If you build it, they will come . . .

I’ve written, and deleted, this opening paragraph a couple of times now. What I’m seeking to articulate is exactly how the process of engaging with computer technology has felt like over the past week. I’ve tried lots of different forms of words and none of them quite get close to capturing my emotions.

Then, finally, the answer occurred to me.

I should use technology to show how I currently feel towards my computer, Google, the internet, Tim Berners-Lee, Microsoft, Bletchley Park …. basically, anyone involved in the development of these infernal machines.

So, here we go.

Aaaaaaannnnnd, hyperlink . . .

As I’ve intimated, ‘technology’ is a foreign country to me, so to say I’ve been progressing by trial and error would be to suggest a far greater amount of logic, planning and careful foresight than I deserve.

However, I’m now at the stage that, with half-term ending in a few short hours, I have something approaching a starting point.

I don’t think I’m quite ready to share yet, even Luddites have their pride, but I think it would be useful to clarify here exactly what I’m trying to achieve through all this pain (if only because I don’t think I’ve quite got it clear in my own head!).

Basically, there’s lots I’m trying to change and shift about my current approach to learning and teaching, but I think I can distil it down to three utterly key things:

1. A better method of engaging with pupils

At the moment, I have three different options open to me to get resources to my classes – and none of them quite meet my requirements.

* I can create them, photocopy them on mass, and then physically hand them over. Obviously, the tried and tested method and most of my colleagues would think me little short of insane to attempt anything else. However, this just does not work for me on many levels: not least the hours a day I spend stood at a temperamental photocopier that seems to find a perverse pleasure in chewing up my master copies.

* I can create them and email them around to the class using our internal network. Now, this kind of works and I’ve been dabbling with it for a few years with varying degrees of success. However, it falls down in the face of most of the pupils not checking their emails with any regularity and – the biggest issue for me and what I want to achieve – there are quite stringent size limits to what we can send.

* I can create them and store them on our internal network in a folder that pupils can access. I tried using this last year, but it fell away quite quickly – neither I nor the pupils could get access to this folder at home with any consistency and there was no way to let them know when I had put something in it without physically telling them.

2. A streamlined way for pupils to hand in work

I need to cull my unnecessary paperwork.

Obviously, if you are an English teacher, you need to make your peace with a certain amount of tree slaughter. However, so many of the things that get physically handed to me are computer generated that it just seems crazy not to be able to share them in a more efficient way. I’ve been trying to use email for this but I’m finding it difficult to track the ebb and flow of work over the internet alongside the hundreds of emails (I wish this was an exaggeration) I get every day. Likewise, I’d like to find a way to record the handing in of work that does not require me to physically write something down in my markbook – which leads me to . . .

3. Online markbook and register

At the moment, I have a paper markbook and I have a separate paper register (because there isn’t room in the markbook to register every lesson as well as each piece of work). I teach all around the school, so wherever I go I have to carry two different books, alongside anything else I want to use to teach, across our site. It also means I have two things that, with shameful regularity, I leave in classrooms, meeting rooms, the dining hall, chapel etc etc. I need to find a better method than this – if only to stop me looking like a shambolic idiot.

So, as I say, after a few days of utter misery, I think I’ve got something – at least partially – set up that might begin to address some of the issues above….

I’ll get back to you anon once I’ve seen things in action.

I hope you can contain your excitement 🙂

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