RiskIT is a strategy that anyone can apply within their school. Staff and students enjoy it and it has a positive impact on learning.
At Northfleet School for Girls, we have tried different strategies to embed ICT across the curriculum – peer-to-peer support, an “Innovations Team” (a selected few supporting all staff), department ICT leaders as well as digital leaders. Nothing was completely effective.
Since we started using the RiskIT strategy, however, I have noticed a change in culture in the use of ICT.
Most schools have ICT champions and digital leaders doing great things. This is to be commended and maintained, but there is a question that still needs answering – what about the rest? Are the other teachers all using ICT “innovatively” to support their teaching? If not, how can they be supported to catch-up with the few who are? This is where RiskIT can help.
How does it work?
RiskIT gives teachers an opportunity and framework in which they can experiment with new technologies and ideas that they have not tried before in a lesson and with a class of their choice. Success or failure of the activity is irrelevant – the main purpose is to throw themselves in at the deep end, knowing there is someone with them to support them and that they are not being judged. Just like a child learning to ride a bike, if you fail, pick yourself up and try again – just learn from your mistakes.
Running a RiskIT week
I would encourage schools to run a RiskIT week or fortnight with their staff. The idea is that teachers taking part give a brief description of the RiskIT activity that they want to undertake to the co-ordinator with times and class details. There is only one rule: “Use something ‘ICT’ that you have not used before.” It couldn’t be simpler.
A timetable of all those taking part is made and advertised across the school and the co-ordinator allocates a member of the leadership team to visit particular lessons. Visitors will have an opinion sheet and will be asked to give positive-only feedback. It is important not to be judgemental or critical. The leadership team plays a major role and you must have them on board – otherwise the strategy will not work.
Students are also informed and their co-operation is required as well as their opinions at the end of the session; again only positive feedback is allowed.
Remember that lots of advertising is required – take any opportunity to sell the idea to staff and the management. Also, technical support must be allocated wherever required throughout the sessions: this is very important as it will ensure the equipment is working properly and glitches are sorted out quickly.
Staff need to be reassured that taking part in the scheme does not mean abandoning the content of their lesson, as a matter of fact they should try as much as possible to stick to their curriculum but with the added twist of the innovative delivery.
We have been using RiskIT at Northfleet for three years and it has been particularly successful in the second and third years. The first year was not as successful because staff had fewer visitors from the leadership team to their sessions. I have learned from the mistakes am still perfecting the strategy, but I am confident that if schools follow the plan (see the website for more) they will definitely enjoy the successes.
The system is free and adaptable; it is based on using the technology that already exists in the school and there is no need to purchase new equipment. It is time to get those visualisers out of the cupboards, recharge the cameras and access those free websites.
RiskIT in October
The RiskIT strategy has the backing of Naace, the ICT association, and schools are being encouraged to undertake RiskIT activities during a national fortnight between October 6 and 19. The Naace website states: “RiskIT is a one or two-week campaign that can be adopted in and adapted for your own setting so that teachers are empowered, encouraged and supported in trying something different. It may be a different tech tool, or using a tool they are already familiar with in a different way. RiskingIT is a commitment to CPD and advancing education, whatever the subject area, through the appropriate and effective use of technology.” Further information
CAPTION: Step IT up: A RiskIT project at Northfleet School for Girls saw students using green screen