Even though I'm in my eighth year here at my current school, it isn't the same place that I wandered into. Back in 2003 in my first taste of leadership, I inherited a school with a computing room with twenty PCs and one lone PC at the back of each classroom. In my role as ICT Coordinator (now Teaching and Learning Technologies Coordinator) I assisted to change the focus and nature of the technology used as part of our learning programs. I've documented a lot of that journey on this blog over the past few years and back when we were getting our IWB program off the ground on this blog.
We've funded the IWBs, the teacher laptops, the wireless classrooms, the students laptop trolleys and the netbooks from within our own school budget and have been blessed with a supportive Governing Council who've seen the need for us to grow our digital resources and tools to keep pace with our learning goals. Then along came Kevin Rudd and his BER (Building the Education Revolution) and for the first time in nearly every South Australian state school teacher's career, schools had the chance to fund some new forward looking buildings. Although we have been restricted by the limited designs, my school has taken the line that a standardised building does not mean we can't be innovative within the pre-designed walls and roofs. We ended choosing to build a new library and a new 4 class GLA (General Learning Area).
I'm lucky in that I'm going to be one of those four teachers who get to move into the new classroom block. And as part of my role, I've been talking with my learning team about how we should be outfitting these new classrooms. I know that this is still education in an age old paradigm that may be rapidly fading in this constantly connected world, classrooms built to house thirty kids per room, but it will be still pretty cool to be one of the first to teach in a new space. The last few days, Ann, my principal and I have been back on the building site, eyeballing off the progress, talking about cabling and wiring with the foreman and envisioning how this will all come together.
So, here's what we're doing. The new block will be fully wireless, latest generation, and we will use a fleet of HP laptops with hopefully a transition to some form of 1:1 program in the future. There is still a limited budget so it is not a matter of building the ultimate new learning environment without constraints. The teachers decided that interactive whiteboards were not a necessity, but good short throw projectors in each room were mandatory. The longer I've worked with IWBs, the less enthused I've become with that particular form of technology. So I think this is a good move because it will give us more budget to use in buying flexible furniture, crucial for building a new learning space environment.
So, I guess I am no longer a believer. I still have Simon Shaw's great quote from last year when we visited his school, St Albans Meadows Primary in Melbourne, when he compared their interactive whiteboards with their laptops.
"Why do you need interactivity up there on the wall, when all kids can have interactivity at their fingertips."
That's a good mindset to take into a new building. After all, it needs to be about opportunities for the students.