I teach for a school system where we have to follow very strict rules about things such as grants (we cannot write them or accept "donations) and privacy/confidentiality. I feel that this is really limiting my ability to use technology and Web 2.0 tools. We are able to use "Gaggle", but I am not sure about other things such a blogs or wikis. I am working with a colleague to start gathering some inexpensive pieces of technology such as "off-brand" MP3 players w/video to create podcasts, but since these will be paid for out of pocket, it might take some time.
If anyone has suggestions for how I can make the most of the desktop computers (that is all the technology we have), beyond games and using Office applications...I would be grateful !
Thank you for the information about the Sansa players.
As far as software, we are unable to download or use anything that is not on a very limited "approved" list that was created a few years ago. That has limited us a lot.
I see that your school is a DODEA school. That explains the strict regulations. Security is important.
However, I have sold many products to DODEA schools in Puerto Rico, and Europe. When funding is available, these schools will be limited to a $3,000.00 purchase throgh their Gov credit card. I assume that the Superintendent is the decision maker in these acquisitions. If you like, I'll email you some of the names of the teachers in Puerto Rico that have recently made purchases. Perhaps they can provide some more insight and guidance.
As far as the other suggestions that you have received, you'll probably need approval to bring them into class.
I really would love to make technology a focus in my school. Right now, I believe that some of the teachers see technology as something extra. We don't have "computer" classes at the elementary level, so it is our responsibility to not only integrate technology, but to be sure we are helping the students master appropriate computer skills in doing so.
I think I will speak with my administrators about what we can/cannot do in relation to blogs (I know Gaggle.net now has a blogging option, so I need to look at that), bringing in things such as mpg3 players for podcasts, etc.
Again, thank you for the feedback!
" anyone has suggestions for how I can make the most of the desktop computers" .
I'm thinking you can still do a lot with existing multimedia apps, integrating them into the current classroom curriculum. For example a report about planets would turn into a narrated slideshow with Microsoft Photostory or Imovie. There would be a research component finding facts about who discovered the planet, date discovered, who it was named after, order from the sun, distance from sun, earth, diameter, rotational period, revolution time.
All of these facts would researched on the net, then written on a word processor. 1/2 dozen beautiful images would be collected from the net. Kids would put the photos into the slideshow, grab a cheap microphone and narrate the images with their research.
You'd take a pic of each kid against a solid colored wall, teach the kids how to use the magic wand with your favorite free photo editor to delete backgrounds and put a space background there instead. Theyd add that as a title slide to their show.
Now take that concept and substitute the word "Planets" for Dinosaurs, Camouflage, Volcanoes, Weather, or Biography of" and you could extend the multimedia idea throughout various grade levels.
Now you've got projects that can go on for 6 weeks or more and require a diverse technical skillset that integrates directly into the classroom .
Take that to a whole new level by grabbing an old computer, installing an open source 'free' in-house intranet only webserver for the kids to use and then teaching the kids to build a basic html webpage and embedding their movie slideshows into that. You could download and install Wordpress Multi-user blog system on your intranet webserver and have the kids blog like crazy all within the confines of your school grounds. Nobody can see what they do outside your walls and they still get the benefit of blogging and writing in the 2.0 style.
The linux kde desktop environment comes with an education package, that includes all kinds of educational games and tools. Besides this, you will find the linux repositories filled with all kinds of scientific stuff. You may find processing(
http://processing.org/) a nice interactive tool for students to learn about music, programming and graphics. If you want to experiment with virtual world learning tools(simulations/role-playing, etc.) you could try OpenSimulator(open source version of Secondlife). I'm currently developing an open source e-learning cms/interface(
https://github.com/phrearch/hwios) that includes opensimulator management tools.
Feel free to use the "Computer Projects" section of my web site. I've collected several links to project-related resources.