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BYOD, or… BYOT?

Last Tuesday my Principal Jason and I attended a breakfast/meeting,  hosted by our Mac supplier/partner Xcite Logic. The philosophy and ideology behind this breakfast meeting was to get together with other schools working with Xcite and discuss where we are all heading in relation to BYOD or, Bring Your Own Device.

This model of technology integration appears to be gaining momentum in schools across Australia and i know that school and ICT leaders and educators are somewhat divided by it’s happening. As a college we have decided to move down this path, as we feel that the benefits behind BYOD are the best fit for our college and community.

The BYOD model at my college is in direct relation to our year 6 and 7 students who have been asked to purchase their own iPad device. If only this was the case at the moment with a reduced price (that is a whole other story!)… We have received excellent praise and feedback from our parents in relation to moving down this path and as a college we are grateful for that. When parents are in full support of your decisions as a college it makes what you do more worthwhile and a lot more rewarding!

The day began hearing from Tony Panetta, the managing director of Xcite Logic. Tony gave background information on Xcite and the key people involved at the company who were working closely with schools to implement technology in any way, yet especially BYOD.

From here we looked at the following question: “What is BYOD and why would you do it?”. A good question! For us as a college we felt that it was the best fit. We are already a large college of 1500 strong, and rapidly growing. To lease and manage machines was not entirely feasible, especially as we are an Apple Mac School. To move from a leased laptop option to a BYOD iPad option we felt was a great avenue for success in meeting student learning outcomes and embedding a culture of effective pedagogy through ICT.

We next heard from Anita L’Faunt, Excites National Teaching and Learning Consultant. Anita spoke about BYOT (bring your own technology) and what the key +’s and -’s were in relation to this model. Now. BYOT means students can bring ANY device to the school. They are not railroaded in to one particular device or OS. Students can use iPads, laptops. MacBooks, smart phones, etc… This is my opinion is outstanding in theory. However… it does have certain implications in relation to teaching and learning, technical setup, back end setup, etc… Obviously though, this model does give students the flexibility to each have a device in their hand to foster anywhere, anytime learning. Some features of a BYOT model were discussed and here they are:

  • Choice. Choice in the device for the students and parents not having to purchase extra technology. They can use what they already have.
  • Equitable access to online learning.
  • Student centred learning and access.
  • The school provides a robust infrastructure for all learners to access information
  • Specific decisions about ICT support and service can be made.
  • Teachers focus on digital pedagogies rather than how things work.

From an Admin POV:

  • Schools can build a sustainable tech model.
  • Provide a technical solution that’s in line with the school beliefs.
  • Direct school funds to develop a sound infrastructure.

From a teaching and Learning POV:

  • Student’s motivation. Students using their OWN devices.
  • It becomes a learner centred environment.
  • Takes the focus of ICT training for teachers.
  • Solves issues of staff wanting to pigeon hole students through wanting to use a particular program.

From an IT Dept:

  • Less time taken and used on technical support.
  • Reduced load on ICT infrastructure.

Examples of colleges and districts heading down this path were also mentioned and i have included more information about these below, including a video from the Hanover Public School District in Pennsylvania.

The discussions then centred around our more traditional BYOD models and how we as schools and colleges could best implement this. Everything was discussed from security online, to iTunes accounts and iPad usage, to iPad management software such as Casper Suite, bandwidth and wireless issues as well as rolling out devices to families and students the best way possible.

Lastly, we heard from the Keynote speaker of the morning, Leanne Windsor, who is a staff member at TIGS (The Illawarra Grammar School), and their schools journey in BYOT. Key points taken from Leanne’s presentation were:

  • BYOT is very different to BYOD. Students are no railroaded in to one device. Options are plentiful for them to choose.
  • Parents need guidance in being part of a BYOT model. If none is given they may just well freak out. It is important to discuss with your families along the way all that you are doing and are about to do. Give them support.
  • Laptops are, at TIGS, the primary device. Other devices are optional, but laptops are the way to go.
  • 70% of devices at TOGS are Apple Mac based. This is purely a student driven thing. Not a school push in any way.
  • Leadership support is essential.
  • A sound infrastructure and network is needed!
  • Access is more or less guaranteed to ALL students.
  • Clear policies and guidelines are needed to assist in the implementation and running of a BYOT program.

So  after ALL of that, what are your thoughts? BYOD, or, BYOT? Is one a better fit for your college? At this stage, i think we are happy running with our BYOD model. Yes, we are dictating to kids what devices that they can use however… in relation to meeting student learning outcomes, we feel that is the best fit for our students, staff, and community. Would love to hear from others!

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No Excuses!

Well. As the title suggests, it’s certainly been a while since i’ve blogged here and i certainly have no excuses. Definitely NOT good enough, so i apologise to those few who like to read my ramblings!

It has been such a hectic start to 2012, a start that i will say has been fun, yet also challenging, more so from an organisational point of view though. There have not seemed to be enough hours in the day lately and hence, chaos reigns!

The 2 1:1 iPad Programs which i am coordinating, in years Prep and 6 / 7, have begun smoothly and has certainly made for many excited students running app’s and hammering the app store for anything and everything which looks fun and enjoyable to play, and that’s FREE! Teachers, particularly those new to the college, are geting their own minds around how to best integrate iPads devices in to their learning and teaching programs and i will be running extensive PL for these staff in the coming weeks!

 

Parents have been super supportive and next week i’ll be running several parent based tech sessions to assist families in monitoring and utilising the iPad and its features.

We are also still running our 1:1 MacBook programs with our year 8, 9 and 10 students, with the year 10’s having just received their brand new MacBook Pro’s, which have certainly been a highlight and great addition to the tech stocks at out school. All 600+ devices have been re-imaged and updated to OSX Lion, which in itself has been a hit! Teachers have already been running with tech integration from the moment students had their devices handed back and are utilising the technology extremely well which, from my point of view, is excellent to witness.

Lately on Friday mornings i have been assisting staff via conducting Techie Brekkies, an idea which I originally picked up from a great teacher, Henrietta Miller in Sydney. These are a chance for teachers to come to school early and spend a morning with me to learn new and wonderful things! The two that have ran so far have been for new staff in assisting them to become familiar with all of our ICT happenings at the college and to access all of the countless information that they need. This mornings session was to assist staff in creating classroom blogs to use with their students! Both sessions went very very well!

2 weeks in to the year and we have already have had our first college visitors to witness our iPad programs in action. 2 wonderful staff Toni and Kim, from Dripstone Middle School in Darwin, NT, came to see what we were all about. I sensed the feeling that they enjoyed their visit and really took something away from the discussions we had. I have two more schools coming in the next week or so to show around which is fantastic. It s great that we as a college have the time, find the time, to share pedagogical practices with others.

It appears that it will also be a big year in relation to both attending, and presenting, at a number of conferences throughout 2012. I have been listed to present at this years ICTEV Conference in May and in a fortnights time, i will be presenting at the Int. Books conference, discussing all that is eBooks and education.

As a college we’ve brought a new management system on board, known as Compass School Manager, and since we’ve/they’ve completed the initial set up, this online school management system has certainly made a lot of little tasks a whole lot easier to manage. Everything from marking the roll, which can be done on smart phone devices and tablets, to checking staff and student timetables, to creating events for excursions and to now booking available classrooms, this software has been an excellent addition to our college.

On a more personal, school based level, i have been creating a number of documents to support the teaching and learning throughout the college. these have involved a School Wide Social Media Communication Strategy (that’s a mouth full)… which will assist staff in putting processes in to place if and when they decide to use social media with their students or a class as a whole. I have also been working on an updated eLearning plan for our college. This has been based on data received from teachers at the end of 2011, who all participated in the ePotential survey, stating which areas of ICT they felt that they needed assistance in. A few of these areas for example were incorporating more aspects of social media in to their learning and teaching along with blogging, podcasting, and working more collaboratively with others outside of the college setting.

My teaching load for 2012 has increased from last year also, making for an even busier year ahead. In saying that, i am not complaining at all! I am teaching Multimedia to year nine’s and ten’s, all of whom are actively engaged and loving, well appear to be, the subject and what they’re involved in! As i mentioned in a previous post, it’s great to have a class, or several, that i can utilise as, dare i say, guinea pigs, to test all the new web 2.0 tools and sites I come across. The teaching aspect of my role is one of the greatest parts of what i do! Being able to teach, and, work closely with staff to implement and embed excellent technological practices.

I am feeling like i have only scrapped the barrel here with what is occurring throughout this year however whatever lies ahead, i will be sure to keep you all posted and updated! One main aim for this year… to continue with this blog and add more content, more often!!!

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GBL & Digital Media Creation!

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1 week in and my students appear to be engaged, enthused and enjoying what it is that they are doing. The two discovery units that I am running for Yr 9 this year have a strong Inquiry focus through largely implementing ICT and IT ideology!

GBL, or Games Based Learning, is something that I heard about several years ago and is an idea that has not really taken off here in Oz as yet. I know that the discussions around GBL are becoming more in depth and that Educator’s around the country are trying to implement more of a Games Based focus within their teaching and learning practices. The work of people such as Mark Prensky and Adrian Camm (his Games in Education Wiki is Excellent) have certainly pushed the notion of GBL into many educators minds. The mention that GBL also received in both the 2010 and now 2011 K-12 Edition of the Horizon Report also have assisted GBL to be seen as a more serious method of teaching in the 21st Century. The Horizon Report 2010 states –

“The interest in game-based learning has accelerated considerably in recent years, driven by clear successes in military and industrial training as well as by emerging research into the cognitive benefits of game play. Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. At the low end of game technology, there are literally thousands of ways games can be — and are already being — applied in learning contexts. More complex approaches like role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences have broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines, and are beginning to be explored in more classrooms.”

The discovery that I am running with two Yr 9 classes is seeing my students talk about and discuss the relevance of GBL and weather or not they as students, as digital learners, see a place for GBL in the education system. It has been interesting to see their notion between games and gaming and how these seem to differ. That playing a game and gaming involve different skills and can be worlds apart. As a class we view the following You Tube Video which explained quite well, albeit quite fast, the differences between educational games and gaming for entertainment. We held several discussions about the notions shown in the video which promoted plenty of rich and relevant thoughts to be shared.

Students have since been asked to complete a research paper on GBL and what it involves, how can we assist other people to see the benefits of GBL in a classroom, and what examples of GBL can we get involved in to promote GBL amongst the educational community.

One major aim for this unit is to have each and every one of my students having developed, researched and constructed a Serious Game that can be used within a classroom setting! I am sure that they will rise to that challenge!

Over the past 2 years working with Secondary students in a 1:1 Program, it has been an amazing journey to see them progress with their ICT skills and to see them create the outstanding pieces that they have. The use of CORE Apple Technology and the Applications via iLife and iWork have certainly assisted both students and teachers alike with the learning and teaching that occurs. My discovery unit titled Digital Media Creation has been based around a Document written by Marco Torres and Ross Kallen, which was sponsored by Apple, called ‘A Curriculum for Digital Media Creation‘. I have modified the lesson involved to suit the needs of my students as well as the resources on offer at my College.

The discovery essentially involves the students looking at film and media creation, from the thought processes of thinking up ideas for a project, to creating the storyboard, to then placing that storyboard in to action! As the document mentions “Every day digital media becomes more important as a means for receiving, producing, sharing and broadcasting information tools and resources that were once the exclusive property of a few are now available to many more people.”

This week will see my students create a 60sec video staring a day in the life of… an inanimate object! A rock, water bottle, laptop… whatever! This should be a laugh! I am sure all of the students will do extremely well! I will aim to have all film uploaded by the end of the week  to you all to see!

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And I’m Back!

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Here I am back at work having left off straight from where i left myself and my workload in 2010. I was thinking that the beginning of 2011 back at school would be somewhat of a smooth process. WRONG! It seems there is truly no rest for the wicked and in the world of ICT it seems that things keep evolving, changing and occasionally, crashing and burning to make life difficult!

But… In saying this i would not have it any other way! In the week and bit i have now been back it has been one of the most hectic work times of my life but i have enjoyed every minute of it. I have rolled out with the assistance of my great Tech’s 130+ MacBooks for classroom use, ensured that all 130+ iPads are up and running for all our students involved in the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial, and made sure that all students in our 1:1 MacBook program in years 8 and 9 have smooth running machines, all of which were re-imaged and raring to go!

Next week I hold two 1:1 Laptop Information Sessions for parents and Students in Yr 7. Parents and students will be spoken to myself of course about our 1:1 Program as well as Tony Richards from ITMadeSimple, who discuss the importance of Cyber Saftey and Cyber Bullying. We also have one of our Apple Supplier representatives from Mac1 talking as well on MacBook care and support. This has been a great night in the past with 80-90% of all parents and their students attending.

A key focus for myself this year, along with teaching my Yr 9 Discovery units on Game Based Learning and Digital media Creation, is to get in to the junior section of the school to assist teachers in that area embed ICT more frequently in to teaching and learning practices. We will be running a buddy program with our Prep and Yr 6 students based upon the use of iPads, integrate and place a greater focus on the use of our IWB’s, and aim to get all students up and running on the all mighty Ultranet!

Since we’ve started back i have already been contacted by two Colleges to come and see the great work our students and teachers are doing with the iPads as well as being visited by the Independent Evaluators of the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial who are keen to see and hear all that’s happening in regards to the trial!

I am keen also this year to utilise the expertise of the excellent people i work with across the college! I have staff who are excelling in the use of Web 2.0 tools, cloud computing and the use of all Apple Applications, especially those associated with iWork and iLife. I even have a staff member creating his own iPad/iPhone4 Applications for use with his prep class! I will certainly keep you informed.

Personally, i have applied to become an ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) and am hoping that I receive the magical message that informs me that i have been successful! And if not, so be it. I will also continue to run my ‘Tech day Thursday’s’ to assist all staff at my College, especially with all and anything ICT.

Let 2011 begin!

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My 211 Happenings!

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Well. Here we go. What will 2011 hold for me? What are my aims and goals and challenges?

I must say that I am looking forward to this year. I have a number of things that I have in the pipe works in which I am greatly looking forward to. This year will see me teaching Year 9 for the first time in my teaching career. Not that I see this a challenge as I have been fortunate enough to teach the same cohort of students the past two years. Rather than being a generalist class teacher as I have been in the past, I will be teaching two ICT based Discovery Units (Electives) covering two areas I am very interested in.

Game Based Learning has certainly grabbed the attention of educators in the last 18 months and had been a proven hit for those educational settings that have trialed the teaching of this. I look forward to investigating through inquiry why games, video games in particular, are so popular and how they are created. Students will also be given the chance to create their own basic games and to then share these with others. People such as @adrian_camm have been somewhat of an inspiration for me after hearing him speak about game based learning at the recent Ulearn10 Conference in Christchurch. Adrian’s Games In Education Wiki can be found HERE.

The other Discovery that I will undertaking will be titled ‘Digital Media Creation’. This will involve my students looking at film and how technology assists in the creation of certain programs. My students will investigate how films are made, primarily documentaries, and put in to action the creation of storyboards, working with audio and various techniques as well as investigating lighting and trouble shooting lighting issues. I have a core group of budding IT Savvy students who are keen to get involved in this and I greatly look forward to rolling with this.

Another large part of my role for this year will be to Peer Coach staff at my College. Working closely with staff and assisting them as much as I can in regards with implementing ICT in to their teaching and learning programs is something which I enjoy and through the ICT Peer Coaching Professional Learning that I undertook in 2010, I feel I have a great grounding to really set some great Peer Coaching in practice.

The 1:1 MacBook and iPad Trails that I coordinate are certainly two things that I am deeply passionate about! Having seen our Secondary students grow in to the excellent Digital Learners that they are today and to witness the great things they are able to create on their MacBooks is outstanding. The iPad trial also with our Year 6 cohort has been a revelation at our College and has paved the way in opening the eyes of parents, staff and other students in just how valuable mobile technology is and how beneficial it can be.

Teaching teachers and sharing my experiences is also something I look forward to in 2011. I look forward to presenting at several conferences and have already been booked in for a few! Sharing the experiences of our iPad trial and our 1:1 MacBook program are always great fun.

So there. I am sure there are another 24 things I have failed to mention and there will be zero shortage of things to be done in 2011 but, if I didn’t enjoy it, I would do it!

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2010 Comes To A Close!

Apple Winter Holiday Mac Christmas Leopard

What a year! A year which promised so much for myself and the College i am part of and having just about all of those promises come to fruition!

This was my first year in a role that saw me out of a classroom full time since i began teaching WAY back in 2003! Being given the eLearning Coordinator/ICT Leading Teacher gig was a major highlight for me personally at the end of 2009 and then to put that role and its responsibilities in to action this year was a great learning opportunity for myself. I reflect back along the course of this year and think that there are so many more things that perhaps i could of achieved but maybe that is setting expectations somewhat high for myself.

Managing ICT at such a fast growing College, one which is set to be the largest single campus P-12 in Victoria, certainly will have it’s challenges, some of which i have already met and conquered is part and parcel if the role i am in. Technology is an area the generally people love or hate because it either works for them, or it doesn’t. The main responsibility i am assigned with is to help people see the light! Help them to integrate ICT in to their teaching and learning practices and to make other educator realise that technology is a tool to be used and embraced, not shunned.

I had the opportunity to not only attend, but to also present at several outstanding Professional Learning sessions throughout the year and these made a huge difference in how i went about my new role. ACEC 2010, ITSE10, VITTA 2010 and Ulearn10 were all sensational outings in which i learnt a great deal from. I heard some amazing keynoters speak, people whom i had heard of, yet never heard speak, or, in some instances meet and converse with in person or even have dinner with! Marco Torres, Steve Wheeler, Gary Stager, Lee Crocket, Sylvia Martinez, and Stephen Heppell just to name a few. Amazing educational minds with even more amazing educational thoughts to share.

Being involved in and coordinating the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial was also a major highlight this year. Being one of nine schools in the State to be selected was great news for our College and would, and has, complimented our excellent ICT programs we currently have running. The 100 iPads being placed in our Yr 5 cohort as well as 10 more for our Specialist Learning House certainly placed us on the map for IT Innovations. The iPads have been a revelation in our College and it was not until recently in the trial that the staff and students really started to demonstrate just how powerful the iPad as a Mobile Technological Device could be in an Education setting. I will certainly keep you posted on all of the happenings relating to this trial!

Next year i am very much looking forward to Peer Coaching. I am looking forward to assisting staff where i can in integrating ICT in to their teaching and learning practices. A great part of this i am sure will be the learning that i will undergo throughout this process. I am sure that i will learn just as much from those that i am Peer Coaching with as perhaps, fingers crossed, that they learn from me!

The learning that i witnessed throughout the year from the students who had ICT firmly embedded in to their daily practices was astounding and i am mainly talking about here students involved in our 1:1 MacBook Program. The students have developed so far over the course of the year, especially our Yr 8 students who started off with their MacBooks last year in the program. The work that all our Yr 7 and 8 students have developed has been excellent. The movies and creative flare that has been shown was by no means lacking. Students used a wide array of applications and software on their Macs such as iMovie, Comic Life, and Garage Band just to name a few!

Overall it has been a year of many learning curves. I am greatly looking forward to 2011 and what it holds! I will be teaching two Yr 9 Discovery Units, Media Creation and Game Based Learning, assisting all staff with their Ultranet endeavours, coordinating the last 12 months of the iPad Trial, as as i have mentioned Peer Coaching fellow staff! I am also booked in already to present at specific conferences next year which i enjoy immensely also!

Have a great Christmas and New Year, and thanks for taking interest in what i have to share!

Cheers!