Xeno – Phobic response from Big Society

Filed under: Education,Outcomes,Technology — lenand @ 12:02 am
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Digital Inclusion is high on the political agenda – and Martha Lane Fox is continuing to keep it in the news.  Whether it gets any local authority staff input is separate issue.  It is not high in the priorities for spending next year.  At least that emerged in this week’s SOCITM Futures meeting.

Here is a personal example of the misfit between Vision and Delivery in trying to solve the problems of inclusion.  A big social problem is children excluded from school. Many children are disconnected from normal schooling. Although there is uncertainty in the statistics, the following, excluding truancy, give the scale of the problem:

  • Permanent exclusion (over 9000 per year)
  • Temporary exclusion (over 350,000 incidents per year)
  • Parental choice, (possibly 50,000)
  • Gypsy and Traveller children (12,000 of secondary age are not registered at school)
  • Children looked after by their local authorities (60,300)

Schools and local authorities struggle to maintain levels of achievement with these groups.  Research recommends catch-up support and individual learning opportunities out of school.  Independence of schools from Local Authorities will not make the job any easier.

The South East Grid for Learning invested in a virtual learning environment (Xeno) for such children – providing them with electronic resources that are available to others. An attractive user interface was designed, suitable resources were added, such as Angel Boy.  Take up has been disappointing.

The root cause is the lack of capacity of teachers with the skills to show excluded children how to gain benefit from current Internet technology.  An attempt was made to attract students to mentor teachers in the uses of Xeno, but there were no volunteers.

This could be an early warning to the advocates of Big Society:  Big vision, Little delivery.

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