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How to Teach Computing without an ICT suite

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by becca_kirby, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. After thoughts and ideas please.

    Due to an increase in pupil numbers we were told by the local authority that we needed to remove our ICT suite to have the room as a new classroom.

    Each class in school now has 4 PCs, we no longer have a facility to do whole class computing teaching. We have no laptops or wifi.

    As the new computing co-ordinator i've been set the task of assisting staff in implementing the computing curriculum within the classroom; i'm struggling.

    I am finding it hard to get around. Yes, we can do theory but actual computer work can only be done in small groups, most of which will have to be unsupported activities when other subjects are being carried out.

    Can anyone provide any suggestions? I have lots of ideas in regards to topics and outcomes but cant see them being able to have the time and focussed teaching needed. Im really worrying that as a school we wont be able to teach to standard we want.

    I have said so far we need to provide opportunities in every lesson for children to do related activities on the PC.

    Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
  2. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    Someone should have kicked up more of a fuss and fought your corner- that's a ridiculous situation you're in. You can't have a class crowding round 4 computers.

    I think I'd ask for a class bank of laptops (NOT tablets!) and do it that way - the school can request money from the LEA for this from a different fund than usual purchases (I can't remember the name for it but if a request is put forward with decent justification it should get through).
  3. paullong

    paullong New commenter

    Which LA is this? They should be named and shamed. Why didn't the headteacher object? What were the leadership team thinking in accepting this decision?

    Are you primary by the way?

    If I were you I would resign immediately as Computing Co-ordinator - any TLR it may give is not worth the stress that this situation will cause you.

    If you do want to continue, then ask the LA for their suggestions as they seemed to be quite keen to put you in this situation.

    Paul Long

    Education Consultant
  4. I'm glad its not me overreacting. We are a small primary school. Unfortunately I don't have a TLR so the stress is definitely not worth it. I need to try and catch the Head and see what she suggest RE approaching the LA.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
  5. paullong

    paullong New commenter

    Becca - if you're not getting a TLR then I would tell your head that you don't want the responsibility for something that is far too difficult to achieve given the circumstances. You are not obliged to co-ordinate a subject without a TLR.
  6. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Hi Becca,

    You can cover some of the computing curriculum without computers, however you will need something at some point. As has been previously mentioned a bank of laptops with a robust Wifi connection should be okay.

    If you haven't already, I would recommend joining Computing At School and going to your nearest Hub meeting. You'll find lots of helpful people there, and access to some Master teachers who could possibly support you get things started. The guide CAS produced should help your head understand what is needed to deliver the new curriculum and support your case for having suitable equipment

    CAS have also produced some useful CPD toolkit for teachers:


    which works well alongside the Barefoot resourses:


    If you need any help with finding your nearest CAS hub or any other questions, feel free to send me a message.

  7. Hi Becca

    As suggested earlier in this thread, I'd also recommend getting a batch of laptops with something like a Lapsafe ClassBuddy 15 (holds 15 units as the name may suggest!) for charging and portability. If budget is an issue then possibly look at leasing options where you can spread the cost over a set period of time. Happy to go through some options with you?

    As an alternative suggestion, maybe hook a laptop / PC up to a classroom projector and purchase some response pads for the students to pick what they believe to be the correct answer to the question you put to them. Adds a bit of a fun element to the lesson though its a little different from your desired solution


  8. Ephelyon

    Ephelyon New commenter

    Hi Becca,

    Disclaimer: I am not a teacher, but a Network Manager working in a secondary school. [Boo, hiss!]

    But I have been thinking this evening about how to help you. Some initial ideas bouncing around are:

    * MultiPoint Server

    * Thin Clients

    I guess I'm assuming you've got no budget for new kit, be it laptops, tablets, wireless access points etc. I don't know where you're based, but we've got a load of wireless access points we've just replaced that we might be able to "farm out"?

    Depending on what you need to teach, it might be possible to go for a setup where you cannibalise a number of available computers into one beefy one that users can then log in to. The advantage of that is that the user kit can be pretty much as old and obsolete as you like - all it needs to be able to do is send keyboard/mouse input and receive display output. This has been a common approach in cash-strapped schools of late.

    We may have some kit available that could help you (and that we need to get rid of). If any of this could be of help, do get back to me and we'll see what we can do! :)


  9. bmouthboyo

    bmouthboyo New commenter

    Good god, seeing the phrase Thin Clients sent a shiver down my spine. My previous school in the UK invested in thin clients and I can honestly say they very nearly put not only my students but me off of ICT / Computer Science for life.

    I am not experienced with the Network management side of things, and confess that my previous school was poorly managed on this front so I have a biased view. A lot of money was spent on this setup so we did not benefit from reusing old machines which in theory sounds like a good idea.

    Sapped any fun however out of creative multimedia units as they simply could not handle the media and just generally the most unstable, slow headache I have ever experienced.

    I would personally rather go with 20 Raspberry Pies than Thin Client again.

    That said Patrick is more qualified than me in this area and so I will give him the benefit of the doubt, with competent management it may be an option.
  10. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I'm not sure whether there's much to suit the primary curriculum, but the CS Unplugged web-site seems like just the thing for this sort of situation.
  11. spartacus123

    spartacus123 Occasional commenter

    It's always good advice not to use your real name on the internet. Especially if you are complaining about your school.

    I hope this isn't your real name.
  12. Ephelyon

    Ephelyon New commenter

    It's true, @bmouthboyo, I have seen some disastrous Thin Client setups where e.g. media just wasn't taken into account at all. Then again, I've also seen some very good setups on the back end that were still ultimately let down by poor switching infrastructure... and I've also seen some that worked a treat! :)

    The advantage of MultiPoint Server is that you can have one "workstation" (i.e. not server) computer running a session for multiple clients that are physically connected to it (keyboard/mouse/monitor though a multiplexor adapter) rather than over a network - the OP said "no laptops or WiFi" - so it's quite a custom sort of Thin Client setup that might be relatively inexpensive in her situation. It seems there are 4 computers in each room; with a little upgrading, each of them could run up to 10 "sessions" on the Standard license. The additional monitor/keyboard/mouse combinations would still need to be bought, but refurb kit can be picked up very cheaply these days and it's certainly cheaper than a whole class set of new computers times however many classrooms, plus all the additional network sockets or WiFi points.

    Overall, it would keep the same number of physical machines while vastly increasing the number of children who could use them at once.
  13. Ephelyon

    Ephelyon New commenter

    A bit more about how it can be set up:

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