July 19

Preparing the way

Awesome, we have a bunch of funding coming to us to buy new equipment to provide students with better access to eLearning opportunities. The government is aiming for us to have a 1:1 ratio of students:computers in years 9 – 12 by 2011. Fantastic. What an incredible opportunity for our students to truly be prepared for life outside of school in this digital world.
The big question we have to ask, before we rush out to buy the goodies is “Are we ready?”
Do we have the infrastructure to support so many computers accessing the network, will the wireless coverage be able to cope? What do we have to do to make sure it does? We all know that any flakiness of the system will often lead to students and staff not willing to trust they can use them, and we end up with all of these computers either not being used, or being damaged when students get frustrated when they don’t work.
We are working to improve and strengthen the infrastructure, but that will take time and money.
The other huge question is are teachers ready to have students in their classes with access to a computer? Will it mean there are just more word documents, powerpoint presentations and internet searches? For some it will be a huge and fearful learning curve, away from the security of how you have always taught, into this new digital world. This is not a passing fad, which you can ignore, and hope it will just go away. This is the world we are preparing our students for, a digital world, and we need to be providing exciting learning opportunities for them, as you have always done, but now we have the world at the click of a button, and the most amazing opportunities to inspire and teach our students.
What are some ways you can think of which will be different, better or worse, teaching students who each have a computer? What are some of the pitfalls you will need to be aware of in order to be best prepared to use the technology yourself, and in your class?
I know you have heard of blogs, wikis, web 2.0, nings, but how do you see these being useful in your classroom. Would you use twitter or facebook? Learning Management systems like Moodle, and in the future Ultranet are tools you can use as a starting point. How will you make sure your students are safe, and yet ethical users of the technology? How will we work towards developing a cohort of digital citizens?
Feel free to add your comments to this blog post, I would love to know your thoughts.