My mentor had requested some software to be installed on the computers in our classroom, which was to be the basis of a unit of learning planned for the next term. But of course, it was not done by the time it was needed, which meant that those lesson plans were thrown out the window, while we switched to Plan B which wasn’t as fun or enhanced by ICT as we had planned.
Unfortunately, we had the same issue with the IWB. The software had been installed ages ago but not connected properly (I know, confusing), so the end result was that our IWB was nothing more than a big glorified projector screen – still useful, but without the awesome touchscreen technology which has such potential to transform learning opportunities. A huge waste really, especially in a special education classroom where most of the students respond so well to visual and touch technologies.
No matter how great a resource you might find, and think “Wow! This would be awesome for my class!”, you have to stop. In a public school, for safety reasons, you cannot just install anything you want – it has to be cleared through the right channels, and installed by the right people (ie. NOT the teachers – technicians only). Same goes for free apps for the iPads, etc. You’re at the mercy of a lot of red tape, which may mean your great ideas will never see the light of day.
Now I don't mean for this to sound like a big whinge fest. But it’s actually more of a reality check of how things are in public schools. I really do appreciate that public school systems are big, with usually very little funding to get many big lists of things done. Unfortunately ICT maintenance and set-up is high on that list too. And it’s a bit disheartening when you think of what the students are missing out on in the meantime. Life happens, and we all find ways to work with what we have.
So whenever you find a great ICT resource, make all the plans you like, but don’t get too excited, and be sure to have a non-ICT Plan B ready, as well as a Plan C, D & E …… just in case.