Week 3 (ish)…. the actual distribution

10 05 2013

Well the time has come. The iPads were delivered and the management software, Meraki, was installed. After preparing each iPad to have the school profile installed on the devices and we were ready to go. Unfortunately I was still stuck in hospital but through many emails and phone calls between my ICT department and @MarkwJennings of Western Computers we devised our plan to distribute the iPads in a staff training session.

Firstly I had to identify which staff would initially have responsibility for the devices. We made a decision that the 3 core subjects should all have a device and the remaining departments should be allocated at least 1 device limited to the 50 that we had ordered. Our initial thoughts were to distribute the device throughout the day but in the end the Principal had the joy of having the big reveal in the training session and claiming that I had been bullying him into getting the iPads? Can’t imagine where he got that idea from!! Staff were given the iPads and Mark took an hour to take them through the basics of how to use the iPads. Staff were very excited and immediately were trying to think of ways to incorporate them into their lessons.

Staff were informed that they were able to email me with any questions and instantly I was inundated. Questions ranged from “how to….?” to boasting that they had managed to set up twitter accounts and what they were planning to do the next day. Of course there were a few disappointed staff who felt that their department should have been allocated more but after reassurance that this was a trial and suggestions for how the devices could be shared they went away with the challenge to prove that the iPad was indispensable and that they needed more for the department. (exactly what I want them to do).

So the plan is now to let them have the weekend to play around and get use to the device and then we are going to start to “push out” the apps that have been identified as useful for teaching. As we do this we will provide some guidance for how to use the app and one or two suggestions of how to use them. However, I did set them a challenge for the day to download one free app and also record one student explaining their work. I have also been working on an interactive iBook for the school where we can share all the different help guides and suggestions for using apps in teaching.

When I return to work I will also be supporting the staff by going into classes, holding after-school sessions and Genius Bar sessions. The plan is to train up some students as Digital Leaders so that they can help do this also – and also put the pressure on for the school to buy some more iPads for the students.

Have to admit I feel like I have missed xmas morning but actually the exciting and inspiring work is just about to begin and I will be proud to be part of this. Now I just have to try to convince them to attend the St Julian’s Teachmeet on 26th May

Week 2 of our iPad journey…

1 05 2013

So the order was sent for the 50 iPad minis and the 5 iPads. As I sat back with my celebratory cup of tea it suddenly struck me everything else I now had to have in place by the time they arrived.

So a plan of action had to be put in to place, and quickly.

The most important things to put into place were the project proposal regarding how we were going evaluate if the iPads had made an impact on the learning and teaching within the academy. The next requirement was to write an Acceptable Users Policy (AUP) especially designed for the iPads. After these were produced then I would have to arrange the training program for the staff that would allow them to get up and running as soon as possible and didn’t overload them in one go.

When looking at the project proposal I decided to return to my academic books in order to find a basic template for this type of research. Whilst I acknowledge that perhaps I didn’t need to be as strict upon myself for a non-academic paper I knew that using a similar structure would help to ensure that the final evaluate would be effective, reliable and valid for our establishment. To break the task into more manageable sections I decided to use the following paragraph headings: -

  • Rationale
  • Aims of the project
  • Objectives of the project
  • Plan
    • Staff involved in Trial
    • How we will achieve our aims & objectives
    • Expected outcomes
    • Dissemination of outcomes
    • Sustainability
  • Project Evaluation
  • Bibliography

Once I had broken up the paragraphs it became much easier to start adding in the information and allowed to really think about what our evaluation process was actually going to look like as well as gaining the valuable feedback from the staff. The results of the plan in it’s first draft is here Project Proposal.

The next thing to consider was the AUP. The Academy already had quite a substantial AUP for all the general ICT but there were lots of considerations regarding the iPads that just wasn’t covered.

As a management team we had discussed the need for an AUP specifically for the iPads but also wanted to allow the staff to be as creative as possible with them and therefore the policy could not be restrictive in any way. We wanted to install a policy that allowed us to track the iPads as well as manage the apps that were purchased under the school licence, however we also wanted the staff to experiment and buy extra apps that were appropriate to their departments or for their own personal use. Staff also had t0 be aware that we could track the where abouts of the iPad at ant time although in reality it would only be to track missing iPads and not to play ‘big brother’ to our staff.

In the end a lot of research was conducted into the many AUP for iPads that were available on the internet as well as comparing it to our existing AUP and one was drawn up on this basis. One decision we did make was to not repeat the requirements that were in the existing AUP but to make it clear that the iPad AUP ran alongside the existing policy and provided supplementary requirements that applied to the iPad only.

And so the AUPs were created. The Existing AUP and the AUP for iPads

And there the project stopped for a while as we waited for the iPads to be delivered but also I was taken into hospital with mysterious pains. 2 1/2 weeks later I’m still here and chomping at the bit to get back to my ipads!

The start of our iPad journey…..

13 04 2013

It all started with a question “if we had some money for iPads, who do you think should get one first as a priority?”. A passing question in the corridor with a request to get a list to the Principal in an hour.

What a challenge? I have been promoting the use of ipads for months, knowing that as a school we didn’t really have the money to invest in a large scheme but hoping that one day we would. I have been using my personal iPad in school for the last 3 years but with my own upgrade to an iPad Retina at Christmas my world was being opened up to a whole new aspect of iPad use. The ability to now use Apple TV to project the whole of my iPad was making my life so much easier, and students more engaged in the lesson. There were still restrictions though as I had no equipment to share with my pupils. Our attempt to BYOD was patchy as lots of students had no device to bring in let alone the problem of many different platforms.

So there it was, an hour to start a list! I basically went for gold and made a list that compromised of every department having at least one iPad. In addition to this I suggested that everyone in PE, D&T, Art, Drama etc should have one so that they could record evidence better as well as those who were monitoring students around the school. Of course, my opening gambit was that if we had enough money everyone should have an ipad but I knew in reality that this wasn’t going to be the case.

To start with I was told that I could have £5000 to buy iPads as well as the software/apps to go with them. I created my list… I searched twitter for feedback regarding the use of the iPad to the iPad mini. The general consensus was that people felt it was appropriate for one-2-one use but wasn’t necessarily the best for student collaboration or content creation. Ok, but if I chose the mini over the iPad then I would have more coverage for my money. I also reasoned that if this test was to succeed we could always turn them into a class set afterwards if we chose to go down the path of the iPad retina. With a slight selfish thought I also suggested of a set of 5 iPad retina so that they could be tested in the classroom with students using them for collaborated tasks. Not as ideal as 1-2-1 but enough to convince our Principal that this was a good suggestion. Of course, I offered to take responsibility for these and to help support other staff in using them in their lessons.

After making this decision next came the method of displaying the iPads on the board. Not having HDMI projectors was going to make the Apple TV and convertor connector around £150 per projector and then there was the issue of sound. Another consideration with the Apple TV was that you would need to swap between different inputs on the projector if you were going to use a combination of both the normal IWB and the iPad. Whilst I knew that I would be able to deal with this inconvenience it was obvious that we were going to have to make the experience as easy as possible for my colleagues if we were going to develop this new technology. Apple TV was going to be too expensive so a comparison was made of Reflector App and Airserver. Both programmes were good and gave us the usage we want. Displaying via the teachers’ desktop also got around the problem of sound and the need to swap between inputs. In the end the final decision came down to price. Airserver was $4 per machine on a multi-licence meaning that we could pretty much install on every teaching machine for the same cost of install ONE Apple TV with connector and separate speakers!

Last but not least was the list of Apps. This was a little like putting myself in a sweetshop and the urge to impose my personal choice of Apps and productivity on the staff was strong. Once again I turned to Twitter to see what everyone was suggesting. There are a raft of tweets with lists on a daily basis and so a comparison was made. I was glad to see that teachers’ suggestions echoed my own choice as so the basic list began to grow. Starting with the main free apps but with some paid for apps thrown in for good measure. My rationale was that Free Apps cost nothing and if it is an introduction to good practice on the iPad for non-iPad literate staff we had nothing to lose. As peoples’ confidence grew with the devices then the lists could be changed or adapted, that’s the fun of using an iPad.

Then the fateful phone call came over the Easter break. The Principal liked my suggestion and the fact that I had spent time speaking with different companies to negotiate the best deals that I could but he had decided not to go ahead with my suggestion……….. My heart sank. I thought that my dream had been taken away from me before I could even get going on it. But no! As always I jumped to the negative conclusion when in reality the news was that we had found some more money!! I could more than double my purchases! I couldn’t believe it! Ok, so we still didn’t have enough money to buy everyone an iPad but I eventually had enough to ensure that the core departments had one iPad each, all other departments had at least one, all of SLT & ELT had one (with the knowledge that they are all teaching staff as well so we had a double whammy of testing how they would be useful for management as well as T&L) and small sets for our EAL class and SEN class.

And so the order has been sent…………. So what’s next? Well before they arrive I have been liaising with our head of ICT infrastructure (if that is his official title) who has been conducting the research in to the software required to monitor the iPads and control the App licensing etc. We are now happy as to how we will maintain them. My job is to now write the new Acceptable User Policy (AUP) specifically for the iPads but to complement our existing AUP in the Academy. Another requirement is to draw up a project proposal so that we can monitor the impact of the iPads in the academy….hopefully to justify us increasing our number of devices and expanding into putting them in the hands of the students more regularly. My ultimate goal would be for all students to have a 1-2-1 device but I have to prove the benefit of this first before it will even be considered.

However I have taken our first steps on our learning journey and I am excited at the prospects.

I would like to thank some people that have already helped me to get this far and the support, advice and general great suggestions given. Firstly, to everyone I follow on Twitter. All opinions are worth listening too regardless of their angles. Mark Anderson at Clevedon school (@ICTevangalist), Gavin Smart (@gavinsmart) both who have recognised for their great work by becoming Apple Distinguished Educators and Samantha Williams (@smanfarr) for allowing me to gate crash her school for a day to see the excellent work her department and other colleagues are doing with their iPad trial!

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I will keep you updated with each step of the way. If you have any comments please feel free to leave them or catch me on twitter @siaranml

The birth of a Gadget Girl

4 01 2013

As Christmas 2012 fades into our memory I recall a conversation that regularly gets regurgitated in our household as we admire our shiny new gadgets….

It always starts something like this “gosh how things have progressed I remember our first video game….” and so the conversation continues to recall all the ground-breaking gadgets we (as a family) have been lucky enough to own or experience throughout our lives. Thanks mainly to the fact that my mother has always been a little bit of a gadget freek also although she has now been superseded by her children.

And so the list begins (from my own memories)…

First Video Game – Pong circa 1972.. the year I was born and therefore has always been in my memory. It even had a light sensor gun so we could play clay pigeon shooting by firing at the screen!  Pretty advanced for its time.

First Gadget as a Present: Little Professor..circa 1976.  The best christmas present as I could hide under the covers of my bed playing ‘maths’ into the night…..

First Digital Watch: The Pulsar … circa 1970s.  Ok so this was my brothers but I remember being totally envious of him and wanted to press the button to display the time every time I had the chance.

First Video Recorder:  JVC .. circa 1976.  The first VHS recorder.  You could only record one channel at a time and had to manually start the record or use the pre-set but you couldn’t change channels halfway through or record two different programmes in one session.  I always remember that as the video taped rewound it would speed up and the noise would increase as though it was going to explode as the climax of the noise.  It never did and still sits in my parents cupboard today.  We got it out once to check and it still works miracles above miracles.  It was pretty state of the art at the time and obviously has repaid the investment over and over again.  Oh, and the added joys of buying a new set of tapes at Christmas to ensure we had enough to record all our favourite programmes! (bring back the Scotch Video Tape Skeleton!)


Another fond memory of the 1970s is the fact that I was brought up in a public house.  We were lucky enough to have the first Space Invaders machine & Astroids (although I can’t really remember which came first) but do remember the upgrade to a coloured Space Invaders.  It soon became apparent that it wasn’t a coloured screen but had a plastic coating on the top so that the black and white characters passed behind the colours making them appear to change as they continued their march down towards their doom.

And so began the 1980s…… the coming of the personal computer

Forget the Raspberry PI…the Sinclair ZX81 was the fore-runner.  My older brother bought it in kit form and spent ages trying to get it to work.  Finally he discovered that the processor was faulty and got a replacement, and then we were off.  20mins of connecting a cassette tape with strange sounds on it to download the latest game (well a so called 3d Maze where a Tyrannosaurus Rex would scare you around a corner!  And printing out an image on a Thermal Printer…



Upgrade:  The coming of the Sinclair Spectrum, coloured screens and the black market games library ran by my woodwork teacher in school (who since moved to be a ICT teacher when I bumped into him at a training session a few years ago)

Oh the joys of setting up the computer to load a program and sneak out of the room without slamming the door to wait for the 20min plus of screaching from the machine.  It was a sensitive a cooking a soufflé but the results were remarkable.  It brought our family together as we plotted maps on large squares of graph paper, determined to win in Knight Lore, only to find a magazine printed it one week after we finished.  This was in contrast to the term worth of ‘taster session’ computer class in school ready for my year 4(yr 10) options.  3 months of drawing the outline of a christmas tree on a BBC in a small cupboard like classroom was not my idea of joy, and in truth put me off anything to do with programming.  I had already spent days copying out copious amounts of code from magazines in a vague attempt to get a game for free only to find that it didn’t work.  I would double check my inputs (and at least it taught me to type) to no avail and wait for my brother to come and rescue me….

This is probably when my brother and I went our separate ways when it came to using computers.  I am now the expert at using programs and my brother the programmer.  Between us we are the perfect emergency helpline to our parents.

Throughout the 1980s it also brought the first hand-held games that weren’t as boring as the Merlin (to which we still have a full working version in our study).  Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers etc etc  In the pub we had the Pac Man and table top games that customers would spend all their hard-earned cash on……whereas I would bat my eyes at the money collector to give me unlimited lives until the machine reset.  With this information in hand, my brother would then remove the back and gives us the unlimited games for all Sunday afternoons (oh the days before all-day opening)

It also saw the dawn of my mobile music obsession with my first Sony Walkman!


The 1990s brought the joys of the mobile phones and proper computers in my office. Discovering the Psion Organiser (fondly referred to as the “Brick”) and the Psion Revo right at the end of the decade.



The 2000s brought my first Mini Disc player, Palm and iPod and so my love of Apple began…. the rest, as they say, is history.



As a footnote, I would add that I did make a decision to date my husband a 2nd time as I was impressed by his HP organiser!  Sad or what?  Actually a very good choice as he has been the main supplier of my subsequent gadgets including my iPad 1 and it’s recent replacement!

So what was the gadget that sparked your love of all things geeky?



Who are you? Where are you hiding?

10 11 2012

As a result of a conversation with @edubaker, we decided that it would be good to create a directory of tweachers and the subjects that the are interested in.  The objective of this was to persuade new teachers to investigate the power of Twitter CPD and promote collaboration across the @CabotlearningFederation.

With a little more thought I realised that instead of limiting it to the @CLF then why not share the wider expertise of the whole Twitter world.

As a result I offer this simple questionnaire and promise to share the results with the world! (well the Twitter world at least!)

I really would appreciate you filling this in for the greater good!



What is e-learning?

10 11 2012

There are many different definitions of e-learning.  Ranging from ‘creating software to teach’ to ‘using the computer to learn’.  However, where we refer to it in Bristol Metropolitan Academy we mean, ‘The use of technology to promote, enhance and transform learning.’

Before we look at what this actually means to us it may be easier to discuss what e-learning isn’t.

It isn’t about asking students to merely type up their assignments.  It is not about ‘creating power points or posters’ and it is not about getting them to ‘copy and paste’ from the internet.  Nor is it supposed to be more time-consuming or extra work for the teacher and it definitely isn’t a ‘one-size fits all’ compulsory method of delivering lessons.

The vision for BMA is that technology can assist in developing students, and staff, in order to: -

  • become “Information Creators’ and not just consumers
  • become more technology ‘literate’
  • make decisions about appropriate software or technology that would be beneficial to participants of a task

E-learning in the classroom doesn’t always have to include students sat in front of computers.  Although this may be an ideal scenario in a perfect world there are many ways we can develop or e-learning literacy by using the available technology in an ordinary classroom or office setting.

As a teacher, we can develop our use of the Interactive Whiteboard to make it more than just a vehicle to show presentations and videos.  As administrators we can all use technology to improve our methods of communication, creation and sharing of information.

We can encourage students to use the pure power of their mobile devices in appropriate ways.  To have something in your pocket that has more processing power than the whole of NASA in 1969 is amazing.  Back then they managed to launch a man to the moon.  For some of us, we can barely manage to launch birds at pigs!

We should be developing our students to use their devices at every available opportunity.

Mobile devices have a range of useful and FREE utilities or downloadable apps: -

And the list goes on and on and on and on……..

……but not for one minute do we think that you have to incorporate ALL of this in the learning or your work.  Just some of it would be a great start.

The best way to develop e-learing in your daily routine, and that of the students, is to find one  new piece of technology or software and trial it for a period of time.  It could be one lesson, one week, one term or even with one class.  Discover where it is best used, talk to your colleagues about what you are using it for and get further ideas and feedback.  Perhaps as part of a departmental meeting you could agree to trial one item and share your findings and teach each other.  Ask the students how they like to learn, use their technology and what they find useful.  By doing this you will develop your skills, the confidence and skills of your students, your creative ideas, your resources etc etc
Now, I can already hear some of the comments that people could make when discussing this subject…..
…. but i’m not very good at computers!
…. I’m not prepared to use mobile technology in my classroom until I can control what they are using them for!
…. I’m worried about what the students may use their technology for.  The could be using it to bully someone….
…. They might record something bad and put it on the internet!
…. I haven’t got time to learn this!
Whilst all of these concerns are legitimate, why not try replacing the key words with ‘reading’ or ‘pencils’.
…. but I’m not very good at reading!
…. I’m not prepared to use pencils in my classroom until I can control what they write with them!
…. I haven’t got time to learn to read!
When considered in this manner, the use of technology now doesn’t pose as much of a risk as you might imagine!  Of course we need to be mindful but on the whole people will use technology for positive reasons in the first instance.
When we think about teaching we often refer to Blooms’ taxonomy as a method of helping students move from low order to high order thinking skills.  We can also use internet applications to help us do this.
When considering e-learning we need to consider the work of Dr R Puentendura.
Not only does Puentendura discuss how our knowledge of technology is a subset of our pedagogical and content knowledge, but he also gives use great insight in to the impact and effect of using technology in our Learning and Teaching.
His SAMR model shows how we can move from using technology to purely substitute any learning activities without a functional change in learning outcomes; to redefining activities that may have been inconceivable without the use of technology.
     An example of this could look like:
               Substitution:  Asking students to type up their work
               Augmentation: Using the spell check facility, thesaurus, copy & paste to edit and re-order work
               Modification: Using email or blogs to share the work with a wider audience
               Redefinition: Using Google Docs for students to collaborate on a single piece of work at the same time.  This
               could be within the same classroom or with students in a different country.
This movement from enhancing our teaching and learning to transforming it is the ultimate objective for our e-learning strategy at Bristol Metropolitan Academy.
So what happens next?
We will be undertaking some student and staff voice to establish how people would most like to use technology in their teaching & learning and everyday role.  There will also be a staff skills audit in response to identify the training requirements and support needed.
In the meantime, why not try to identify one small change that you could already make to your role, or teaching via technology and try it out!
Ask someone who has already been using technology to show you how.
Consider joining twitter, where many teachers are happy to share their great ideas, subject specific resources or just give advice.  Some great Tweachers that know about lots of different technology & software are @ICTEvangalist @ICTMagic @TheICTAdvisors @ianaddison @syded06.  There are also many Tweachers that are subject specific but they will be shared in a different blog post.
If you are already using something fantastic – pass it on!  Comment on this blog and tell us what are the benefits of using it.
Want to do something but don’t know what software to use, or even what technology is available.  Just ask!  If I can’t think of something to help solve your problem we certainly know where to find out for you!
Thanks for listening

What’s on your reading list?

13 07 2012

Good question?!  This was the question I was asked in my recent interview. I have to admit I took a minute to try and narrow list down to a reasonable sounding number, otherwise we could have been there all day.

So I started to spew forth my current favourites

  • Sir Ken Robinson
  • Ian Gilbert
  • Dylan Wiliam
  • Jim Smith
  • Phil Beadle…….
Panicking I forgot to include my top management gurus such as David Allen, Jim Collins and Stephen Covey.  Even so I had to resist adding some of my real favourites as I realised they wouldn’t understand….. @ICTEvangelist, @lessonhacker, @ICTMagic, @arti_choke, @Leading_in_PE, @oldandrewuk,@davidfawcett27…. and the list goes on in no particular order.

Why is it that I felt the need to only quote the physical books I have on my shelf?  Why didn’t I feel confident enough to talk about all the great personal development I create through my Twitter account?  I just had this urge to not sound too geeky.

Upon reflection there are two issues that result from my interview.  One, there is an issue with the media perception that people don’t read as much as they used to.  Calculating the fact that I can read up to 500 tweets a day as well as following the links to personal blogs, newspaper articles, professional research papers and more I can spend at least 3 hours a day just reading. As a busy teacher, mother and wife trust me when I say that 3 hours consumes my limited personal time and the rest.

Secondly, I am proud to be a Tweep (or Tweacher).  I once worked in a school where I was told by my headteacher that I was ‘sad’ for watching Teachers’ TV…..I left.  My next school my headteacher made my life hell because I wanted to raise aspirations of the students.  My current school is great.  I am surrounded by like minded individuals that are keen to listen to new approaches as well as try them out and test them.  A range of staff are also avid readers of theories and are keen to develop our range of strategies as a staff, so I am in good company.

Therefore I am really looking forward to my new role knowing that my personal development will continue to grow as part of a great team.  And my additional challenge for the year now is to encourage SLT to become part of my twitter world.

Thank you to all the fantastic people that I follow on twitter.  You are my inspiration and  I am grateful for all that you share!

Inaugural Posting

10 07 2012

Well here we are.  I’ve finally taken the plunge and decided that I would like to host a blog, to reflect upon the learning of my classes and myself.

I have to admit that I am a little daunted by the whole process as I know that ‘creative writing’ is not my strong point.  However, challenging myself and being prepared to fail is something that I expect of my students and therefore I must lead by example.

So here we are.  7 days before the end of term and all I can think about is my planning for September.  As a recent convert to Twitter, and now an annoying advocate of the benefits of my own Personal Learning Network, I have taken a keen interest in 2 main themes.

  1. SOLO taxonomy and the potential benefits to my students (and to myself as an advocate of Jim Smith’s “The Lazy Teacher Handbook”.  I have agreed to research it over the next year and be prepared to train our staff on the benefits of the taxonomy in term 6 next year.
  2. Teach Meets.  Already addicted to being a Teach Meet groupie and setting myself the challenge of coming up with something useful to ‘share’ by this time next year.  I’m also hoping that I may be able to host my own Teach Meet within my current school, but I need to persuade a few more people yet.

There, I’ve put my personal challenges in to black and white and now I must start working towards them. If you have stumbled across this blog and have taken the time to read it, I thank you already.

Please feel free to leave me any comments.  I would love to hear from you and especially if you have any hints or tips about my personal challenges for the year.

Bye for now!