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Worcestershire’s learning platform is improving learning and they can prove it. Across the authority, active online learners are more likely to beat their predicted grades than their peers. Tellingly, the trend is greatest for those judged least able to learn. Nothing inspires scepticism so much as educational statistics, but Worcestershire’s statistics back up some common sense. Traditional school is more effective when learners can also learn anywhere, anytime and in other ways.

So much hype about learning platforms seems at odds with the clunky, data-driven interfaces against which so many teachers and students battle. Learning platforms are an emerging technology. They will get simpler and slicker. Worcestershire’s success is not down to better technology, good as it is, but due to a relentless focus on adding educational value.

When Sunflower started talking to Worcestershire it soon became clear the vision was for much more than content plugged into a learning platform. Of course they want students to explore simulations, test them, investigate and discover, just as every good scientist might. But much more excitingly they want students to be able to discuss online the ideas presented in the software, to be able to adapt the simulations, take it to their point of view and paste the simulation back into a discussion for review by peers and mentors.

Working closely with the LA and their learning platform provider Sunflower added new features to Sunflower for Science to help foster these new styles of learning. There is an ongoing programme of development for closer and better integration. It’s about rich content for students to use in collaborative, sharing ways. This is how twenty-first century learners like to learn. And if they like to learn the educational statistics will take care of themselves.

Dave Thomson, Educational Improvement Adviser says: “Sunflower Learning has provided us with the sort of content that we have been waiting for. It goes beyond simply providing interactive materials to resources that can become part of an active dialogue between students and with their teachers under the control of the learners as well as their teacher. The ability to embed science content within a discussion about the subject really stimulates higher level thinking and provides new ways to engage and challenge”