Dundee City Council - Education
The aim of Dundee City Council's Education Department is to develop effective learning for all learners at all stages. The Department strongly believes that if Dundee is to stabilise its population and create the right conditions for sustained economic growth, parents must see the City as a place where they will be proud to bring up their families, and where young people can develop their full potential.
Dundee City Council's Education Department provides high-quality learning and teaching for all learners, from pre-school provision through to support for young people entering higher education or the world of work. The Department is committed to developing initiatives to support learning for all pupils, including people who suffer disadvantage because of their environment, disability or learning difficulties.
In 2000, Dundee City Council began looking for a solution to provide every teacher and student online access to learning content from any location according to their age, interests and subject areas. The goal - facilitate better communication between teachers, students and parents to help all to target and access services based on their particular needs.
The Council's existing bespoke solution was cumbersome causing a number of issues that needed to be resolved. Of principal concern was the lack of a common platform, lack of resource sharing and availability, no common email system, no access to colleagues and peers, no libraries of relevant content, and no place for students to keep their work online.
The Council required one portal with a single point of entry and a single login for all resources required by any staff member.
Spider Networks delivered and has since enjoyed a 5-year relationship with Dundee City Council. Initially, Spider provided filtered, virus-free email to all 16,000 teachers and students. Launching these services across the authority, it provided phased training sessions, bespoke documentation and support files, and ongoing management support for system administrators. Bulk creation of accounts was carried out along with the production of easily distributed member cards carrying the login information for every member.
Servicing the fundamenal requirement for the email interface to be appropriate to each age grouping, Spider deployed a simplified, junior email interface for all students aged 11 or under. This provided all the functionality required by the 5-14 age ICT curriculum guidelines, yet avoided the fully-featured multiple options for each main function provided by the standard interface.
The growing demand for resource sharing and availability then led to the creation of a broad range of curriculum portals, connecting teaching staff across all locations in the Authority through a single portal. Integrated forums, file stores and calendars in every portal, with access controls in place to connect only the relevant staff in each portal, meant that the accessibility of colleagues and peers was greatly enhanced. Additional portals were subsequently deployed across the entire primary school range, and in support of users of other ICT programmes in effect across the Authority, such as the interactive whiteboard user groups, transforming the Spider Networks portal into a single point of reference for all resources required by any staff member.
Students were equally well catered for, and a range of student-specific features grew out of the rich application suite provided through Spider's education services. From Student Council portals to Online Homework Centres, students and staff embraced the service in ways that were previously impossible with the available resources. The fact that these new features were integrated inside the existing email suite benefited everyone by removing the need for further points of login.
The partnership between Spider Networks and Dundee City Council continues to grow and the Authority is now pressing ahead with further innovations in the learning service, such as categorised media libraries of content for streaming download or use in other project work, and personal e-portfolios for every student where exemplar work can be showcased and stored.
Keith Thomson, ICT Officer for Dundee City Council, comments: "Spider Networks is an essential partner in all areas of our online service delivery. Its support in assisting Dundee Council achieve not only our ICT objectives, but also the learning objectives behind them, has been invaluable. Spider's ability to react to requests, adapt its software on-demand, and deliver requirements on-time has allowed the Authority to concentrate on its broader strategies. I heartily recommend Spider Networks to any Education Authority wishing to energise its ICT portfolio."