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Friday, November 11, 2005

Vote now...

Today I joined an S1 class in Hermitage Academy for a maths lesson. Margaret Ferguson has been trying out an ACTIVote set for me with some of her classes, and today I got to see it in action. Or almost in action.

The class were brilliant, and Margaret is an excellent teacher. A good thing too, as now seems to be a recurring issue with Promethean technology in this blog it didn’t work as seamlessly as I would have hoped. Quite an admin task to get the class assigned to devices in the first place as some pupils were off, but once this was sorted out the pupils worked really well with them – what let things down was the Promethean software. The flipchart with the questions in it wouldn’t stop advancing at one point, and the pre-prepared content for Maths was inaccurate.

Aside from the problems, what did I think? The voting devices are a great idea, but I worry about whether they are a gimmick or not. The ability to see how pupils have answered immediately is fantastic, and you would otherwise never have access to this data, but creating questions is a very time consuming task for teachers that are far too busy already. Bearing in mind their price, I’m not sure at the moment they are what our schools need – unless it is a school that is already well served with technology anyway. That said, the pupils loved them, so the impact on their motivation is significant.

I keep struggling with this issue though – the Promethean software is brilliant, and when the technology works it is first class. You’ve got to wonder how many ‘second’ chances I give this though – plug in a SMART Board and it works first time.

Thanks Margaret – strange though it was being back in my old school, and even more nerve-wracking to be answering maths questions, today was a good day.

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