The great BIG netbook competition

lenovo_s10I’ve been absent for the last month … absent from twitter, facebook and my blog. All of my ‘gained time’ from the departure of Year 11 and Year 13 has been taken up with an exciting project for my school. The great BIG netbook competition!

We (like many other schools) don’t have enough provision for ICT and the pressure is increasing. A potential way forward for us is for students to have their own netbooks. We managed to secure funding to buy approximately 100 netbooks for a pilot to see how it works and to find whether it is worth a major financial investment a little further down the line.

We decided that we would give a class set of netbooks to a teacher to use all day every day with their classes but we were really interested in what would happen if we gave netbooks to students to use at school in all their lessons and take home at the end of the day.

So we decided we would give a set to a tutor group who are currently in Year 7 and another group in Year 8 in September 2009 (when they are in Year 8 and 9 respectively) but we have fourteen tutor groups in Year 7 and fourteen in Year 8 so how do we decide who gets them? This is where the great netbook competition comes into it.

We decided we would run a competition where groups would work together to demonstrate why they should get the netbooks. We put the idea to a panel of Year 10 students to help us decide how the competition would work. They came up with a points based competition which tested them as individuals and as a group. So the competition was as follows …

Individual Challenge
Register for Moodle and log in on five different days (5 points)
Post five different messages in the forums (10 points)
Have 95% attendance for the month of the competition (10 points)
* an average was calculated and then multiplied by 10 to get a maximum tutor group score of 250 points.

Group Challenge
Two equipment checks as a tutor group with a maximum score of 50 points for each check.
Maximum score – 100 points

The Pitch Tutor
groups to pitch to a panel of judges why their group should win the netbooks.
Maximum score – 200 points

Competition Handbook So the competition was launched at the start of June and the atmosphere was electric. The Moodle usage went up from 200 registered users to 1500 registered users. The forums went from 22 threads to ~1800 threads … and the conversations were fascinating! The Moodle effect spread from Year 7 and 8 students to their siblings higher up in the school.

It wasn’t without a struggle! To ensure equality, all of the equipment checks were carried out by one person. 56 equipment checks covering 850 students was extremely time consuming and the communication with 28 tutors was sometimes a bit of a struggle and the message didn’t always get through.

The positives

These students produced AMAZING pitches! They were innovative and we learned a great deal about what our students think about ICT at the school. Moodle now kicks ass! Students love it and they see it as a valuable social networking tool for school. The educational content is growing on there and they see the educational ‘stuff’ as a bonus and actually use it and then discuss it in the forums.

So what now?

We ran the competition and two brilliant groups won the netbooks. They will receive them in September when they get back for the new academic year. We now need to train their teachers, generate ideas for how they will be used, look at access to Internet in lessons and how this can be controlled, deal with behaviour issues, deal with forgotten netbooks, deal with broken netbooks and see how the wireless network fares with a concentration of laptops in one place!

I can’t wait!

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