The 8 essential elements of a BYOD programme

For BYOD to be a success, working digitally has to be more effective, productive and engaging than working on paper for enough of the working day to make it worthwhile. There are eight key elements which will provide a reliable and meaningful way of working for teachers and pupils. Genuine success requires all eight elements to be planned for and delivered, since a single area of weakness will jeopardise the outcomes of the programme across the board. If working digitally is not convincingly better, colleagues and students will choose to work on paper.







10 Educational Aspirations for BYOD Berkhamsted we are currently working on our next steps with BYOD to move steadily from students having the option to bring a device to it being compulsory. This will bring about enormous change for students and teachers.

It is essential that in developing a school BYOD policy and planning, we aim first and foremost for improved standards in our educational provision for our pupils. Shiny new devices can be seductive in terms of their draw in PR terms, appearing competitive with other schools and creating an illusion of innovation which may lack substance.

Teaching and learning has to be the primary driver for bringing more devices into the classroom.

The types of ‘quick-win’ pedagogical benefits I believe teachers can expect to see straight away from BYOD include:

Content – bringing engaging digital material direct to students via Google Classroom, YouTube and iTunesU

Discussion and collaboration – getting more from Google docs, forums, wikis and blogs

Planning and organisation – virtually ‘unlosable’ homework, calendars, diaries and learning logs

Assessment – quick self-marking quizzes and tests

Longer-term, these 10 aspirations are what we are aiming for with our BYOD programme:

  1. To improve access to technology for students.
  2. To boost interactivity and active learning in class.
  3. To increase engagement and participation in learning in and beyond the classroom.
  4. To develop scope for flexibility, choice and personalisation in schemes of work and lesson planning.
  5. To harness the potential for digital resources and content in lessons.
  6. To allow further opportunities for creative outcomes.
  7. To promote independence, problem-solving and a spirit of enquiry by encouraging access to reference materials and online resources.
  8. To develop opportunities for collaboration using Google Apps for Education.
  9. To lay the foundations for preparing students to sit examinations digitally in the future.
  10. To foster the acquisition of skills, habits and knowledge which will be transferable to higher education and the workplace.

We are aiming high and taking our time in order to pull all the pieces together effectively. I will keep you posted!


Google Classroom a-go-go

At Berkhamsted we have been thrilled to see the arrival of Google Classroom this year. It has made life with BYOD sixth form classes, in particular, a lot more straightforward.

I have especially liked the ‘announcements’ function and the fact that through comments, students can gener
ate dialogue about assignments. I also think the way that work is organised into folders within Google Drive is a huge plus.

If you have been trying Google Classroom out this year, this post will help you get everything tidied up before the end of term, ready to start the new year with your new classes.

If you are interested in getting started with your Google Classroom in September, click here for easy instructions. It is quick to set up and makes organising work simple!

#TLAB16 is on its way to a diary near you

tlab-logoWe are very excited indeed about hosting the 4th TLAB conference at Berkhamsted next Spring. Ally Harrison and I are at the helm alongside the Astra Alliance and we are determined to make next year’s event even better than ever!

Work is currently underway to get the programme together and we will keep you posted with all the details for tickets. If you are interested in leading a practical (non-commercial) workshop for teachers, get in touch using the form below and we will send you an information pack.

In the meantime, make a note of the date: Saturday 5th March

Look forward to seeing you there!


#Threequestions on technology…

I’ve been thinking about Mark Anderson’s three questions for a little while now and have pinned down a few thoughts. Whilst he kindly published them on his blog, I never put them up here… until now!3552123084_28b0cb7484

1. What place, if any, has technology got in education?

Some people think of wires and machines when they think of technology. It is so much more. Technology is the beating heart of progress in education. It is richness and depth of experience. It is power that comes from unbridled access to knowledge. It is openness and engagement across cultural, geographical and financial divides. It is the leveraging of social capital and the flattening of hierarchies. It is the questioning of habits and the challenging of status quos.


2. What’s your favourite edtech tool for learning and why?

2000px-Evernote.svgI am a bit of a bore on this front as I never give the newest, shiniest tools any airtime. Evernote is my learning workhorse, my memory bank, my brainstorming scrapyard, my web browser post-it notes, my strategic drawing-board, my lesson planner, my file-of-things-I-must-not-lose, and my digital answer to Michael McIntyre’s ‘Man Drawer’ ( I would be lost without it.

3. What are your thoughts on students using mobile devices in the classroom?

I’ve been an advocate for mobile devices for about five years, after it became increasingly apparent to me that in the mid to late 2000s, “more technology” in schools seemed to mean “more IT rooms”. Despite being a bit of a geek, I never liked seeing my students with their backs to me, facing the wall, trying to reconcile the cramped, solitary, awkward learning space at the computer with the classroom learning experience. Building rapport, maintaining eye contact, managing behaviour and attention: these basic elements of dealing with a class of little or not-so-little humans are nearly impossible in such environments, and too often IT room lessons became synonymous with Friday afternoon dossing about, time-filling busywork and building trite little PowerPoint presentations where far more attention went into the choice of WordArt in the title than anything else. As an ambitious linguist who was supposed to be teaching youngsters to communicate in another language, battling with the basic concepts of what good IT room practice looked like was quite the challenge, and I quickly became convinced that teaching outstanding lessons in IT rooms was a really big ask.

Mobile devices are the way forward, in my view. I championed a project four years ago at my school bringing banks of iPads into MFL classrooms, which allowed students to access a new world of information and resources, as well as making fantastic tools for creative work and collaboration available to them. With mobile devices, flexibility is returned to the hands of teachers about how the classroom is configured and how the work is blended. Students can easily and comfortably switch between digital and analogue resources, or combine the two. The digital world is at the students’ fingertips and the school spaces function exactly as they always have. If I believed in that sort of thing, I might say that the educational feng shui is restored.

A future in which mobile devices do not play a major part is now so distant from likelihood it seems ridiculous. The first and last interactions in many of our days is via a mobile device and their integration into so many aspects of our lives is inarguable. I believe schools have as much responsibility to teach students about digital literacy, safety and citizenship as we do their analogue counterparts. To hide our heads in the sand and pretend that the speed of change in the outside world doesn’t affect how we educate our young people is to do them and their future potential a profound disservice. Access to mobile devices in schools encourages our students to develop resourcefulness, critical thinking, mental agility and problem solving. Show me an exercise book and a blue biro that can top that.

Power up your presentations!

Have you come across the annotation tool for PowerPoint 2013 called ‘inking’? It’s a great way to make presentations in class more engaging and to draw your students’ attention to particular elements of the slide, as you can highlight, circle and underline elements of your slides either while you edit them or live during your presentation. I made a 2 minute video on how to use it for our staff, which you can view here:

Bored of PowerPoint? Perhaps you’d like to give my favourite presentation tool a go. Dive in and have a look at their quick, easy ‘design school’ tutorials. Here is a link from Canva for a free eBook about designing engaging content which you might find helpful when thinking about updating your classroom resources for September.

Back in the saddle

I have dusted off my blog and am getting back into the swing of things before school starts for the new year in less than a month.

I am really excited about focussing fully on eLearning at Berkhamsted and am spending my time brainstorming ideas for CPD sessions, organising plans for a new Berkhamsted eLearning blog and gathering potential research project plans together.

It’s going to be a really interesting year and a big gear change for me after being away on maternity leave and spending the previous seven years running MFL departments.

My first thoughts are all about productivity and all the organisation teachers need to do before a new year starts. I’ll be sharing my favourite tools and will be keen to hear how you get everything shipshape before the students arrive!


Caldicott Digital Learning Conference

I was honoured indeed to be asked to speak at Caldicott’s Digital Learning Conference today. I shared the bill with Nic Amy, Director of Learning at Wellington College and James Stanforth, Head of Digital Education at Eton College.

These were the key ‘takeaway’ ideas from my presentation about using iPads in MFL:

  • Schools are traditionally cautious about being cutting edge when it comes to technology. However, progress towards digital work was validated last year when examination boards changed their policy about the use of IT beyond those who use laptops for SEN purposes, now allowing anyone who uses IT as their normal way of working to do so in public exams too.
  • “The only thing that these students will hand write when they leave school is a birthday card…”
  • I am not a great fan of Language Labs. Mostly because in my ten years in MFL I have never been in one that worked properly. Could you spend that £30k better? YES.
  • Authentic audiences, learning in real contexts, creativity and collaboration can all bring classrooms to life and build engagement  and raise standards.
  • Previously hard-to-capture learning such as speaking work can be shared and assessed with ease.
  • There is no panacea: no single app will solve all your problems. Workflows, not single apps, are the way to get the most from working with iPads.
  • Learning stamina!

A new Berkhamsted conference

Exciting news: new Deputy Head of Boys (Academic) Nick Dennis has announced that Berkhamsted School will be hosting a brand new conference focussed on teaching, learning and assessment on Saturday 16th March, 2013. It will be a fantastic opportunity to bring together practitioners from different sectors to talk about the ‘why, how and what’ of learning in their classrooms.

See [ilink url=””]Nick Dennis’ blog[/ilink] to find out more details about the event, to volunteer to speak and to see a selection of the speakers so far.