2015 Presenters & Themes

Holly Lu – Action Research (Thursday)

Holly coverDr. Holly Lu has been working in the fields of education, instructional design, technology, and online learning for the past 13 years. This passion for blending education with cutting-edge technology led her to pursue a doctoral degree from Pepperdine University in Educational Technology, where her research focused on gaming immersion in educational settings and fostering 21st century skills through Quest Atlantis. In 2007, Dr. Lu became Program Director at Full Sail University, where she launched the online Education Media Design and Technology Master’s degree program. Currently, she is the Senior Director for Program Development of the New Media Consortium (NMC), an international not-for-profit focused on sparking innovation and creativity in learning, where she manages the NMC Academy — the organization’s online learning initiative.

Prior to the New Media Consortium and Full Sail University, Dr. Ludgate strategized and deployed technology integration in K-12 classrooms, along with teaching campus and online classes for universities in several subject areas. Her passion for emerging technologies and their creative implementation into different areas, such as podcasting, web 2.0 applications, and digital tensions in the classroom, is steadfast. Dr. Ludgate earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and holds her Master’s in Instructional Technology from the University of Central Florida. In 2011, she was also selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) and currently sits on the Apple Education Board for ADEs, along with Apple’s Challenge Based Learning Board.

Tico Oms – Innovation (Saturday)

THEADico Oms is a Singapore American Middle School deputy principal. Tico was an integral part of the school research and development program, organizing and attending visits with dozens of exemplary and innovative schools around the world, communicating the learning with the faculty and community, and launching many innovative educational programs.

Tico has an MEd from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to his teaching career, he had a successful ten-year technology career first at Dell Computers Asia Pacific followed by various companies in South East Asia.

Bambi Betts – The Future of EdTech (Friday)

bambiBambi Betts is the Director of the Principals’ Training Center for International School Leadership and has been actively involved with the PTC since its inception as a course developer, trainer, and co-trainer for the PTC’s Essential Skills courses.  Bambi is also the CEO of the Academy for International School Heads (AISH).

She has held positions as Director of Escuela Campo Alegre , Deputy Superintendent and middle school Principal in Caracas, and also a senior school head in Portugal.

Bambi is a leading consultant on a wide range of topics in international schools and conducts on-site training modules related to the effective int’l school. She has written many articles on practical ways to improve international schools and authors a regular column on the PTC pages of The International Educator (TIE).



2015 Google Hangouts

One of the things participants have asked for is a way to connect before the conference. So, we tried something new this year (2015): Google Hangouts on Air! We hosted 3 Hangouts leading up to the conference focused on each day’s theme. If you’d like to take a look at the conversations (and the notes that we took), check them out here:

Action Research (Thursday’s topic)

Please find the discussion notes here.

The Future of EdTech (Friday’s topic)

Please find the discussion notes here.

Creativity & Innovation (Saturday’s topic)

2015 event is full!

We are getting ready for another fantastic #beyondlaptops event from 16 – 18 April 2015. For those that attended last year, there will be some changes (and some consistencies), based on your feedback. Here are the highlights:

We will continue:

  • the team format (minimum 2, maximum 4 people from each school). We are requesting that new team members are added each year to keep the dialogue going.
  • the themed days. Each day will have a specific focus (see below) and longer sessions to ensure we have enough time to really discuss.
  • the maximum of 40 participants.
  • the collaborative planning committee from several schools.
  • the student interaction.
  • the creative collaboration multimedia project. Check out the playlist from last year!

We will add:

  • a request for multimedia from your school (to be filmed and uploaded before you come).
  • an opportunity to get to know each other online and share resources, before the event.
  • a third “official” day (no more pre-conference) #beyondlaptops is now a 3-day event.
  • an opportunity for students to collaborate from our schools before the event.
  • the creation of a #beyondlaptops “whitepaper” style research report based on one of our themes.

The themes for this year are:

  • Day 1 (April 16): Action Research (which could lead to our whitepaper)
  • Day 2 (April 17): The Future of EdTech (perhaps the focus of our whitepaper)
  • Day 3 (April 18): Cultivating Innovation & Creativity (which will lead to our creative collaboration)

We are already almost full, with the following schools attending:

  • AmerAsian School Okinawa, Japan
  • Canadian Academy, Japan
  • Chatsworth International School, Singapore
  • DODDs Schools, Japan
  • Korea International School
  • Renaissance College, Hong Kong
  • Singapore American School, Singapore
  • Shekou International School
  • Western Academy of Beijing, China
  • Yokohama International School, Japan
  • Zurich International School, Switzerland

2014 Themes: Coding, Design Thinking & Remix

The planning team has collated all of the feedback from this year’s participants and organized each of our three days together into the following big themes:

Thursday: Pre-Conference: Coding

During the pre-conference (agenda here), we’ll have a team of students learning how to program using Raspberri Pi and Scratch, with Yohei Yasukawa and his team, organized by Robert Duckworth. CANVAS, a Japan-based NPO, is providing sets of Raspberri Pi, monitors, and extension materials for their workshop. Once the students have had a chance to explore, they’ll join the participants for a debrief and discussion about their experiences. Also during Thursday’s session, we’ll have some unconference time, a chance to debate the pros and cons of teaching coding in schools, some participant requested session discussions and a full-day wrap up. Thursday evening will be our lovely conference dinner at Brasserie Artisan.

Guest Speaker: Yohei Yasukawa

Founder of Okinawa.rb (Okinawa Ruby User Group), organizer of CoderDojoTokyo/Okinawa, and contributor to OpenSource Cafe. For his enthusiastic contribution to open source communities, such as translating Rails Tutorial into Japaneseand Ruby Hacking Guide into English, he is selected as Super Creator by IPA and as one of Ruby Prize Award nominees by Ruby Association. He runs YasuLab, a small distributed company located in Okinawa/Tokyo/California, publishes many products such asWhistle on Android and ScreenX TV, and teaches students what he learns from such projects at Lexues Academy. Links: GitHubTwitter.

Friday: Day 1: Design Thinking

On the first official day of the conference (agenda here), we’ll explore the concept of design thinking. We’ll start our conversations with a Skype call with Trung Le, organized by Mike Boll, and continue on to some team-based challenges using the design thinking process, facilitated by Heather Dowd. All #beyondlaptops teams will have time during this day to discuss and strategize about challenges that are facing their specific school. The design thinking model will provide a framework for addressing those challenges in a productive and focused way. In addition to our fantastic guest speaker, and focused team time, another group of students will join us for an afternoon of conversation around the purpose and focus of schools.

Guest Speaker: Trung Le

Trung Le is a pioneer of Cannon Design’s education practice and has an incessant energy and passion for learning. Le is widely recognized as an advocate for incorporating multiple intelligences and learning styles in the design of education environments. As the lead designer for Cannon Design’s education group, he creates spaces that encourage student inquiry and imagination and offer students a sense of what it means to be a part of a global community.

Le’s work has yielded awards from the Chicago, Illinois and national chapters of the American Institute of Architects during his 20 years at Cannon Design. Le’s projects have been published in such periodicals as Architectural Record, Contract Design and Edutopia. His recent collaboration with Bruce Mau resulted in the publication The Third Teacher, a cabinet of wonders on how design can transform the ecology of learning. Le leads The Third Teacher + of Cannon Design. The Third Teacher+ is a multidisciplinary design think tank that treats the future of teaching and learning as a living question. The Third Teacher + team includes educators, architects, anthropologists, design strategists who actively reimagine the future of learning through the design Process.

Saturday: Day 2: Creativity & Remix

Our last day together (agenda here) will be a hands-on exploration of remix in video format. Participants will film their thoughts about the event on the preceding days, and then we’ll spend time together remixing that content to create unique trailers or recaps of #beyondlaptops to share with our respective schools upon return. This experiment will be inspired by a Skype conversation with Kevin Honeycutt and Ginger Lewman, organized by Heather Dowd. We’ll wrap up the day by sharing our school-based solutions designed by each team on Friday, as well as a preview of the remixed videos.

Guest Speaker: Kevin Honeycutt

Kevin grew up in poverty and attended school in many cities across the United States. As he witnessed education around the country he collected powerful experiences that still influence his conversations and his work with educators. He spent 13 years teaching art K-12 in public school and for 17 years spent summers leading creative adventure camps for kids of all ages. In 1991 he received the Making IT Happen Award which is an internationally recognized awards program for educators and leaders in the field of educational technology integration in K–12 schools. The program identifies and rewards educational technology leaders around the world for their commitment and innovation.

Guest Speaker: Ginger Lewman

I am an education consultant with ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas and I specialize in Project Based Learning, Technology Integration, Gifted and High-Ability Learners, and Creativity. I am formerly the Director of Turning Point Learning Center’s f2f Program where, for half a decade, I worked to create the LifePractice Model. At TPLC, we created a rich learning environment utilizing Project Based Learning and 1:1 laptops with a Democratic approach to learning. Online networks have been the key to making it work!

Planning Team

Huge thanks to the #beyondlaptops planning team for working with me and Clint to bring this together:

2014 Updates

Hopefully you’ve received the last three updates via e-mail, but just in case, here are the highlights:

Conference Focus

Just a quick note that #beyondlaptops is not about which device you’re using, but about how you’re using it, and how we can take all of our 1:1 programs to the next level – embracing the future of learning through creativity, collaboration, and connectedness. We aim to be a “big picture” conversation, rather than one about hardware or logistics (and for those that are more interested in these specifics, we’ll make sure you have some time to chat together too).

Conference Format

Although there will be an agenda with topics for conversation, #beyondlaptops is an unconference-style, participant-driven event with collaborative discussion as the focus, rather than “sit & git” presentations. With that in mind, we would like to encourage the participants to bring ideas, challenges and questions, ready to share during our three days together.

Before You Arrive

We would love to tap into the wealth of knowledge we have attending this year’s event for ideas, resources, and suggestions. At the end of last year’s conference we created a wiki as a central place to share and collaborate. If you have any great articles, media or resources you would like to share, please add them to the wiki (once you request to join, I’ll make you a member).

During the conference, we always show a number of short, inspirational or provocative videos, if you have any you recommend, we would love to put them on the agenda!

Getting to Japan, and to YIS

Please have a look at the Getting to YIS page for information about traveling to Japan, and Yokohama in particular. There are also details about getting to your hotel from the airport, currency needs, and mobile phones. If you have further questions, please let me know and I’ll add more to the site!

Note: as you book your flights, we highly recommend you fly into Haneda (HND) rather than Narita (NRT) – it’s much, much closer to Yokohama.

Hotel Bookings

All hotel rooms have been booked per your request, under the name you’ve provided. There is no need for an official confirmation form for the hotel, and you are welcome to contact them regarding any questions you might have. You will be able to pay by cash or credit card when you arrive.

Daily Schedule 

For your planning, each day will run from 9am – 4pm. We have a pre-conference day on Thursday, 17 April – which, last year, everyone attended, so it was more of the “first day” rather than a “pre-conference” – and the main conference continues on Friday, 18 April and Saturday, 19 April.

Conference Agenda

The planning team has been working hard on developing the agenda. It’s looking great! Right now it’s still a work in progress, but please feel free to have a look at each day (click on the agenda tab, then 2014) to see what we’ve developed based on your input on the pre-conference survey.


According to the survey results, almost everyone is planning to attend the pre-conference day on Thursday, 17 April. Woohoo! This means we’ll really be able to make the most of our time together. However, if you’re still undecided, perhaps this exciting development will help:

During the morning on Thursday, Yohei Yasukawa, innovative and award winning educator, will be facilitating a workshop with a group of YIS students using Scratch and the Raspberry Pi. After the students work with Yohei, they will come work with us in the afternoon to share their experiences and thoughts about the workshop. This will be an exciting opportunity to experience coding from both a professional and student perspective. You won’t want to miss it!

(For more about Yohei, please see his bio below.)


We are organizing some fun evening events during your stay in Yokohama, and we hope you can join us! Please check out the events page of the website to see what we’re planning. Most importantly, onThursday night, we’ll have our annual conference dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants (cost = JPY5,000 per person). Let us know if you’ll be joining us by filling out the survey.

Conference Dinner Costs

We’re currently working on the conference dinner plans for the evening of Thursday 17 April. We are expecting that the cost to you will be no more than JPY5,000. There is no need to pay this amount up front (we only need to know if you plan to attend – via the survey – so we can arrange for the appropriate numbers with the restaurant). You can bring cash with you to the event and we’ll collect it here. Note: this is not a conference registration fee (there is no conference registration fee), this is just to help us cover the costs of a fabulous dinner & drinks!

Yohei Yasukawa

Founder of Okinawa.rb (Okinawa Ruby User Group), organizer of CoderDojoTokyo/Okinawa, and contributor to OpenSource Cafe. For his enthusiastic contribution to open source communities, such as translating Rails Tutorial into Japaneseand Ruby Hacking Guide into English, he is selected as Super Creator by IPA and as one of Ruby Prize Award nominees by Ruby Association. He runs YasuLab, a small distributed company located in Okinawa/Tokyo/California, publishes many products such as Whistle on Android and ScreenX TV, and teaches students what he learns from such projects at Lexues Academy. Links: GitHub, Twitter.

2014 event full!

Wow! That was fast! Our 2014 event is already full.

We have another great group attending this year:

  • Chatsworth International School, Singapore
  • Korea International School, Korea
  • American School of Dubai, UAE
  • Singapore American School, Singapore
  • Okinawa Digital Educators Network (ODEN), Japan
  • ISS International School, Singapore
  • NIST International School, Thailand
  • International School of the Sacred Heart, Japan
  • DODDS Pacific, Japan
  • American Embassy School, New Delhi
  • University of Kentucky, USA
  • Western Academy of Beijing, China
  • Concordia International School, Shanghai, China
  • Yokohama International School, Japan

If you were not able to join us this year, please add your info to the survey and we’ll add you to our list of invites for our 2015 event.

2014 event filling up fast!

#beyondlaptops mini-conference

Hosted at Yokohama International School, Japan

17 – 19 April 2014 – Save the Date

Yokohama International School will be hosting our now annual mini-conference, #beyondlaptops on 17 -19 April 2014.

#beyondlaptops is a participant-driven event, focused on sharing, learning and collaborating with teams from 1:1 international schools around the world, designed to take your discussion beyond just the hardware, toward creating new, relevant and engaging media-rich learning environments.

Please note: in the past YIS has entirely funded this event, however in order to ensure sustainability, this year we will be charging a nominal fee of up to JPY5,000 (~US$50) per person to help cover the costs of the conference dinner.

We are hoping you will be able to join us in April!

For those that attended last year, there will be some changes (and some consistencies), based on your feedback. Here are the highlights:

We will continue:

  • the team format (minimum 2, maximum 4 people from each school). We are requesting that new team members are added each year to keep the dialogue going.

  • the maximum of 40 participants.

  • the pre-conference day (Thurs 17 April).

  • the collaborative planning committee from several schools.

  • the student interaction.

We will add:

  • Labsite visits: in order to get a better picture of what learning looks like here at YIS, and to spark ideas for innovation in all of our schools, we will host a number of labsite visits during the pre-conference day, where participants are welcome to visit a classroom in action. If interested, we would also love to have participants teach our students while you’re here!

  • More time for unconference, with themed topics for each day.

  • Longer sessions. In an effort to dig deeper and answer questions that arise, we’ll extend each conversation beyond the original one hour format. Some sessions will be 90 minutes, and we’ll try to work in at least one longer session of 3 hours based on participant interest.

  • Focus on action. In addition to the conversations, we’d like to transition from recording our thinking to actually putting ideas into action, this way our time together results in tangible outcomes.

  • Highlighting student work. We would like participants to bring in actual student work that we can review and share together.

There are more changes and updates based on participant feedback, and developed by the planning committee, that we will share as the date approaches. Even if you are not part of the planning committee, we’ll be asking for input for themes, topics, and ideas from all participants. Of course we will continue the social time, relaxed atmosphere, and collaborative approach.

We are hoping for productive, fun and rewarding events and hope you can join.

If you already are planning to attend, and/or would like to be part of the planning committee, please complete this survey with your details.

For questions, please contact Kim Cofino, YIS Technology and Learning Coach: cofinok@yis.ac.jp

2013 event is full!

Wow! #beyondlaptops for 2013 is already full! Here are the details, so you can follow along on Twitter:

Dates: 18 – 20 April 2013

(18 April: pre-conference)

During this year’s event, we’re hoping to re-visit some of the “hot topics” from last year, as well as continue to push our thinking around technology rich learning environments. Here are some of the ideas we’re planning to address (plus more to come!):

  • Developing student leadership in a 1:1 environment
  • Who’s telling your story? Elevating and structuring social media sharing at your school
  • Next steps based on your year of implementation, and an opportunity to share and collaborate with others at the same stage
  • Creating opportunities for synergy among various school initiatives, including technology
  • Job-alike / Division-based groupings
  • Embracing creativity, exploring ways that technology is influencing culture and art (eg. remix)
  • Developing a passion for learning in our students, allowing them to “own their learning”
  • Sharing successes and challenges from individual schools
  • Student-led sessions
  • What’s next? Looking toward the future of learning

Check out our list of participating schools! More details about the evening events and schedule for each day coming soon!