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.

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?

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.

I heart learning

This week I completed my Masters degree! When I graduate it will be with a M Ed (Information and Communication Technologies in Learning). Wow, that’s a long winded degree.

It felt so good to submit that last assignment and even better to finish with a bang and receive a High Distinction. It has been a hard slog but well worth it. My writing has improved and I have a greater respect and appreciation for the importance of academic reading in my professional life. I am excited to think about what I can do next to continue my learning….. I’d like to use my blog more to reflect on my professional practice and development and I want to pursue my interest in technology and learning.

I’d love to map out a plan for creating the ideal 21st century school library & learning space. There’s so many exciting things happening with technology and library design and I want to jump in and explore them!

Last week I attended the Australian School Library Association’s 2009 conference in Perth. There were some inspiring keynote speakers who fed my hunger for Library 2.0 inspiration. Dr Sherman Young, from Macquarie University provoked us with his predictions of the demise of the printed book. I am now reading The Book is Dead and will report back on this when I’m finished!

Dr Michael Stephens inspired us to explore, engage and celebrate the Hyperlinked School Library and gave us a glimpse of the future that is here and now in Tech Trends. I am excited to explore all the resources and links he provided us.


It was also wonderful to Tweetup with like-minded library friends…@katemreid, @kalgrl, @victorjd, @franlhughes and others. It is so fun to put faces to names and make connections. I loved it!


IMG_4600I was fortunate to meet up with some great aussie authors and illustrators. We visited the Fremantle Children’s Literatures Centre, a wonderful resource and service to the Australian community, where we were entertained and entranced by Jan Ormerod reading her book Molly and her Dad. Jan’s art work for her book the Water Witcher was also featured in an exhibition at the centre. What a thrill to meet and talk with such a lovely and talented lady! At the authors breakfast  at Frasers in the Botanic Gardens I sat next to the very talented author Norman Jorgensen. I love his book In Flanders Fields, a thought provoking picture book about World War 2.

Delegates from the ASLA2009 conference have shared many photos on Flickr.

I will enjoy exploring and reflecting on all the links and information I’ve gathered from this conference!

It’s been a while…

This year our school has been actively promoting the use of Web 2.0 tools by teachers to facilitate communication with parents and the wider school community.

At the beginning of the school year we offered some training workshops to enable teachers to have hands-on time playing with some of these tools including nings, wikis, blogs, and netvibes. Each grade level group has chosen the suite of tools they wish to use and have been experimenting.

TIS Web Wonderland

Last week at our staff meeting I introduced the “TIS Web Wonderland” a netvibe portal of links for our school community that I have created. Netvibes is a great web 2.0 tool that is easy to add content to and a breeze for students and teachers to use. I love it. The teachers and students are enjoying it too!

In the Toolbox tab I have placed links to other web 2.0 tools for teachers to explore. Many of the teachers are unfamiliar with most of them. I hope they take the time to play a little with them and see how easy they are to use.

It is a challenge for us to ensure that teachers have the time and willingness to explore, embrace and use new web 2.0 tools in the classroom! I feel fortunate to be working in a school that does not block these tools, but rather encourages their use.

facebook_logo.jpg (JPEG Image, 820x272 pixels)

My other current project is the TIS Library Facebook page. We now have over 100 fans and counting! This has enabled us to have our very own facebook page address:

I am using this page to actively promote new books, cool web links and library activities. We’ll see how it goes…

Links – May

I’ve come across so many wonderful links recently! Here’s a couple of the best ones:
Create your own custom moo cards. i just ordered some very cool minicards with my own photos. Lots of fun!

21st Century Learning Spaces
Loads of resources for inspiration in designing technology rich spaces that promote individual and collaborative learning.

100 Helpful Web Tools for Every Kind of Learner
Great tools that cater for individual learning styles.

Visual Blooms
A visual representation of Bloom’s Taxonomic Hierarchy with a 21st Century twist.

A wonderful kids online book store with great reviews and booklists.

And just for fun…

The Dewey Rap
A great rap about the Dewey Decimal System.

Check my delicious for loads more links!


Words….they are so powerful. Some people are truly gifted with words… they uplift, they challenge, they provoke, they inspire… I am so excited that Web 2.0 allows me to share in the words of others and be moved by them in some way.

I struggle with writing….I find it difficult and I am so envious of those to whom words seem to come so easily. Those same people motivate me and challenge me to be better.

In my searching, sifting and sorting through the web and on twitter I have found diamonds…people, blogs and “twitterers” who have meaningful and pertinent things to say.

We all need inspiration. These are a few who inspire and challenge me. I love visiting them for fresh ideas and perspectives….


How can you not be inspired by TED? Recently I have enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert speaking on creative genius, Aimee Mullins (overcoming adversity – WOW!), and Dave Eggers (Once upon a school…). Please visit TED to view and hear some truly inspiring words, you won’t be disappointed.


The Unquiet Librarian quietly inspires us on her blog with wonderful insights and links. Her use of web 2.0 and cloud computing in her professional life and school library is impressive. Visit her blog and be inspired!


Kim Cofino, Technology Integration Specialist at the International School of Bangkok, is a powerhouse of inspiration when it comes to technology integration across the curriculum. Her blog is definitely worth a very regular visit!

You are Never Alone

Kerrie Smith is an educator and Executive Officer, Professional Learning and Online Communities at edna in Australia. She is an online learning enthusiast and supporter with lots of inspiring things to say at her blog.

Thank you to all these inspirational people for helping me learn2learn! Visit my netvibe to see who else regularly inspires me…