Teacher Laptops Are An Essential Tool

I think that teacher laptops are fast becoming an integrated part of the work they do. I could not survive without my school laptop and was totally lost last year when it was in repairs for several weeks. I was always borrowing a spare and then becoming anti-social in the evenings as I disappeared into the family room to work on our 2002 vintage PC desktop. Prior to having a school laptop from midway through 2005, I relied heavily on my Pocket PC which is still going strong even if it is a bit battered and can go for weeks between synchronisations. I used to even read blogs on it because it is a 2003 model that didn't have wireless, but synching the offline feeds was quite time consuming and nearly defeated the purpose of saving time. I still write quite a bit on it, as the Transcribe mode for getting ideas and thoughts down is excellent, and I never use scrap bits of paper for phone numbers, serial numbers or brief messages to myself.

Having a laptop changed the importance of the Pocket PC and most of my serious school based work goes onto there. I am also pleased that my school has seen fit to roll out laptops to teachers here - it has made an enormous difference to the workflow and communication around the school. Everyone can be a presenter, everyone can word process, everyone can view a common site or have access to their e-mail and online notices without interruption. I think every school in South Australia should be like ours in this regard - but, it has never rated highly with the governments of the day. Victoria has led the way and every teacher has their own department funded laptop and now, I see Queensland is going down that path as well.

When will South Australian teachers get important technology tools like this as a default?

Image: 'iPAQ blogging' www.flickr.com/photos/48889065255@N01/176107
Image: 'calor' www.flickr.com/photos/49503016009@N01/18157148
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12 thoughts on “Teacher Laptops Are An Essential Tool

  1. Simon

    I know what you mean about laptops. I couldn’t do my job now without it. In fact I’m beginning to nag the Principal about a second because the class use my laptop for the Interactive whiteboard.

    In New Zealand we have a rolling programme of laptops for teachers, every two years we get a new one. Mine is due in August and I’m so looking forward to it.

    You’re about Australian teachers needing laptops, the benefits that our staff have just from being ‘wired’ are huge, for professional development as well as accessing resources for the classroom.

    Reply
  2. Robert

    I agree with the value of a laptop for staff. I couldn’t get the work I do done without one nowadays. Funnily enough, it was the first thing I bought when I finished uni and was heading into the teaching profession.

    Unfortunately, our local Catholic system of schools which I work in doesn’t/cannot (I don’t know which is the more accurate) provide laptops for its staff. We’ve had laptops for student use here now for more than 5 years and staff have always been welcome to borrow them to take home and use for work purposes, but it’s just not the same as having your own. At least in primary schools teachers have one room to teach in and therefore a “home” computer(s) – in secondary schools where the student computers are in labs and the staff have a collection to share, I can only imagine how difficult it must be and how teacher use of technology must stall at times.

    I suppose we do have the next best thing. Every year teachers are able to purchase a computer as part of a salary sacrifice, therefore saving them on tax. Still, there are many teachers who haven’t bought one.

    Reply
  3. SouthOz

    I agree! Laptops are essential tools for 21st century teachers and I could not operate without one. Victoria’s teacher laptop scheme is an enviable one.
    You are fortunate, Graham that your school is supporting its teachers in this way and the returns are obvious!
    I could not imagine what it would it would be like to visit my doctor, dentist, accountant/tax agent etc. and be confronted by outdated practice and technology.

    Reply
  4. Jane Nicholls

    I like your comment SouthOz, if I hear one more politician cry ‘we need to go back to basics’ when talking about education I’ll scream. I want that so called politician to go to his dentist and say the same thing! Talking about laptops, there have been research papers written about the value of the laptop roll out scheme here in NZ and it has shown that it is one of the most positive factors in the uptake of technology by teachers in the classroom. If you think about it, it is an economical form of PD invested in by the government. Teachers all over NZ are now working for twice as long. The laptop comes out after tea and teachers are planning, surfing, learning, communicating, reflecting … Mmm, now coming to think of it, is that a good thing? That’s another post. But it’s the way we now live and I couldn’t be without it 🙂

    Reply
  5. Rachel Boyd

    Yes! Laptops for teachers are an essential tool!

    Our NZ laptop scheme is great and teacher’s are definitely using them extensively both at home and at school. Also, some of our ‘technologically challenged’ staff find having their own laptop is really helping them on their learning journey.

    I agree with Jane above that the NZ Government is certainly getting great “bang for their buck” in their laptop investment…. somehow it doesn’t seem so bad working longer hours when you can type away whilst also watching tv 🙂

    Reply
  6. Miss Profe

    Having a laptop has totally transformed my professional and personal lives. Despite being the owner of a Mac desktop, I hardly ever turn it on. However, I do about once a month. Besides, my iTunes music library is on there, and it allows me to sync up my Palm Pilot.

    I maintain lesson plans and an electronic gradebook on the laptop, not to mention carry out the vast majority of my email communications. I also blog on my laptop. I don’t, however, usually carry it with me when I go to visit friends and family.

    Reply
  7. hitechhall

    I couldn’t agree more with the benefits of laptops for teachers and administrators. As you mentioned Graham, your machine was out for repairs, and I’m curious about how schools in New Zealand and Australia deal with broken laptops. Do they generally provide 3 year “extended” warranties? I wrote critically about student 1:1 laptop programs recently, since my experience, in the US at least, has been that not much thought is given to repairs and maintenance of the devices.

    Reply
  8. chris

    We have department supplied laptop in the West. They are upgraded every three years. They cost each teacher who wants one $10 pre tax per fortnight, not a bad deal. Mine is used 24/7, some teachers return theres in brand new condition! You also need access to a data projector in each room you teach, which I have.

    Reply
  9. walter b

    NYC schools are miles behind in the use of technology. Getting teachers to regularly check email has been an issue. as anyone done any work around having students use their cell phones in class as a data collection tool or asa form of peer to peer communication during class?

    I just think rather thatn providing new technology to students getting them to somehow embrace whats already in their pockets would be cool.

    Reply
  10. kwhobbes

    YESSSS! All teachers need a laptop if we are going to get out of this horrible merry-go-round of bandwagons that are just moving the focus of our problem in schools but doing nothing to really address it. Teachers are professionals who need the tools that will keep them current and help them to meet the needs of a new generation of learner. What I find ironic is we are giving our busdrivers cellphones, our curriculum consultants and councilors new laptops and all our IT people are “wired” but our teachers and schools don’t even have up-to-date equipment. Not that I begrudge these people getting these tools but it’s ironic that they are farthest from the students but with the best technological advantages. We still don’t seem to understand that to be able to jump in, we at least have to have water in the pool for the people to jump into. Right now, everyone but the instructors have water in their pools. Someone’s going to get hurt if we don’t get water into the main pool where all the kids are swimming.

    Reply
  11. Graham Wegner

    For a post that I typed up in a fifteen minute window after school one day, complete with poorly structured sentences and images dragged from Flickr after finding that my class digital camera’s batteries were dead, the topic seems to have touched a senstive hotspot in my commenter’s mindset. Thank you all for your comments here – those of you with access to teacher laptops as part of your department’s or district’s initiative can be pleased that you are well equipped to move your practice forward in the 21st Century (not long before we’re done with the first decade!) but as other commenters point out, other educators are making do with far less or funding their own laptop program out of their own bank balances. There obviously needs to be a OLPT program to match the OLPC program!

    Reply
  12. hitesh

    hell,
    YESSSS! All teachers need a laptop if we are going to get out of this horrible merry-go-round of bandwagons that are just moving the focus of our problem in schools but doing nothing to really address it. Teachers are professionals who need the tools that will keep them current and help them to meet the needs of a new generation of learner. What I find ironic is we are giving our busdrivers cellphones, our curriculum consultants and councilors new laptops and all our IT people are “wired” but our teachers and schools don’t even have up-to-date equipment. Not that I begrudge these people getting these tools but it’s ironic that they are farthest from the students but with the best technological advantages. We still don’t seem to understand that to be able to jump in, we at least have to have water in the pool for the people to jump into.

    ———————-
    hitesh singh
    ————————-
    Laptop Fanatic– Laptop Fanatic

    Reply

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