Glory Days

It is interesting to take a few minutes out to reflect on my own use of “devices” in the classroom as I enter a transition period from a classroom teacher to a technology integration coach.  I’ve always been the informal “techie” guy in my schools.  At one point I actually made some fake billing documents to send my peers when I helped them with their VCRs and frozen computer screens.  Now I’m in what might be my last year in the classroom for awhile.  A good time to reflect.

Interestingly enough, I’m probably at the lowest level of device use that I’ve ever had.  Ironic, as I’m in a private international school with a bring your own device program instead of a public school in the States.  I currently rely primarily on student laptops and a projector as my devices.  I have access to a Mimio board, but even with strategically applied tape to the cord, it doesn’t quite want to work.

Device LoveIn the past I’ve had iPods, iPads, and an ActivBoard (I miss you buddy) with which my usage was approaching somewhat of a Jedi Master level. I had kids creating podcasts, movies, App Smashing, before I knew what that even was, and enjoying some very interactive classes thanks to the ActivResponse units (dubbed OrangeBerries by my students).

I was also in on the ground level of getting all of this technology in our school in varying ways.  From just making a good case for the technology to winning multiple grants and purchasing the iPads for my own classroom, I was definitely pushing for something new in our school and leading the way for those around me.

My current school has iPads, but they’re housed in the library on the other side of campus.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I think this might be the time to start thinking about how I can reintegrate them into my classes to rebuild some of my street cred as a tech coach.  We all know there’s nothing worse than the guy coming in to help you and telling you all about the things he used to do five to ten years ago.Thinking
I have one more semester in the classroom before I transition into my new role full time.  I’m going to use this semester to really think about how to use what is available at our school for the most benefit of my students.  In the past I may have been working to fit the lesson into the technology.  Over the years, I’ve learned this obviously isn’t the best way. I’m excited to challenge my self here and see how I have grown in my use of devices in the classroom.


flickr photo Device Love by lukew  shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

flickr photo Thinking: More Than None Will Be Required by Digital Sextant  shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


  1. Morgan Purdy says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I find it so interesting that you had more access to technology at your old school than you do at your current international teaching post.  I have also been finding similarities in the lack of technology used in some of the international schools I hear about from friend, that seem to have access to funds, but the money is not being used in a way that allows for integration of technology and curriculum.  I imagine that you will find your new position interesting and challenging, and I think spending time thinking about how to best use the technology available to you and your students.  I came across this article  that discusses how the best way to get teachers to buy in and feel comfortable with using technology in the classroom is by using the same technology when providing any sort of PD.

    Good luck next semester!


    1. Ryan Harwood says:

      Thanks for the article and the good luck wishes Morgan. I definitely agree and have used that technique in PD sessions that I have led. I always try to incorporate a little sneaky bit of tech that can be used right away. To be fair, we have access to most of the same technology at my current school, but I don’t use it quite as much. Although, on the other side, neither does much of anyone else. I think the ES does a little better than secondary though. As for me the transition to an international school and a 1:1 environment meant I changed the way I used technology in the classroom. I now need to find my way back to my roots so to speak.


  2. Angela Langlands says:

    @rharwood17 You’re not alone. For most teachers we’re so busy that when it’s “out of sight, it’s certainly out of mind” or it’s in our mind but not during operating hours so getting to the library to check something out just finds its way to the bottom of our to-do list. I appreciate how daunting it can be to stop and reflect upon your current usage, but I predict you’re still doing more than most. This is really good information moving forward. As an integrator, how can you flip this? Perhaps bringing it to others to try out is one option. Maybe afternoon geek-out sessions are the answer. Whatever it is… I’m sure you’ll figure it out and the result will be better for kids!


    1. Ryan Harwood says:

      Thanks Angela I like the idea of bringing it to them. I’m currently offering some small sessions and playgroundish time, but I need to work on my marketing a bit I think. I’m looking at this year as a test run and strategy builder. It will all come together in time.


  3. Cory Milone says:

    Hi Ryan,
    I can almost hear the sadness in your voice as you lament about your school’s lack of a 1:1 laptop program. Are your students required to bring one from home, or just allowed. As a “techy,” do you feel that schools would be better off having a 1:1 program that uses fairly basic machines, or implementing one that requires students to have their own with certain specifications. I only ask this, because there is talk of my school movng away from supplying machines (the upkeep is difficult with over 800 students) to a 1:1 program where student are required to have a laptop of their own. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.



    1. Ryan Harwood says:

      Cory our students are strongly encouraged to bring their own. We do have a supply of MacBooks available for checkout, but we are trying to cut down on those to open up a good bit of cash for other projects. A basic computer for research and writing is so cheap now, students are quite fine with just a Chromebook. There are certainly some issues with a BYOD program. We have students with all kinds of different machines which can be a challenge at time. (I honestly freak out a bit when I have to help a kid with a Windows machine.) In the end, I think it is better for the school though. It definitely cuts costs and we still have iPads for checkout and several labs with shiny new Macs. We are only a slightly smaller school so we’re in the same boat. Its also difficult to get parts here in Ghana. Many machines end up just waiting around to be fixed or ransacked for parts.


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