The thinking behind OneSite.
As a teacher of many years I have seen so many new directives, ideas, ways of thinking and approaches to excellent provision and teaching. Some I have loved, some I have despised.
The more I have taught, the more I have seen things come and go and, as many other experienced educationalists will agree, often these ideas often come back round in circles.
Amongst all these ongoing changes over my career the biggest change that I have seen is in technology. When I first started teaching I was one of the first round of teachers to use an interactive whiteboard. I became a leader in change, pioneering this new way and training and supporting my colleagues in the virtues of them. After that, I moved onto making the school a website – schools didn’t have websites in those days so this was a new idea in my locality. Websites are now a legal requirement for all schools and IWB’s are old hat.
I have always embraced all things technological in school. I am one of those staff who gets excited by new products, services, websites to use and throw myself whole heartedly into trying and testing them and making them improve process and productivity in my classrooms. However, even for an enthusiastic ICT user like me I have become exhausted over the years at times under the weight of all the different items that we can use to support achievement.
I have spent many a staff meeting with less ICT keen colleagues, despairing about yet another ICT system or product that we need to integrate into our already extensive ‘to-do’ list. Worries of how on earth will they find the time and frustration at the amount of duplicating going on. Despite being an enthusiastic user of technology I have always been a champion and an advocate of effective use of ICT tools, not just coverage of multiple products claiming to be the next best thing. Finding what works best for you and making it work for your class is most important. Focusing on the benefits and using one thing to its full potential is better than a range of products, non of which you can fully get to grips with. I am very anti-duplication and get just as up-in-arms as the ICT phobics over multiple platforms and tools to use.
Since I have had the pleasure of going into multiple schools to work with staff on their website and tech needs, I have seen that this is a universal issue. There are too many products to choose from and many school’s using far too many fragmented services at once.
In my time working with the much valued schools that choose to come to us for solutions we have also heard from many teachers about the tech choices they really need. Every school needs a website but the question of other learning sites and platforms is always a debate we have. Many tell us how the platforms they use are so content rich and high functioning that they are actually too overwhelmed to use them and can’t keep up with them. Many teachers who find ICT overwhelming find these platforms do not enhance the provision they provide but rather hinder it or make them feel inadequate against their peers. Teachers who devote their life to their pupils and are outstanding in many ways can feel dejected and useless when it comes to ICT and the expectations on them.
Many leaders feel frustrated that they are paying for something but staff are not using it to its full potential. Often a minority of teachers who are confident with computing whizz along with it and the others dig their heels in and refuse. Those who love it use it well and make the areas of others who are unsure look weak in comparison.
Parents feel frustrated and inadequate when the school sends home yet another log in for a system/learning site to use at home. They have their own systems for work and personal lives, tons of passwords for everything from shopping to utility bills and more and they struggle to find the time they need after a long day at work between times tables, spellings, homework, activities and the day-to-day needs of their kids for another online activity. Much as the majority of parents are desperate to support their children’s learning and the school, life is just so busy they cannot always keep up anymore than the teachers and often feel inadequate for this. I know I have in the past with my own children and I have a lot of experience in all of this technology and learning business!
So after all these experiences and hearing your voices we decided to create OneSite. OneSite combines the main tools schools tell us they want in one place. It takes the key elements and eliminates other unnecessary or overwhelming functionality, which often puts many teachers off using the systems they have in school.
- One tool for engaging with pupils – digital literacy is key. OneSite provides one area for students to publish blogs, interact with each others blogs, take quizzes, join in polls and see their achievements celebrated.
- One tool for parental engagement – instead of schools using one company for a text messaging system, another to create their website and another to provide an online area, OneSite helps schools meet the parental engagement agenda with one single tool. Parents can receive texts, emails, forms and surveys via OneSite and can see what is happening in their children’s zones without having to log in.
- One website for everything – OneSite provides a website that allows you present Ofsted and statutory required information whilst promoting your schools best bits through news, galleries, events and blogs. At the same time you can access your classroom tools, engage with your parents and pupil and celebrate achievements – all in one place. Using a single website saves time and supports the work of teaching staff – as opposed to adding to it!
- One single easy to use CMS – school management is complicated enough with conflicting info and schedules being recorded in numerous different places using various different pieces of software. OneSite is easy to administer and easy to access for users, and has the added benefit of linking to the schools MIS system to ensure contact data is always up to date.
- One supplier to deal with – being able to work with one trusted supplier means you’ll build a better relationship, get great support, while saving time and money.
- One step at a time – with OneSite you are in control of what parts of it you use and how much you spend. The OneSite solution grows with your school so as your teachers embrace it within their department or year group, your website grows with it.
OneSite encourages engagement between parents, teachers and pupils in a fun but practical way, whilst helping you to tick boxes on that front with Ofsted. It simplifies communication and pulls out the key functionality that teachers have told us they want, without over burdening staff with the unnecessary.