Tuesday 21 August 2012

The Perfect IT Set Up: Getting the Hardware Right

Carterton Kindergarten needs to be celebrated.
In this ever evolving world of IT they have got it right.
They have the IT hardware set up so children can learn in meaningful ways.

           Why and how have they done so well?

They have a clear understanding of learning and they seek to understand the child's perspective. What adds to the child's learning and what deepens their experiences of their world. With the focus on the child, the answers are easier.
They think things through. They don't just buy because it is the latest fad. Fads fade. They discuss and imagine and then they believe in their decisions and do it for their children. With this commitment they make it work as best the can. They follow through.
Plus they have spoken firmly but politely and demanded that the providers follow through.... sometimes this has taken a lot of perserverence and resillence from an industry notorious for selling and running.

Here's their successful set up.
1. Two laptops (there is another one alongside), no mouse here.
The children reflect and parents find out about important and everyday events in their centre. The teachers are growing a library of  DVDs with edited films; photos, pictures, text and video. These are availabe to the children everyday. They provide resources for conversations and oral language development. They provoke deeper thinking for new ideas and new experiences. The "this time maybe we could...." thinking.

2. The IWB (Interactive Whiteboard)
Carterton Kindergarten was one of the first centres in their area to install an IWB. Initally their projector did not give a bright enough image so they have upgraded and also gone for the shorter throw projector.This makes the shadow less of a problem as well.
They installed their board low to the ground but they still provide a stage/large step in front of the IWB so children can access more of the board. The board is near their communal mat space so can be used to share and introduce other software and of course their material from their growing library of DVD.
Most centres I visit do not use their IWB to their full potential. I think using them well takes more training than most teachers have time for...they have a day job....  but they do provide a community focus, a learning and sharing together reality and feel. Carterton children use www.buildyourwildself.com , www.poisonrouge.com , www.pixelhouseonline.com Pixelhouse Nusery Rhyme ebooks with eActivities

3. Companion Devices/Other Stuff
a Camera
They have ten cameras. This is number five camera. Children use the cameras to photogragh their world, their findings and their activities. The resolution in the camera is set low so that uploaded photos don't stall the computers.

b. Digital Photo Frame
A viewer is used to display these photos and teachers photos are displayed here  too. The loop of photos is continuous.This is a very popular place for parents and friends.

c. Book Making
Children print artwork made on the IWB. They can laminate their work, and then with or without lamination they can bind their pages to make a book using a ring binder.

d. Sound

The sound system allows for good quality sound. Sound doesn't have to be loud...but it does have to be clear and a good sound sytem provides this quality.  Children can perform and record their stories, their songs, their mihi, their plays all important for their confidence  and oral language growth. The IWB has its own speaker system too, for great sound production and quality.

e. The Viewer
Something that I don't have a photograph of, but something Caterton teachers find useful, is the Mimio Viewer. The Viewer allows smaller objects or pictures to be projected as a  large image for all to see. Carterton teachers use this when children are off to school, in their send off session, they are sharing their Portfolio Learning Stories, their favouite story. Children don't have to wait with forty others in a circle for their turn to view, they can enjoy it together and move on.

Congratulations Carterton your IT set up is fantastic. It's integrated and allows children to take part  at their pace. In this the digital age Carterton is leading the way.
Written by Noeline Anderson,
 Director of Pixelhouse.
I am independent.
I am not affliated to any hardware company.