Thursday, October 28, 2004

Our Tablets Arrive

We came back to school at the beginning of a new session to nine tablets, all shiny and new in their packaging (one tablet was still to come). One of our Authority technicians came over to configure all the machines and put them onto the Argyll and Bute Education Service intranet, ‘Eolas’ (Educational Online Learning for Argyll Schools). This meant that the children would have Internet access on their tablets (wow!)
Now that the tablets were here and not a figment of our imagination, I had to think about the impact the tablets would have on my classroom organisation. We decided to allocate one tablet to two children for the duration of the pilot. This way we could encourage ownership of the tablets and a responsibility for them to remain in good condition and be stored safely.
Each pair of children were given a tablet which was labelled and colour coded. The charger and pen were colour matched. We hoped to prevent squabbles over lost or misplaced items this way (so far so good).
Our next problem was where to store the tablets safely. I hunted the school for spare tote trays and gave each pair of children a tray in which to put the tablet and charger. The trays were labelled with the children’s names and the colour of their tablet.
I was not entirely happy with this method of storage as it was a bit of a squeeze in the trays with both tablet and charger being stored in this way. The other problem that arose was charging facilities within the classroom. As we only had three plug points in the classroom and two 4 bar multi-blocks, there was no efficient way of charging the tablets and I was very unhappy about the wires trailing about the floor. I had a wee look at the Nisco catalogue and found a cabinet that would both house the tablets and charge them. Hurray! However, as they were made to order, it was going to take about 5 weeks to come.
Right, so that was the tablets allocated, storage sorted, charging managed. The practicalities were in place so now all we had to do was get going!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Preparing for the Pilot

As soon as we were aware of our involvement in Argyll and Bute's tablet pilot, we decided to invest in a tablet of our own. We wanted to become more familiar with these new beasties before the pilot began. The authority provided us with another tablet, which meant that two classes - P5/6/7 and P4/5 - were able to experiment with the machines for the remainder of the session -April to June 2004.
The children made use of the tablets in ways which were most familiar to them - going online, word-processing, graphics work and information handling. Several of the older children experimented with the text conversion and speech recognition tools.
At the end of the session the children completed a simple evaluation of the two tablets. Results showed that the children enjoyed using the tablets within tasks and found the pen easy to use however impressions were that the intitial interest was a novelty factor.
The main purpose of allowing the children to become more familiar with the tablets was achieved. We were now looking forward to the arrival of the remaining nine tablets and starting the pilot in earnest.