Monday, May 21, 2007

Things I Wish I Could Do at School

Seven things that I wish I could do at school that would make my life easier. I don't feel they're out of line... Honest.
  • Use secure logins. The server is set to deny all secure web pages (any https://) making the use of sites such as impossible. We used to be able to login to these sites, but now we can't, making our maths wiki ( nearly pointless. (And as far as even accessing wikispaces or blogger, forget it.) Repeated requests to our head of ICT have been ignored.
  • Access flickr. Several months ago we had an ICTAC (ICT Across the Curriculum) inset. There, the main ICT guy from the Borough asked us how we used ICT in our other lessons. I explained how I was using some of my own photographs on flickr to illustrate real-life examples of maths. As an extra bonus, I mentioned flickr maps as a way to tie geography into the whole thing. The very next day, flickr was blocked. Repeated requests for unblocking (including written lesson plans showing how I planned to use it) have been ignored.
  • Access Google images. Tasked with creating exciting learning experiences (ugh...see earlier post below) for use on the electronic whiteboard, finding images (copyright-free images, of course) would be much easier if I had access to an image search engine. When I questioned this with my head of ICT, I was told that "people might look up pictures of 'oral sex'."
  • Use a USB flash drive. Creating lesson material at home and transporting it to school would be much easier if I was allowed to use a USB flash drive (rather than emailing the huge files or burning them to CD). And the reason for not being able to use one isn't for any virus or security issue. No, the answer I was given by our computer technician was that "the computer needs a driver and they don't make that driver." (Although at an INSET at a different school, my USB flash drive worked perfectly on their computers - same computers, same version of Windows.) When I asked our head of ICT about using one, his answer was, "What would you want to use one of those for?"
  • Back up my files from the school server to a DVD. We have some new computers, each equipped with DVD burners. After a server crash earlier this year (resulting in a lengthy visit to the data recovery people), I figured it would be good to backup my data and, since I have quite a few large PowerPoint files and photographs, a DVD is a more sensible answer than a handful of CDs. Unfortunately, Nero keeps asking me to request certain network privileges before it can continue. This was met with a rather blank look from our computer technician.
  • Open a MS Office document without having to install the program every time. Yes, any time we want to open a document (Word, PowerPoint or Excel), the program must first install itself, every time. (And I'm talking about the same computer I just logged out of the lesson before.) And, to create a new file in Word, PowerPoint or Excel the user must first click on an existing document (which fails to open but prompts the computer to install the program). This is happening to all the users and we have been reporting it since January.
  • Print. Yes, I know. Seems silly, really, doesn't it? I mean, why would I want to actually print something from the computer? After all, it wouldn't open without installing the program first, it wouldn't be anything I created at home, and it wouldn't have any catchy images.

As an educational professional, I am always looking for ways to bring new ideas into my teaching. The buzz nowadays seems to be about using ICT resources across the curriculum. Unfortunately, however, the above seven items share just a few of my frustrations.

Instead of "use ICT resources across the curriculum," what they actually mean (in many cases) is "use only the ICT resources that I understand." Why do the people in charge of ICT not seem to understand the things going on in ICT?

Last week, we had a young up-and-coming pop singer visit our school. At one point, her manager asked the kids if any of then used myspace. Hands went up across the hall, from kids as young as year 5 (ten years old).

Every one of the seven things listed above is something that would help me use existing (and free) technology to help make maths more interesting and personally relevant to the kids I teach. They use myspace. They download music onto iPods. Their mobile phones have more computing power than my first computer. Trust me, if they can figure out those things, they can use Word or PowerPoint.

What we need to do is give them a reason to want to.


Blogger graycie said...

I can print.

Of course, we're out of paper.

6:39 PM  

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