Fifteen years ago, this week, (Stephen Heppell) and I had a dream to change education, from the focus on new PFI and BSF buildings to empowering teachers to engage learners by using technology to deliver learning and digital skills. The school system had been difficult for many, who sought vocational, creative, or new industries, whilst they were put through a system that weeded out those that were not ready for higher education.
In 2007, Learning Possibilities was born. A social enterprise that looked for ways to engage those ‘at the back of the class’, and those that dreamt of running a small company building websites. For a company with big ambitions, we certainly have achieved big things! We estimate that in the past 15 years over 4m learners in the UK have used our technology; including those in Wales, Wolverhampton, and Northampton.
The last two years have borne out our vision. If schools had adopted learning and collaboration technology, and teachers had developed the skills for hybrid and blended learning, we may have seen less learning loss during the pandemic. Worldwide the situation has been compounded by geographical and infrastructural challenges. Today we are working with schools, governments, and funders in twelve countries to look at the technology that has efficacy, teacher development that will focus on the available tech, rather than the best tech, and vocational training. Technology has moved from being a tool in the classroom to the means of nurturing and delivering learning and assessment. The possibilities have become brighter for the learner and for education.
Happy 15th Birthday Learning Possibilities …!
We are delighted to have been selected to deliver this important project for the Sri Lanka Government (Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), SMOER and Ministry of Education) in partnership with UNICEF. Throughout this pandemic we have seen that innovative and agile teachers have been able to support learners, whatever the technology. We are delighted to be working with the Government to help develop teacher capacity and digital skills in Sri Lanka, to support learners using a range of technology solutions.
Aminda James from the Information and Technology Agency for Sri Lanka commented:
To transform Education we need to transform Educators !!
The Digital Education team is excited to kick off the digital transformation of teachers in collaboration with UNICEF and the State Ministry of Education Reforms (SMOER) and the implementation partner LP+ from Learning Possibilities Limited
The initiative will ensure the creation of a comprehensive, detailed and well-sequenced online training module (ability to use offline as well) in both Sinhala and Tamil for teachers of government schools on distance/blended teaching with a mix of high tech and low-tech modalities relevant to Sri Lanka, inclusive of student assessment and pedagogy in digital learning. This will lead to a program where there will a master training program for 700 master trainers based on the above modules developed for teachers. The initiative will also focus on an online/offline parental awareness creation in both Sinhala and Tamil on the role of parents in supporting home-based/blended learning inclusive of online safety
This initiative is also in line with the Digital Education Policy that is being Jointly Developed by Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and SMOER and Ministry of Education.
On behalf of Learning Possibilities, Baijul Shah and Rumit Shah, we would like to say a huge thank you to all our players, sponsors and partners for your generosity and support at our first Peter Tabichi Foundation Golf Event! The weather could have been better, but it did not stop us from raising an incredible £9,065 and for that we are thankful!
This event comes at a prominent time where issues have been heightened due to the coronavirus pandemic. The money raised will support Brother Peter’s foundation to build new classrooms for students at the Keriko School in Nakuru, Kenya. This will help hundreds of children over the coming years and bring greater prosperity to the region.
Peter Tabichi is a science teacher and Franciscan Brother who gives away 80% of his monthly income to help those in need. In 2019 Brother Peter won the Global Teacher Prize Award after being recognised for his dedication and hard work ensuring local and underprivileged children gained a proper education.
His village is made up of different tribes and the lives of these children can be tough, especially in a region where drought and famine are frequent. Most pupils come from poor families and almost a third are orphans or only have one parent. Their school, where Brother Peter is a teacher at, is in a very remote area with some children walking up to 7km along roads that become impassable during rainy season.
Brother Peter’s vision is to promote access to quality education through empowering the disadvantaged children in the community. His mission is to embrace opportunities of 21st century education to unlock the potential of these disadvantaged children.
We hope this event will be the first of many in supporting this worthy cause and bettering the education for the children in Nakuru.
Visit the website for further details on the Peter Tabichi Foundation: https://petertabichi.com/
In an aim to reach our £10,000 target, the Learning Possibilities team will be walking 26-miles in one day along the Jurassic Coast on Saturday 28th August – if you would like to sponsor us on this challenge, please visit our page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/vishaal-shah
Project win Technology-Enabled Innovation in Education in Southeast Asia – EdTech diagnostics and interventions support, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Learning Possibilities is delighted to be able to support the Ministries of Education in Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines and Viet Nam with our technology and expertise to strengthen the education sector in each of these target countries.
Mehool Sanghrajka (CEO) commented, “Education has faced a very difficult year and we are excited to be supporting these four major economies in understanding what technology works in these countries, and what potential solutions can be deployed to drive education impact. My sincere thanks to the LP team that worked on this submission, and our partners at @ibf.”
The project will run from July 2021 until September 2023.
If you missed the Microsoft Webinar today, or simply want to review the contents, then welcome to our blog!
The full webinar can be found here.
During the webinar, we had a number of questions which we have answered below. If you have other questions, please contact us.
Q. Is the LP+365 platform free or paid?
A. LP is a cloud based subscription platform. During COVID19, we are currently offering schools the App for free. (Until September).
Q. How can I install LP+365 in my school?
Q. Does LP+365 work on all browsers, including tablets and mobiles?
A. Yes, LP+365 works on all devices, including tablets and mobiles and supports modern browsers including Edge, IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari etc.
Q. In remote areas can it be used offline?
A. Yes, LP+365 allows you to synchronise your files, notes, mail, calendars to be used offline. It will re-sync your changes when you are next online. We are currently working to expand this function.
Q. Does LP+365 support my language?
A. The user can select a language for his/her interface at any time from the languages available. If your language is not present, we can usually add it in a short time.
Q. Is this platform appropriate for four to seven-year old children?
A. Yes, the platform is designed to be used by students of all ages. We have seen learners from age 4, all the way to University.
Q. Do we need to sign up individually or through our school admin?
A. LP+365 works with a school’s Office 365 tenancy. The school therefore has to register and the portal will be accessible to all teachers and students at the school.
Q. Is this accessible if you have already your Microsoft account?
A. Yes, as long as the Microsoft account is through your school or college, you can register here.
Q. How can we teach pupils who are living in a far flung places?
A. LP+365 can be used to delivery resources to your class, manage assignments and start collaborative projects. Online classes can also be delivered using the integrated Teams and Skype functions.
Q. Are any certain Office 365 plans required to run this platform?
A. LP+365 works with all Office 365 educational plans, both free and paid.
Q. Is there an in depth demo of LP+365 available?
A. Please see the link to the Microsoft webinar above. In addition, our training videos explain every aspect of the LP+365 platform and can be viewed here.
Q. Can the platform be used for adult students?
A. Yes, the platform can be used by colleges, universities and vocational training colleges.
Q. How is the data submitted online safeguarded and not prone to hacking?
A. All data is encrypted at rest and in transit, using several strong encryption protocols, and technologies that include Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer (TLS/SSL), Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Q. How is Teams integrated within LP+365?
A. Teams in LP+365 offers teachers a virtual staffroom where they can communicate and collaborate. Teams also allows teachers the ability to have online classes.
Q. Can we set different types of assessments/assignments and also choose which students they go to?
A. Yes, the assignment tool allows you to set both formative and summative work, in many different formats, for individual students or the whole class.
This week’s announcement by Cambridge University that it will conduct classes online only for the 2020-21 academic year is significant as it signals the real timelines for this pandemic. Most of us have been living with the hope that by the summer, or September at the latest, we will be back to the ‘old normal’ that we knew at the start of this year. What Cambridge’s announcement does is move this timeline from weeks and months, to years.
The ‘new normal’, as its now widely being called, is a radical departure which will dictate our lives for many years. Until there is a viable treatment for this pandemic, social distancing and face masks/gloves will remain the norm, which means schools and colleges will have to learn to operate in new ways.
I suspect Cambridge’s announcement also took into account the inability for international students (on whom British Universities have built their economic models) to travel to the UK. Just how other industries that will find social distancing difficult (travel, hospitality, retail) will now sustainably operate is still unclear.
In the first of these blogs, I discussed how EdTech may actually benefit from COVID. We have certainly seen a dramatic increase in the number of countries discussing possible platform solutions. The biggest change over the discussions of last 20 years is that everyone now understands the need for ‘elearning’, ‘learning platforms’ and ‘learning from home’.
However, most education technology today has been procured on the basis that its there to support classroom teaching. The new normal requires technology that also supports learning from home. Whilst currently most schools are using a mixture of free tools and resources to continue supporting learning, these will need to be replaced, as I discussed in my second COVID blog, with long term solutions. Focus has therefore shifted to the large platform providers – Microsoft and Google.
In any case, whilst we have the global issues of population growth, environmental destruction and rising temperatures; as well as the social issues of growing human inequality, inhumane farming methods and regional conflicts, it seems to be very possible that such pandemics will also sadly become the norm.
As schools choose to open over the next few months, I think there are already some indicators of the direction we all need to take. I have listed my five below;
1. Firstly, schools will have to develop hybrid models for many months or even years. A combination of learn at home with some face-to-face teaching.
2. Secondly, this means that teachers will need support to become more familiar with technology, and in teaching learners remotely.
3. Thirdly digital skills will become even more critical; not just for learning from home, but in the new economy where working from home will also become the norm.
4. Fourth our exam systems, which were the first casualty, early in this pandemic, are unlikely to survive the pandemic and will need to be reevaluated.
5. Lastly, focus in education will move towards platforms, content, devices and connectivity as governments consider how to support all their learners.
Another week of the COVID 19 virus has passed and for many teachers, and employees, remote teaching/working is now a reality, and likely to stay for the long(er) term.
Many schools and universities are desperately applying ‘sticking plaster’ to their hastily compiled remote learning strategies with a mixture of free digital services and content. Whilst this may do the job until schools reopen, the #CoronaVirus should be a wakeup call as it continues to demonstrate our vulnerabilities.
Once schools return, many Heads will start looking at long term solutions. Whilst there are many free digital solutions on the market (#Microsoft #Office365, #Google #Classroom etc.), there is a need in schools for wider considerations.
It thought it would be useful to list my top five below.
1. Data Security
Security of learner data is paramount, regardless of the solution. Wherever your data come from (SIS, MIS, LIS, spreadsheets, databases etc), it needs to work seamlessly with your digital platforms, providing learners with correct access to classes and the right user privileges. Equally important is where your platform data is stored. Do you know who has access to it? Can it be used by others for marketing or advertising? Does it meet legal and other security requirements?
2. Which platform should I choose?
There are many digital platforms, it is important to pick the right one. Distance teaching and learning is one of many potential uses. Content management, assignments, collaborative projects, testing and communications are some of the many functions of a good integrated platform. It should also consider local needs with multiple languages, interfaces for different ages, strategies for poor connectivity (or offline learning) and ease of use for the teacher. It’s important to build CPD strategies and develop areas that are important to your school and appropriate for your infrastructure.
Until the Corona Virus outbreak shut schools, remote teaching (in most schools) had been largely a theoretical phenomenon. Schools saw clear benefits in learners accessing work from home, submitting assignments or contributing to projects, but these were largely supplemental to the work that happened in class. A good solution must have proven efficacy, be easy to use and give the teacher a range of tools to suit different teaching styles. This will encourage both platform adoption and skilling-up for teachers.
Apart from the teachers and learners, there are many other important stakeholders. Direction from the leadership is critical for any digital project to succeed, let alone one that needs fundamental change management. This should be at government, regional and school level. Equally important is the training and support teachers receive, as well as the availability of devices and connectivity.
In my experience, all digital projects face similar hurdles. Policy funding is usually critical, as it an understanding of ongoing funding requirements. Likewise there has always been unjustified fear that technology will replace teachers.
At this time, many schools are focused on completing the academic year with whatever resources and platforms they can use. That is important. But in the longer term, a clear strategy and plan will be invaluable.
The author is Founder and CEO of #EdTech business Learning Possibilities which provides the #LP+365 platform. Please contact us if you need advice, help or support.
Italy’s announcement to close its schools won’t be the last. Schools in other countries are also closed as the virus gets a firm grip on everything from travel to sport to medicine supply.
Over the past two decades education reformists have had visions of self paced learning, online collaboration and enabling meaningful learning outside school. All attempts so far have struggled because the exam systems rarely look for these skills and teaching to the test is still the norm in many parts of the world.
It is well known that digital both engages learners and provides skills necessary for employment. However connectivity, devices and classroom management all pose real world challenges.
This vision will now have to finally become a reality. The virus is here to stay, and schools will have to quickly learn to distribute resources, teach and manage online assignments, and collaborate/communicate digitally. Whether this is through free tools provided by Google and Microsoft, or more structured platforms such as LP+365, the reality is that schools will have to become like workplaces, many of whom have also asked employees to work from home.
After 5 successful years working in Elstree, we are thrilled to be moving our UK based office to Croxley Business Park!
Why are we moving?
As a social enterprise Learning Possibilities wanted to move to an environmentally friendly working space in which the team can continue to be productive and work towards their mission of transforming the education of millions of learners world wide.
Why Croxley Business Park?
✔ The park is a completely environmentally friendly working space with on-site food composting to cardboard bailing and rainwater harvesting. 100% renewable energy, provide charging points for electric vehicles, run a park-wide car-sharing scheme, bike spaces, beekeeping, Environmentally aware schemes on the park- Zero waste to landfill, 100% waste recycled, 100% renewable energy source, on-site food composting and cardboard bailing, rainwater harvesting, Park-wide car share scheme and charging points for electric cars.
✔ Well Connected Hub More than just a great place to do business, Croxley Park is a well-connected hub, and home to a thriving community of more than 60 companies and 2400 employees
✔ Croxley Park’s amenities and exciting events programme building stronger connections for working life
Learning Possibilities and Capita Managed IT Solutions announce exclusive partnership offering award-winning App to schools throughout UK and Ireland
Capita Managed IT Solutions is thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership with Learning Possibilities Limited, the UK’s leading cloud based learning platform provider, offering the award-winning LP+365 App to schools throughout Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The LP+365 App has transformed the way schools use Microsoft Office 365, providing a digital solution to the management of teaching and education resources.
Imagine a scenario whereby students and teachers can instantly communicate and collaborate with one another, can access homework assignments, online textbooks and projects remotely from school, home or indeed any location with internet access.
The app effectively presents both teacher and student with a ‘virtual school’ that can be accessed using any computer, tablet device or smartphone. Running on the Microsoft Azure cloud, the LP+365 App has transformed Microsoft Office 365 into a school Learning and Collaboration System that’s accessible anytime, anywhere.
A leading IT Services organisation delivering cloud, end-to-end IT Solutions, and IT Managed Services, Capita Managed IT Solutions has garnered a reputation as a specialist in the EdTech arena, having accumulated over 30 years’ experience within Primary, Post-Primary, Further and Higher Education sectors.
Learning Possibilities collaboration with Microsoft began in 2003 with the development of the first cloud based Microsoft SharePoint learning platform. Since then it has signed a Global Alliance with Microsoft and this year was named ‘Finalist – Microsoft Education Partner of the Year’. The LP+365 App captures the essence of the LP+ platform, which is contracted to over one million users across the UK and brings a teaching and learning focused approach to Microsoft Office 365.