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.


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?

Apples & Oranges

One of the people in my PLN on twitter is Angela Maiers, an educational author and consultant who has some wonderful resources available on her website. Be sure to visit there.

Her model lesson with Grade 4 students on fiction and non-fiction reading is terrific. Angela uses an apples and oranges metaphor to differentiate between non-fiction and fiction reading. I love this metaphor. Such a simple and effective way to illustrate both the importance of balanced reading and the different way we read fiction and non-fiction books.

Improving my practice

I have been remiss in not posting more regularly to my blog. Life is busy and I am juggling graduate studies with full time work. Not entirely a valid excuse I know, but my work and students come first, my studies follow and then blogging fits in when it can!

Recently I’ve been preparing an assignment for my graduate classes that involves looking at research in schools. I decided to focus on school library research and most particularly on effective library media programs. I am looking specifically at flexible scheduling in PYP school libraries. I am just beginning on my literature review and have discovered considerable research that indicates the benefits of flexible scheduling in school libraries, for example, van Deusen and Putnam, however as far as I can tell, little or no research that focuses on the PYP environment.

I continue to review the literature (see my delicious bookmarks for more links on flexible scheduling) and will come back to this post as I progress.

Meanwhile take a look at this webcast by Dr R Todd entitled “But do they learn anything? School libraries, meaningful learning and productive pedagogy in information age schools” Dr Todd’s research is prolific and significant to the development of effective school library programmes worldwide. His website lists all his work and is well worth a visit.

In the beginning…

leanne posterHi…this is where I begin…the first post on my professional blog. I’ve been keeping a personal blog describing life in Japan – ramblings relevant to family and friends about what we are up to on the other side of the world. I thought it was time to create a ‘professional’ blog where I could muse about my life as a school librarian and lifelong learner.

Wow! there is just so much to keep up with, it’s overwhelming….new books, web 2.0, magazines, library management systems, literacy resources, hardware, software, databases, authors, podcasts, library classes, teaching, reading and…. LIFE!  How do we fit it all in??? I ask myself that everyday. It’s hard to prioritise…where do you start? There’s so much I want to learn, know and share….. Hopefully I can bring some sense to it all by reflecting on this blog, learning and sharing as I make my way…

By the way, this picture is one of a series of “read”posters capturing our teachers that I created to promote reading in our school. This is me dressed as guess who?