There are several things that must be considered regarding L4L before the actual planning of specifics can start. The most obvious is: when are our students actually going to get the laptops? Will all Year 9 teachers have laptops at this stage? Will there be network/internet access in the staffroom for those teachers with laptops? Will there be network/Internet access in all the Maths classrooms for the teachers? Will there be network/internet access in the classrooms for all the students? What access to projection devices will there be for teachers? How do I inspire a somewhat techno-phobic Mathematics staff that this is all a good idea?
This post will look these issues in some detail as they relate to the circumstances of my Department, but hopefully they will allow other people to reflect and solve issues prior to them becoming a hindrance to the actual implementation of L4L.
Laptop Rollout Issues
This information is taken from the L4L intranet site today.
Staff Rollout: July 22 laptops in initial rollout
Student Rollout: August
There are 6 Year 9 Mathematics classes that all run at the same time – thus my department would need 6 laptops from the initial rollout (7 if you include me – I take a Year 9 class once a fortnight). However I have heard rumours that there is also going to be a discretionary allocation of laptops to schools initially, and it would certainly be our intention to issue these to teaching staff to enable them to familiarise themselves. Lets hope that the teacher rollout is before the school holidays start on 10 July as this would allow staff to “play” with their machines over the holidays and for the staff day at the commencement of Term 3 to be dedicated to Professional Learning on the Laptop.
The end of August is Week 6 Term 3, so for curriculum planning this is when we will plan for first implementation of laptop based activities.
Network Connection Issues
The L4L programme incorporates a wireless network rollout to all learning spaces in every eligible NSW school – eventually. The wireless installer visited our school last week but as yet the L4L wireless rollout schedule has our date as TBC. From everything I have read the initial wireless installation will be in one central space to be followed up by other spaces later (potentially by the start of Term 2, 2010). In our school the Mathematics department is definitely not central – so we won’t be in the first rollout. However there are bigger issues for us initially. Every classroom at our school has a network point – except for the 4 existing Mathematics classrooms. In fact the switch on the network that services our staffroom is at the end of a 105m length of CAT5 network cable, and is not reliable.
Fortunately there are currently 2 new Mathematics classrooms being constructed that will have network points (and IWB’s!) albeit running from the same switch. Our staffroom currently has 7 staff, 2 desktops, my personal laptop and 3 network points. Obviously we need to ensure that all staff have internet and network access in the staffroom as soon as they receive their laptops. My current thinking is that this may be possible through installing a wireless router on one of the network points as an interim measure. I am also considering installing a wireless access point in one of the new classrooms to service the other 4 classrooms for teacher use only.
As part of the wireless rollout it will be necessary to install fibre-optic cable to the switch servicing our office which will alleviate many of the reliability issues. But at this stage we can’t really count on student access until Term 2 2010. Hopefully the above measures will allow teacher access almost immediately
Currently the Mathematics Department has 1 multimedia projector. At the commencement of Term 3 we will have two new classrooms fitted with Interactive Whiteboards (Yes I am excited!). There is access to one other projector in the school (but this will possibly be in high demand). In my experience it is almost impossible to teach students with Laptops (in most cases) without having some form of projection device. Short term is that I will try to purchase another projector with Departmental funds (and look at ways of ensuring 1in every room ASAP) and to organise a roster system for the rooms with IWB’s and the departmental projector.
So far the best I have come up with is to believe in the L4L programme myself and to take every opportunity to spruke it! (Not quite a SHOUTY ad, though). I am hoping that involving all the Year 9 teachers in the process and supporting whatever Professional Learning needs they have will help. The Mathematics staff at CHHS are very cautious in their approach to “new” things, until a real benefit is seen they are generally not implemented. Thus it is essential for all aspects of this process to have a real value. Hopefully my reflections on this blog will be of assistance to them as well.