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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

'One Giant Leap for (wo)Mankind'

Months ago I said to a group of Head Teachers that it was best to focus on taking small, logical steps with the replacement of technology in schools. It’s wonderful to see advice being taken, and significant progress being made, and I am so pleased!

Tonight I was in Roseneath for a twilight concerning using an interactive whiteboard. The school don’t actually have one, so I took one to lend to them. We spent quite a bit of time looking at the simple things such as how to connect things together, and how to make simple use of the ACTIV Primary software. By no means rocket science, but by buying new machines and projectors, the Head Teacher has radically changed the potential use of ICT in the school.

For those of you remotely interested, my advice is really simple, so here goes:

1. Make sure you have at least one computer in a room that is less than 3 years old.
2. Having met condition 1, purchase a projector to be used with this computer in each classroom.
3. Think about adding interactivity into your classroom – this could either be an interactive whiteboard or a wireless graphics tablet. Not sure which? Get your teachers to have a go, and see which they prefer. Some people do not like iwb’s – a graphics tablet is £500 cheaper – that’s another computer or a projector.
4. Give up buying CD-ROMS. I don’t care how good the sales pitch is.
5. Log every time the network is down. Pretty soon, this will be the most important thing we have in schools. Let the Help Desk know when it doesn’t work. After all, what right do any of us have to complain about lack of connectivity if we do nothing when it doesn’t work? Any time I have logged a network failure, it has worked again within 5 minutes.
6. Learn how to search the internet. I’d rather waste 20 minutes searching for a resource, than 2 hours making one that someone else has already done better anyway.
7. Share. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Someone doesn’t like what you have made or changes it? What’s the best thing that could happen? You manage your job in 35 hours?
8. Become ‘Fearless Learners’ – after all, your kids are. It is extremely rare for a computer to blow up. It may freeze, but I’ll let you into a secret – you just switch it off, and then switch it back on again. You may have lost your work, but you’ve probably learnt a valuable lesson about saving things.

Ok, so not quite the Eightfold path, but it’s a start.


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