A quick review of 2017/18

pencil-3326180_640The 2017/18 academic year has drawn to a close.  OK, so it actually drew to a close a while ago, it is just I am only now getting to finishing writing and posting this.   Looking back it feels as if the year has just flown by.    I can remember Christmas like it was yesterday.   I can remember the inset session I did on cyber security which included reference to GDPR.   I now find myself in July (and almost in August) with GDPR in effect.  Where has the year gone?

A key part of the year has been spent experimenting with Office 365 and how it could be used in schools.    Initially it was looking at Microsoft classroom and SharePoint but by the end of the year we had Microsoft Teams.   PowerBI has been an area we have been exploring throughout the year however by the end of the year I had developed a better understanding of how PowerBI works and therefore a better understanding as to how it could be set up and used.   One target for the year ahead will be to build on this and to make better use of Office 365 and of PowerBi within the school.  We also had a little bit of a play with Flow and also with Stream.    I am sure Flow has potential however at the moment we are only scrapping the surface of what it might be able to do.

This year saw me take Digital Citizenship sessions with Lower 6 students.   Some groups were highly engaged and contributed thoughtful ideas and questions whereas other groups were not as engaged.    I enjoyed the experience however I now need to consider the programme in more detail to see how I might make it more engaging for the students in the sessions.    The fact I find it interesting and thought provoking is clearly not enough.    My ultimate aim for the sessions is to get the students engaged in discussion around the topics of privacy, ethics and the future in relation to technology, among other areas.    I don’t propose that I have the answers to these issues.   What I do hope is that through the sessions myself and students can explore the various factors, benefits and concerns together so at least we all leave the sessions having developed our own personal understanding and viewpoint.

During 2017/18 we have been busy with a number of IT projects related to our 1:1 mobile device scheme and also in relation to the overall network capability and its longer-term ability to support the schools tech aims.     The mobile device scheme originated in 2012 before I joined the school, meaning that 2018 makes for the 6th year of the scheme.    We last examined our direction back in 2016 when we renewed the schools iPad fleet however we now need to consider where the school is going in the future.    Device upgrades or even changes in device represent significant change projects.    As such I suspect we will need to spend the next 2 years exploring options ahead of planning and then deploying our eventual solution.   As such the work started recently, but mainly due to shape up in 2018/19, will all be building towards what we do in 2020/21 and going forward from there.    Related to this, it was with interest I read about the recent launch of the Surface Go device by Microsoft.    I am left wondering how this new device might fit into the schools overall IT Strategy going forward.

The start of 2018 saw me achieve my CISSP status which I feel was an achievement.   I was convinced having completed the exam that I wouldn’t pass.    I have now decided to take the ISACA CRISC exam in September however studying so far has been patchy at best.    This is something I am currently working on, trying to allocate time every couple of days to do some exam revision and practice testing.    I suspect September will be upon me quickly so I need to make sure I am ready.

Throughout 2017/18 my engagement with social media has been patchy however I have still found it to be useful and a valuable source of ideas and resources.   I have very much enjoyed various twitter based discussions on a variety of educational subjects including testing and assessment, school culture and educational technology use to name but three.   On reflection I think patchy use of social media is acceptable.   Sometimes it is filled with useful discussions and ideas however sometimes it becomes a bit of an echo chamber filled with negativity or complaints.   For me the key thing is to regularly keep an eye on social media and to participate when appropriate and when I feel there is benefit in doing so.

My reading so far has been reasonably steady.   I think I have managed 9 or 10 books so far in 2018, yet we are only just finishing month 7.     Am hopeful to be able to keep this up plus am glad of the various educators on twitter who are sharing their reading lists and recommendations.  This is ensuring that my library of books yet to be read remains full.

Blog posting is another area where I feel I have been reasonably steady.  I have posted a couple of guest blogs on various websites and publications which has been good plus have managed to post at least a single post per month to each of my two sites, www.techandlearning.wordpress.com and www.beingdigitallyliterate.wordpress.com.    Again this is something I want to maintain in the new year ahead possibly with an increase in guest posting if possible.

And so, another academic year has drawn to a close however after a period of opportunity to reflect, reassess and regroup, otherwise know as the summer holidays, I hope to be ready to meet the new challenges and opportunities which 2018/19 will provide.    Here we go again………



Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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