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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Today was our annual Masterclass conference in Argyll & Bute. This one was tinged with a bit of sadness for me, as it was our last Masterclass conference. We have decided that from next session we will only be supporting one ICT team, and that will be the SSDN Mentors.

John opened the day by recapping on the activities of Masterclass over the years. We then asked the Masterclass members in groups to think about the ‘good points’ and ‘bad points’ about Masterclass. In no particular order, here goes:

Good Points
  • Personal networking – making good personal links between primary & secondary staff in the Masterclass group
  • Exchanging ideas – great having like-minded people to share things with
  • New technology – a good opportunity to try new software and hardware
  • It has been a great impetus to learn new skills
  • Meeting others
  • Support from others
  • Attending SETT in Glasgow
  • Resources given to Masterclass members and gained through folio submissions
  • Tutoring ICT courses both locally and centrally
  • ‘Eolas’ forum (for readers outside A&B, Eolas is our public folder system where Masterclass have a private discussion area.)
  • Gained in confidence and given confidence to others
  • Created good links in places between primary/secondary
  • SETT in Argyll & Bute

Bad Points
  • Finding time to go on courses & take training etc
  • Trying to encourage colleagues in using ICT is often really difficult
  • Microsoft Academy – difficult to encourage folk especially sitting exams
  • Lack of understanding/info from SMT
  • Difference between remits in SMT – CPD coordinator is not often the ICT coordinator resulting in difficulties
  • Lack of SMT support/interest in some cases – can have a knock-on effect to other staff in the school
  • CPD has not been standard across the authority and between Masterclass members experiences – payment issue
  • Eolas is not great as it is at the moment
  • Lack of opportunity to go to national Masterclass events
  • Initiatives started but not continued – for example Macromedia Breeze
  • Time
  • Communication with Head Teachers – more push needed from above in the authority?
  • SSDN CPD on top of ‘normal’ ICT CPD? – this could be a lot to ask of Mentors
  • Central training & technical support – software not on machines
  • Masterclass online community – same people all the time contributing

One comment fitted in to both good and bad areas – Support – from Head Teacher level & centrally from ICT staff

It was a great opportunity to hear all of these comments. I’m a firm believer in trying to ensure that everyone is as informed as possible, so it is always good to be given feedback where we have done well, and also where we need to try harder – I think we have all learned today.

The rest of the morning was a presentation from Neil Stewart of RM. Neil is our Educationalist, and gave us all an update on progress on the SSDN. It is very easy to forget that the last time most Masterclass members saw anything SSDN was at SETT in September – so much has developed since then so thanks to Neil for this input today – I think the questions asked showed how enthusiastic about the SSDN we are and how keen we are to see it’s potential realised.

After lunch, the focus of the day was on what a SSDN Mentor will be. We had a look at the online Mentor pack (sorry everyone!), and then split into groups to examine four questions – the results are shown in mind maps – 1. What should the residential training consist of? 2. Which models of training do we find most effective? 3. How would we support colleagues? 4. How would we roll out training?

My thanks to everyone for their contribution today, and for all your hard work over the last 3-4 years. It’s been quite a journey.

It seems strange to think of moving on from Masterclass – I’d love to hear what people think?


Blogger marlyn moffat said...

Was about to post my recollections of the day, but you have done that for me! Why on earth are you apologising for such a mammoth piece of work as the Mentor File? Probably a national icon to be! If I dozed off it was only because I had been following every step, so carefully, previously! I don't think for a minute that the networking that has taken place in Masterclass will be lost to Argyll, whatever happens with SSDN, and that it should be built upon further. That diversity, interest, intellect, enthusiasm, hardwork, and sometimes silent effort of the practitioners should still be sought out, and encouraged. It's not always recognition we want , but support at the right time, in the right way! Oh and..and there always is...TIME, but we are now beginning to see that at the right levels, methinkst. There was a hint today.

11:08 pm  
Blogger David said...

I liked the "What should the residential training consist of? mindmap... nless of course there was a misprint and one of the nodes was supposed to say "whine". :-)

An interesting list of good and bad points. Reading between the lines, it looks to me that despite the difficulties, Masterclass has generally been perceieved as a good thing in Argyle and Bute. Hopefully the same will be said about SSDN.

P.S. It has only just clicked (I am a bear of very little brain" that AB is not only your initials, but coud also stand for Argye and Bute. Sorry for being so dim as it makes the title of your blog even smarter! :-)

10:23 am  
Anonymous Ian said...

Well whatever happens I would just like to say an open and heart felt thank you for your support, challenge and the laughter. I think Mathew Boyle would describe you as 'Critical friends'
I felt very sad driving away yesterday. Hopefully I will see you all soon in one way or another


7:20 pm  
Blogger Morag Macdonald said...

So sorry I was not there to hear the rest of the days proceedings. I have gained a great deal from my involvement in Masterclass and want to build on the good points and keep the connections going with everyone. Hope I will be seeing you all at SETT in September.

8:18 pm  
Anonymous graham dickie said...

ditto the comments of all- especially the thanks and congrats for the hard work done- well deserved. And that from one who's calling in life appears to be to ask the wrong questions and not hear the right answer!
I was wondering about the future! After the SSDN mentors finish, and for some of our team now- ex masterclassers all trained up and no party to go to- can anything be done now and then to keep the support and usefulness alive?
Ta again Andrew

1:02 pm  
Blogger ab said...

Thanks for your comments folks -

Marlyn - you should always post your own comments - after all, I merely put my take on the day. Support does require time - maybe there will be progress here.

David - yes, obviously it was a typo ;-)

Ian - I too was sad driving away. If we have created anything in A&B with Masterclass it is community. I will re-echo John's sentiments from the day though - this isn't really the end.. . it's a new chapter.

Morag - keep the connections going! Think of the great friends we have all made!

Graham - Do you know something? - if I could have had one wish for ICT in Argyll & Bute, it would have been to have every teacher go through the Masterclass experience. Then we would have a huge community of people who could make effective use of ICT in their teaching and learning. I hope that we can keep the support alive - I'd hate to lose this!

7:19 pm  
Anonymous john said...

Hi Andrew,
I am not in A&B (obviously) but it sound like a great place to work. Like you folk I have had a fair bit of nice kit to 'play' with through MasterClass and attending SETT has been an appreciated luxury (I don't think it should be a luxury, but it is compare with people who specialise in things other than ICT)
I was interested in MasterClass online community – same people all the time contributing as a bad point, what is the answer to this? Are people put off from posting by too many regular faces? Is there a way round this?

10:52 pm  
Blogger marlyn moffat said...

No need for me to duplicate, when you have done so succinctly. I'll just redirect! :-)

12:03 am  
Anonymous Ian Stuart said...

David said...
"An interesting list of good and bad points. Reading between the lines, it looks to me that despite the difficulties, Masterclass has generally been perceieved as a good thing in Argyle and Bute. Hopefully the same will be said about SSDN."

I can only speak for myself David but I saw it as a very positive experience.
This due to many things
- John having the forsight to limit the Masterclass to those who face the pupils day in and day out.
- Andrew for allowing a forum which encouraged pupil to think outside the box
- and last but most importantly the people who are Masterclessers who came from a range of backgrounds (Another huge positive) and helped and supportted each other.
What Masterclass did here was allowed people to form a community and John and Andrew supported that community in a very positive way

3:30 pm  

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