Evaluation of the Masterclass Initiative
CHAPTER 8 : RECOMMENDATIONS
The preceding comment on the Masterclass programme reveals that it has had a number of successes in meeting its objectives to date and realising the expectations of participants and co-ordinators. In summary, key outcomes thus far, are:
- The various components in place to support the delivery of Masterclass are well regarded, with much positive comment elicited specifically about the initial and further training provision and the SETT conferences.
- There is support also for the concept of the on-line community although there is evidence that this has not achieved its full potential.
- Masterclass has created additional impacts on the use of ICT in schools, over and above the impact of other ICT initiatives that are on-going.
- Participants have benefited from an increase in their skill levels in the use of ICT and increased confidence in their abilities to use ICT.
- Participants are actively championing ICT in a number of ways, most notably within their schools and less so with other schools in the area or across local authority areas.
- The main impact that participants attribute to Masterclass is in the use of ICT equipment within schools, and this is supported by evidence that certain types of equipment have been introduced as a result of Masterclass (namely digital equipment, with smartboards / whiteboards beginning to be introduced as well).
- However, some participants have also had an impact at a more strategic level and in terms of developing best practice in the use of ICT. Local authority support appears to be key to allowing these wider roles to develop.
- Masterclassers also feel they have benefited from opportunities to network and share good practice although the mechanisms in place to facilitate this could be enhanced further.
As such, the evaluation reveals a number of areas where further development and support would extend the impact and effectiveness of Masterclass. For simplicity we have grouped these under four areas for action and suggest some actions to enhance each aspect in the remainder of this chapter. These are not detailed in any particular order of mention.
8.1 IMPROVING THE ROLE OF ICT CHAMPIONS
- There is a tendency for champion activity to be dismissed in conversation, arising largely from a dislike of the champion term. A more appropriate term might be something like the evangelist term, used by at least one local authority area already, or to refer to Masterclassers as local ICT support. This would make Masterclassers feel more comfortable about their role and provide an opportunity for them to work on a more equal footing with others in their schools/areas.
- A beneficial form of support to champions is making key speakers available to help them spread the word. While having talks available on-line is useful, a planned programme of talks by speakers such as Alan November is likely to have more impact and would be welcomed by Masterclassers.
- There is a need to ensure that the initial motivation and enthusiasm for Masterclass is maintained amongst Masterclassers. The on-line facility needs to be given fresh impetus and Masterclassers should be encouraged, in fairly rigorous terms, to access the facility on a regular basis.
- Further support for the status of Masterclass should be provided at every opportunity, through the SETT conference (as occurs at the moment) as well as by publicity and write ups of good practice arising from Masterclass. This should be made available as widely as possible with attention drawn to the presence of Masterclassers in schools or the education department from whom further advice or help can be sought.
- Learning from Masterclass should be made more easily accessible to others with an interest in ICT. Champions could be encouraged to involve others within their school in ICT development and local authority staff could encourage this by setting goals. For example, establishing an ICT committee in a school or group of schools where one does not exist, or ensuring that Masterclassers develop and share an idea with others in the school.
8.2 IMPROVING SUPPORT RELATED TO MASTERCLASS
- Some local authorities appear to be struggling with the impact of Masterclass commitments on the other duties of co-ordinators. Some indication of the support required from the local authority might ensure that this is better established and more forth coming.
- The on-line facility needs to be kept up to date with fresh innovative thinking to ensure that it is regarded as a key facility to be used on a regular basis.
- Any training of new Masterclass participants also needs to make sure that new Masterclassers realise the importance of the on-line community and its role in disseminating best practice and allowing networking.
- Undoubtedly, the maximum impact from Masterclass is found where Masterclassers have been able to make use of the learning provided. The development of some exercises to encourage Masterclassers to consolidate their learning from the training would be helpful although these should not require a significant time input.
8.3 IMPROVING THE SUPPORT FROM LOCAL AUTHORITIES
- The role of local authority co-ordinators in impacting on the outcome of Masterclass is significant. The study indicates that this aspect needs to be adequately resourced in terms of :
- equipment for funding Masterclass driven initiatives
- integration of Masterclassers into strategic development and decision making within schools / local authorities
- provision of support for champion activity through regular Masterclass meetings and other opportunities for sharing such as conferences, exhibitions and joint training
- Some guidance arising from this study might usefully be developed for local authority co-ordinators indicating the mix of very effective roles that they can provide in support of their Masterclassers. This would include commitments to holding meetings and facilitating contacts between Masterclassers, support in the way of events and initiatives and accessing additional funding through other channels to further support ICT development.
- Additionally, co-ordinators might consider ways of devolving responsibility for some support activities to others within their area. For example, Masterclassers might assume responsibility for organising meetings and arranging events within their area.
8.4 IMPROVING SUPPORT AT A NATIONAL LEVEL
- One of the main gaps at present appears to be in the cross-pollination of ideas, learning and knowledge between local authorities. It is not surprising that if some local authorities are struggling to support their own Masterclassers, there will be little time to mount initiatives that cut across other local authority areas. LT Scotland could consider ways in which it might provide a mechanism for ICT co-ordinators to exchange learning and ideas through the creation of local authority peer groups, for example, who would benefit from each others experience.
- Consideration might be given to ways of developing a pool of subject champions, to reduce the feelings of isolation experienced by some individuals. Networking with others within the peer group (same subject area or job title) is sought by a number of Masterclassers and the identification of suitable groups of candidates and provision of contact information / opportunities to meet should be offered