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Stoke Park School and Community Technology College in Coventry recently invested in the Viglen Learning Platform from it’s learning and is taking full advantage of it’s unique features to enhance their vision of developing teaching and learning for the future.
Stoke Park is an inner-city multi-racial school and community college, committed to equal opportunities. It has a long history of excellence. Founded in 1919 as a Girls Grammar school, it became a co-educational comprehensive in 1975, a community college in 1976 & a technology college in 1997, the school currently educates 1123 pupils aged between 11 and 19.
As a Community Technology College, Stoke Park is committed to meeting the educational needs of its pupils and the wider community.
At its heart is the philosophy that, In everything we do there should be the belief that each member of our community is of equal value, and that we are all individuals with differences who can appreciate each other’s worth and learn from each other.
ICT is embedded in all aspects of the school and it is this philosophy that has fuelled the school’s desire to embrace the Virtual Learning Environment. As a centre of excellence in Maths, Science, Technology and Information Technology, Stoke Park has seen the benefits of using technology to achieve success.
Anticipating the Future
Stoke Park has always been at the forefront of ICT learning, in fact, the school developed a school intranet for learning a number of years ago, extended the opening times of IT rooms from 7.45 am into the early evening and started using a VLE. In 1993 it identified and developed a Learning Culture — where all students took greater responsibility for their learning and development and where learning would be challenging and enjoyable — as a main priority for school improvement. The school has been in the process of developing their Learning Culture vision ever since, seeing new ICT teaching and learning resources as fundamental in realising it.
Meeting the Challenge
As their experience and ambitions grew it became clear to the school that their existing VLE was letting them down when it came to what they wanted to achieve from a learning platform. Head Teacher Bill Wolger lists the following issues the school had with their previous VLE: there was a lack of innovation with the old platform, which did not develop as promised; an inability or unwillingness of the provider to respond to feedback or requests for modifications; a number of instances of instability of the platform; limited functionality, especially around interactive features.
With the rest of their ICT infrastructure firmly in place and having had the previous experience of using a VLE, the school knew exactly what they were looking for when they decided to change their learning platform. Top of their list were: reliability, ease of use and ease of access for administrators, students, teachers and parents plus an attractive front page that they could personalise. They also wanted increased interactivity and for students to be able to monitor progress themselves.
Having had experience of developing their own e-learning materials they knew they needed something that was more than just an electronic textbook. Only the Viglen Learning Platform from it’s learning could successfully meet all of their criteria with its attractive easy to use interface and its unique ability to personalise learning.
As Janice Taggart, the VLE Team Leader, puts it: The look and feel of the interface was appealing. It was also easy to create materials and it supported a wide range of programs. At least as importantly, it’s learning and Viglen appeared to be committed to developing the product to suit our particular needs.
She goes on to explain: We have seen ICT as an important medium for developing a learning culture, the Viglen Learning Platform from it’s learning fits into the long term aim of giving students access to learning resources whenever and where ever they want them.
Today the Viglen Learning Platform from it’s learning further enhances their school without walls, encouraging flexible and out of hours learning as well as giving students home based 24 hour ICT access. What’s more in a successful pilot scheme, GCSE students had access to their teachers and learning mentors online:
The ability for pupils to be able to communicate with staff while they were on study leave for exams — often the night before an exam to help calm last minute nerves was a bonus for staff and pupils alike . . . students certainly believed that the materials put onto the Viglen Learning Platform helped them to be better prepared and feel more confident in sitting exams
The Head teacher also believes that there have been several other very positive results of using the VLP package: Firstly, the ability for the students to take over responsibility for learning themselves and secondly, we have been pleased with the enthusiasm of the pupils and their willingness to use the system in their own time, out of school hours.
In fact, an industrious group of Year 10 Engineers identified the platform themselves as a way in which to work outside of normal school hours. Using the project feature they designed a remote control vehicle and won a national award for their efforts, being recognised particularly in their use of CAD.
The potential for learning has apparently motivated teaching staff too and in keeping with the school’s philosophy, despite the wide range of e-learning packages available, the school has generated all of their own e-learning materials, which has led to increased ownership and personalisation.
A majority of teachers have been excited by the potential for improved learning; we have become increasingly imaginative in developing ways to use the VLE, Bill Wolger explains.
Other features that the school is particularly impressed with include the self-marking tests that provide instant feedback for pupils. The email function allowing teachers to keep in touch with students on study leave (and chase up late and incomplete work) has also been very popular. Stoke Park is so enthusiastic about the Viglen Learning Platform from it’s learning that they are sharing their unique vision of teaching and learning with other schools in the area.
Looking to the future
With their new VLE the school plans to enhance their Learning Culture further, moving towards a personalised curriculum they plan to offer: examination revision support and online support in specialist subjects, a bank of homework and extension topics, develop students e-portfolios, and to start to involve parents more closely, eventually enabling them to monitor effort, progress and scores. The school is also in the process of developing a virtual teaching environment giving teachers instant access to resources such as schemes of work, lesson plans and teaching materials and will continue to develop new learning materials. The school is also excited to be working in conjunction with Wolverhampton University to design a healthy lifestyle e-portfolio for the year 7 students.
To conclude Bill Wolger says: The development of an effective VLE has been a priority for the school for many years. The Viglen Learning Platform has enabled us to begin to make our vision a reality.
The Viglen Learning Platform from it’s learning has further enhanced Stoke Park’s already ambitious attitude towards ICT, and they have made good use of its features to support their unique vision. The school has chosen a fantastic learning platform, which gives them the opportunity to carry on developing their own educational initiatives and e-learning programs, as well as being able to incorporate the other e-learning packages that are available if they choose to.
Chief Executive Officer, Viglen Limited