A positive meeting followed and we agreed to work together on this project, we also agreed that working in collaboration with Lostock from the start would be advisable.  This had always been my plan a little down the line, but with the situation we find ourselves in it made sense to get more staff and students collaborating together earlier rather than later.  I was also honoured to be asked to become one of the Toshiba Ambassador schools, and I look forward to the chance to collaborate with these other innovative schools.

I took the concept of Digital Leaders to the Senior Leadership Team at my school and to Vicki Nuttall (Head of ICT) at Lostock, along with my ICT & Media departments.  Every member of staff that was approached about the idea was genuinely positive and excited about the project.

I launched the project just over a week ago, inviting applications from pupils.  My only stipulation was that the application should be digital.  I’ve had a great response so far, lots of pupils intrigued by the project.  Everything from emails saying “I want a laptop” to presentations & videos outlining their skills.  The pupils have another week to complete their applications, we will then be planning interviews.

Through Bob Harrison’s interest and contacts we are now also working with Vital on the project in the North-West and also with Trafford College.  Vital’s funding will allow us to work more closely with Kristian’s team in the South-East, hopefully we’ll have a great case-study of Digital Leader’s by the Summer.  Toshiba’s inclusion means that with their support we can loan each DL a shiny new Toshiba NB300 netbook.  This will give them the opportunity to really embed ICT in their learning, to support their classmates and teachers and to investigate the notion of 1 to 1 provision in our school for the future.

Finally, last week the Digital Leaders team met up for the first time at The Open University’s offices in Oxford.  This was a chance for the schools across the South East (& myself) who Kristian has got on board to sit down together and put together a course for Vital.  The idea being that any school wishing to follow our lead can register on Vital and take the bare-bones of a Digital Leaders programme off the shelf.

An inspiring 24 hours was had putting together a framework with some inspiring teachers.  You can follow them all on Twitter here.  It was great to see such energy at work and to have some detailed discussions of what we see Digital Leaders being, both as individual pupils and as an entity of it’s own.

We came up with 5 cornerstones that we want to see from our young leaders:

  1. Exclusive but open
  2. Mixed year group access
  3. Mixed gender
  4. Committment
  5. Shape ICT in school

And we split the programme into 4 main areas:

  1. DLs as Staff Trainers
  2. DLs as Digital Journalists
  3. DLs as Technical Support
  4. DLs having fun and learning new skills and tools

More on these once we finalise the details.  Personally I’m really excited to choose Stretford High’s Digital Leaders and to start developing them as young leaders.  I’m excited to build links with Lostock College & Trafford College, our 3 institutions are on a potentially exciting path together and these few pupils could have a big impact on the future of the schools over the next couple of years.  I’m also excited at the possible collaborations and interactions with Toshiba, again for the pupils involved and myself also.  I hope to have 6 pupils that by this Summer are on their way to considering careers in ICT / Media.  Who are helping me and the other staff out at school, in turn developing the teaching and learning they and their peers receive.  And I look forward to working with a great bunch of educators over these coming months.

Everyone that has come into contact with the concept of Digital Leaders has been excited by it, I hope I can do Kristian’s original vision justice.

If you want to know more about the Digital Leader’s then you can visit the staff blog at http://digitalleaders.co.uk or you can visit our DL’s blog at http://traffordschool.digitalleaders.co.uk (the pupils will start blogging here one they begin their roles).  Hopefully by next month you will be able to find the Digital Leaders Course on the Vital website.

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