Melissa Giddins

Exploring technology and literacy in education.

DER – First presentation to staff

The first laptops are slowly being allocated, commissioned and distributed to staff this week. The first two have arrived in my faculty and I decided it was timely to present to my staff before they all receive them. I made a simple PowerPoint presentation that detailed the basic information about the Phases of the project and what comes on the laptop.  Then, I spent some time showing my faculty what Office 2007 looks like and a few tips for navigating and customising.

I encouraged my staff to ‘own’ the laptops and customise the desktops etc so that they reflect the personality, likes and dislikes of each person. I think this is an important part of the process of using them – we need to acknowledge that they are a tool in our toolbox and really claim ownership of them. Perhaps having their own theme choice, photos and music on the laptops will start to make them feel more like using them regularly, and not waiting for someone to tell them what to do with the laptops.

I gave each of my faculty members a 4Gb USB drive – on this USB drive, I have placed resources for teaching and learning – 1Gb’s worth. I spent some time in the session showing them what was on the drive and discussing briefly some ideas for using the laptops in the classroom.

Then, we talked reality. I told them all the things we can’t do with the laptops, all the things we can and most importantly, the reality of what is expected of them next term.  Once Year 9 receive those laptops we are expected to teach with them – immediately. So prepare now, or it will be upon you, ready or not.  I bluntly told my staff that I expect an initial usage of every second lesson on average. High expectations, but I even added that in the first weeks we should aim for every lesson. Not the whole lesson, but that the laptops have a presence in our lesson at some point.

Needless to say I have pushed the envelope a little, but I went further still. I told them that the money had been spent and that while there will always be room for the occasional whinge or venting session, we need to embrace the revolution and do what we can to make it a success.  I told them that things will go wrong, no doubt Term 3 will be chaotic with ‘I forgot to charge it’, ‘I left it at home’, ‘I lost my work/didn’t save/comp crashed, etc’ and the ever-present ‘I can’t remember my password’. Nonetheless, we need to retain our positivity, get excited about the possibilities for teaching and learning and ‘damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead’!

And finally, a gentle reminder to my faculty that this is just a tool. Good teaching is still needed, bad teaching will make the program fail more than not knowing much about technology.

Some of my faculty are now in shock, some are excited and some are struggling not to be negative. We have already made plans for a brainstorming session at next week’s faculty meeting and for regular ‘sharing sessions’ in each meeting next term so that each success is shared and multiplied in other classes. 

I am determined to do everything in my power to lead my faculty to success in this new adventure we are embarking on and, so far, they seem willing to follow where I am leading them. Good people, every one of them.

June 30, 2009 - Posted by | Digital Education Revolution (DER), Laptops 4 Learning | ,


  1. Congratulations Melissa on getting on the front foot. This is an important step in the future shaping of education and we all need to give it a “red-hot go” as a recently appointed Premier once said. 🙂

    Actually we should give it a better go than that…

    Well, you know what I mean. Please keep us updated on the progress, particularly the successes and fails, so we can all learn from the trailblazers at EHS.

    Comment by paralleldivergence | June 30, 2009 | Reply

  2. Good work Melissa, I have to give a preso next on PD day next term based around the same issues you spoke about. It’s great to hear stories and share ideas and experiences from others that are in the same boat! What sort of stuff did you put on the flash drives? I am also preparing a preso on a toolkit for teachers so I am keen to hear what everyone else recommends.

    Comment by paulwils7 | June 30, 2009 | Reply

    • USB Drives contained seven folders:
      1. DER Info: contained all the pdf files of the L4L bulletins, the policies that have been produced and info regarding software and hardware specs.
      2. Learning Activities: ideas for integrating laptops in single learning activities, complete with syllabus outcomes, rationales and teaching & learning steps.
      3. Podcasts: a set of 7 podcasts that I had previously created, that can act as models and ideas for future podcasts by staff.
      4. PowerPoint Presentations: two presentations by myself, including the one from today, and a complete unit of work on PowerPoint teaching the A Midsummer Night’s Dream (three ppt files in total)- again to act as a model for ways to run lessons from a PowerPoint.
      5. Professional Reading & Resources: a set of 10 pdf files, everything from the QTF documents through to Hattie’s research.
      6. Technology Tasters: website that I created in 2008 to introduce 21st Century learning, blogs, wikis and some interactive websites to my faculty at my previous high school.
      7. Videos: 15 videos showing information about 21st century learning (including Did You Know 2.0), blogging, wikis, web 2.0 and connected classrooms. (Videos downloaded from Teacher Tube)

      Happy to burn a CD of it all and send it through to you if you want.

      Comment by mgiddins | June 30, 2009 | Reply

  3. Mel,
    Great post and a real insight into what life is really like as a HT rolling out laptops. I really like the approach that identifies the fact that it is just a tool – but one that needs to be used. I will certainly share with other members of our exec. Well done.

    Comment by mrborgert | June 30, 2009 | Reply

  4. So…underwhelmed. Situation: faculty meeting. Someone suggests that they have a pile of magazines for the next year 9 unit creatively entitled ‘Magazines’. I suggest, without thinking, ‘well year nine will have their laptops, couldn’t we just have all that online?’ Silence…I am copying this post. This is what I want. I am in no position to do this. While I will be- like you suggest- my own lighthouse, but isn’t good enough…

    Comment by TroyMartin | June 30, 2009 | Reply

  5. Oh, could you send me the powerpoint???

    Comment by TroyMartin | June 30, 2009 | Reply

    • Sure can, Troy. I will email it through to you. I feel your frustration and am grateful that I have a leadership position and can run with this without being restricted as you are. Hang in there!

      Comment by mgiddins | June 30, 2009 | Reply

  6. […] by kellimcgraw As I wait with baited breath to receive my new laptop courtesy of the NSW DET, an invigorating post by Melissa Giddins has got me planning how to introduce change to my faculty. Only where Melissa as Head Teacher has […]

    Pingback by Great expectations « Kelli’s Blog | June 30, 2009 | Reply

  7. I’d also love to know what you put on the flash drives – what a great idea! I couldn’t do that, but could save some stuff on the faculty directory and show people where to find it…

    Comment by kellimcgraw | June 30, 2009 | Reply

  8. Troy that is a sad and familiar story. But the silence is just the fear. Well, I say ‘just’, but the fear is no small thing. Most people are pretty scared, and probably out of practice with their own learning.

    Build it and they will come. Once other students start asking to be in your (fun, engaging, interactive, connectivist) class, the naysayers will have to start paying attention 😉

    Comment by kellimcgraw | June 30, 2009 | Reply

  9. I would encourage you to not only to continue with your faculty but also look across your school. I have been amazed by the level on enthusiasm and interest the laptops has generated from both staff and students. I recieved a laptop and found myself in the holidays doing something, which normally as a Deputy I dont do, planing a unit of work for my Year 9 class. Well done and good luck.

    Comment by andrewjones | July 29, 2009 | Reply

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