IATEFL Part 6 – Shelly Terrell on BYOT

In a talk entitled ‘Transforming Trends – a journey into the work of BYOT’, Shelly starts talking about the importance of allowing teachers and students to bring in their own tools so as to overcome the economic obstacles that might be faced by the school and the students.

Taking an audience poll, it was clear to everyone that the majority of us type, take and edit pictures, take videos, download apps, post things on the web, all using either their mobile devices or their computers/laptops and are familiar with using our own tools and devices.

Through a video, she exemplifies how she uses technology and mobile devices (smart phones, ipads, etc) to create stories, conduct a show and tell, make app commercials, and publish the students’ work.

‘Mobile Monday’ signifies a special day of the week that the students can bring in their own devices and use them in class. But beforehand, it is important to teach the students digital citizenship and learn about how they should act online. If students do not pass their digital citizenship, they do not get ‘Mobile Monday’.

At this point, Shelly gets the audience to take out their own devices and choose a picture to show and talk about in pairs/groups. With such activities, students get to know each other better and all this can lower the possibility of cyber bullying.

As an example of an individual activity, Shelly gets the students to start a Flickr account on which they would post a picture under themes like ‘In a Restaurant’ or ‘This is Art’. Students then add tags or a paragraph of a comment to their pictures.

In a version of ‘I Spy’ ,we then took super-closeup photos of objects around us and in a mingle activity, we walked around the room asking people to guess what shapes our objects were and what the photos were were of. Bruno Andrade showed me his photo of a glowing blue cylindrical shaped object, which turned out to be a close-up picture of his pen. In class, we could use the app ‘I Know Quiz’ to put up the photos students have taken.

In another group activity, Shelly uses Twiddla.com to pull up an online whiteboard to brainstorm to lists problems and solutions that teenagers face. In groups, students then picked one of the problems and create an imaginary app to solve the problem. They then go on to create a video advertisement for the app they have created.

You can also get students to download a particular app at home ahead of time and bring it to class with them. Ideas Sketch for mind mapping, Google drive and Evernote for sharing information amongst the class, and Twiddla for recordable whiteboard.

Shelly ends the talk with an inspirational quote by Jean Piaget saying,
‘The principal goal of education in schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.’

Well said.

Author: Chia Suan Chong

I am a writer, communication skills trainer and a teacher trainer based in York, UK. I have been English Teaching Professional's resident blogger since 2012 and have a regular feature in their bimonthly magazine. My book Successful International Communication was published in Dec 2018.

2 thoughts on “IATEFL Part 6 – Shelly Terrell on BYOT”

  1. Regarding Sally Terrell’s lesson activities.. this appears to be a big investment in time and effort to get students communicating. I am not sure of what skills ( apart from digital literacy) some of these activities practise:

    ‘As an example of an individual activity, Shelly gets the students to start a Flickr account on which they would post a picture under themes like ‘In a Restaurant’ or ‘This is Art’. Students then add tags or a paragraph of a comment to their pictures.

    I think in this instance technology is a barrier to communication. I could imagine that the flow of oral exchanges would be much greater if students were given a pile of cut up photos to categorise in small groups. I am not a technophile but I think it is worth questioning whether the results merit the time invested.

    To anyone interested in reading opinions about technology in the classroom which go against the current trend, I recommend:


    a blog post by Michael Streets



    a blog post by Hugh Dellar

    1. Hi Ardilla,
      Thanks for taking time to comment.
      I am not sure if my summary fully explained the activity that Shelly demonstrated, but for me, a huge part of using Flickr, and many other instances of technology, is the ability to give learners the choice and the freedom to bring their own lives and their loves and hates into the classroom to share with their classmates.

      By allowing students to upload their own photos onto Flickr, the students get to have a say as to which pictures they would like to see up on the online photo board. This would in turn motivate them to comment on not only their own photos, but also the photos that their classmates have shared with them.

      If the teacher simply brings a stack of photos into the classroom for students to categorise, not only would the activity seem random, it would be irrelevant to the lives of the students in that class.

      In another related activity that Shelly suggested, she had students taking photos of objects with their mobile devices. Students could be creative and take super close-up photos of everyday objects for their classmates to guess. Such creativity and learner autonomy, I believe, should definitely be celebrated in the classroom!

      : )
      I too am against using technology for technology’s sake. But I am afraid I don’t really see how Shelly’s session had anything to do with that.


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