ONLINE LEARNING: schools and higher education

The reflections of things we have found to be effective in online learning have been built on over 30 years of effective, large scale projects with remarkable levels of engagement. b
Below are some links back to some of that history, to reports and ther materials, for those who want to delve deeper, perhaps for their research.

notschool logo
Was our fully online, state-funded school, that began in 1998 and ran for more than a decade with around 1,000 students per year.

"Our research has developed a clear, scalable, affordable and economically viable model which works. The "complex recipe" of is critical to this success." - report to DfES 2001

talking heads logo

Talking Heads
Was our online community for all the English headteachers, built as a precursor, and then complement. to the National College of School Leadership. With 23,000 headteachers, many of whom in the early stages were given a laptop by the government as part of the roll out. A good sized team of facilitator / researchers meant much was learned from this important project. Details and papers- like this one - all from this link.

eviva project

The eVIVA project
State-funded by the UK's Qualification and Curriculum Authority, and supported by mobile operators Orange, eVIVA challenged children to set their own attainment targets, to evidence their progress towards them through posted milestones on-line and to be interrogated about their attainment / progress 'when ready" through their phones, via an AI / voice recognition engine. The teacher moderation and peer validation was robust and valid. Children posted tougher targets than the curriculum anticipated for them, yet always attained them.

Today the underpinning technology is normal and simple. Back then it was remarkable and complex!

be very afraid event logo

Be Very Afraid
As with so many great projects, this started with a conversation. The Dept for Education's senior Civil Servant at the time said to me that he wasn't really sure what children were doing with all this exciting new technology. I said I bring a group of children - primary to undergraduate - in for a day to show what they were doing. At the end of the day, with a big smile, he said he was "terried my boy, terrified"! But in fact he was as excited as the rest of us. Probably we should do it all over again for the current generation of officials... The event ran annually in BAFTA and the children's audience was senior policy makers, ministers and a good few BATFA celebriities too. No presntations, the children just sat at tables and showed their projects. Everyone was captivated.

The website is full of great examples - and should help with ideas for how to go beyond online lessons. Four examples from many are: Castle Manor School where the children create their own weekly broadcast as an online "assembly" watched by all; Lampton Secondary School's "day in the life" look at multiculturalism through expereinces away from school; Matching Green Primary with their online task being to restart a "broken" space station with knowledeg that they acquire; the University for the Creative Arts with an project that is aboiut equity and quaity as individual students create remarkable pieces of work,

Beachschool is about learning, play and science away from school. It runs without premises on the beach all year and engages its normally pre-school children in the exploration of their local habitat, flora and fauna. A parent writes:

"Fantastic outdoor educational fun on our doorstep! Brilliant morning, finding sea creatures, making beach volcanos, learning about hot and cold water reactions along with so much more and not forgetting toasting marshmallows!"


There are so very many organisations offering high quality curriculum focussed learning resources, - from the Khan Academy to BBC's Bitesize.

Content from these many, many providers is ubiquitous, needs curation of course, but is typically generously funded as part of an organisations outreach remit. Use it where appropriate - quality is often very high.

a learnometer

The Learnometer project has for 5 years been exploring the impact of environmental factors like CO2, temperature, pollution and more in learners' cognitive performance. A huge amount of work has been done helping schools to optimise their learning conditions.

However, with millions of hours of data from learning spaces, the project also has advice to offer about home working / home learning conditions for everyone (and also in Spanish)

tesco schoolnet 2000

Tesco SchoolNet 2000 (TSN2K)
Our Tesco SchoolNet 2000 project entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the then-largest Internet learning project in the world. It challenged children at homes, in schools and around their communities to engage in monthly tasks (for example, finding and interviewing the most famous person where you live and writing online about their schooldays and experiences).

The project ran across communities - a little computer lab in every Tesco supermarket nationwide - and ran across all ages. The branding of Browser the Cat was on every carrier bag and many of the lorries. As with all these projects it was made by many complex details (the letters of introduction to the celebrities for example, together with the child safety structures around that activity).

link and details coming soon

LiNM logo

Learning in the New Millennium
Carole Chapman led the remarkable LiNM project - a world leading online community of learners, right from the dawn of the Internet, sponsored by Nortel (who amongst other things invented fibre optic cable).

It ran from 1993 (the world wide web code was only released in April of that year!) until 2,000. Papers and conclusions all worth a read - way ahead of it's time. So much of what followed owed its detail to LiNM. Find reports from this link.








this page created June 24, 2016 by Prof Stephen Heppell, and last updated on Friday, May 1, 2020 12:43