Normalising the use of digital technology in teaching and learning


In everyday life, technology is ubiquitous. From the moment we climb out of bed, to the time we get back in, we are constantly connected or interacting with diverse digital tools and modes of communication. Everyday life in schools should reflect this reality – when students enter the school grounds, they should not have to ‘power down’ (Manzo,2009)  as if they were entering into another world.Our recent experience at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar Schoolas part of the Eighth National Interactive Teaching and Learning Conference clearly demonstrated normalised use of digital technology is achievable and well worth the effort.

An Ivanhoe Junior class-space

 The short movies below capture just some of the many ways the school staff have effectively integrated a variety of technologies into their everyday practice. Although IGG is a very well-resourced school, there were many ideas to be gained that could be implemented in any classroom using the resources currently available.

The emphasis on collaborative learning, on developing student awareness and responsibility for managing themselves as digital citizens and the creative use of learning spaces are not dependent upon expensive tools, and are within reach every teacher and student.

Being a P-12 school, IGG has adopted a stepped approach to internet access. From Prep to Year Two, access is limited to a small number of thoroughly checked sites. From Years’ 3-6 students have broader access, although still filtered, and from Year 7-12 there is no filtering applied. This allows teachers and students the ability to access the appropriate tool at the appropriate time, with an atmosphere of trust allowing students to apply their digital citizenship skills, which have been developed incrementally throughout the primary years.

Our conference highlights:

The conference provided an opportunity for ResourceLink staff to present two papers and to engage with teachers and other professionals from across Australia. There were over 170 sessions, with keynotes from Rick Oser, principal of Golden Avenue School California, and Andrew Churches from the 21st Century Fluency Group in New Zealand.

Of the many sessions we attended, some of the highlights were:

The Values Exchange: How to use digital technology to enhance students’ critical thinking, persuasive reasoning and social awareness across the curriculum

A screen grab of a Values Exchange topic

– presented by Professor David Seedhouse

David Seedhouse  has developed an innovative tool called the Values Exchange, which is a unique web-based debating system.
The system allows students to explore any social issue and powerful social concepts (feelings, hopes, ideals, equality, law etc.) using ‘Facebook-style’ technology.
It allows students to explore the Dashboard of instant results (charts, free text, images etc.) in class as soon as they submit their ideas.

Using the iPad as a Creation Device
presented by Shawn Taggart eLearning Manager, Acacia College, VIC 

In this session, Shawn demonstrated how his school manages a 1-1 iPad program, and highlighted how when iPads are not used as shared tools, they can be a powerful device not only for consuming but also for creating. The speed and mobility of the iPad allows students to ‘power up’ whenever they need to record notes, take photographs, access information….the possibilities are endless.

Shawn demonstrated how the iPad can be used throughout the curriculum to create most classroom work from basics like taking notes and writing essays (using a wireless keyboard) to  creating presentations and mind mapping and even more complex tasks like digital storytelling, video editing, storyboarding, creating vector artwork, composing music and developing web pages. His presentation can be accessed here https://files.me.com/thegafferguy/tc2y8l

Brushes iMockUp ThumbJam ReelDirector CourseNotes GoodRead

Growing digital citizens for a digital world – presented by Andrew Churches, 21stCentury Fluency Group

Andrew Churches

Andrew Churches  currently teaches at a school that has a cross platform laptop program from Years’ 6-10, and an open network in the senior school, where students bring their own device to connect to an unfiltered network.  In his experience, unenforceable rules, such as ‘thou shalt not use your mobile’ are counterproductive, and he believes that an ethical approach to digital use agreements is the most effective solution for preparing students for active and ethical participation in society. These agreements should be regularly renewed and shaped by student, teacher and parent input. Having shared input creates a sense of ownership and also ensures the policy is comprehendible to all stakeholders.

Ownership and understanding were two key aspects Andrew felt were vital when tackling challenges schools are currently dealing with, with regard to social media and digital access.

Andrew suggests ten guidelines for students to follow when considering appropriate behaviour online:

1. Set privacy settings – on almost all social media and networking sites, privacy settings may be changed to limit who views your account; become familiar with these settings, and use them.

2. Choose a name that is appropriate & respectful –avatars and online identities are a part of interacting online; it is important that the username chosen does not send a message that is inappropriate or disrespectful.

3. Only post suitable info & photos – once something is online, it is almost impossible to remove – see guideline 9 for a good test of what is ‘suitable’.

4. Secure passwords – it can take minutes to break a predictable or weak password; random combinations of letters, numbers and symbols are the strongest and best passwords for high security accounts.

5: Always report anything that feels uncomfortable and be open with a trusted adult – every student should have at least one adult they feel they could go to if they feel unsafe.

6: Don’t participate in & report cyber bullying or unkindness- being a bystander is not acceptable.

7: Report abuse – most sites have a button that users can click to report abuse, inappropriate material or spam – it is free, easy and anonymous.

8: Show care by not flaming or forwarding unkind messages – not only is it inappropriate behaviour, but it is impossible to predict where such messages may end up, and what may go viral.

9: The ‘grandma’ test – if you wouldn’t want your grandma to view/read what you are about to post….don’t post it.

10: Show care by not visiting websites that are inappropriate – the mere act of visiting these sites supports their existence and is not positive digital citizenship.

In short, Andrew Churches suggests students remember the following;


Senior School
Respect Yourself
Protect Yourself
Respect Others
Protect Others
Respect Property
Protect Property

Junior School

Look after yourself
Look after Others
Look after Property

We would encourage anyone to participate in this type of conference. The learning from viewing best practice in classrooms, participating in and delivering conference sessions, the collegial relationships we affirmed and created and ready access to a range of providers of contemporary educational tools made our three days in Melbourne highly productive.

Manzo, Kathleen Kennedy. 2009. “Students See Schools Inhibiting Their Use of New Technologies.” Education Week, April 1. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/03/24/27digital.h28.html.

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2 thoughts on “Normalising the use of digital technology in teaching and learning

  1. Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School have asked that all videos posted on this blog, on YouTube and any other internet site be removed as parental permission has not been given. Please confirm this request via admin@iwb.net.au

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