A pioneering project to give teachers and staff more confidence in using the latest technology has paid dividends.
The Digilit Leicester project – a knowledge exchange between Leicester City Council’s Building Schools for the Future programme and De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) – was launched to measure and improve digital literacy skills for staff across the city.
In October 2014 a survey of teachers and support staff has shown a rise in confidence and digital skills across Leicester’s 23 secondary and SEN schools, which are attended by more than 20,000 students aged 11-16.
Schools have developed and embraced technology in a variety of innovative ways. One example was an iPad orchestra which allowed special needs students to create music on apps.
The event, held at Ash Field School, was a huge success. Teacher Ellen Croft said: “The whole atmosphere around the project was that of celebration, achievement, fun and coolness!”
The Digilit project measured staff confidence in six key areas and allowed staff, schools and the council to identify priority areas and knowledge gaps at individual, school and citywide level.
Centrally organised training programmes were run and the team worked with partners such as Childnet International to boost skills.
All of the city’s secondary schools have been rebuilt as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme, including some £32million invested in new technology.
The project supported staff to raise skills by promoting existing good practice and setting up new connections and partnerships across schools so staff could make the most of the new technology being used.
Hundreds of teachers and support staff took part in a survey to assess how well Digilit had performed. The survey data is used by staff, schools and the authority to inform planning for professional development.
It found a “statistically significant” change in staff confidence with 21 per cent saying their skills and confidence had increased in the two years since the project launched.
The Digilit team included Lucy Atkins, digital literacy research associate, Josie Fraser, ICT strategy lead, supported by Richard Hall, head of DMU’s Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT).
Lucy said: “The Digilit Leicester survey focused on what digital literacy means in practice for secondary schools – that is, what digital literacy looks like in the classroom in terms of staff skills and confidence, and how it supports young people as learners.
“School staff do a fantastic job – and the Digilit Leicester project seeks to ensure they have access to information about engaging and innovative approaches to using technologies.”
In 2013, the team won an international prize for its work. All content is released on open license so others can use it.