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I've been ICT coordinator at my Primary School in Victoria for 3 years now. When I started P-4 classrooms had computers that hardly ever worked, the labs computers dropped out frequently, and due to the frustration all this caused ICT was far from a priority at our school.

My initial reaction, on taking over, was to buy newer computers. Thanks to the advice of our new tech, I put this off and invested in infrastructure. To cut a long story short, we now have a brand new 4TB server, Layer 3 network switches (allowing significantly improved performance), a fibre optic backbone, network points for all computers and printers (previously about 1 point per 3 machines!) and a 3.5:1 computer to student ratio with no computer more than 2 years old.

We are now at the point where we're ready to start immersing staff and students in ICT. I've already had to raise the download cap sevenfold. As a result of my hard work and support from school leaders, I’ve been given an ICT specialist role next year to try and support staff and students in the transition to an ICT driven curriculum.

My first port of call is going to be Sharepoint. I looked at this a couple of years ago but didn’t like the interface. I’d made a basic intranet with important links a few years before and the staff liked its simplicity. However, we now need a more sophisticated interface.

The newer version of Sharepoint is supposed to be fantastic so I’m pretty excited. I have a vision of staff and students making announcements, uploading work, videos, podcasts, wikis, blogs, term and weekly calendar as well great links. I’d also like to see the roll and most communication with admin and other classrooms being done online. I’ve got a few staff using their webcams on Office Communicator.

If anyone can help with ideas or examples of good use of Sharepoint, Office Communcator, online rolls then please let me know. Also if you are one of the many Primary Schools with a terribly dysfunctional network and need any support in planning its upgrade I’ll try to help. My school has 300 students.

Sorry this is a long post, but short of starting a blog and linking to it I couldn’t see a better way to start this discussion.

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Sounds like you are moving ahead in leaps and bounds! How exciting.

Couple of links which may be of interest re: sharepoint

Will fwd some Aussie schools on the sharepoint journey as well....
Thanks Susie. I've started setting up the Sharepoint and the staff have jumped on board. The Principal is putting an IWB in the staff room and I'll have it set up permanently on sharepoint so that staff can come in and check the calendars, announcements etc. It beats the AP having to constantly go and update the old calendar with her textas. I've uploaded a couple of how-to videos that record my desktop (like Screenjelly, but stand-alone) and a fault reporting forum.

Office Communicator has been a winner too. we've had kids and teachers reading books to other grades on webcam while the grade in the other room sits and watches on the IWB. Plus,we put a staff wiki (for ICT PD) and a student wiki on it. I like it being on sharepoint since it's all on our server and can't be accessed from outside. I'll look through those sites you posted and I'm sure I'll get some more ideas to get people using ICT more. I really want the roll to be done using the server so that staff have to put their laptops on 1st thing in the morning. That'll be the next step.
Hi Toby,
I contacted Jonathan - Ultranet and asked him if he could answer the questions you left in a comment on my blog. Here is the answer which is great.
'There are many concerns and issues around using Web2.0 pointed out. I tend to think like you and figure that you just have to find ways to work with it for the benefits that it offers.

Cyberbullying will not go away by restricting access to tools – our aim should be to educate rather than try to avoid the issue.

Cost, on the other hand, is probably the biggest topic of conversation at some Ultranet Coach forums / conferences. It is a huge limiting factor and schools take varying degrees of action on this.

The Vic government has announced that Internet will be free to state schools from the start of next year. How this will work or who will provide the service has not been detailed yet. (!!) No doubt, schools will be capped in some way?

I haven’t looked into the private messaging issue with Wikispaces, but pbworks wikis might provide better control for classroom teachers. Last I heard, pbworks wikis had no instant messaging function if a class wiki is setup. (Might need to look further into this).

Or, of course, use a Global Student class blog instead and then moderate everything. Basically, if there is an issue with one Web2.0 tool, you can probably find another that works differently.
Hope this helps.

I was really pleased to hear about 'free internet' and not long away. I'm enjoying your comments. Cheers Nina
Yeah, I guess different people come from different perspectives. I conacted the legal department so perhaps they are a bit more conservative than someone promoting the Ultranet. It put me off using them then, however I've started again because Sharepoint allows me to easily set-up wiki sites on our server. I have set up one for students (for anything) and one for staff for ICT PD.

Free internet looks great. It's certainly going to save us money. I hope it won't clog up the network though. There have been issues with our internet in the past few week. It's been really slow. Our ISP announced that they were talking with the department about it to try to figure out the issue.

Funny thing, you advised me to get in touch with Hugh. Couple of days ago I got an email from him. Turns out he was my mentor when I started teaching and was the teacher who taught me how to create a school intranet site using Frontpage. That was many years ago now but it doesn't surprise me that his career has headed in the ICT direction.

After talking to a few techs and visiting a few schools the thing that strikes me the most is the enormous range of development in ICT, especially in primary schools. There seems to be a 5+ year range in terms of ICT infrastructure just in my local network. Must be even worse across the state. This, of course, impacts on staff development and student learning.

From the reading I've been doing about ICT in education around the world one of the biggest issues is govt throwing tonnes of money on ICT and school just buying equipment that doesn't get used enough or productively. Not to mention schools buying 50 new computers or laptops (because their existing ones don't work) and then finding the new ones are not much better because their cabling, network switches and servers are so bad.

This seems to apply to both secondary and primary though. I was speaking to a high school student the other day (ex student of mine) who told me he hates doing anything on computers at his school because they crash all the time when he's halfway through his work. I went to see one of their pods and it's full of computers that we threw out 3 years ago. Free internet, Ultranet and the fibre upgrades are steps in the right direction but unless schools are allocating resources into ICT infrastructure they won't be able to make proper use of these resources.

Of course I could go off tangent here and blame the increasing administrative burdens being thrust on teachers making it difficult for them to actually manage such a difficult, challenging area as ICT network and curriculum management but that's for another forum. Suffice to say, techs don't have enough time and teachers don't have enough time or expertise to do the job properly at the majority of schools.
Hi Toby,
I agree with everything you've wriiten and we've also had problems with our internet at school so I think this is a provider issue. I'm glad Hugh has contacted you as I've heard he's doing good things and is happy to share his journey and some tips from his experiences.And what's more you already know him - its a small world. Susie ( in the PLN) is also a great resource.
Free internet will make an enormous difference as well and I believe the new system will be quicker - this is what I've heard. It is my belief that e-learning is the future in terms of 21st century classrooms & student engagement and will be a huge focus in all schools.
The range of skills is huge, but I've got to say many new teachers ( the facebookers) are IT savy and will move quickly once e-learning takes off. There will be a huge need to upskill teachers and these teachers (facebookers) will be the key. It's a general statement, but I know my 15 year old son is far more computer literate than most teachers. He solves problems fro me. He has crashed many computers along the way but appears to have grown out of this! He's grown up with technology and has no fear. Keep posting, your journey is actually inspiring...
Cheers Nina


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