How to Guides for Google Apps

I have been working on a few posters for my school and some other schools that are “Going Google” in order to support learning with technology. I have added them to my How to page on this blog and would really appreciate feedback on them.

Would you put this on your classroom or office wall?

Google Docs


B Rouse


Making a Dent – The Project Team

After an inspirational two days in Toulouse and a desire to implement lasting change in my organisation, I have been given the support and permission to start a design thinking process for how we communicate across our Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).

As our MAT grows towards 20 schools we will need to be able to communicate effectively across all schools and via the central team that I work in. It feels like just adding more email accounts would not be the solution, so what is? Far be it for me to answer that question, we have many talented people across our organisation so I hope to facilitate their ideas through a design thinking process.

Create the project team


We need to create a project team who will begin this journey that I hope will embed across the entire MAT. It needs to be:

  • Representative of the entire organisation
  • Keen to be part of a process of innovation

The team will need to understand that their daily job descriptions are left at the door for this process

“Innovation does not respect departmental boundaries” McIntosh, Ewan. How to Come Up with Great Ideas. Edinburgh: NoTosh, 2014. Print.

I was going to send an email but my CEO made an astute observation and suggestion. If we are looking for innovative ways to communicate effectively then maybe the recruitment should be communicated in an interesting way… tous chez!

Lets design think this with 100 ideas in 10 minutes:

  1. email with a long explanation of the project
  2. email a video of me talking about the project
  3. email a poster about the project
  4. put up a poster in the office
  5. fly a plane with a banner over the school
  6. have a treasure hunt and project team is the ones who complete it first
  7. send a word by email each day to show poor communication
  8. create a video via a QR code
  9. send everyone a copy of Ewan’s book with a note inside
  10. pin up paper with little tear off slips like you had a uni to get a room-mate
  11. Have a person with a “golf sale” sign while I sit in an office waiting for people to come and have a look
  12. buy advertising on TV during Gogglebox
  13. create a radio advert to broadcast
  14. set off the fire alarm and stand in the playground with a loud-hailer to inform everyone of the project
  15. send a survey where people assess which role they fulfil in a team, then pick the right mixture.
  16. Put numbers underneath everyone’s desk and randomly select people to join the team
  17. Set off carrier pigeons from Cornwall with a message inviting colleagues to join the team
  18. Use the force to make them want to join the team “this is not the method of communication you are looking for”
  19. Offer cake and tea in a meeting room and then announce my project
  20. Send a Google form around where people can
    1. watch a video
    2. identify their role in a team
    3. express an interest in getting involved
  21. Have a meeting (you can tell I am running out of ideas…and ten minutes is up!)

I have demonstrated why one needs a project team to power the ideas along and lead to innovative change. Now to get one…

After various attempts at making a video, animated gifs and other media I decided that we all communicate best over an impromptu piece of cake. Consequently I am going to lay on cake and that will lure people to my invitation to get involved:

Communication Flyer

The actual link is not included, just in case you all wanted to join the team.

First question… Why do we need to communicate any differently?


B Rouse

Evolving Google Teacher Academy…

Next week Google look to be announcing details of their update on the Google Teacher Academy program which I was fortunate to attend in December 2013. Since then I have had opportunities to lead whole school change, present in three different continents and work with educators and schools beyond my own.


If this has been improved you had better pay attention to the announcement and apply to get involved.




How might we… Evolve #Edtech

Without talking about tech?

After my enthusiastic and bold message to my boss during Ewan McIntosh’s keynote (thanks to lisibo for the reflections and great sketchnotes!) at Practical Pedagogies in Toulouse I have been preparing to meet with him to start making that dent.

My role is to embed technology in learning across the academy chain, however I am coming to the conclusion this is best achieved by not talking about the technology (or at least as little as possible). Conversations about learning, independent learning, sharing and collaboration have been more effective in moving the use of technology forward in an effective way.

Hence, if my colleagues are creating innovative ideas and looking to make them happen, technology that supports learning will follow.

“How might we raise the aspirations of our children?”

“How might we shared best practice across our schools?”

“How might we assess without levels?”

“How might we connect with other cultures?”

“How might we support our local community?”

These are learning based problems that can have a technology aspect in their solutions but technology is not the solution alone. I often refer to a former colleague who was/is a self-confessed “techno-phobe” and nervous of my #edtech role. However, one lunch in the canteen she idly mentioned whatsapp, which she was merrily using on her new iphone. The technology gave her no worries or concerns…. Why? Because it allowed her to view endless pictures of her beautiful granddaughter. It solved a problem and enhanced her experience of being a new grandmother.

The design thinking process seems to be an ideal tool for identifying problems and developing ideas so I want to try and begin to introduce it to my organisation.

IMG_20151029_224921Part of this process has been re-reading Ewan’s book “How to Come Up with Great Ideas… and actually make them happen”. It is a fascinating combination of Ewan’s experience and a journey through the design thinking process. The aspects I have picked up in particular are ideas about trying to move excellence out of individual classrooms, how meetings do not support innovation and looking to define problems, great problems that can lead to great ideas. I have used a lot of post-its, though this seems to be a big part of design thinking!

The key ideas I want to get across are:

  • Help us immerse in our schools and look at the details (avoiding doing what we have always done)
  • Valuing people and their ideas (design thinking gives us a way to get the best ideas from our colleagues)
  • Make our organisation innovative and focussed on learning (Make the big thing, The big thing)
  • Schools can remain individual and autonomous while having a common language for creating innovation across the academies (A key vision of our Multi-academy Trust, MAT)
  • Subtle was of getting everyone utilising technology effectively (Evolving Edtech maybe?)

It feels fuzzy but I am assured this is how all great ideas should feel at the beginning. However, fuzzy doesn’t always allow people to buy-in.

The practical things I am asking for are

  • A notebook for a team/teams to write a bug list and ideas wallet
  • A room to display the immersion of our core team in our schools
  • Lots of post-its
  • Permission to form a project team that represents out entire organisation

My next post may be my last if I cannot convey the impact I think design thinking could have on our organisation.

Watch this space



Making a dent in more than a sofa

I spent my birthday in a French Bowling Alley with a group of educators in a retail park outside of Toulouse. If that wasn’t enough the highlight of my 35 years I also went minimally viral for sitting on a squidgy sofa. I also got my phone out during a keynote address to send an email to the CEO of my Multi-Academy Trust. These are a few of the events of a pivotal couple of days in my career…

The official event was Practical Pedagogies organised by Russell Tarr from International School of Toulouse. This is an event based wgich started as an in-house professional development project that grew and grew to an international gathering of educators to share ideas and spend some quality time learning and developing our practice. I was made aware of it by Cindy Crannell, who lead a session with Mark Stillitoe (he took the sofa picture), and applied to do a session about Marking and Feedback as it was an idea I had been developing that I wanted to try out. I shared a selection of Marking and Feedback techniques that I have used that do not involve pen and paper. Hence the slightly provocative title “Marking and Feedback without coloured pens”. My session was accepted and my schools approved a couple of days in Toulouse.

My session aside the event was a triumph and Russell should be very proud of the positive impact it will have on a range of schools and classrooms Europe wide and probably beyond. Thanks to Miles Berry I have a huge amount to take back to the computing curriculum forum I facilitate across a number of Primary Schools.

If the sessions throughout the two days were not enough the keynote speaker was Ewan McIntosh. His company Notosh has some impressive credentials, working with a range of schools and companies to drive positive change using Design Thinking. Since joining twitter and following Tom Barrett, one of Ewan’s colleagues at Notosh, I have been intrigued by Notosh and their apparent clarity of vision which enables them to deliver in a variety of scenarios.

Ewan referred to Steve Job’s quote of about putting a dent in the universe and soon after that I put a rather large dent in a sofa. I shall resist mixed and laboured metaphors but simply say Ewan had me hooked and I am determined to utilise Design Thinking within my own organisation to gain increased clarity on my aim to embed technology in learning across our Multi-Academy Trust.

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”

— Steve Jobs

In Ewan’s closing session (I was not the only person welling up during the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra) he asked us all to make the big thing, the big thing and decide on what our objective would be and the strategy and tactics to achieve it. The tweet I created at the time is below.

I have adapted it and will probably continue to do so..


Embed technology in outstanding learning across my Mutli-Academy Trust


Ensure a robust and appropriate infrastructure for each school that they can rely on. Build confidence in all staff to be aware of opportunities to enhance learning with technology.


Design Thinking Design thinking is a process that Notosh use in all their work to help organisations identify problems and create ideas and prototype solutions. I have been threatening to use this for a while and Ewan’s keynote was the reminder I needed to get on with it. This blog post and subsequent ones are my reflections of this process which starts now. Check back in to find out how we get on on the journey from making a dent in a sofa to making a dent in the universe…

If you would like to see everyone else’s objectives, strategies and tactics click here. Thanks to Dave Stacey for compiling them via storify.




Does UK have “edtech integrators”?

I started writing a post some time ago:

“I don’t think we do and if not why not?

What is a edtech integrator?

Chris Betcher wrote an interesting post about his role as a tech integrator. This is a term I have heard from US based educators using tech and Chris is based in Australia. I have no knowledge of such a role in the UK beyond enthusiastic teachers like myself developing a role for ourselves to support the use of technology for learning within our own schools.

A true tech integrator seems to straddle a number of schools in alliances, districts or chains and oversee the training, implementation and support of technology to support and enhance learning.

Why does US have edtech integrators?

With a system like our Local Authorities still in place the US districts have a clear need for tech integrators as they will implement district wide implementations of Google Apps, Office365, ipads or chormebooks and they need people in place to make sure the investment has impact and there is consistent use of the new tools.

Where is edtech on the UK schools agenda?”

Since beginning that draft… er I think I have become one?

From September I will be working as a mathematics teacher for three days a week and supporting technology for learning across my school’s academy chain for two. The role is aimed at working with the school leaders in the academy chain to get the most out of their existing technology to support learning and develop longer term strategies to enhance their provision to support learning and teaching with technology in effective and efficient ways.

I initially met with heads of the schools and the response has been fairly positive in that they seem to be very open to the idea of someone supporting the school’s strategy in an area they do not always feel is one they possess excessive expertise in.

So, I am hoping that I will be able to share the role of an “edtech integrator” in UK with you.

Exciting times ahead


#giesummit New Hampshire

I have been fortunate to have been invited to present at a few Google in Education summits run my Appsevents across Europe, delivering sessions on Google Classroom, Flubaroo for Google Forms, Super Quiz for Google Forms and e-portfolios. I am delighted to say I have been invited to New Hampshire to deliver sessions and a keynote presentation on the second day.


Find out more https://goo.gl/0LDysj

I wouldn’t profess to be any expert but simply an enthusiast for the possibilities technology can bring to the classroom and student learning. Sharing my insight is enjoyable and rewarding but I have always taken away ideas from fellow presenters and delegates alike, who are always amazing me with their initiative for ways in which they are using simple free tools to enhance learning in their classes.

I am particularly excited to have the chance to share with Holly Doe in New Hampshire as I was fortunate enough to attend the same Google Teacher Academy as Holly in London in December 2013. During our two day event she shared an inspiring use of Google’s tour builder with us. Her students had created an immersive account of a journey and developed some amazing story-telling skills along the way. I reflected on how delighted I would be as a father if my son had that learning opportunity.

So, of I go to New Hampshire confident of coming back to UK with some new gems to try in my own classroom or share with the schools I am going to be supporting from September. If you haven’t considered such an event yet I hope you might consider one near you. Check our the appsevents website for details of summits near you.


Ben Rouse