Friday, 7 July 2017

NDLC Minutes Provide Glimpse of Hwb+ 'Future'

Update to my last post Hwb+-Another Nail in the Coffin? As I've said previously, I do like to read through the agenda and minutes of the National Digital Learning Council meetings. These are freely available to the public on the Hwb website. Below you will find a section from the minutes dated 4th April, 2017:

5.7 The Hwb+ / provisioning contract with Learning Possibilities ends on 31 August 2018 and there is no contract extension option. Officials are already exploring exit strategy arrangements to ensure continuity of service specifically around the provisioning service which underpins the user authentication for all Hwb services.

5.8 CO (Chris Owen, Welsh Government) outlined the current thinking around the next phase of the provisioning, authentication and user management for LiDW users. NDLC members stressed the importance of ensuring the replacement service offered high-availability levels as this is such a pivotal element of the programme. CO confirmed that this was fully understood and already part of the planning.

5.9 The other aspect of the contract with Learning Possibilities is the delivery of Hwb+, the individual school’s learning platform. Statistics indicate that there are low numbers of schools in Wales demonstrating embedded use of Hwb+ (e.g. 30 learners logging in once a day).

5.10 It was agreed that a sub-group of NDLC members would be established to explore options for engaging with stakeholders over their use of the Hwb+ platform. This information would be used to inform the next steps and to present options to the Cabinet Secretary for Education.

5.11 Any change in provision needs to be carefully managed and the Welsh Government will work closely with schools to minimise any disruption at the end of the current Learning Possibilities contract.

5.12 NDLC members queried whether a learning platform was required as blending the centrally offered services such as Hwb, J2e and Office 365 now potentially provides a range of suitable options. This will be considered as part of the engagement with stakeholders.

5.13 A draft stakeholder survey which would seek to find out what worked well and what didn’t work so well with Hwb+ is one option to engage.

What have we learned from these minutes?
- No contract extension option for Hwb+ or their provisioning tool and officials are exploring exit strategy options. *The provisioning tool is the software (owned by Learning Possibilities) that sits in each local authority and creates the user accounts from schools SIMS data.*
- The NDLC noted how pivotal that provisioning tool is to the success of the programme. Any change needs to be 'carefully managed' to minimise disruption at the end of the Learning Possibilities contract. *This provisioning tool is in my opinion, certainly core to the success of the programme. I mentioned in a comment exchange on my last post that I felt the real success of the programme had been to get all users accounts set up for staff and pupils across Wales. If WG are not careful, any disruption to that 'continuity of service' could/will damage Hwb's reputation.*
- A low number of schools using Hwb+. *As I've said, it's a platform that certainly hasn't been at the top of my 'top 10 learning platforms', but it's been interesting to observe the way support to schools in its use, appears to have been withdrawn over the last couple of years. It's been a slow death.*
- Survey to seek what worked well and what didn't work so well. *We now know that a survey is one option and the regional workshops are another.*