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Refurbishing office computers for schools and the community


Students working at some of the 25 computers in Hadleigh Benson’s classroom at Glenavon School. ICT activities and techniques pioneered here are migrated to the wider school.

A classroom with 25 refurbished computers is helping develop ICT use in Auckland schools. The classroom is at Glenavon, a Decile 2 early childhood to Year 8 school that is one of four schools in the ‘Bay Cluster’. The schools, which also include Marshall Laing, Blockhouse Bay Primary and Lynfield College, have been contracted under the Ministry of Education’s Professional Development Cluster project to help raise local teachers’ ICT skills and bring an ICT component into unit planning.

Running the Years 7-8 classroom is Glenavon’s ICT coordinator and teacher, Hadleigh Benson. It’s almost an ICT immersion class and the students dive into their activities with great enthusiasm, using the now-‘traditional’ MS Office programs plus a variety of other applications.

A major theme has been ‘digital storytelling’, in which students develop stories with a variety of tools: Word and Powerpoint, of course, but also Microsoft’s PhotoStory and Moviemaker, and De Bono’s Thinking Hats. Screenshots from Google Earth and stick-figure animations from the freeware program Pivot Animator make their way into Powerpoint presentations.

Multimedia activities have been boosted by the acquisition of a digital projector, scanner and digital cameras with financial help from the Telecom Points scheme. Regular multimedia presentations by the class to the school assembly are whetting the appetites of students from other classrooms.

Freeware programs are being used – for instance the very sophisticated 3D dungeon multiplication game, Timez Attack. Some programs are accessed online. An example is Math Mayhem, which introduces an element of inter-student competition – not only locally, but with children in other countries.

The school makes good use of TKI’s DigiStore software resources.
Frontpage is used by Hadleigh to maintain the school’s lively website. A simple freeware program called NAMU6 is used by the students to create web pages as an alternative to wall displays or Powerpoint presentations.

The school as a whole has 42 networked computers, 90% bought second-hand. Most have come from The Ark in Auckland, some have been donated and a few were bought new, several years ago. Classrooms other than Hadleigh’s have 3-6 computers each. The machines range from Pentium II-333 to Pentium III-800, running a mixture of Windows 98 and XP.

Reliability has been fine, says Hadleigh. “They’re better value than new machines and their speed and capabilities are adequate for most primary school work – they do pretty much everything except higher-end graphics and that’s more for secondary schools.”

Media centre
The school is building a media centre that will service the whole school with a set of 30 new computers. It will be based on lessons learned and activities pioneered in Hadleigh’s classroom.

This will not be the end of Glenavon School’s purchasing of second-hand computers. A parallel upgrading programme will see more refurbished computers from the Ark in individual classrooms. At this stage even the oldest computers won’t be discarded – they’ll all have a place for the time being.

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