Saturday 26 September 2020

Innovation: Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

"You know the saying, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” Well if nothing changes, we stay the same. We don’t grow. We don’t evolve. We don’t get better. And that’s not going to work—not for you, and not for the world."

I believe that in the context of any education system, students learn from mistakes. As teachers we never stop encouraging our students when they make mistakes "don't worry, next time you will do it better..." 

But when have we ever applied that to teachers? shouldn't the leadership team say that same thing to teachers every day? pushing them to learn new things, be creative, try new strategies, new way of teaching and learning, try new technologies.

I heard someone say: there should be an award for every failure as well as success. this is more true in schools. because in schools "we build confidence".

I think every success starts with a failure. just think of Dyson who failed over 5000 times before he became successful. 

RiskIT is about building confidence in teachers, learning new things, working in judgement free environment, Taking the fear out of technology, learning from students, not afraid of failure. 

Partnership with Naace

I am pleased to announce my partnership with Naace, a professional association that shares my passion for embedding the effective use of technology in teaching and learning. 

RiskIT was shortlisted for the Naace Impact Award 2013 at the BETT Show. The new board of Naace is determined more than ever to reach all educators, private and public, and work with them through practical support and guidance in the use of technology.

RiskIT along with SRF (Self Review Framework) go hand in hand to building a confident, highly motivated teaching force that put schools on the forefront of T&L.

RiskITWeek in schools

RiskIT is being used by many schools as a CPD challenge to up-skill their staff and challenge their teaching methods. RiskIT has changed many T&L practices for good.

Shiplake Academy in Oxfordshire said:

" ‘RiskIT Week’ saw teachers faced with the challenge of trying a new piece of ICT for the first time during their lessons. The idea, taken from the book of the same name by Abderrahmane Benjeddi, was to encourage teachers to step outside their comfort zone and take a risk with using Information Technology. As author, Christy Raedeke once said, “No risk, no reward”, a quote adopted by the Headmaster as his ‘phrase of the year’ for 2017-2018 "

Shiplake is a good example on how to bring challenge and fun into teaching. they make use of various technologies: VR, Video Conferencing, Padlet, Kahoot, Flipgrid  to mention a few. 

RiskIT has become a regular event at Shiplake Academy. 

I believe that when teachers have the freedom and the confidence to work in judgement free environment, they become creative and innovative in their classrooms. Students become more engaged as "participant learners" and not passive absorbent of the spiels they used to by teachers.

RiskIT is a proven strategy that works in any school setting, it took me over five years to develop and test. The book  "RiskIT, IT in the Classroom, a Risk worth taking" is a summary of the steps that one could take to implement a successful RiskIT in their school.

Risk IT week

I attended an ICT Conference where practitioners share innovative ideas. At the end of one of the sessions I "privately" asked the speaker: "how many teachers in your school doing what you have talked about?" he said: "only me".  


What this teacher is doing in his school is brilliant, why is nobody buying into the idea? what is the purpose in him doing this session on behalf of his school if they themselves are not doing what they say!!

I have been teaching/coordinating ICT for about 15 years and I have been having the same problem as this teacher: how can I make "All" my teachers use ICT with students?. reasons varies with schools but the heart of the problem is: confidence and fear of failure. teachers do not like to be labelled as "bad" teachers and loose control of their students.

This is until I came up with the idea of RiskIT Week© in 2011.
so what is RiskIT Week©

 The first thing I did was to get the SMT/ELT (extended and senior management team) on board. I had to explain to them that once staff start these sessions they must be visited by them on a strictly "non-judgmental" capacity. they can only look and highlight the positives, no negatives. This will give teachers confidence to get out of their shells and stay there.

I managed to identify two weeks in school calendar where there are no exams or anything that could add pressure on staff. then I advertised it through all means available to me: email, word of mouth, staff briefing, through the headteacher, departmental meetings etc.. I sent a form to all staff and asking them to fill it with a session they would like to run. They is only one condition: staff need to run a session with students using a piece of ICT (Hardware or Software) that they have not used before.

I collected all the names of staff and lessons they wish to do, through this pdf form.

Proposal form sent to staff
 During the week:
slide called "Process"

I kept reminding ELT/SMT of the sessions happening on the day. Every morning I email the them "Today's Sessions" so that they can  visit the session allocated to them (a brief visit is preferred). They will then write an "Opinion Sheet" and not and evaluation sheet. all the comments have to be positive.

The teacher him/herself has to write an opinion sheet and they should ask 2 or 3 students to do the same.

These sheets are collected and shared with the rest of staff in order to generate interest the following year. also it is part of creating a culture in school where people share ideas and work in teams.

Like everyone else, teachers like to be appreciated and complemented on the work they do, without that they will not go the extra mile.
It is important to explain to them before the project starts the following points:
  • the ICT they will use should not be a burden, if it is they must not go ahead with it.
  • there is nothing they need to change in their planning, lesson objectives should stay the same, the method will be different.
  • technical help will be available during the session if required
  • they should not worry if the lesson fails completely, that is how we all learn, they should not be put off, try again..
  • talk to students and tell them what you are about to do, they will work with you and not against you
  • give them control if it is appropriate, you don't have to be always in control, let them lead ...
  • work smart: do less work/efforts with maximum impact
  • let the technology take the strain
  • ask anyone in your class for their opinion on how you can improve one or two things .. which part they like and which one they would change
  • take small step and build on it
  • if you enjoyed it.... why don't you do it again with a different class???

Why RiskIT?

As educators, we always talk about wanting students to take risks, and staff calculated risks. When it comes to the use of IT, schools follow different strategies. most schools have IT Champions: few  paid or voluntary teachers leading the school in creative ideas in using the technology.
Ask any school about creative use of IT and they will point you to one or two teachers, as if the latter ones are the only ones with access to key of the "knowledge room". 

My question is: what about the rest of the teachers in each of those schools? aren't they part of the school? don't they share the same ethos and teach the same students? shouldn't they be at the forefront in the use of technology?

In our school we have gone through these stages: (paid and then unpaid) innovations team, team leaders, good example teachers etc.. but behind all that, there was no passion in it, it was all cosmetics, some teachers took the post not because they believe in the use of the technology but because it was some extra money. they missed the whole point of the purpose of the job. 

take the example of the car, you use your car to move from point A to point B, the car therefore becomes a mean to a purpose although you are still appreciating the car itself and making sure you know what you are doing.
training and leading by example are important but they will only help if they lead somewhere.

If there is to be any a change in the use of ICT, there should be a complete change of culture in schools, hence "RiskIT".  You cannot change the culture by tinkering here and there.. it has to be wholesome/ radical even: the whole school and repeated with the same rigour and passion continuously. Staff on the other hand have to see its benefits, it should not be seen and felt as a burden or an obstacle to the delivery of their lesson.

All staff must sign up to RiskIT especially the Leadership team, after all it is free and they have nothing to lose. it's a Win-Win situation.

Book on Amazon

The RiskITWeek is here now and you can find it in Amazon books, just type RiskITWeek or click here
It took me about five years to prefect the strategy, with lot of up and downs. it was worth it, now i am ready to share with you and hopefully you will find it useful.
Over fifty schools used the strategy over the last few years with some of them included as part of their CPD.

Extract from the book


Learning something new can sometimes be frightening, and that is usually due to a lack of confidence, just as some people don’t like exams or job interviews. A factor that adds to a lack of confidence is that technology for education differs greatly from personal technology. For example, using your mobile phone or home laptop for personal use are not the same as using these same devices to deliver a lesson. In the first instance, you only need to know your technical limitations and try to overcome them. In the second, you need to be aware of other people’s limitations, and unless you are ready to confront 20 students (or more) with a variety of issues and problems as well as different levels of skills, then you have not put yourself in the learner’s shoes. You “may” not maximise the learning within the class. "

Saturday 11 August 2018

Agent4Change article

A simple truth about learning. A headteacher once explained how smart multimedia technology helped his students who had behaviour issues. Creating their own music and movies gave them a quick taste of success. "For any of us to start learning we have to take a chance," he said. "If you are not confident you cannot take that chance. Nothing gives you confidence like success."

He built on quick successes to move the learning forward. And this truth is at the heart of RiskITWeek, IT in the Classroom, A Risk Worth Taking, the recently published book by Abderrahmane 'Ben' Benjeddi. It may be a short and easy read but it's an extremely valuable one. That's because it has the power to change minds.
There are a number of reasons behind the failure of many schools to comfortably embrace technology for learning. And this book addresses two: staff confidence with technology; school leadership and strategic adoption of ICT. It provides a mechanism where staff can try out products and services that interest them but which they have not been confident enough to previously try – and with the full support of the senior leadership team.
The first thing to note is the RiskITWeek actually works and has already enjoyed some success. The author's work is already well-known to schools in east London and beyond and his RiskITWeek Awards were successfully hosted by the professional body for ICT professionals, Naace, and were in fact a high point of its annual conference.
With his expertise, irrepressible enthusiasm and persistence, Abderrahmane Benjeddi has already established proof of concept and the ability to scale. His only problem has been that, as an independent educator, he has not enjoyed sufficient resources to push his project, something that could easily happen with the backing of a well-known brand for example.
His RiskITWeek publication is the next stage on his journey. In it he shares the concept and practical ways in which teachers and their schools can put it to good use to improve their professionalism and the learning for their students.
The arguments are logical and coherent as are the examples (there is plenty of food for thought in chapters 5 and 6). All they need are take-up and leadership back-up. RiskITWeek makes perfect sense if only to make good use of the technology already invested in for schools, and which often lies around under-used or even in cupboards. But the most important purpose is for teachers to enrich their professional expertise and help make the teaching and learning more appealing and engaging for their youngsters.

'RiskITWeek' author deserves award of his own 

Abderrahmane 'Ben' Benjeddi presents a RiskITWeek Award

Abderrahmane Benjeddi deserves his own award for developing and sharing this work. It undoubtedly stems from his own life experience in education across countries and continents and his own indefatigable determination to learn and share his learning. His own story and his journey from Morocco to university in France and then on to England where he qualified as a teacher is inspiration in itself.

At just over 100 pages there's no excuse for not engaging with RiskITWeek. Its cover price of £9.99 is a snip, and smart school leaders could do no better than also engage the services of Abderrahmane Benjeddi  (or his Naace associates) to get the very best out of the CPD for their own RiskITWeeks.
Developing a 'can do' culture is no small thing for any school; the staff become better teachers and the learning improves for the children. This book is an unadorned gem, much like the author. RiskITWeek deserves a wide take-up.
RiskITWeek, IT in the Classroom, A Risk Worth Taking
Book (112 pages) by Abderrahmane Benjeddi, £9.99 from Amazon
RiskITWeek website

Friday 26 January 2018

Review from Allison Allen,

Director, Outstream Consulting | Vice Chair Governors, Heathfield + La Fontaine, STEP Academy Trust

RiskITWeek is a philosophy, a calculated risk and a tool that virtually guarantees a ‘win’ for schools, their pupils and teachers! Is it easy? – It just requires commitment to effective CPD from school leaders.

This book “RiskITWeek – IT in the Classroom A Risk Worth Taking” provides the necessary knowledge, advice and strategy to make a success of risk-taking, discovery and innovation without fear.

Abderrahmane (Ben) Benjeddi offers this book as a guide to the strategy. It is written with a joyfully light touch and can be read cover to cover or by dipping in and out of the sections of most interest. Seasoned with helpful, robust, education research, the book is full sage advice born out of experience and real-school practical suggestions. Not to be missed are Chapters 5 and 6 about implementing and embedding ICT in the classroom – these chapters are full of really good examples of ICT across all kinds of curriculum areas!

When I first became aware of RiskITWeek, the idea immediately got my attention - I knew so many teachers who were apprehensive of using technology in their subject - frightened that they would look foolish in front of pupils who had grown up with computers or frankly, scared the tools would stop working.

Even now that there is so much focus on the new UK Computing curriculum, many teachers receive training on coding but not in the wider aspects and skills of using education technology. RiskItWeek is a pragmatic idea based on simply providing professional and technical support to teachers without negative criticism. What makes this 'doable' and transferable to any school is the strategy - where teachers take a risk and use new technology or innovate with technology in a culture of support where people learn from each other and celebrate the process made visible.

I wish RiskITWeek had been invented when I was ICT Coordinator! Don’t wait – this little book is a life-changing opportunity for the whole school community.

click here to go to Amazon 

Thursday 1 December 2016

BETT Show 2019

Yes, time has come once again to showcase what you have been doing. I am hoping to do another presentation at the Bett show this coming Jan and hope to see you all there.
BETT Show 2019

I have also prepared an eGuide to help you run RiskITWeek successfully in your school. the eGuide can also be found here on my blog
if you require any copies please let me know

I would also like to invite one person who run the project successfully in their school to come and talk about it. so please contact me through the website or twitter or even my phone number (all on the website) if you are interested.