Disruptive Teachnology: VLE and your teaching and learning community (Three cycles of adoption of a VLE)

Category: VLEs

Published: June 12, 2015

Introducing an e-learning system into a school is a big change. Aside from all of the technical issues to consider, the biggest challenge a school community faces is changes to working practices. This blog introduces strategic issues related to the delivery, introduction and assessment of a learning management system.

Change is the only constant

In general, people don’t like change. It involves having to adjust to new routines and learn new ways of doing things, perhaps taking some people out of their comfort zone in terms of their skills and abilities in relation to new activities they may be asked to do as part of the change. An example is how the introduction of computers into the workplace forced employers and employees into new ways of working and required a rapid and radical change in working practices. Typists no longer had to worry about changing their ribbons, but had to now contend with screens and word processing software which was a level of conceptual abstraction away from the mechanical surety of striking metal onto paper. Suddenly the tools changed, and with it a new type of interaction happened that required people to learn drastically new processes and ways of working with tools.

Although computers are now omnipresent and the majority of the population have contact with some form of them in daily life, introducing a modern, internetworked learning management system into the classroom is still relatively in its infancy. One of the most popular open source LMS was released in 1999 and has only recently hit around 50,000 registered sites. In the UK the government recently pushed elearning and so now many more schools have some exposure to a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), but using it effectively still seems to be a considerable challenge: it is the same as the change from typewriter to word processor.

Strategy and change management are intensely studied and theorised area of business management as it investigates one of the biggest problems that all organisations face: How to change direction and introduce new ways of working in response to changes in the wider social or economic environment. This research is useful for schools as it provides an outline of some of the activities that people within the organisation can do to help deliver, use and continue to use a VLE.

The follow list gives some pointers around which you can consider how to introduce, or reintroduce, a VLE into your learning community.

Prepare for change

One of the most common problems organizations face is that the scale and scope of the change is not fully considered, and this creates pitfalls further down the line. A VLE affects management, teachers, students, staff and parents. It affords a new channel of communication and interaction and therefore can alter the relationships between these stakeholders.

Successful rollouts consider how each of these stakeholders could be affected and plans made to take advantages of what the VLE can do. This means the senior management should firstly fully understand what the VLE can do, and then invite representatives from each stakeholder group to discuss how it can be used effectively. Preparing for change in this way opens up dialogue about what is going to happen and offers a chance for vital feedback from affected groups so that problems can be resolved or opportunities for efficiencies or improvements can be built into the system before it is delivered.

At this stage a project plan might have been produced with timelines, tasks, roles and responsibilities. This is an important part of the rollout as it gives a point of reference for who needs to do what by when.  Another key element that helps everyone to understand what the system is and how it is going to be used is to create a formal elearning strategy document. This sets out the context and vision for the use of the VLE and what part it will play in the life of the school. One example is the E-Learning strategy at UCL. The strategy document can be thought of a kind of curriculum, and it can play an important part later on in the process as it acts as a guide that aligns practice and vision.

In summary, consider what the VLE can offer in terms of communication and interaction between the stakeholders, open dialogue with these groups and consider how the system can improve how work happens, and finally produce some plans that make the change more concrete in terms of who is going to do what. Next, I’ll cover some of the things that you can practically do to help the rollout succeed.


Successful change management often involves two activities happening simultaneously. These are communicating the changes, and providing adequate support for stakeholders who will have to incorporate their working practices to incorporate the new system and the potentials it offers.

The cycle of communication serves two purposes. First it reminds people about the forthcoming changes, and can also serve to build some buzz or excitement about it. Second, as a feedback activity it offers the chance for stakeholders to explain if there are any problems or missed opportunities that were not picked up during the planning stage. For example, when staff are being trained on the system, they might have some good ideas about how to make it work better to suit their particular situation. This idea might be applicable across different departments, so the rollout plan could be modified to include these ideas that benefit others.

Supporting staff is one of the most important aspects of the change. Often new skills are needed, or existing skills require updating to accommodate the way the new system works. An example of this is how people manage documents, moving from a static single copy of a document such as a calendar produced in a word processor stored on a pen drive to a cloud based multi-user editable calendar that can be published on the internet.

Introducing new software, new interfaces, new ways of working, and squeezing this into an ever diminishing schedule of time available for training is the biggest threat to introducing a VLE. Teachers are already stretched with teaching and grading responsibilities, and other commitments to professional development so how can VLE training be delivered effectively.

Although initial training can introduce the system and get staff up and running, management should consider a longer term commitment and build in training opportunities in combination with other development activities. Forming a group of enthusiastic teachers from across departments who can share and discuss their use of the VLE can build a strong base of expertise within the school. These champions can then be called on to share best practice and teaching ideas in short presentations to other staff members.

A VLE is not only for students. It could be be used to deliver staff training by encouraging staff to share their courses and content with each other and encourage reflection and constructive feedback. One advantage of this is that staff do not have to be present at the same time, and the training can be delivered gradually over days or weeks which relieves some of the scheduling pressure. Another advantage of sharing teaching practice using an open-source LMS is that staff discover it as a way to share content and activities which can help them reduce their preparation and assessment time when creating or updating courses.

Maintaining momentum

Creating a permanent change of process requires commitment from key stakeholders. Management, teachers and staff need to be directed and motivated to change their working practices. There are several things that can be done to help this happen. First, leading from the top, management should be using the system and be seen to use it. This may mean transferring some types of communication or management activity on to the VLE. An example might be transmitting news or storing development plans on there.

Second, as part of performance management, minimum benchmarks related to the use of the VLE can be set. This relates back to the strategy document, as goals from there can be used as a basis for negotiation between management and teachers in order to produce definable actions and tasks.

Performance management benchmarks might range from requiring teachers to have setup and enrolled their classes into an open-source LMS and have added materials to it for students to access, to more complex interactions such as adding online assignments or forums that start to use some of the more powerful affordances that blended learning provide. In conjunction with these performance management targets, management should be aware of the necessity to provide adequate support and training for staff, and that everyone recognises that change requires learning and can be traumatic for some if they feel they do not have adequate skills to meet the targets.

Performance management targets should be open to feedback and be modifiable so that new, good or bad processes discovered by staff can be incorporated or discarded. In short, the strategy document offers a general goal, but at the actual point of use there should be some flexibility in what is required in terms of daily use.

In summary, introducing an open source LMS does not stop with the system going online, but is a continual process of negotiation between understanding the vision for the VLE and its daily use.


This paper was based on elements taken from the paper by Oakland and Tanner (2007). Their research is summarised by this model which shows that change management is a continual process that requires feedback and modification, albeit on different timescales.

To introduce a VLE successfully requires a series of steps that involve planning for change, implementation and assessment of its use carried out within a cycle of follow up and reevaluation. These steps are similar to developing and delivering a curriculum which, like normal teaching and learning, requires access to resources and training.

Related Webanywhere Pages

Find out more about LMS, the worlds most popular VLEs, and what they can do for your school or organisation.

What’s best for teachers? a content provider, a platform builder or both?

Published: May 20, 2015

This week it is Staff Blog week here at Webanywhere, so each day we will be sharing with you a new blog post from one of our employees. Today it’s Helen Bound discussing the best possible VLE for teachers.
One of the often repeated gripes from teachers about their expected e-learning involvement is lack of time to produce content. ‘We’re too busy marking, and writing reports, and planning, and teaching and…” and so it goes on. These are all valid points but until senior leaders recognise the importance of a learning platform for their teachers and students alike there will never be sufficient time put aside to allow staff to author their content and start providing 21st century learning experiences.
Having worked in this industry for 10 years and recognising the value of e-learning with this generation I feel that some school leaders are very short-sighted in their ability to provide flexible working arrangements for their staff and understand that lesson planning does not revolve around a large A3 piece of paper and coloured pens anymore or a word document. E-planning and resource creation can all be done online. Straight to the learning platform, no middle-man, thus saving time…and paper.
Sharing this ideology with teachers can do two things, inspire them to produce the most wonderful teaching resources and share with colleagues and make it their preferred mode of teaching or turn teachers away because they don’t have the IT confidence and prefer their tried-and tested method. Chalk and talk!
Having spent time with schools talking about their VLE’s and time management it occurred to me there was an opportunity to create a School Jotter Essentials product for schools. Strip out all the resources they don’t need initially, produce ready set-up courses with all the labels in place and just train schools on the basics like assignments, forums, questionnaires, quizzes and let them progress from that point.
An open-source LMS can be daunting at first sight to any non-technical person and if we can strip out the non-essential blocks and make it more user-friendly, we may have more people willing to give it a try.
In my mind I almost see a School Jotter cross-over where a dashboard of School Jotter apps are presented to you when you login, labelled Assignments, Forums, Quizzes and you are lead to a slightly easier interface to set these activities up. Matching the simplicity of Jotter with the features of an open-source LMS…who knows. That whole bite-size approach to learning could be replicated here with a simpler interface. Anyway that’s for the future…
So if we build it they will come…how much can we put in place reasonably that will take all the hard, complicated graft out of setting courses up, to just allow educators to add their content in…do we accept it’s an enormous cultural shift in Education at the moment to expect every organisation to be successfully running an e-learning platform or will it come in time and we could just help it a little on it’s way. Providing an entire platform with all content added will never work, educators need ownership of their teaching material, some feel their role is being eroded anyway with the advent of IT and e-learning, so there has to be an optimum level they’d be happy to use. VLE titles from publishers are horrendously expensive, and you are tied into that investment. However bite-size resources would be most welcome if they add the teaching functionality to a course that would be more effective than a PDF worksheet. Any sort of self-marking assessment would be most welcome too as it fulfills that element of teaching.
So having read this back, have I just described a Jotter on steroids…could we develop a Jotter product to rival open-source LMS…the simplicity of Jotter apps with the rigour and flexibility of an LMS. Joodle or Motter…you choose.
Helen Bound

Related Webanywhere reading
Find out more about the product in question, you can view our School Jotter here.

A Virtual Learning Environment fits in your resource cupboard

Published: May 15, 2015


“A VLE would take too much time”

“We’ve never used one before so we don’t need one”

“My staff aren’t so confident with ICT so it’s not for us”

Do these statements about Virtual Learning Environments sound familiar? I’ve heard each of them countless times over the course of my teacher training, subsequent years as a teacher and especially as I’ve delved into specialising in their usage.

It is very easy to label a VLE in the same way you would some unnecessary paperwork or a new fad dreamt up by a politician.

What if a VLE was labelled the same was as any other resource in the school resource cupboard? It becomes much more valuable and less scary when staff in school start to realise that a VLE is simply a tool that can be brought out when the occasion suits, which doesn’t have to keep chugging along behind everything you do, keeping everyone back at school an extra 30 minutes a day (even as ‘someone who knows’ about VLE’s, I can think of a hundred things I’d be better off doing as a teacher than being sat behind a computer updating a VLE on my own at 5:30).

The weighing scales in the resource cupboard; do you use them every day? Every maths lesson? Even the counting blocks have their time and place. A VLE is no different. In exactly the same way that you decided to use a physical resource, a VLE can be picked up and dropped into the curriculum as and when it fits you as a teacher and your children as learners.

Perhaps you’re onto Report Writing this half term. It would be great to compare the difference in format between newspaper articles and website articles, and then have the pupils write their own on an online Portfolio. They can even then peer assess the articles right next to professionally written articles at the touch of a button. Then, say, next topic, you are studying Shape Poetry. It would be fantastic to LEAVE THE VLE OUT COMPLETELY! Shape Poetry can be so beautifully written on huge pieces of A3 paper and coloured more creatively than a computer can handle.

Therein lies the secret of VLEs. They are brilliant when you use them as any other tool in your cupboard. Learn their advantages and disadvantages. What advantage will a specific function give to your class and your lesson? That Wiki tool will be brilliant for the collaborative writing part of the next topic.

After all, would you really shoehorn the weighing scales and counting blocks into taking your registers? Teaching Shape Poetry? You could, but you’ll hear “That could take too much time”, “We’ve never done that before so we don’t need to”, “My staff aren’t confident in doing that so it’s not for us”.

Related Webanywhere Pages

Here at Webanywhere we developed School Jotter a VLE which is developed by educators, for educators.

Gamification and how it can help students learn

Published: April 8, 2015

One of the biggest topics in e-learning at the moment is “gamification”, but there are a few misconceptions about what exactly this is, how you can implement it and how it can help students to learn. We’ll be covering these below, but in its essence, it’s taking concepts from video games and applying them to learning.

What gamification isn’t

Some educators see the word “game” in the title and baulk, having memories of substandard and outdated education software with more focus on entertainment than teaching. Likewise pupils might be sceptical of approaches to insert educational concepts into what’s traditionally seen as a “hometime” activity. This isn’t gamification though. While there’s certainly merit to a synergy of education and entertainment, gamification instead refers to methods of incentivising more traditional approaches, turning tasks into “games”.

What gamification is

Video games generally work on ideas of work/reward relationships – by putting in the work, you get a reward, for example defeating an opponent leads to the player gaining a piece of treasure, or completing a level and receiving an achievement. These can then be compared with others’ results, adding in elements of competition. This contrasts with learning environments, where aside from the long-term educational benefits, students generally have relatively little to gain in the short-term. By introducing achievement points & light-hearted competition, you let students track their own progress.

How you can implement it

The easiest and most efficient way to apply game-based principles to your teaching is through use of a VLE or other online environment. An open-source VLE has the ability to award badges which can display achievements and track progress. These can then be shared and compared with others, with rewards (both digital and physical) given to high achievers.
By a similar token, our own Merits system (free to School Jotter users) uses the concept of Merits as a currency for students, which can be spent either on customising their avatar or purchasing physical goods. This applies the rewards concept to learning and behaviour.

What this means for you

Gamification means more engaged students, who spend less time passively learning and more time actively discovering new information, for a proper flipped classroom experience. By incentivising hard work we appeal not just to students’ desires to better themselves but to show that they’ve bettered themselves. Engage your students, reward hard work and improve your results – gamified learning is a fantastic way to teach.

Introducing the Homework Block

Published: March 31, 2015

UPDATE 14/04/2015: Check out our dedicated Homework Block Site!

ORIGINAL STORY: We’re now offering the Homework Block as a part of all of our solutions!
This newly-developed module will simplify any teacher’s life when it comes to managing, setting, tracking and marking students’ homework. Use the Homework Block to:

Track students’ homework

Access to the Homework Block is granted to the teacher, parents and student, meaning all are able to keep track of progress. Parents can log in from home and see what their child has been assigned and a general overview of the students’ work.

Submit homework online

Students can instantly submit their homework from anywhere with an Internet connection, meaning no more forgotten work, and not having to wait for the next day to hand work in!

A useful homework-planning tool

Homework plans for the entire term or curriculum can be entered into the block ahead of time, so you can have it automatically roll out when necessary. Assignments can be set for entire classes, and streaming is even possible for different-levelled classrooms.
We’re confident that the new Homework Block will prove to be an effective way to save you time and effort, reducing one of the most common complaints about teachers’ workloads. For more information, contact a member of our salesteam to discuss your needs and requirements.

Our new-look Schoolanywhere website has now launched

Published: March 20, 2015

After many weeks of work, we’re really proud to announce the launch of our new-look website dedicated to School Jotter at www.schoolanywhere.co.uk. It’s a central resource for all your School Jotter questions and information, and you can custom-build a School Jotter distribution for us to implement for you.
The new site is fully responsive and is designed to look great at any resolution – whether you’re browsing on a 27″ monitor or a 4″ phone, the site should be fluid and responsive.
What’s especially unique about the site and its versatility is that it was built entirely within School Jotter Site – Webanywhere’s own, custom-built school website system. This meant the site was easy to build, with drag-and-drop construction and WYSIWIG editing. We really think that this is an example for us to show the power of Jotter to the world – we’re so confident in its abilities for schools that we’re building our own websites in it!
We’re really pleased with our new website, and we hope you will be too. Check it out at www.schoolanywhere.co.uk.

How a VLE can reduce teacher workload

Published: February 12, 2015

Reducing teacher workload – how a VLE can help

The government recently released the results of the Workload Challenge Survey, a questionnaire sent out to over 44,000 teachers on their workload and job satisfaction. Predictably, the key pressures listed were those of extensive marking, planning, and most importantly Ofsted inspections.
As a result of this, the government has boiled their response down to five key areas:

  1. Fewer, clearer Ofsted requirements
  2. Giving more notice of curriculum changes
  3. Making it easier to find out information from other schools on “what works”
  4. Supporting teachers through continuous personal development (CPD)
  5. Track results through surveys every two years from 2016

We at Webanywhere feel that the future of learning is a blended one, with more and more content going online, and we believe that a VLE can offer a solution to unnecessary workloads, preventing duplication and streamlining the assessment process.

How a VLE can reduce your workload

With a VLE you can take your tuition and learning online. Rather than spending sleepless nights marking stacks of exercise books you can instead give feedback via your computer, tablet or mobile device. As everything is digital, there’s no need to worry about the endless organisational headache that is paperwork.
Lesson planning becomes substantially easier when a VLE is factored in as well – rather than writing out your plan manually then trying to stick to it in class, you can create it as a course which can be deployed again and again – you can even include content from elsewhere through formats such as SCORM and Tin Can.
Of course, schools like to see what works before they try something for themselves, and this was a key recommendation of the governmental report. With online learning, it’s much easier both to demonstrate, whether that be to other schools, parents, or even Ofsted.

Using Totara for CPD

With teaching quality at the forefront of governmental reforms, the ability to track and show this is absolutely crucial for a school; in this sense, a VLE is useful not just for students but teachers. The enterprise-focussed, Totara LMS is the perfect solution for all your CPD needs.
With its advanced tracking features, Totara is designed for the staff and enterprise markets. If you’re familiar with an open-source LMS you can easily pick up Totara, and managers will find its permissions-based learning and tracking features to be extremely useful, especially when it comes to providing reports to Ofsted. With new standards for headteachers being a big focus of government action, being able to show effective leadership is essential. Let Webanywhere help provide the evidence of your successful management.

How Webanywhere can help you

We’re a Totara partner and have over ten years’ experience working with schools. We’re happy to discuss your needs and requirements and will work with you through deployment to ensure a smooth transition. Additionally, we’re a Platinum Totara partner, so we can guarantee you’re in safe hands when it comes to VLE management. Contact one of our experts today for a free demo or to discuss your needs.

How Does Webanywhere Support the Tech Savvy Teacher?

Published: August 8, 2014

Now that we have worked out the different guises of the tech savvy teacher we are asking ourselves what does Webanywhere do to support that teacher? So the same headings will appear, just as they did in the last blog post, with how we support you.
Your students read your blog
We lead by example here, we have several blogs attracting very different types of audience. We work with different sectors in and outside of education and recognise that their needs are different. So giving you all the same advice is not an option. Blogging is a great way to communicate in a non-invasive way for us and you respond very well to that.
In School Jotter we have created a blog app that allows everyone to write and have their work published on the internet. The blog app is easy to use and what’s more, schools enjoy writing their blogs and receiving comments.
The blogging facility within an open-source LMS is a popular part of many schools VLE. Whether it is a teacher’s blog or a student’s blog it is a great way to keep in touch with students in between tutor group times or lessons.
You instigate your own CPD online
At Webanywhere we enjoy being proactive and it is very much encouraged by the senior management. So we are starting to offer free webinars offering support on using various parts of your school’s VLE or apps in the School Jotter suite. All webinars are recorded and posted online for those who cannot make the webinar live or would like to go over the information again at a later date.
We also hold regular events around the country for e-safety, OFSTED website requirements and how to meet them. We know these are not online but it is another way we can support you with your CPD.
You have made an online PLN
We hope you consider yourselves part of our learning network. You are brilliant at telling us what you think of our products and how we can develop them. We take note of this and we feel this is one reason that our products go from strength to strength.
It was great to see so many customers at BETT this year and get an update of what you are doing and your future plans. Webanywhere has a strong social networking presence and we offer help and advice to all rather than just informing you of our offers and service available.
You share your life with virtual colleagues you have never met
We are lucky and have some very strong relationships with schools and businesses around the country. We definitely share our working lives with you and include all of our customers when breaking good news about the company.
Your weekly schedule involves Twitter chats
Webanywhere does tweet and we do follow and chat with our customers and other interesting organisations using Twitter. But we do prefer a more personal touch, that is why we enjoy talking to our customers directly whether that is a telephone call or an email.
Summer break means ISTE and other conferences
Webanywhere works through the summer, you will be surprised how many teachers take training sessions during the summer break, we are not though as we know how driven you are. We also do large installs and implementations during this quieter period. We are also planning for the new school year just like you. Planning events and offers that will help you to make the most of the technology you are using.
You know the vocabulary
This should possibly read know our products and services, the vocabulary will then follow automatically. Every educational establishment and business is different, they have different requirements and need varying levels of support. Understanding that we know that what we did for one organisation will not necessarily work in another.
You turn to colleagues in other countries in times of need
We do have colleagues and people in our PLN that are in other countries and they are an invaluable source of information. But we also turn to our customers and ask for their help. In March we took some new School Jotter apps to a local event and invited schools to attend. We had headteachers, teachers, teaching assistants and administration staff. We showed them our new apps and listened to them as they fed back. This was an amazing session and the developer we took with us had a good list of quality suggestions to take back to the development team to work on. An update at the end of June included many of those ideas.
You are a digital citizen
Gosh, we hope so. We strive to be role model digital citizens and if ever we let you down please tell us. As we have always done, we stretch beyond with our enthusiasm and willingness to go further. We are still in front of market needs and we go beyond what’s expected to deliver a truly positive experience for our customers.
You are always hungry to learn, try and tinker with new tech
This goes without saying, it is part of who we are.

What Does the Tech Savvy Teacher Really Look Like?

Published: August 1, 2014

We have all heard someone talk about or be referred to as a ‘tech savvy teacher’, but what does that mean? They use their interactive whiteboard everyday and can programme a floor robot without looking at the instructions? Webanywhere believes that all teachers are tech savvy, but to different levels. If you look on Twitter you will see teachers sharing their planning and add links to fabulous websites to use in the classroom. The other end of the spectrum is a teacher that comfortably uses software and a some well chosen websites in their lessons. Using ICT and technology has to enhance your lesson, if it makes it more difficult and you lose the flow of learning then it is not worth it.
You will find many articles describing and celebrating the ‘tech savvy teacher’ and they are good. Often there are lists of attributes that identify the ‘tech savvy teacher’ and you feel inadequate and bored before item 5. We do not want you to do that to you. At Webanywhere we want to celebrate all teacher’s use of ICT and technology and to give you the confidence to possibly move out of your comfort zone and try something new. We have read the above mentioned articles and would like to offer our interpretation.
Your students read your blog
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will have a professional blog where they share their experiences as a teacher, more aimed at colleagues in the teaching profession but their students like to check it out and comment. Or more realistically you have a class blog where you share class information, homework and resources that you use in class. It will also record what is going to happen in your classroom by your pupils and yourself. To take it one step further it may appear on your school website and parents also comment on the blog, after all it is a fabulous way to keep parents informed and actively engage with them.
You instigate your own CPD online
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ attends in-house training and staff meetings but that may not be where they learn about ICT and technology in a creative and innovative way. So they look to their Twitter feed and Facebook friends. They also read educators’ blogs and learn how to use a variety of new digital learning resources. Then they attend online courses and meetings and contribute to wikis. At a more realistic level you may look at a website that a colleague has told you about with lots of ideas for your lessons, it may or may not include ICT and technology.
You have made an online PLN
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ has a professional, or personal, learning network with whom they engage on a regular basis, possibly work together to maintain a wiki or website and regularly give and receive support regarding teaching and non-teaching information. At the other end of the spectrum you are already in a PLN but did not realise it. You collaborate with colleagues in your school and maybe further a field with your school cluster or colleagues that have moved on. You email each other with help and new ideas and resources that you find.
You share your life with virtual colleagues you have never met
This might sound horrific and contravene all the e-safety messages you know and pass on to your students. But there are those out there that do this. The ‘tech savvy teacher’s’ PLN is so tight and such a regular part of their life that they think nothing of sharing family events and personal achievements with them just like you would your family and friends. They follow people on Twitter that they have never met and congratulated them when announcing the safe arrival of a new bundle of joy! At a more basic level you may share your professional life with others by sharing activities and resources that you have created and used in your class. Learnanywhere and Jotter Learn customers do this on a regular basis and are part of those learning network.
Your weekly schedule involves Twitter chats
Where have you been? These are very popular and a great place to interact with like minded people. The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will most definitely partake in such events. #UKEdChat is a very popular meeting on Twitter for the education community. They vote on the topic and all meetup on Twitter at a preset time and search tweets with #ukeduchat and join in. The conversation is recorded and can be viewed later on their dedicated website. These people will be in the The ‘tech savvy teacher’s’ PLN and they will share their life with them. When you break this down you will most likely find that you do talk with your virtual colleagues, who are now your newly discovered PLN, about many topics that directly relate to your teaching practices. Whether it is asking for advice or sharing experiences. It is all valuable.
Summer break means ISTE and other conferences
No teacher has six weeks off, lets get that out there. You all do research and plan lessons and create resources for September during the summer holidays. SMT members are more likely to attend conferences during the summer break but the ‘tech savvy teacher’ will know what is going on and join in. But will it be totally relevant and useful to the new school year for them? Then there are the local conferences and meetings that you may arrange for your colleagues. You meet up and discuss topics for the new school year or go and visit places that you would like to visit with your students later on.
You know the vocabulary
Well more like acronyms and abbreviations, VLE, LMS and even LOL! The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will speak using these and even create their own. But you know what some of them mean and you don’t mind saying learning platform instead of LP. With the knowing comes the understanding of it. As long as you understand it in your context then all is good.
You turn to colleagues in other countries in times of need
Thinking back to the The ‘tech savvy teacher’s’ online PLN and how they interact with them all of the time, like 24/7. They can do this because their PLN is global. So someone is always online and available to offer advice. It’s great! Just as great, but may take more time to react, is the newly discovered PLN made up of colleagues in your school, your area and maybe just a little further a field.
You are a digital citizen
One hundred percent accurate. The ‘tech savvy teacher’ has the technology, the online presence on all the popular social networking and media sites. They are a good citizen, respectful to others and will not tolerate cyberbullying in any form. They don’t even like pictures of friends on Facebook that are anything less than flattering. They also instill this into their students and e-safety is a familiar phrase in the classroom. Looking at this from a different angle you do not need to have a comprehensive online presence at all. But the rest fits exactly. K. Mossberger, et al, define digital citizens as “those who use the Internet regularly and effectively”* You already do that, well most of the time!.
* Mossberger, Karen. “Digital Citizenship. the Internet.society and Participation By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal.” Scribd. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. (https://bit.ly/1tzEnUP)
You are always hungry to learn, try and tinker with new tech
The ‘tech savvy teacher’ will have RSS feeds setup to notify them of new releases of gadgets, apps and software. They will most likely have an iPhone, an iPad and an iMac all with the same apps loaded on them. They are always contactable, online and their cloud space is permanently 95% full. But can they then learn to use one thing really well and use it successfully in their classroom? You, on the other hand, might  investigate new technologies and apps that take your interest and you think could be of use to you in the classroom or in your personal life. You take an interest in what technology, websites and gadgets that your students use and sometimes pick up a gem for yourself.
We hope that you recognise yourself throughout this article and can smile as you know you are doing a fabulous job. If you are still not convinced just watch your students next time you are using technology or digital learning content with them, you will see them buzzing with excitement and totally engaged.

Congratulations to the winning school – ‘Think of an App’ competition.

Published: July 24, 2014

Back in June we launched a new and exciting competition asking teachers and pupils to design a new app for our best selling School Jotter suite.  After all these are the people that use School Jotter and are possibly best placed to guide us on future apps.
The entries were varied and showed a great deal of creativity, we were very pleased with the response. It was a tough job but the decision was unanimous!
We are very pleased to announce that the winner was a pupil from Scargill Junior School in Rainham, Essex. The school will receive the full suite of School Jotter apps, worth £7,000. These include Jotter Learn, Resources, School Merits, Blog, Survey, Forum, Portfolio  and Messages. We hope that the pupils and staff enjoy their prize.
Here is the winning idea and we are sure you will agree that the app icon is eye catching and the description is thoughtfully written.

More information can be found about the School Jotter suite of apps here. Please remember we are always open to suggestions and ideas from schools, so please let us know, prize not included!