Day 5

We’ve done about 27km today and it has been a stunning walk with beautiful views and lovely old villages. The routine seems to be established. We get up at about 6, repack the backpacks, set off and have breakfast about an hour later – today hot pain au chocolate straight from the oven. We had a picnic lunch – fresh bread, cheese and the local cured paper thin ham. We pull into a hostel at about four hoping that there are enough beds followed by the big rush to shower, get clothes washed and dried. Today it was a treat as they did it for us at 3 Euros a wash and another 3 for the drying – so no queuing at the washing machine – a bit like putting your coins on the pool table to claim the next game. We happen to be with a few others again this evening who walk at our pace and distance. Some go slower with less km and others push on for a few more km. Some are going the whole way and others try to do as much as they can in the time they have. Some chat, some walk alone, some power ahead – generally the young ones with endless energy on limited Euros. There are all ages and a surprising number of people doing it by themselves. You can be as social as you wish. We all just follow the yellow arrows.




Day 3 & 4

We’ve now completed our fourth day and finally finding our feet (pun intended). Last night we stayed at a ‘refuges’ in Cizur Menor having completed just under 21km – so a short walk for us. Dinner was a pilgrims meal (again….) with some of the same faces now appearing – apparently you travel with a core of about 100-200 people – if we had started the next day it would be another cohort of 100-200 people. Day four was 24ish km



Day 2 & all is well!

Day one: St. Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncevaux 27.1 km with a climb from just over 200m to just over 1400m. It doesn’t matter how much you think you are prepared, to say it was a challenge was an understatement! We left just after 8 in the morning and I literally crawled into the auberge just after 4.

Day two: Roncevaux to Larrasoana 25 km with a descent from just under 1000m to 600m. Easy! We are now in a lovely bar sipping beer waiting for our pilgrims’ meal which will be three courses and some wine. Tomorrow…bull running at Pamlona.



Off on the Camino

We are off today to walk the Camino. More coming soon. Just getting all my equipment up and running including installing this WordPress App in my iPhone. I’m also taking my Olliclip lens set for my iPhone to teach myself macro photography. Here’s an example – lets hope it gets better than this!


A Professional Highlight from the ADE Institute in Bali

ADE 2013 Asia Pacific group. Photo by Blll Frakes
ADE 2013 Asia Pacific group. Photo by Blll Frakes

The WAB team (comprising newbie Jeri Hurd, alumni Ray Gentleman and me) has just got back from the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Institute in Bali. The Institute welcomed over 230 new ADEs from across the Asia-Pacfic region with representation from afar as New Zealand to Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Greater China (Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing). The application process and the competition was fierce and Team Greater China welcomed our very own WABbie, Jeri Hurd (HS Librarian) into the ADE community. As usual it was an action-packed, high-energy, intense and rewarding experience.

Here’s one of our professional highlights:

In full flow with Jeri (left). Photo by Daniel Woo
In full flow with Jeri (left). Photo by Daniel Woo
There’s a lot of buzz going on about action research in the Apple communities and more so about the iPad. Jeri (Hurd) and I were asked to showcase the action research journey we have embarked on in our high school in order to find out how the iPad transforms learning in the classroom.
WAB Mission Statement
WAB Mission Statement

In a ten-minute ‘TED’ style talk, we used the WAB mission statement ‘Connect, Inspire, Challenge: Make a Difference’ to ground our story which we segmented as follows:

  1. a simplified version of our action research model;
  2. our first action research project which resulted in the fabulous collaborative multi-touch book written by 27 MYP Grade 10 history students entitled ‘World War Two: Illustrated Histories’
  3. where we are now: working with twelve plus HS faculty to scale the action research project across various curriculum areas

I have been to a number of Apple events and I know the high standards expected. We were hand-picked for one of the twelve showcase spots to get up in front of our peers and inspire; the pressure was certainly on and we spent countless hours and sleepless nights putting it together to ensure that we told the story in a simple way while also doing justice to the work that had been put in by our colleagues and students – after all, it was their work that put us up on the stage.

Support when the technology fails! Photo by Daniel Woo
Support when the technology fails! Photo by Daniel Woo

Of course, no talk would be complete without some technical issue and the recovery the ensues. To our peers, this was the unintentional highlight in that we celebrated every teachers’ nightmare. Note to self: never rely on the network in a live demonstration on an iPad when you are sharing the network with over 1000 devices!

The keynote slide deck ( was amazing thanks to Ray Gentleman (MS Design) who was our support and champion throughout. The impact of great graphics in presentations must never be underestimated and there’s a lot of respect and acknowledgement for Ray’s design expertise in both the ADE and Learning 2.0 communities.
Designer Ray - photo by Joseph Frambo
Designer Ray – photo by Joseph Frambo

Now the eyes of the ADE community are on us to see what we find out and how our iPad trials pan out. We are documenting our action research journey in the public WAB iTunes U site. Our iPad course is here. Please visit from time to time to follow our story.



iPad Training Course for High School

We have now successfully secured funding to go ahead with iPad trials starting in January 2013. Our overarching aim is ‘to evaluate the iPad as an effective learning tool in grades 6–12.’ As the High School integrator, I will be focusing specfically on the High School trials.

To kick off the trial, we intend to provide an iPad training course for interested teachers and as we are already a MacBook Pro (MBP) 1:1 high school (and have been for a number of years), we will focus on more of the ‘how-to’ looking specfically at what the iPad can do in the classroom. Throughout the course, we will continue to discuss the ‘why’ so that as a team, we can collaborate to develop an action research toolkit for tailored specfically for our high school.

So our current challenge is what should be in the course and how the course will be delivered. We have set up a working googledoc and currently it is a six-part course:

  1. Overview of the iPad: hardware, iOS, basic apps and so on
  2. Introduction to Action Research: collecting & analysing data, review of other trails and methods
  3. Managing iPads in the classroom: sycning, installing apps, working in the cloud
  4. Educational Apps specfically for High School classes
  5. Curating content with a focus on iTunes U
  6. Creating content with a focus on iBooks Author

For more information on our trials and the resources that we are collating, we have set up the following wikispace:

If you have any suggestions and/or resources, please let us know!

iPad Trials: Measuring Student Learning for iPad Adoption

We are beginning to organize a number of short trials in our High School here at the Western Academy of Beijing looking at how iPads could/should/may be used as a powerful learning tool. We are a 1:1 (MBP) school so we have many questions that we are looking to explore: do we become a 2:1 high school, what value does an iPad add in addition to a MBP in our high school curriculum (IB MYP and IB DP), will the iPad replace the MBP,  should we have a bank of bookable loaner iPads or is the value-add in the ownership and personalization of the iPad? The questions are endless!

Macbook Pro AND/OR/NOT iPads for high school students?
Who else is doing trials? Or has the answer(s)? Or who would like answers and would like to collaborate? What data are you gathering? How are you gathering this data? For example, if we do not use a control group for some of our trials, how should we proceed with our research to find out if the iPad does add value or is it just the once-only novelty of using a new technology. In short, we are looking for help and advice.

The iTunes U Mac 101 Beijing Project

This article was authored collaboratively using Pirate Pad by the students from BCIS, Dulwich College Beijing, RDFZ XISHAN SCHOOL and Western Academy of Beijing.


The WAB Geek Force iTunes U Project Team

On September 26th, 2012, students from Beijing City International School, Dulwich College Beijing, Ren Da Fu Zhong Xishan, and the Western Academy of Beijing met together at the Apple Executive Briefing Center in Beijing to initiate a new one-of-a-kind project, Mac 101. It’s goal was to teach educators in the worldwide community the basics of using Apple products such as the MacBook or the iPad to effectively utilize them in an educational context. And as a team, we aspired to achieve this target through producing a concise and didactic iBook and planning a full session dedicated to training teachers as well as others who need technological assistance.

In addition to some cool features available to Macs, the students were given a brief insight on what its like to be an educator: somebody with massive demands on their time, with little or no inclination to keep in touch with technology, much less spend time learning about it. In response to this, students learnt ways on how to effectively convey why technology is an important aspect of not only daily life, but also education. A short presentation was given detailing how something that is often overlooked, the Reader tool for Safari, could be of significant use in reducing the stress experienced by teachers through making their jobs easier, as well as enhancing the classroom experience. Furthermore, students were briefed on the advantages of Apple products in an educational context; especially iBooks and iBook Author as an interactive learning tool, and, according to Beijing City International School ADE, William Percy, “Going beyond the print metaphor” with iBooks to make the Apple learning experience fully interactive.

At the event’s opening, Melissa Li, the Apple representative leading the event, regarded the Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) as well as the students present as participants in a “world leading project”, referring to those gathered as the “crème de la crème” of the international school community, meaning that Apple couldn’t have gotten a more knowledgeable or adept group of technologically minded people working together on this project between diverse schools and cultures. The different groups collaborated on formulating innovative solutions and ideas in the form of brainstorming, promoting a “yes, and” mentality in place of the usual “yes, but”; all of this discussion and exchange truly represented what Apple stands for: innovation, creativity and collaboration.

Students were appointed eight groups from mixed schools, and were taught the fundamental aspects of being an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE): Ambassadors, Advisors, Advocates, and Authors. As Apple representatives, the group will have to embody these characteristics.

After several sessions brainstorming, students learned of uses of integrated iBooks which may be included into the BCIS curriculum. The presentation showed the features of iBooks Author, as well as the interactivity that could be utilized in classrooms in Beijing and around the world. Other brainstorms also included ways we could introduce apple product to teachers in a comprehensible and easy to understand.

All in all, it was a great and educational time for everybody, a celebration of teamwork, collaboration, and of diversity.

Learning 2.012 – you know it’s over when….


  1. Zero emails in the inbox
  2. I’ve had time to have lunch today
  3. I’ve had time to tweet and tweet and tweet #learning2
  4. I’ve only Skyped/chatted/emailed @mscofino, @samay99, @cdiller & @julielindsay just once or twice today
  5. It’s Monday evening and I am not in a Learning 2.012 online meeting
  6. I’m not wearing a red shirt
  7. My students have reintroduced themselves to me
  8. I actually cooked dinner tonight
  9. I seem to be very, very tired & can only write a short, simple blog post like this one
  10. I’m sad!

My personal highlight: my husband (can’t give a FB or twitter handle as guess what, he doesn’t do FB and twitter) returns home from Learning 2.012 on Friday evening and asks me in a matter-of-fact way: “Mads, do you have a blog?” Clearly he never reads my electronic signature, hasn’t noted the annual credit card statements from BlueHost or read anything I have posted in the last two years….clearly I need to blog more and something a little more profound…now that I have time!

Learning 2.012 in Beijing October

Learning 2.012 Virual Badge

Just a very quick post to get my blogging hat back on again! It’s been a busy time as we prepare for Learning 2.012. This year we are hosting at WAB in October. Although that may seem a long, long way away, the committee has been working hard since September last year, just after Learning 2.011) to get organised for this year’s conference. The goals of this year’s committee are to not only plan and deliver a high-quality conference but also as Learning 2.0 is on the move and will be hosted in schools across the EARCOS region in years to come, we need to appoint the school for 2013 (done) and also document the process for the next committee.

For details of the conference, visit our site here.