“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Hal is a Director of Creative Learning Systems Limited, which is a company he has started with Matthew Eaves following the closure of his former company, Cleveratom. Creative Learning Systems continues with similar exciting work, developing innovative approaches to learning and learning spaces, bringing creative learning opportunities with new and emerging technologies.
We advise on the use of ICT for learning in both physical and virtual spaces, develop online social software tools and websites sand design, develop and run workshops and training sessions which use digital technologies for creative learning. More info here
Hal’s background is in education, having spent many years as a teacher in Essex. He became a Headteacher in a busy ‘Grant Maintained’ Primary School and undertook extensive re-modelling of the learning spaces. He was a member of Essex County Council’s Equal Opportunities working party where he collaborated in writing ‘A World of Opportunities’ and was also a member of the county working party for school buildings. He was a pilot member of the ‘Talking Heads’ online community, later to become ‘Talk2Learn’ run by the National College for School leadership (NCSL). He was invited to be a member of the steering group which helped establish the virtual arm of the National College. He left headship in 2001 and joined Ultralab at Anglia Ruskin University where for five amazing years he worked with probably the best team in the world for action research projects, under the leadership of Professor Stephen Heppell.
Online Communities of Practice
From 2001 to 2003 Hal was involved with a number of influential online community projects, including facilitating for Talking Heads. His main role was to establish and run the community for Fasttrack Teachers for the Department for Education ( Then the DfES). These were research projects which attempted to find out the extent to which online communities could support teachers and school leaders. They were run in partnership with the NCSL and eventually were handed over to them to continue to run. From these pioneering projects the NCSL has continued to support online learning and has since developed ‘Talk2learn‘ as the core software for this. Many of the key features of this software, and of several other virtual learning environments, are directly attributable to the work of Ultralab and Oracle who created the original ‘Think.com‘ software for the research phase.
Other work at this time included the eViva project (KS3 ICT Assessment), EveryObject.net (A collaboration with the Department for Culture Media and Sport and V&A museum), Establishing Designmyschool.com (working with the Design Council), establishing and facilitating on the ‘Ultraversity’ project (a three year online degree course based on workplace learning) and working with other departments in the University to help establish online learning courses.
Learning Space Design
Much of the work Hal has done since 2003 has been focussed on school design issues, specifically considering distributed schools and how school buildings affect learning. He managed the ‘DesignMySchool’ project with the Design Council, and now regularly talks about the impact of design in learning spaces, and how it affects learning.
The Building Schools for the Future initiative was closed in June 2010, leaving many schools disappointed that their plans for the future had to go on hold. Within the BSF programme, Hal acted as a consultant, primarily advising on how ICT can be used to support and extend learning. He has worked with bid teams on different ‘waves’, including Durham, Kent, Newham, Salford and Barnesley. His role was to understand the ICT requirements and identify what opportunities there are for learning activities, and how the future of learning can be influenced through providing an excellent ICT solution.
Many settings are now looking at refurbishing their learning spaces instead of rebuilding, and Hal works closely with a number of other companies to ensure the right choices are made and the right solutions are found.
Hal has enjoyed being a member of the evaluation panel for the National School Design Awards, run by the British Council for School Environments (BCSE). He worked as a judge on the awards for the 2010 presentations.
Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)
Virtual Learning Environments, or Learning Platforms, are being introduced throughout the UK within all schools. Cleveratom evaluated the extent to which VLEs have been implemented in the Yorkshire and Humber region as part of a project with the YHGfL Foundation, resulting in a book (Virtually There: Learning Platforms) and DVD being distributed to all 2000 schools. Copies are also available outside of the region and are being sold as far afield as the United States. The book is a series of case studies which offer advice and guidance to schools hoping to implement (or revise) a virtual learning solution. This ground breaking research was extended in 2010 to provide a longitudinal study on the impact of VLEs, and Hal co-produced the video content for the research, as well as writing an overview of the findings.
At a school level Hal acts as a consultant to explore the needs of the school, the progress made to date and the processes still needed in order to establish and embed virtual learning most fully. This means more than just creating learning objects, and aspires to schools embracing social constructivist approaches to online tools.
Social Media in Healthcare
Hal has a passion for connecting people through online environments and worked with the Strategic Health Authority in the East of England to develop a professional networking solution. Called ‘dialogue-east’, the site leverages well known social tools as well as bespoke developments and enables health care workers to communicate in a multitude of ways. The project was managed by Hal through his previous company, Cleveratom.
Hal is actively exploring how social media can now support social care workers in different settings, and how traditional face to face training for health and social care can be delivered in an engaging and delightful way using online technologies.
An area of considerable interest, the use of digital technologies to enhance learning forms a large part of the work Hal does in schools. Working with colleagues, Hal has helped design and implement a number of high profile activities for children and adults to explore how video, animation and audio (to name a few) are able to provide extensive but appropriate challenges to learners. He was part of the facilitation team for the BBC on the pilot tour of BBC Blast, working in different cities across the UK to run workshops and events for young people.
More recently, Hal has been developing workshops for learners of all ages using radio equipment as the central stimulus – inviting participants to engage in collaborative learning. Making use of the excellent ‘P Squared‘ equipment, Hal has taught children from the age of 7 to use the professional playout software “Myriad’, and is frequently found running training sessions for schools and colleges who want to learn how to integrate radio in their curriculum. Hal will show you how it is possible to use radio in any subject!
Hal is a creative practitioner working on Creative Partnerships projects across the UK.
Hal has been researching the use of DVD technologies and participates extensively in online discussions (in some cases as forum moderator) with people from around the world to help better understand and develop the medium. He regularly publishes work to be reviewed and used by the worldwide DVD authoring community and maintains a web site dedicated to the use of Apple’s DVD Studio Pro software, at www.dvdstudiopro.co.uk. Hal has continued to develop innovative scripts for DVDs and many of these are given away freely. One such is the highly regarded ‘video jukebox’ script which allows a user to pick a selection of clips in any order and have them play back in that order.
Much of the work Hal has been involved in is in collaboration with colleagues and can be found at http://www.digitalcreativity.org
Outside of work, Hal enjoys playing the drums (something he’s been doing since the early 1980′s) and being involved in the world of Rugby. As a player he represented Essex and Eastern Counties (many years ago now), has coached a successful youth team, but now runs a web site to help teams make fixtures when theirs have fallen through – his playing days are probably over for all but the most social of games. The Fixture Exchange is not run for profit, but as a service to youth rugby. It donates all of its proceeds to worthy causes, including S.P.I.R.E, the charity which supports families of those unfortunate enough to have become paraplegic through playing rugby.
Hal is a photographer and videographer, DVD author and Apple computer enthusiast.