MIE Expert Simon Harper on creating a learning environment where students use technology to solve real-world problems

We must create a learning environment where students use technology ubiquitously to solve real-world problems that link to communities locally and globally.” – Simon Harper

Simon Harper
Head Teacher, Technology and Learning
Killara High School
Sydney, Australia

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is much more than just putting devices in the hands of our students and expecting them to know how to be 21st century learners,” says MIE Expert Simon Harper. “We must create a learning environment where students use technology ubiquitously to solve real-world problems that link to communities locally and globally.”

For Harper, who has been at Killara High School for one very busy and exciting year, his key responsibility is to drive teaching and learning for students and teachers with a strong technology focus.

Harper believes strongly that for his students to prosper in the new work paradigm, they must be independent lifelong learners who are creative, versatile, and adaptable.

“In response to these challenges and opportunities,” he says, “we have instigated a range of programs to support teachers, students and parents.”

Killara BYOD Learning Hub

The Killara BYOD learning hub was designed to support teachers, students and parents through a blended online learning environment. This website provides training and support for the Killara community to integrate technology seamlessly into the learning fabric of the school, all to enhance student learning outcomes and increase student engagement.

The learning hub features a broad range of programs, videos, information, and innovative ways to leverage technology for lifelong learning.

Teacher Techno Lounge training

To drive quality teaching and learning in the classroom, Harper and his team set up an extensive training program for all teachers at the school: The Teacher Techno Lounge Training program.

“This program comprises a range of sustained workshops during Wednesday professional development time, before and after school,” explains Harper. “All sessions are framed utilizing the 21st century learning dimensions and resources built in Staff OneNote.”

Killara Tech Ninja’s blog

“We must model different ways to communicate globally to all of our students,” Harper adds. “The Killara Tech Ninjas blog is part of our BYOD learning hub. This is the place for our technology champions to share all the amazing stories and innovative learning happening at our great school. The blog is open to everyone and we are getting visitors from all over the world.”

And while Harper and his school are clearly embracing technology in their day-to-day learning, he recognizes these changes do not come without challenges.

“Digital advances and innovations have changed societal norms, the way we communicate and interact,” Harper adds. “The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will continue to accelerate disruption to many areas of the workplace and society.

Harper was part of a roundtable discussion at the headquarters of the New South Wales Department of Education earlier this year on how educators can creatively reimagine contemporary teaching, learning and policies to allow students to prosper.

“This gave me the inspiration to run Killara High School’s first TeachMeet for teachers from all over Sydney,” he says. “Our TeachMeet Reimagine happened in September, and brought educators from all over Sydney. This was an excellent evening and opportunity for our teachers to network and be inspired by other innovative educators.”

You can connect with Simon on his blog, or via his Microsoft Educator Community profile link.

About Simon Harper

Educational background:

  • 23 years leading large and small teams as a chef
  • I completed an accelerated scholarship degree through the NSW government
  • 6 years at Northern Beaches Secondary College Cromer Campus (technology teacher)
  • 2 years relieving regional College learning project officer working with the 5 campuses of the NBSC and all primary schools on the Northern Beaches of Sydney
  • 1 year Head Teacher Technology and Learning responsible for BYOD, computing and driving innovation through staff professional learning to transform learning with technology.

Favourite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Class OneNote, Office Mix, 21CLD and Sway

What is the best advice you have ever received? You never stop learning. Grab hold of opportunities or make them happen.