Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where to from here.

It's coming to that time of year, when we are beginning to think about, whether or not, we roll out more class laptops to other parts of the school next year?

Well let's see, has the trial worked? Well of course 'YES'. Why wouldn't it. I really don't get this concept of a trial not working because surely you'd make it work wouldn't you? Especially if it was your initiative and you believed in it.

Why would you invest thousands of dollars in something you didn't think would work?

But that's not the real issue is it? Whether we like it or not the real issue is money, always is and always will be money. Let's be honest about this, the only reason every child at our school doesn't have a laptop is because it would costs too much?

Which leads to the 100 dollar question who's going to be paying for them?

Personally I believe it's an ownership issue, I think students should own and take responsibility for their own devices, whether that be laptops, phones or PSP's They should look after them, care for them and repair them if they are broken. It should be their tool and their responsibility. The school should concentrate on ensuring the infrastructure is capable of accepting all devices, ie ensuring we have a fat internet pipe and a wireless network that any machine can sit on. The Ict department shouldn't have to fix computers. The Food Technology Teachers don't have to fix the microwaves do they?

Which leads me to my dilemma, if they are going to belong to the students, can we really specify which make and model they have. Can I really answer that question from the ICT manager. 'Well Lesley what make and model of machine would you recommend next year'.

I know in the ideal world students should bring their own devices to school ibooks, PC's, mini laptops, phones etc and the school would have the power capabilities, wifi, storage and internet capacity to accommodate them but this isn't the real world, is it? This is a primary school with range of students and teachers with differing ICT skills and fears.

A primary school that needs to ensure the roll out is successful, not only for its students but its teachers too. Both teachers and students need to feel confident using the device (or devices as the case maybe). Our students need to be able to carry their device too and from school, back and forth from lessons and store them safely. As a school we need to ensure we have the infrastructure to support the devices (power/internet/wireless). Our teachers need to know that the machines are going to be reliable, charged and capable of been used for the lessons they plan. They also need to know that they are going to be supported in their use and integration.

So maybe we will have to accept that this isn't the ideal world (well not yet anyway). Maybe we do have to make that call and decide which model of machine we are going to recommend. It's just that there are too many other issues to consider at this moment in time, real estate/screen size, Microsoft vs Linux, software availability vs cloud computing, functionality vs features and last but not least cost vs memory size.
One thing for sure though, I will definitely be recommending a mini laptop. How every tiny the screen and small the memory you can't beat the form factor for primary school students. But which mini laptop that's another question, one that I'll need to do a little more research on before I'll commit myself to an answer.

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