Our letter of the week

I got this letter from a fellow Vic teacher who reminded me of a few issues that I had in ICT when I first started.  Michael has a few questions and they are all really valid.  I thought instead of just giving my opinion I'd throw it out to others in the galaxy to see what advice they could give to Aaron too.

Hi Kevin,

I am a 5/6 Teacher at ...

I am currently in talks with my Principal regarding the ICT future of the school (as nearly all classroom computers in the school are pre 2004 and rarely run anything correctly). 

We are considering iPads, as the small Netbook bank we have at school is functional but not really practical for senior school uses (longer typing, web browing/reading and video/image editing).

I was just wondering if you had some advice and/or opinions regarding how to approach this issue within the school?

Currently, the school IT tech is only in the school 3 hours per week and is usually so overwhelmed with things to do he cannot get to the fundamental things such as updating Flash on the classroom computers. I am a first year Grad, young male, and much like yourself, a proud computer geek.

I am not exactly sure what I am asking, but I am a bit isolated in terms of colleague support with ICT knowledge. I guess these would be my fundamental questions to you:

* How should I approach the school IT tech in regards to assigning permissions to teaching staff to make basic software updates/ installs on school computers?
* You opinion of iPads for education?
* Have you seen/heard of any successful computer/ICT resourcing systems in under-resourced schools?
* Any advice for a young teacher like myself in helping guide an experienced staff into the digital future?


HI Michael


Sounds like you've got a bit of work to do on a limited budget.  So...

1:  You need to build a perfect school image of all the software you want on every single computer.  Take some time to get this right as it will save you massive amounts of time down the track.  Take one computer out of service and reinstall everything you want from scratch.  Alternately you can just get the current edustar image and build upon it.


2:  Get your techie to stop 'FIXING ' stuff and get him to reimage every computer this will initially give you a fresh start as such and should solve 3/4 of your current ICT tech issues.  In the past I have done all this stuff myself after my techie showed me how to do it.  It's definitely not rocket science.


3:  iPads are a great technology, but they are a very expensive way to compute in schools and they will mean you effectively get 1/2 of the number of decent netbooks you can buy for the same cash that WILL work on your current low tech network.  Apple's products only work really well in a network environment if you run a genuine Apple server system. They talk to windows machines poorly.  I own a heap of apple products and really respect them but remember they only take up 6 percent of the total computer market for a very good reason.  They are unproven in a network environment. So what I am saying her is if your techie is not an apple fan boy go netbooks.


4:  You might want to introduce a tech levy to your school.  If parents see you have some ambition and can do some great stuff with their kids they won't think twice about putting 20 bucks per year into ICT.  Other than that what does you school value.  Books on shelves or computers in classrooms???  You need to get some runs on the board on the cheap and then ask for a few more dollars.

5:  Finally getting an old staff on board is no harder than a young staff.  Go back to basics and start at the beginnig and put together a 3 year plan of improving teaching and learning through ICT.  Accept that Rome was not built in a day but if you start doing some great stuff with ICT and you don't baffle them with bullshit trying to persuade them then they'll be glad to come with you.  Small steps. And get anyone wo wants to help to get on board with you.


Hope this helps and I hope you get some feedback from our other readers.