Thursday, August 10, 2006

If we go back to the outset of the cluster, infrastructure was a key issue to the development of the cluster vision.

Great to see your school benefiting from the MoE's infrastructure upgrade, Pam. The foundations are being laid although I guess it never can happen fast enough.

At one time second hand equipment was OK in schools. It depended on the way computers were being used. Some schools bought high end machines and only used the surface features of them. By the time the school moved into the multimedia applications the existing equipment was often outdated. Other schools bought according to use and decided to allow staff professional development to form the basis of future purchases. When the equipment was going to be fully accessed, the need to purchase appeared right. Interesting to note that the most sophisticated computer was put into the secretaries office when their use was often limited to email, and word processing. The power of multimedia in learning pushes the boundaries more and more and those users need the equipment required to support this dimension.

Faulty equipment needs to be weeded from schools. Just like a library full of dull and boring books, holding on to these dinosaurs can become a huge turn off and build a barrier to progress. Teachers understandably get frustrated, become reluctant to use the equipment, and simply switch off! This equipment then becomes a huge hurdle to teacher development and student learning.

Another issue, that of sustainability raises its head. As more interactive whiteboards, laptops and hardware are bought or leased, the question of "how will schools sustain the flow that has begun?" raises its head. Leasing seems the more practical option than purchase and is definitely one I would recommend. Most leases run for three years. Perhaps a two year lease is to be considered as the rate of technological change increases. Who wants a machine that is older than 3 years? Who wants to spend money on repairs and upgrades on machines that have been purchased outright?

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