Monday, March 9, 2009

Lesson 2

Lesson 2 - We all Need Time to Play.

Both you and your students need time to play with your new tool.

While technically speaking the technology is not really new it's a netbook just a little laptop and you should have no trouble working your way around it, there are some distinct differences that you will need to appreciate and famliarise yourself with.

1. The 0perating System - while you are running a windows operating system (Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition) you do not have access to the Microsoft suit of programmes (Word, Publisher, Xcel, Powerpoint). Instead you are using OpenOffice which gives you access to OpenDraw, OpenWord, OpenPresentation, OpenSpreadsheet etc. You can open a MS document in OpenText and save an OpenText document as a Word97 file but unfortunately OpenDraw, OpenSpreadsheet and OpenPresentation are not compatible with Publisher or PowerPoint. But then again you don't need them to be. Put OpenOffice on your own laptop too and when students send you work you'll be able to open their files - no worries.

While ideally in the future you will be using web2:0 programs googledocs, flowgram, Elgg etc you can't always rely on the internet being up and that all students are able to connect to the internet from home so I think it's fair to say that becoming familiar with the OpenOffice suit of software is a safe bet even if it just becomes a back up later on.

Early on in the term I'd suggest you give your class the oppourtunity to use the OpenOffice suit of programmes. Quick and easy beginning of the term ideas like peg and tray labels, autobiographies and presentations about themselves etc so that your students know what each program can be used for.

You need to use it too so ditch your relience on microsoft start using OpenOffice yourself - Just do it - Unless you are willing to let go of the old you won't have room for the new and believe me your going to need a lot of room for all the new things that I am going to be sharing with you this year. The links here to download if you haven't done so already.

2.The image/available software on the machines - This will include some new programs to you. You don't need to know how to use all of these immediately. But you will need to be able to use the basics - OpenOffice, paint and audacity so at least have a play around with these to start with. Instructions and help guides are in the Yr7-Netbook section on Moodle. We'll cover things like scratch and Quest Atlantis later - However don't let me stop you experimenting, if you feel the urge.

3. Inbuilt devices - Webcam/microphone/speech - kids will find the webcam intriguing (even if it's just to check their hair). Take advantage of this initial curiosity and let them take their picture and edit it with paint. Record an introductory message and edit it in audacity. Then get them to load these up to Elgg as part of their profile.

You do this too - It's the best way to learn - Then your Elgg profile will look really cool too. Instructions on how to use these programs are in the Yr7 netbook section on Moodle.

4.Storage - Yipee no more h-drives or student s-drives needing to be mapped, just the machines d-drive(Data (D)), student usb keys and the cloud (internet - Elgg, googledocs, glogster etc) makes life so much easier. All you have to do is to make sure students are aware of where their work is been saved to. Work automatically saves to the mydocuments section on the d-drive, but you just need to check students are not saving work to the c-drive. The reason why is because Dave has imaged the machines so that all the programs are installed on the c-drive, which means if the machines have to be reimaged students will lose their work if it's on the c-drive. The d-drive won't be touched thus student work won't be lost.
Seems a good idea to me. Good thinking Dave.

5. Printing - Students except for boarders don't have printing rights. I know this is going to annoy you but it actually makes sense, if you think of it logically. Besides the obvious cost issues and effect on the planet, with all those hundreds of wasted printout(you know I'm a bit of a greenie) not having a printer makes you connect to the cloud/internet more it will become automatic for you and your students to store work on Elgg, collaborate on googledocs and publish on the likes of glogster and slideshare. These will become your preferered methods of working instead of an after thought. Students will have to be come experts at selecting appropriate informational sources, and adapt at summarising main points. I'd even go as far as suggestting you don't put the printer drivers on your own machine either (classmate that is) then you are forced to think of other ways to present your work to students instead of that worksheet. And the last point which I noted last year was even when students work did need printing out you could guarantee that there would be at least one mistake that neeeded correcting before it was ready for printing. So if you have to print it, at least you know you've checked it - and that's another tree not wasted.

6. Email - You don't have Microsoft Outlook either - That's not a bad thing though because it will make you get use to a web based emailing system. You can find the school's webmail on the front end of moodle.

7. The wireless connection is awesome. I love how it automatically connects you. But you do need to remember that it will timeout/disconnect after about 20 mins (if you are not using it). To reconnect without turning your machine on and off again -click on the wireless icon at the bottom of the screen - disable first - then reconnect - or try to repair it if it gives you that option.

8. Locking of the machine/ user passwords - I've told my class not to do this, just in case I need to access their machines. Once a password is set I don't know how to unset it - so don't ask me - if you chose to let your class lock you out of their machines.

Take the time now at the beginning of the year, to play with your machine, get to know the basics and enjoy it will pay dividends in the long run.

Next - Lesson 3 - Everyone is an Individual

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