It’s now three months since our school introduced a BYOT “Bring Your Own Technology” program in the Senior School. Students from Year 7 through Year 12 are required to bring their own devices & applications to school to enhance their learning. Our teachers are also requested to “bring their own”. (All new teaching contracts stipulate this as a requirement from 2011). We decided to move down this path for many compelling reasons:

  1. Choice. Learners are diverse. Learning styles and preferences vary and we wish to recognise this by allowing learners to choose the device and applicatons most suitable for them.
  2. Anywhere, anytime. Teaching and learning occurs inside and outside the classroom. We want to empower learners to utilise tools for learning in a “just in time” manner no matter where they are.
  3. Personalised. By having our own devices we can each have the tools, shortcuts, widgets, and add-ons that are most relevant to us. Our desktops and browsers are the way we want them.
  4. Preparing for the future. Our students will move in to BYOT environments at university and in the work place. We need to prepare them for this.
  5. Flexible learning. The nature of learning is changing. No longer do we sit in rows and listen to a teacher. We are creating flexible learning environments that facilitate collaborative and individual learning. Our computer labs have all but vanished. Our new library provides collaborative and personal spaces and online 24/7 access to resources. We are opening the classroom doors and encouraging teachers and students to access  ‘global’ learning environments via web technologies.
  6. Digital fluency. We are empowering teachers and students to become digitally fluent and responsible users of technology.

The introduction of a BYOT policy requires thorough planning and preparation and there are several critical keys to success:

  1. Leadership. Leaders with vision who empower and support. Remembering that leadership comes not just from the top but from throughout the school. Faculty leaders are an important part of the process.
  2. Infrastructure. Investment in a solid infrastructure that provides adequate bandwidth, strong wireless coverage across the school and reliable filtering.
  3. Teacher training and support.
  4. Communication. Clear, consistent and ongoing communication with all stakeholders, particularly parents, is essential. It’s important to help parents understand your vision and why you are asking them to provide technology for their children.
  5. Policies & guidelines. Put in place clear policies and guidelines for teachers and students including Responsible Use Policy and Social Media Guidelines. I prefer the term ‘responsible use’ over ‘acceptable’ use. ‘Acceptable’ sends a message of minimum expectations. ‘Responsible’ demands a higher standard of behaviour.
  6. File storage & Management. Ensure that students and teachers are aware of how to manage their files. Establish guidelines for file storage and management. Make use of the cloud. We have recommended that all users save their files in the cloud using one of several options, either a public cloud service such as DropBox or the TIGS private cloud.

Here’s a recent presentation I’ve given:

and here’s the accompanying video made by some of our students:

BYOT @ TIGS from The Illawarra Grammar School on Vimeo. There has been some press coverage also: Schools put students in charge of own technical support Cynthia Karena April 6, 2012 The Illawarra Grammar School is among an increasing number of schools allowing students to bring – and support – their own laptops and tablets.

Scoopin’ it

There are a growing number of information gathering/curating tools appearing on the web. Recently I’ve been playing with Scoop.It

Scoop.It is a tool that allows you to gather information from the web and share it with others. This video explains how Scoop.It works:

So far I have created four topics on Scoop.It, and they are already creating interest and gathering followers:

BYOT – “Resources & links relating to ‘Bring Your Own Technology’ policies in schools”

School Library Design – “Designing school libraries/learning hubs for 21st century learning”

PYP – “Resources & links relating to the IB Primary Years Programme”

Reading Matters – “Collected thoughts and resources on why reading matters”

Scoop.It is easy to use. At present is still under beta testing and you have to apply for access. Once you receive access it is relatively simple to set up your own topics or follow others.

It takes a little tweaking to get the keywords right so that the searches deliver relevant ‘scoops’. I’m still not entirely happy with all the keywords I’ve used in some of my topics as there are still a few too many irrelevant hits. Managing the sources that Scoop.It trawls is a simple process. is a great tool to empower students with, providing an opportunity for them to refine their search and synthesis skills. On reading the Terms and Conditions for use of Scoop.It there appears to be no age restrictions for users.

Library of the Early Mind

Library of the Early Mind “is an exploration of the art and impact of children’s literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves. From the first stories we hear told to us to those childhood heroes that stay with us a lifetime, the impact on our culture runs deeper than what we might expect…..
The film features nearly 40 prominent authors and illustrators talking about their work, its genesis and its impact.”

This documentary is now screening in selected venues in the United States, I wonder when it will be available in Australia? I’d love to see it….

I’ve posted on the Library of the Early Mind Facebook page to ask them.

21st century library

Our library is to undergo a transformation at the end of this school year. We are currently working with the architects to create a blueprint for a 21st century learning space that will effectively meet the needs of our school community.

The headmaster announced the transformation in a recent school newsletter:

It is a challenging and exciting time involving many hours of research, planning, dreaming, and brainstorming. I’ve found inspiration through my PLN and via the web. Some of the resources I’ve found to be particularly helpful and inspiring:

I have gathered these and many other resources here on my Library2.0 netvibe page.
This past week I was asked to write a brief statement about our library transformation for the school newsletter. Here is what I wrote:

“In last week’s newsletter the Headmaster introduced the exciting changes we are about to undertake to transform our library. At TIGS we recognize and acknowledge that the library has a critical role in 21st century teaching and learning.  Our vision for the new “transformed” TIGS library is based on research and best practice. It will be

  • an “iCentre” – the school hub of innovation & information where we explore and use new technologies (mobile technologies, video conferencing, and other interactive technologies)
  • a flexible learning space that embraces 21st century pedagogies and encourages collaborative, inquiry based learning practices with movable furniture and technologies to suit different learning experiences
  • a window to the world providing technologies, such as video conferencing, that enable TIGS teachers, students & parents to communicate and share with experts, authors, students & educators locally and globally
  • a supportive & welcoming environment where specialists help students learn to access, use and share information & technology wisely and critically
  • a place of wonder – an inviting & stimulating environment where children and young people are encouraged to exercise their curiosity and explore and share in the wonder of books and reading.

 Our library specialists are currently building a digital library presence to support TIGS teaching and learning 24/7 via the web.

Visit the library web page and view our LibGuides designed to assist and scaffold students as they learn to research and seek out quality information sources.”

The process of rethinking, rebuilding and re-branding our library has just begun….

Connecting & Interacting

This week my PLN led me to two great resources about social media.

The word map below illustrates the global pervasiveness of  social networks. Click on the map for a link to further data. Nicholas Lamphere, Social Media Instructor and Consultant from the Harvard Human Resources Center for Workplace Development, has created an excellent prezi entitled Introduction to Social Media. It’s well worth a view.

How are you using social media in your school? Is it blocked?

We have a library Facebook page at TIGS. Our school captains also use Facebook as a way of communicating with their peers. And, yes we have a school Facebook page…but Facebook is blocked in our school. I think there is a real dilemma here!

At present I am, in cooperation with key executive, working on new Acceptable Use Policies for our Junior and Senior Schools. One of the main objectives is to facilitate the opening up of our filter. I am trying to achieve greater access for students while being sensitive to the needs/demands of parents and concerned staff. It’s a tough battle! Having come from a school with very little to no filtering, it’s been an adjustment for me and something I and many students find very frustrating.

I am an advocate for the use of social media in student learning and believe schools meed to embrace these tools if they are to reach out and communicate with the wider community as well as engage students with a broader and more authentic audience.

I plan to encourage blogging next year through the use of a school hosted WordPress site. We will continue to facilitate the use of a broad range of social media as we introduce a digital citizenship program throughout the school next year. I am excited about all the possibilities and hope that other staff members will embrace these technologies.

There were two interesting articles this week about the distractive nature of social media and web 2.0. The New York Times featured an article, Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction, arguing that computers, the web and cellphones pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning for teens. Megan Garber, writing for the Neiman Foundation at Harvard, offers an interesting rebuttal to this.

Where do you sit?

Learning by doing

Dr Tae has some provocative things to say. Some of what jumped out at me….

….”school sucks”

….knowledge is not a cheeseburger….sharing what we know doesn’t mean we will lose it or use it up. In fact when we share what we know we build on and solidify our knowledge

….”certified” doesn’t necessarily mean “qualified”. An alarming statistic – 90% of middle school science teachers in the US do not have any form of science training…. How many teachers are teaching subjects that they have no formal training in? (My question: How many school “librarians” have no formal library qualifications?)

….learning by doing. Hands on learning is essential!!!! We don’t learn by sitting & listening in lecture halls and classrooms. The perfect science lesson = “Mythbusters”

What do you think?

Digital Citizenship

We recently ran what we hope will be the first of many workshops for parents on Digital Citizenship. In our workshop we focused on social media and most particularly Facebook. Recently we have had some incidents in our school of students creating facebook groups that fall in to the realm of cyberbullying and we wanted to highlight this to both parents and students as well as focus on the strengths and advantages of social media sites such as Facebook.

Our school does not block these sites, indeed we actively promote the use of social media, most particularly nings, wikis, and  skype, but also flickr, youtube and facebook, and for the young ones, club penguin. In an international school environment where students have friends and family located all around the world it is vital for them to maintain these friendships and support networks, and social media provides the perfect medium for this.

Libraries @21c

I love all the great material that the ‘cloud’ allows me to access freely.  Colleagues in my PLN around the world generously share their work and open the door to a treasure of learning resources that keep me plugged in and up-to-speed. Here are two great presentations that were recently shared via my PLN.

Ever wondered about the ‘Cloud’, what it is, what it means for libraries? This presentation by @elyssa covers all the bases:

and from @heyjudeonline, this fabulous presentation about the semantic web – something we all need to be more informed about:

I have included both these resources on my Library2.0 netvibe page – my ‘out-loud’ thinking and reflecting page of stuff on 21c libraries. There’s just so many wonderful resources to help schools and school librarians move their libraries into the 21c. No excuses….

Wall wishing

Wallwisher is a very handy web 2.0 tool that we’ve had some fun with lately. A collaborative “sticky note” application, Wall Wisher is simple and effective to use. You can create an online notice board in seconds and then share it with others who can then add their own sticky notes. There’s no registration required and users can choose to post anonymously. In addition to simple notes, you can post images, music and videos.

This week, Grade 4 students created their own reading wall to share all their favourite books.

Recently Grade 2 used Wallwisher to kick off their Unit of Inquiry on chocolate. They created a wall to post what they KNOW about chocolate and a wall to post what they WONDER about chocolate.

I’ve used Wallwisher as a live brainstorming tool to compile questions and ideas in a group and in workshops. We project the ‘wall’ up on a screen and watch as everyone posts their ‘sticky notes’. It’s also a handy tool to gather input from colleagues and students after hours and/or over a period of time.

Reading Matters

Note: the Netvibe mentioned in this post has been superseded by my new Reading Matters website. Please follow this link to visit the new Reading Matters!

updated Dec 2014

One of my passions is reading aloud to children.

Recently I conducted a reading workshop for parents in which we discussed the importance of reading aloud, learned how to choose appropriate books, and shared some tips about how to effectively read with children.

I created a Reading Matters netvibe to help parents access the myriad of resources and information available on the web.

We used the Netvibe during the workshop to structure our exploration of some of the key resources. There are some wonderful videos, blogs, book trailers, review sites and research articles out there!