For the past four weeks I've been teaching the old fashioned way with the minimal use of technology in the classroom. I have had the ACTIVboard, of course, and the challenge this year has been to get the students using the board as much as possible. But the computer room and the two classroom PC "dinosaurs" have been off limits as we're had a new server installed for the school. This has meant no logons, no print accounts and no network access for the kids as our two on-site technical staff gradually get the new system off the ground, save critical files and programs from the old server and configure everything properly to avoid future disruptions. I've managed to start up the class blog and today one of my Year Sixes completed the first student composed post for 2007. Next week, when we first get to go to the Computing Room, the students will be perusing other student and class blog sites to gain a better feel for what it all entails. We'll be able to start on the digital aspects of our Identity cross-curricular unit involving the creation of digital stories detailing the ten most important Milestones of each student's life so far. There will hopefully be an opportunity to compare National Identity via wiki with another class on another spot or the globe (thanks for the opportunity, Tom) and a foray into individual student blogging. With their own logons, students will be able to use the option of publishing their work again and to utilise the computers as they research their Personal Projects. With my guidance, they will be able to improve their information literacy skills and..... anyway, now we can get started.
It just goes to show that my digital classroom has a long way to go in terms of providing access and still operates in a traditional paper based way at present. It's not quite the classroom without Google, as the IWB allows me and the class to pull in digital resources for whole class use and group work. I'm hoping that our middle school wireless laptop program that is planned for later in the year will be able to make a difference in this regard. With this in mind, I had a look at another local school on Wednesday to see how to set up the wireless points, and other implementation issues firsthand. I see other bloggers' classrooms with their pods of computers in their room and I hope that having even a half class set of laptops shared across four classes will provide computing access not possible previously. With these resources available in a planned timetable, the students will be able to use the laptops for all sorts of cross-curricular purposes. And because all of the MYLU teachers have had a bit of experience with their own laptops with the ACTIVboards , they will find setting up and using the laptops with students to be easier and less hassle than a PDA program (although I'd love to be a pilot class if any Australian organisation have a class set of Pocket PC's they want to give to a good home).
But for now, I'll get ready and plan for our first official Computing Room timeslot on Tuesday.