This will be the first in a series of posts designed to help our whole school community gain the full benefit of the rollout of laptops.
This year there will be hundreds of laptops flooding into our school and wireless connectivity. We have been preparing for quite a while now and will continue to do so. The pace quickens though and we, each individual, needs to focus on their own particular challenge(s).
Here’s 10 things ‘a teacher’ can do prior to the arrival of the students’ laptops (apologies that some of the videos are hosted at YouTube and consequently filtered by DET):
1. Develop a PLN – Ongoing collaboration is the best way to stay up to date and developing a Personal Learning Network is essential. You really need to start now and I have found Twitter to be invaluable. Quite simply, the concept of a virtuous circle is in in operation here when you establish a PLN (and you will lose ground, so to speak, in the classroom, if you do not have a network to support professional learning).***
2. Understand the concept of a PLE – Students will need to develop their Personal Learning Environment and become independent of the teacher rather than being aliterate. Read more about 21st century learning environments in detail here. Another ‘way of seeing’ is to read about the toolbelt students will have to assist learning.
3. MOODLE – familiarise yourself with how other staff are using this LMS and build courses through preparing lessons and units of work.
4. Dialogue – talk with staff who are enthusiatic and making good progress with digital learning personally. Ask for advice and assistance. Check out one of their lessons. Ask what Professional Associations are doing to support their members.
5. Dialogue - talk with students, individually and in groups about how having a laptop will change learning and lessons. Seek their ideas. Spread the word of how they will be more independent and self-directed.
6. Delicious – You should create an account and add others to your network. Support our collective endeavours at the school to build a great collection of websites for staff to use. Seek help if you need to know more or watch this video. Do you know the school Delicious account password? Make sure you tag effectively.
7. 10 minutes – Learn how to use RSS feeds and make 10 minutes a day to check your Google Reader account for posts from Edubloggers and pertinent websites you have feeds from. Here’s a video to help. Kelli’s blog has a good post about laptops and is an example of how DET colleagues share their experiences and knowledge. Tim Hand, Elaine Talbert, Tony Searl and Melissa Giddens are DET bloggers too. Organise RSS feeds from these blogs to get started. You’ll soon find blogs specific to your subject area to have feeds from. Check my blogroll to the right for some good blogs.
8. Find free web apps – So many excellent tools and apps are available for free online. Richard Byrne and Larry Ferlazzo are two of the best bloggers for staying informed about these apps. Organise RSS feeds from these blogs.
9. DET portal & TALE – This link (if you are logged on to the portal) will take you to the L4L (Laptops for Learning) page with all the bulletins, links and info available to DET teachers. There is a FAQ. You must read this. The TALE site should be one that all staff are familiar with and increasingly need.
10. Reflect - How can students learn best in my classroom? How can we create life-long learners? Am I a life-long learner? Why am I a teacher? How can I help students to be independent? How can my classroom evolve with new tools and pedagogical ideas? How can I keep up to date happily? What risks do I need to take? What do I most need to be careful about? Who can help me? Who can I help?
I asked colleagues face-to-face, via Twitter and email what they thought we needed to do pre-laptops.
Here’s a selection of the recommendations made by my PLN for this post:
Thanks to everybody that posted a response on Twitter – cheers to you all! Interestingly enough, I made more contacts and my network expanded in the process of collecting these thoughts.
Hopefully, a good range of comments will appear at this post. I especially hope that better ideas of what should be in a ‘top ten’ list will emerges as we discuss.
***Mathematics says the sum value of a network increases as the square of the number of members. In other words, as the number of nodes in a network increases arithmetically, the value of the network increases exponentially.
An old saying puts it succinctly: Them that’s got shall get.
A new way of saying it: Networks encourage the successful to be yet more successful. Economist Brian Arthur calls this effect “increasing returns.” “Increasing returns” he says, “are the tendency for that which is ahead to get further ahead; for that which loses advantage to lose further advantage.” Source