The Edinburgh Academy is a co-educational day school for pupils aged 2 to 18. Creativity is at the heart of the school and as one of their five key EA Learner qualities - along with resilience, collaboration, curiosity and independence - encourages pupils to develop a creative mindset in all areas of school life. EA pupils are taught to think beyond the obvious, synthesising knowledge and approaches from many disciplines to develop innovative and original responses to challenges.
What does Firefly mean to your school?
Firefly is a centralised place where we can comment on each others ideas online, we can upload documents and drafts. Firefly gives us the tool to stay in constant communication with each other. Firefly gives our students a working space where they can work collaboratively when they are not necessarily in the same physical space. It is fantastic for uploading a whole variety of creative content.
The Islands project
What are some of the projects you have used Firefly in?
2017-18 was an exciting year for the Academy seeing the development and implementation of the Islands Project. Building upon the knowledge and experience gained from running ‘Enlightenment Week’ as part of our S1 curriculum for the previous two years (a cross-curricular carousel of trips and creative workshops themed around the Scottish Enlightenment and its legacy), we were keen to develop a new and imaginative project for our S2 pupils (age 13-14).
At its heart was the belief that the Islands Project should offer a truly interdisciplinary experience for the pupils and staff involved, stretching and challenging its participants to draw upon and develop all five EA Learner qualities. A core team of enthusiastic staff from across all curriculum areas, led by the Head of Enrichment, Jennifer Cutress, designed and developed the whole project, which was hosted on the school’s VLE, Firefly.
The islands theme was chosen because of the opportunities such environments naturally present for intellectual and practical resourcefulness, the bedrock of creativity. We grouped the pupils into teams assigned to seven invented islands, set in different geographical locations and throughout history, ranging from the Bronze Age to two hundred years in the future. This enabled us to present every team with a varied set of challenges based on their island’s geological, meteorological and technological characteristics.
How did you use Firefly?
Firefly was instrumental in the development of the Islands Project; it was used by the staff involved as their main collaboration space in the development phase of the project. Draft materials were shared through Firefly and staff had the opportunity to comment on the challenges as they were developed. We created four challenges for each island, under the headings Construction, Habitation, Transport and Communication, in addition to a Culture and Heritage task common to all groups, to give every pupil opportunities to utilise their individual strengths and interests.
We then developed a web area within Firefly to both share the challenges and supporting resources with each group, and also to provide a working space for them to develop and share their ideas. This allowed them to upload a wide range of creative content, from photos and videos to Minecraft animations which brought their islands to life.
What are your future plans for Firefly?
We are looking forward to using Firefly to develop the project further this year, implementing feedback from pupils and staff, alongside developing projects for other year groups, as part of our ongoing commitment to offer creative interdisciplinary learning opportunities throughout the school.