One of my very favourite weblogs is Weblogg-Ed, more than capably written by the blog-vangelist himself, Will Richardson. I love his style of writing, his topics are always of interest and he has opened my brain to a lot of wonderful possibilities in the area of technology. Now, I'm paying my respects here, in the blogging community I've been around for about five minutes and Will is, as the title suggests, an absolute pioneer in the educational Web 2.O world. But why is that a small throwaway line in one of his more recent posts has been sticking in my craw, a little voice has been saying to me, "That's not quite right. You really have to disagree with that. You should post a reply and set him straight." Yeah, right! If Will ever read this (I don't think this blog would cross his rss radar) he would no doubt clarify his thoughts and I would saying, "Oh, is that what you meant? I'm really, really sorry. My humble apologies." After all, he's the one with over 1700 subscribers in Bloglines and I have 1 (I think it's me - how sad!) But it's still bugging me. Here's my issue - however petty it may seem. Will posted recently on his Tablet PC program at his school and was describing the various successes of his teachers.
I know that we are extremely fortunate to be able to test this model (Tablet PC, wireless Internet access, wireless ceiling mounted LCD projectors), and we're hoping to expand it to most if not all faculty next year should things continue to go well. The creativity that inking allows, the "never have your back to the students" mobility that wireless connectivity allows, the abilty to save and share the work you do on the tablet, and the hand-off-ability of giving it to students to show their work renders a lot of other technologies (i.e Smart Boards) pretty irrelevant. It's been a treat to watch.
One of my roles at my school is the implementation of an interactive whiteboard program. While appreciating the value of the Tablet PC program and wishing we had the dough to fund that across my school, I didn't like the dismissal, if you like, of the possibilities that IWB's offer up to schools. I am excited, as are many of my blogging colleagues (BLOG-EFL, The Open Classroom) to name just a couple, by the fact that so many of the things that Will champions throughout his blog are ideal for the IWB situation. Modelling information literacy, a class rss feed, Google Earth - the list could go on and on. Now there are many factors that differ between an American high school setting and an Aussie primary school setting that could be contextual in that statement. At my school, we don't have access to our computing room a whole lot - one room has to service 18 classes in a week as well as play host to a Problem Based Learning program. The PC's in the general classrooms are only in pairs and we are chock-o-block full of kids for our site with no spare rooms to create pods or other suites of computers. So, the IWB is the way to ensure that eventually, kids at my school have access to relevant technology in their room every day all day. Teachers' skills will have to improve through the use of these things and I just love getting the kids to use it to get involved and engaged. So, no offence, Will - I had to get this off my e-learning chest. Odds are I'm overreacting and someone needs to tell me to get a life!