Martin’s Weblog

Video confession 9

The video confessions are recorded on a small smartphone and the sound quality is quite poor –the video demonstrates a technology to improve the sound quality with such devices.

This Video confession comes from a classroom in Hammersmith 6th form centre – the location could be regarded as symbolic. The classroom has 10 desktop computers and 10 laptops – a combination of traditional IT suite and “laptop classroom”/innovation zone.

There is increasing demand for “laptop classrooms” where laptops are used instead of desktop computers but unless we teach and learn differently with them then this turns out to be a more expensive and difficult way of doing what we already do. The idea must be to use the laptops to do something we can’t easily do with desktop computers – to do something different.

When considering “laptop classrooms” we have three options:

1. Install special laptop suites

This recommended as security, power, networking and logistics are easier to manage.  We already use this system in some areas but it doesn’t scale well.

2. Use laptop trolley’s where a teacher or support person pushes this to the classroom. This is a common solution to providing flexibility but creates problems with teachers having to push the heavy trolley to and from the classroom and then unpack and pack the laptops.

3. Provide a laptop loan scheme for the students where the students arrive at the classroom with their laptop. Given the predictions of a future where students will have their own IT this option looks like a useful experiment to test out students having their own IT.  

Jane Franklin describes a project in the Hammersmith 6th form area to provide a central pool of laptops where students can book out laptops for certain lessons and at other occasions. If the teacher alerts the students that a laptop session is going to take place then the students will take responsibility to book out and pick up a laptop for that session. Jane also talks briefly about some ways to use the laptops in collaborative projects and with webcams to make presentations. There will be a future video confession talking about how the laptops can be used with some of the new more practical based syllabi.

Abdul creates a nice “back of the envelope” design and talks briefly about a system he will write to book the laptops out for students – it will need to scan a student ID cards together with a laptop tag to book out the laptop to the student for a period of time a record the return of the laptop in the same way. We will probably have to write a “timetable” element so that staff know when laptops are booked out for sessions – so that a teacher doesn’t ask students to bring a laptop when they are booked out by another teacher. We will also need to fully develop the wireless capabilities in the areas of use and somehow address the battery charging issue with the laptops – it could be that we will need to provide “power islands” in these classrooms.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this project develops as it offers a controlled and manageable exploration of a very different model where IT is with students – a student centric approach. It looks ahead to the time when students will increasingly have their own equipment, indeed there will be nothing to prevent students using their own laptops in this project if they prefer.


March 3, 2008 - Posted by | video blog

1 Comment »

  1. It would seem it is a great time to be a student with the choice of innovative technology in education.

    I like the idea of having power islands in the classrooms like the multi-bay system in G210 where batteries are swapped out when the laptops are runnning low on power.

    Comment by Mark Gobin | March 19, 2008 | Reply

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