If your school provides a laptop or tablet for every student, you might just want to skip reading this post.
I got thinking about this at a recent trip to Sobey’s in town. The guard who counts the number of people allowed in the store has another role to play in public safety. It’s his/her job to sterilize the shopping cart handles as they’re put into place for the customers. In fact, they have their own table of sanitizer separate from the rest of us who go into the store.
When you think about it, those shopping cart handles are a frequent touch point – maybe even the highest touch point since we have automatic doors. So, it only makes sense to give them a wipe down before putting them back into operation.
That got me thinking about computer carts in schools.
We’ve really evolved over the years with providing access to computer and other technology for students. We started with two or three at the back of the room with students cycling through them, to everyone marching to the computer lab or the library for their “computer class” to computers coming in on carts with wireless access to the “point of instruction”. The common thread to this concept of sharing computers is grimy, filthy keyboards. Oh, and monitors with finger prints on them. Oh, and black edges around monitors as students adjust them for their height. Touch points with laptop carts don’t stop there. After each use, they need to be returned to the cart and plugged in so that there’s plenty of power for the next user. It’s also quite the gathering spot to await your turn to return your device.
Even if you take a good look at your own device right now, you might be a little disgusted with the dirt, smudges, and germs that you see or know to be there. If you’re like me, you probably keep a can of compressed air within reach to blow out the crumbs and goodness knows whatever drops in there.
I looked around to see what kind of advice is available to educators and found a link to this document on the Ontario Music Educators’ Association website.
It’s but one resource found at their COVID-19 resource page found here.
More impressively, they have created and shared
They take their advocacy seriously and I would suggest that it’s great reading for all educators and their context easily adapted for yours. This is exactly what a subject association should be doing in these times. You can’t pretend that nothing has changed and you’ll be back to whatever passes for normal the first of September.
So, back to computer use.
These are my thoughts on the use of computer technology for the fall. I think I’m normally a cautious person anyway but would be more cautious for the month of September anyway.
Computer Science teachers, I suspect, will be among the “luckiest” in terms of students having their own technology to bring to class. Now, more than ever, I’d be promoting that for those students and would spend considerable time at the beginning making sure that they have the same resources and configuration to be successful. You might even want to take Andrew Dobbie’s lead.
For other classes, a revisit to pedagogy would be in order. The good old teacher computer connected to a data projector or large monitor can be used for some of the important things that all students should know. Collaborative programming, internet search skills, media literacy, etc. easily come to mind.
Lots has been said about how the rules for general society aren’t being transferred to the school setting. At least in this one case, you’re in control. Choose wisely.
Please take a moment to share your back to school computing thoughts in the comments.