This will be the first in a series of posts designed to help our whole school community gain the full benefit of the rollout of laptops.

This year there will be hundreds of laptops flooding into our school and wireless connectivity. We have been preparing for quite a while now and will continue to do so. The pace quickens though and we, each individual, needs to focus on their own particular challenge(s).

Here’s 10 things ‘a teacher’ can do prior to the arrival of the students’ laptops (apologies that some of the videos are hosted at YouTube and consequently filtered by DET):

1. Develop a PLN – Ongoing collaboration is the best way to stay up to date and developing a Personal Learning Network is essential. You really need to start now and I have found Twitter to be invaluable. Quite simply, the concept of a virtuous circle is in in operation here when you establish a PLN (and you will lose ground, so to speak, in the classroom, if you do not have a network to support professional learning).***

2. Understand the concept of a PLE – Students will need to develop their Personal Learning Environment and become independent of the teacher rather than being aliterate. Read more about 21st century learning environments in detail here. Another ‘way of seeing’ is to read about the toolbelt students will have to assist learning.

3. MOODLE – familiarise yourself with how other staff are using this LMS and build courses through preparing lessons and units of work.

4. Dialogue – talk with staff who are enthusiatic and making good progress with digital learning personally. Ask for advice and assistance. Check out one of their lessons. Ask what Professional Associations are doing to support their members.

5. Dialogue – talk with students, individually and in groups about how having a laptop will change learning and lessons. Seek their ideas. Spread the word of how they will be more independent and self-directed.

6. Delicious – You should create an account and add others to your network. Support our collective endeavours at the school to build a great collection of websites for staff to use. Seek help if you need to know more or watch this video. Do you know the school Delicious account password? Make sure you tag effectively.

7. 10 minutes – Learn how to use RSS feeds and make 10 minutes a day to check your Google Reader account for posts from Edubloggers and pertinent websites you have feeds from. Here’s a video to help. Kelli’s blog has a good post about laptops and is an example of how DET colleagues share their experiences and knowledge. Tim Hand, Elaine Talbert, Tony Searl and Melissa Giddens are DET bloggers too. Organise RSS feeds from these blogs to get started. You’ll soon find blogs specific to your subject area to have feeds from. Check my blogroll to the right for some good blogs.

8. Find free web apps – So many excellent tools and apps are available for free online. Richard Byrne and Larry Ferlazzo are two of the best bloggers for staying informed about these apps. Organise RSS feeds from these blogs.

9. DET portal & TALE – This link  (if you are logged on to the portal) will take you to the L4L (Laptops for Learning) page with all the bulletins, links and info available to DET teachers. There is a FAQ. You must read this. The TALE site should be one that all staff are familiar with and increasingly need.

10. Reflect – How can students learn best in my classroom? How can we create life-long learners? Am I a life-long learner? Why am I a teacher? How can I help students to be independent? How can my classroom evolve with new tools and pedagogical ideas? How can I keep up to date happily? What risks do I need to take? What do I most need to be careful about? Who can help me? Who can I help?



I asked colleagues face-to-face, via Twitter and email what they thought we needed to do pre-laptops.

Here’s a selection of the recommendations made by my PLN for this post:







Thanks to everybody that posted a response on Twitter – cheers to you all! Interestingly enough, I made more contacts and my network expanded in the process of collecting these thoughts.

Hopefully, a good range of comments will appear at this post. I especially hope that better ideas of what should be in a ‘top ten’ list will emerges as we discuss.

***Mathematics says the sum value of a network increases as the square of the number of members. In other words, as the number of nodes in a network increases arithmetically, the value of the network increases exponentially.

An old saying puts it succinctly: Them that’s got shall get.

A new way of saying it: Networks encourage the successful to be yet more successful. Economist Brian Arthur calls this effect “increasing returns.” “Increasing returns” he says, “are the tendency for that which is ahead to get further ahead; for that which loses advantage to lose further advantage.”  Source



    • Troy

    • 15 years ago

    A great overview…Observation: maybe a little advanced for some (sadly). The idea of group emails and employing the laptops for more than a publishing tool is maybe the first step for some teachers.
    You are spot on about going for advice and assistance, watching, learning. The honest and open dialogue with students will be a big part of mutal respect and the development of a school site and classroom active policy for the use of laptops.
    I emailed a few collegaues Kelli’s and Melissa’s informative blogs, people who had started the laptops for teachers program at my school, a couple who already do all these things. We will spread and share!

  1. Thanks Darcy. A great piece and very timely. This is a time where we need to actually tap back into the things which have always worked in terms of healthy staffrooms and sharing of good ideas, successes and frustrations. This is one wave where handing out a raft of ‘training’ is not going to help much. Getting people connected to collaboratively plan for the future they might create is a much more sustainable way to go. Thanks.
    If you think that the Grapevine list and blog along with a Ning site might assist the connection, they are there ready to go.
    We have a great opportunity to build a community of people who want to, as Michelangelo said:

    “I saw the angel in the marble, and I carved until I set him free..”

    We can see the opportunity…

  2. We all love to preach the concept of “lifelong learning”, but how many teachers actually practise it? L4L has the potential to reinvigorate high school teachers on one hand or bring about early retirements on the other. If ever there was a catalyst for change in school education, this is it.

    • dskmag

    • 15 years ago

    Wow Darcy – that is indeed an worthy list, but maybe this could equally be titled “10 things DET could provide teachers the opportunity to do” … I really think that this Connected Classrooms, moral pressure approach is creating a very distict equity issue for students – as none of this (so needed) is reflected in BOS core Stage 4.5.6 ICT statements of learning.

    Thankfully, they will provide Word and Powerpoint and have USB drives to store music.

    • darcymoore

    • 15 years ago

    Thanks everyone for your comments so far.

    Only thing I feel bidden to repond to directly, at this stage, is to Dean (dskmag) I plan (pressure’s on now) a series of posts that will address what ‘the system’ needs to do (at a range of levels) but my immediate post fulfilled a school need/plan. The other posts (oh god) will be:

    – 10 things a DET student can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms
    – 10 things a faculty can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms
    – 10 things a DET school can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms
    – 10 things a parent can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms
    – 10 things a Region can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms
    – 10 things a DET can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms
    – 10 things a BoS can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms

    I would ask you, if you have the time, to expand on your BoS point. I do not think I agree with you but am not certain exactly what you mean. I know the following cross-curriculum content has been embedded in all the stage 4-5 syllabi, here’s the English blurb:

    “Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) content enables students to develop and apply skills, knowledge and understanding of ICT in their composing, responding and presenting, and as part of the imaginative and critical thinking they undertake in English. The ICT content has been incorporated into the content of this syllabus to ensure that all students have the opportunity to become competent, discriminating and creative users of ICT and are better able to demonstrate the syllabus outcomes of English through the effective use of ICT.

    In their study of English, students are able to apply their existing knowledge of word processing, multimedia, ways of formatting and presenting texts, simulation software, graphics and electronic communication and further develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of these technologies. They learn about the ethics of information communication through technology.

    At Stage 4, students use specified tools and functions of word processing for composing. They learn to import images and graphics into folders and documents. In formatting documents they learn to desktop publish using graphics in a multimedia presentation or webpage, evaluating appropriate layout and design principles for a specific audience.

    At Stage 5, students use more advanced specified tools and functions of word processing for composing. They learn to create, import and manipulate graphics. They learn about advanced forms of digital communication such as video conferencing.”

    And in Stage 6 English, for example:

    5. Students learn to evaluate how textual forms and media of production represent information, ideas and values by:
    5.1 describing and explaining the conventions and the effects of textual forms, technologies and media of production on meaning
    5.2 choosing from the range of textual forms, technologies and media of production to compose texts for specific audiences and purposes
    5.3 reflecting on the effects of a change in textual form, technology or medium of production through their own processes of composing
    5.4 explaining the relationships between representation and meaning.
    9. Students learn to evaluate the effectiveness of processes and technologies by:
    9.1 using, individually and in groups, different available technologies to investigate, clarify, organise and present ideas
    9.2 using individual and collaborative processes to generate, clarify, organise, refine and present ideas
    9.3 assessing the most appropriate technologies and processes for particular purposes of investigating, clarifying, organising and presenting ideas.
    13. Students learn to reflect on their own processes of learning by:
    13.1 articulating and monitoring their own learning and that of others
    13.2 assessing the effectiveness of their various learning strategies
    13.3 comparing their own learning processes with those of others
    13.4 writing to reflect on their own learning and that of others.

    I can provide the collated ICT BoS outcomes if anyone wishes to read them (again).

  3. Great post, Darcy!
    Tasty insights into many of the most important considerations.
    I am pleased to see people like Larry Ferlazzo mentioned. If teachers got his feed or email each day, they would have no trouble finding the most useful, interactive sites and applications available.
    Also, I liked the ref. to delicious for social bookmarking and google reader. I would recommend the later through an igoogle page as a launchpad.
    Another person who has advanced my learning is Jane Hart @c4lpt. Her directory of tools, is second to none:
    I am looking forward to this series of posts.

    • Troy

    • 15 years ago

    Love the list of future ‘ten things…’ I am I will see the Twitter offer for input…but for

    – 10 things a faculty can do in preparation for 1:1 (laptops) in classrooms…

    We have started a share point on the school network, every teacher has a laptop, wireless is in place. I am beginning with group emails and interaction/communication via the share point. I am moving towards sharing classes and resources during faculty meeting times. We must use, embed into (nearly) everything we do as a faculty, as precursor to embedding ict into everything we could do…

    • darcymoore

    • 15 years ago

    This arrived in my Google Reader today and is a good example of why Larry Ferlazzo’s blog is really essential for having an RSS feed from, as he lists top resources in faculty/subject categories:

    • darcymoore

    • 15 years ago

    Another list from a colleague:

    * Try different things. If you are just going to do the same old things as the last 10 – 20 years of classroom practice you don’t need to use the “laptop”.
    * Be prepared for things to go wrong/differently to what you expected.
    * Share the things that work or don’t work.
    * Don’t assume students have the computing skills “just to do” what you ask them, be prepared to show them how to use the technology.
    * Learn how to use the technology so that when you show/explain/demo how to do something you use best practice.( I have seen too many students hold the space key down to centre a heading, “cause miss showed me to do it that way.”

    • Andrew

    • 15 years ago

    Teachers should be aware that NSW DET is not the first system to go down the 1 to 1 laptop path and there are many resources scattered around the world wide web. A few of these are:

  4. I think there’s a limit to how much teacher’s can do by themselves. Laptops are about putting power into student hands, both literally and figuratively.

    Including students in planning and implementation makes sure that student empowerment is more than just words in a mission statement. I’ve put lots of practical suggestions about how to do this in this article, Students Supporting Laptop Programs, which can be downloaded here:

    Students can be taught to help with planning, rollout, training, teacher and peer support, and more. It makes sense, we need their help, and they want to be included.

    • KathleenH

    • 15 years ago

    Hi Darcy,
    as I suggested in email, I think teachers should be asking students what are a fair set of rules/protocols that they would be happy to follow, to facilitate students engaged and on task for the maximum time in each class.

    I’ve just set up a blog for students to post ideas on rules that THEY think are fair…….I’ll forward a compilation of their input after they’ve begun to post.

    • Martin Arrowsmith

    • 15 years ago

    I have just finished asking about 90 Year 9 students about thier perceptions of wht their learnig world will be like after the laptops arrive. I talked to them about the Digital Education Revolution and the DET’s plans for the laptops coming for Year 9. I asked them a series of questions about their perceptions of their readiness for the technology onslaught to come. They were very open about their ideas of what the laptops could mean for their learning. They understood that teachers need to become experienced using the technology first and we discussed their ideas about what a laptop rich classroom might look like. They were also very aware of the potential problems inherent in the whole idea of so many laptops in the school – loss, theft, damage etc. It is apparent that, while they use technology incessantly, they are generally very narrow in thier outlook and experience of the internet and its potential. This is the way in for teachers – to show students how the internet can widen their perspectives – open thier world – help them learn new things – connect and communicate. The internet is not just about wikipedia and MSN!

    • darcymoore

    • 15 years ago

    I asked Richard Byrne for his thoughts earlier in the week:

    Hi Darcy,

    I hope this isn’t too late. I’ll share some of what my school and I are doing to get ready for 1:1. As background, I teach high school US History and World Geography and serve on a committee that works with teachers on technology integration.

    School administration and teachers need to remember that it’s not about the technology, it’s about the content. It’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria (or confusion for some) of new technology. My advice is for teachers to pick four or five of the lessons that they are most comfortable teaching then think of ways that they can incorporate a technology aspect. For example, many teachers in my school like to have students create collage-style poster presentations. What I recommend to those teachers is to use the same lesson, but instead of making a collage with paper and glue, use Glogster or Prezi or similar tool to create an online collage. By building off of lessons with which teachers have a high level of comfort, they have a solid base from which to work. In short, the first thing that I would do is ask teachers to select the four or five lessons with which they are most comfortable teaching or enjoy teaching the most.

    One other piece that I would offer is to remind teachers that it’s okay to admit that the kids might know more about the computers than they do. The students’ knowledge of the computer and teacher’s superior content area knowledge can be combined to collaboratively develop an engaging lesson for all.

    If you have more questions, please feel free to contact me. I’ll respond much quicker next time (the weekend got away from me here).


    • deniselofts

    • 15 years ago

    Hi Darcy, I have read all the posts with interest.
    And the comments have carefully outlined the essence of the issues we all face.
    There are 2 things that are essential your point number 10 should go first! Its all about learning! I think you should definitely include a ‘pre-test’, where are your teachers at! and your students at!
    Beginning process.
    1.Students: I have surveyed my classes. The online environment for students is essentially ‘gaming’, social networking, researching, surprisingly in all the classes I surveyed 100% had internet connection. Very few had participated in a blog and many had not heard of a wiki beyond wikipedia. Yet they participated in myspace, facebook etc. This is all not surprising. Only 1 was a member of twitter. They did not know the term PLN. Our challenge at the school level is transforming the ‘communities of practice’ that exist with our students, how do we do that when generally many of our teachers are not connecting teaching to social networking and PLN as quality teaching tools. I am at present conducting a survey Monkey with My staff asking these questions. Call it a ‘pre-test’ essential for all good teaching. I am hoping I am surprised by their online learning. Not holding my breath.
    2. Teachers: We have established an Action learning project which is involving 8 teachers across faculties to trial elearning teaching strategies this term, they are documenting their journey. This team will then become ‘guide on the side’ for their teams and will work colloboratively with each team to establish their own Quality Teaching Action learning Plan using technology. Its all about ‘quality teaching’ using technology. I am encouraging them to think beyond the L4L but how this is really all about quality teaching.
    Our wiki is
    This may not be fantastic but it is our starting point.
    Also my Uni group is investigating ‘twitter’ as an elearning community and how it could form design for learning.
    I will give you the link once we have finished our research and proposed our theories. It is called EduTWEET.

    Overall, keep up the great work, your sharing is ..amazing..not sure how you fit it all in.
    Thankyou Denise

    • darcymoore

    • 15 years ago

    I appreciate all this feedback and reflection everyone with some good links too.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Denise – and I agree, 10 is the most important in many ways (although the list is not ranked).

    I particularly like the emphasis many of you are placing on student dialogue as this is fundamental to good learning, with or without laptops.

    • Tom Massarella

    • 15 years ago

    Hi Darcy,

    As I posted on twitter, but in so many words, teachers should determine their ICT literacy level. CLAS (Connected Learning Advisory Service), which can be found under My Applications tab in the DET portal, is an excellent tool to help teachers do this. They can use the My Map tool, in CLAS, to map out what they know and put in place a plan to improve ICT skills in areas which requires improvement.

    CLAS provides you with examples of how ICT can be used in the class to enhance learning. It is also provides links to sites such as TALE and The Le@rning Federation. I consider it a one stop shop when it comes to implementing ICT into classroom practice.


      • darcymoore

      • 15 years ago

      Good stuff Tom!

      It is interesting that so many staff (at our school and across the state) have not completed this simple task (CLAS), as requested formally several times. The first step, to do something other than what one has always done.

      We need to remind everyone on Tuesday at the staff meeting.

    • kellimcgraw

    • 15 years ago

    Thanks for this post Darcy – this list is a great starting point for schools and teachers to get a feel for what knowledge and skills they should be promoting.

    There has been some good discussion and points raised through comments on one of my blog posts too:

    It’s been lovely to see people reading blogs and adding comments for the first time out of interest for this topic in the past couple of weeks! I can’t recommend highly enough the process of building your own PLN in order to learn the skills that will be needed to teach ‘these wacky kids’. Blogging has made me a better teacher of online tools, and a more reflective and collborative practitioner. These are practices that I want to model for my students.

    • thand

    • 15 years ago

    Hi Darcy- Along the lines of Kathleens comments- if the students derive their own acceptable usage policy. Maybe this is modelled on the schools DET policy, but would be more interesting to see what they would derive themselves based on their own experiences in the use of social networking. Peer derived policies should be more effective- note the national forum

    • Imelda Judge

    • 15 years ago

    I agree with the importance of building PLE and PLNs Kelli. We have to! Its now imperative! Been reading your blog too Darcy. Its awesome! Some great insight and contributed to my conversion!!

    • Imelda Judge

    • 15 years ago

    Hmm. Yes CLAS is essential PD we need to do in our faculty urgently. Thanks Tom

    • MsG

    • 15 years ago

    It’s an interesting idea that in as little as a few months (with hope) the entire makeup of the classroom will change and in effect the learning of our students will benefit. It is a little daunting for some, however, if we are proactive in our own professional development and willingness to embrace this powerful little device we are effectively ensuring that we are equipped to handle this change.
    Personally, I think that students will be our greatest asset in implementing L4L, they all come with a range of skills and interests different to ours and indeed of greater interest to them. Students shaping and participating in their own learning. What a wonderful idea! I can’t wait!
    I often talk about the ‘bag of tricks’ in my classes. Those non tangible qualities that students need to bring into the classroom in order to learn successfully. I ask that everyone has their thinking cap, smiles, work ethic and positive attitude! (It seems silly, but the kids love it!) I guess the newest item that I’ll be selling in the bag of tricks one stop shop is the ‘techno-chip’!

    • darcymoore

    • 15 years ago

    Just for fun:

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