Managing Multiple Devices Makes Me Tired!

My school now has over 900 devices that have to be managed, maintained and handled. While there are “simple” ways to handle this, I find that using a database has saved me. I use FileMaker exclusively because it’s what I’ve always used. It’s powerful and provides me with so many options.

Keeping my own inventory allows me to make labels, reconcile inventory, and know where any one of those 900 devices are supposed to be. (No, they aren’t always where they started out!)

The end of the school year brings a fresh set of problems with so many devices. How long do you leave them in the classroom and still efficiently get them gathered up for storage? How many should just get covered and locked in classrooms? Since they need to be re-distributed in the fall, is it easier to just collect themmultiple devices and start fresh?

While every person will choose their own method, I like control. There, I said it. I like to know where they are. I like them in my “office” – it’s really a large closet, but I still call it home – where I can put my hands on them, organize them and know what I have.

Relabeling is so much easier with my database. Printing the ERD or equipment recycling sheets is simplified by just recreating the form that my county uses. Then I just save as a PDF and I’m done. Handwrite a form? No way! Efficiency is the key.

I’ve always been a list maker, so moving to the online version of a list helps me. To Do lists with Wunderlist, lists of inventory with FileMaker and Google Sheets with checklists of beginning and end of year responsibilities help keep my sanity. What little I have left. Multitasking keeps me busy!

How do you manage your devices? Do you have a method that is tried and true? I’d love your feedback. And I promise not to take control of your school’s devices. Really. Promise.

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Creating a Collaborative Student Experience

Teachers often ask me how many devices they are going to get. “Not all of my kids have a device. I need to increase the number of laptops in my room so that they each have their own.” While this sentiment is valid for student individual use, it doesn’t speak to the need for us to teach collaboration.

The model of 1 device for every 3 students lends itself to students working in a more collaborative manner. We already know that they can work alone and under direction. At least most of them can. What we need to cultivate is the team creative effort. This is what is needed most in the real world. Finding the ability to plan and work together is a much missing commodity in the workplace.

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By Lucélia Ribeiro (Children at school) via Wikimedia Commons

Business owners often say, “I can teach skills. I can train someone to use our software system. What I can’t teach is teamwork and personal responsibility. They should know that before they get here.”

We encourage, even demand, that teachers work together in PLTs (personal learning networks) so that there is a common, shared vision. We should be obligated to foster the same in our students. Individual growth, of course, is important. But individual growth will develop within a collaborative team. And collective thinking is more powerful that one person doing it alone.

How can a teacher help? Develop team contracts. Have job assignments when working on a project. For example, one student is the director, one is the scribe, and one is the submitter. These are just a few ideas. Students may even come up with titles for themselves that you never thought of. Give them the power to make the safe decisions in a team environment. This encourages growth and helps establish a work ethic and responsibility.

And only provide one device per team. 

Does this mean we should never use 1:1 in the classroom? Of course not! But, using the collaborative approach, the technology dollars will go further and we develop skills that are necessary. A real win-win situation!

 

Lenovo L450 Not Connecting?

The Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) in Raleigh, NC purchased the Lenovo L450 laptop for every certified teacher in the District. Over 13,000 teacher laptops and thousands of individual school-purchased student laptops later, an important issue keeps coming up: “Why won’t my laptop connect to the wireless internet?”

Believe it or not, the solution is simple. There is an Airplane Mode key that can easily get pushed and the wireless radios get turned off. The secret lies in the F8 key. The F8 key turns the wireless on and off. Students quickly figure this out and staff sometimes press the key and end up turning it off.

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f8-key

When you press the F8 Key, you see the image below if your wireless is on. Green for ON (even though the word Off is below the pictures).

wirelesson

Red for OFF. If your wireless is OFF, you will see this:

wireless off.jpg

The On and Off designation is for your Airplane Mode. Airplane mode turns off your wireless function. Seems a bit confusing and maybe it could be a little clearer. I feel as if it’s a little like a double negative in context.

Hopefully the next time that laptop won’t connect to the internet,  you’ll have a quick solution.