School Starts This Week

It has been a busy last couple of weeks as the summer break winds down and we get ready for a new school year at Lewis Elementary. Teachers officially returned this past week and we held several inservice activities around our move to OS X. Our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers all received iBooks, data projectors and SmartBoards for use in their classrooms and training was held to get them familiar with their new equipment. With the help of my friend Dick McPartland, we have worked this summer to move all of our computers to OS X and to organize the technology lab. We now have 27 computers in our lab running OS X Panther. We spent most of the day on Friday arranging the lab and cleaning up cables and such. The school district I.T. folks are installing an OS X server and we should soon have everyone set up to save into class and private directories soon.

sjwiki.jpg A few weeks back Tom Hoffman pointed me to Instiki. Instiki is a wiki that runs on a local machine. I have it installed on my laptop and use it to take notes and such. Tom mentioned that it would be nice if Instiki supported Rendezvous. We started talking and came up with the following idea. If we enabled web sharing on the teacher's laptop, then we could edit the index.html page on the teacher machine to redirect to the teacher's wiki. The way it works is that students use the OS X Safari browser (which supports Rendezvous browsing) to easily navigate to their teacher's wiki/web page. No need to book mark the teacher's laptop location on each lab machine. The students just look under the Rendezvous menu on Safari and they see their teacher's wiki listed. I have it working on two of the teacher machines and should have the others set up tomorrow.

The way I explained it to my teachers is that the Instiki wiki is always running on their laptop. They can use it to post links, lab assignments, anything they want, and it will automatically show up when ever the teacher's laptop is in the building. Since we have wireless throughout the building, basically as long as their computer is running, students will be able to get to their classroom wiki... (Note: Instiki also supports static publishing, so just as teachers leave lesson plans when they plan to be out of the building , I can see them uploading their static wiki/web pages to out internal server... :-) )

Now we need to do a bit of work helping them become familiar with the interface and such, but since most of them are pretty comfortable composing email, there should not be too much of a learning curve. The interesting part will be to see how they start to use this with their students and how they start to use it to share information with each other.