flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Integrating technology in schools can be challenging. Often it is seen as an ‘or’ rather than an ‘and’. Subsequently, there are some areas where it has become more normalised than others. One such space is curriculum planning.

When was the last time you saw a handwritten curriculum document? Ok, many teachers still print them out and write in their notes, however it seems to have become something of a given that the initial document is typed. The question to be considered is which application best suits the need.

The biggest problem is that there are so many different options. Maybe it is using Evernote, Google Apps, a wiki or a learning management system. Some of the common issues seem to be formatting, collaboration, ease of use and ability to link between resources. One other option that has become particularly popular of late is Microsoft OneNote.

Like Google Apps, OneNote allows users to collaborate without the conflicts created when using applications like Dropbox, includes a wide range of templates and allows the ability to collect and connect different content. However, one of it’s biggest selling points is that for those comfortable with using Microsoft Office, there is little adjustment required. Rather, it adds a certain level of functionality that is not possible otherwise.

For more on OneNote, check out the following resources:

So what about you? Have you used OneNote? Is there anything that you would add? As always, comments welcome.

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‘Who Needs Pythagoras’ Theorem?’ by dullhunk (Flickr)
This year my school made the move from Google Apps to Dropbox in regards to sharing planning documents. This was not my personal choice, especially as I had spent so much time and energy working with the technician to set Google Apps in Education in place last year. However, as +Dan Donahoo pointed out at ICTEV, it takes a village to make a decision. This means that the outcome reached in the end may not be the solution proposed at the start. The process is actually what matters the most. So a bit of background to the process.
It is always fascinating to follow the thread back to when various tools and techniques were introduced in a school. Like a seed on the foot of an explorer traipsing across the countryside, Dropbox was brought into the school by the regional coaches who used it to share various documents and resources with staff in the school. Unlike Google Drive, Dropbox allowed a wide range of files types, as well as offline access. It first started with Mathematics, then progressively moved through the other areas, until it was decided by leadership that it would be adopted across the whole school.
Many were put off GAFE is that it was online and our Internet was not always trustworthy. In addition to that, it was just so foreign for teachers who had grown accustomed to the stylistic delights of Microsoft Word. What has been interesting is that, although not the same as Google Apps, there has still been a litany of problems with Dropbox. Take for example:
  • School Proxy. When staff come to school they need to manually change their preferences.
  • Multiple Documents. There is an agreed practise that if someone else already has a document open and you happen to create a copy then you are responsible to add the new information to the original.
  • Space. For staff who work across multiple areas, there is little space left in the standard 2GB after the various folders have been shared. This has led to putting some larger files, such as video, on the share drive.
  • Glitches. Some staff have issues with either uploading files, while others have done work at home only for the files to magically disappear at school.
And the list goes on. What this transition has taught me though is that we can spend forever looking for the perfect fix. However, the fix is only part of the solution. In addition to going through the process involved in coming to a decision, what we actually do once we have made that decision to change is just as important. What everyone really needs to learn is how to overcome various hurdles and hiccups. So often people think that the answer to problem solving is to holla for the nearest technician. Although there are some issues which we can’t solve, there are many which we can with a little nous. No matter how simple the solution, there will always be a problem that needs to be overcome. We need then a change of mindset, not to simply change the program every time we have a problem.

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