It is possible to infuse ICT into your classroom programmes in a meaningful way even when you only have limited resources. Even though there are lots of things out there that look cool, do amazing things, etc, they won't necessarily enhance learning outcomes for your students.

What follows is some ideas and suggestions for making use of what you do have access to when planning to incorporate ICT into your classroom. It is by no means an exhaustive list and there are many other possibilities that you might come across/come up with.

A lot of the work arounds I have used over the years have involved me making use of my own digital devices and my own Internet access. This is a choice I have consciously made because I believe in the importance of giving children opportunities to learn, experiment and explore with ICT as it is a part of the world in which they are growing up.

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| Computer Suite or Mobile Pods | Limited or No Internet Access | Sound Recording | Photography & Video | Projectors and IWBs | Other | Links

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The 1 or 2 Computer Classroom

Management and organisation are the key here.
Make use of rotating systems, timetables, lists with pegs or magnets that are moved to the next person's name when it is their turn, or any similar system that works for you.
Setting time limits is another useful strategy. Use a timer if necessary. We all have those kids who seem to take for ever to complete work on the computer. If you use a rotating system then they will be able to return to the task at a later date.
Teach a new skill, task, tool, etc to 1 or 2 children. They then become your experts and can teach the next people on the list. Have your experts talk the next person through the task. I encourage my experts to keep their hands off the mouse and let the person they're teaching "drive". I teach my experts in the same way to model what I would like them to do. This has the added advantage of helping the children practise giving clear instructions to others. Eventually your whole class should have had a chance to be the "expert". For the last 2 on the list - make them your first experts next time so that they get a turn at this role. By spreading the expertise across the class it also means that the same few children aren't continually interrupted by others and everyone has a chance to learn.

Jacqui Sharp has some great suggestions on her ICT PD Wiki page and in her blog post here.

Computer Suite or Mobile Pods

Sometimes you can only access computers during your weekly visit to the computer suite/lab or it may be that your school has a pod of computers that are shared amongst classes either on a regular or first come first served basis. What ever the situation, you are faced with not having continuous access to computers for your class to use. This can make ongoing or long term projects difficult to manage.
I tended to find that it paid to do any back ground research and planning in advance. Thus, if you wanted your students to produce a slide show or movie relating to an Inquiry unit for example, they would research the information and create a storyboard of their presentation prior to having access to computers. If it was part of a group project this is the time to assign roles and establish who will have responsibility for each part. Once the children were working on the computers it is worth setting time limits so that they don't waste the time that you have available. Setting up timelines and checkpoints is also helpful for monitoring the students' progress and for keeping them on track.

Sometimes you are faced with only enough computers for one between two as well as the access issue. Pairing the students up can be helpful in this situation. I used to set a separate task that didn't require computer access for one partner to complete while the other partner was on the computer. Then half way through the time slot the partners would switch. This was only necessary for tasks such as creating a drawing or drafting a piece of writing on the computer. When the children were engaged in tasks such as reading and responding to blogs, researching information, etc they could easily do this as a pair.


Limited or No Internet Access

No matter how you go about it, creating a blog with your class is not something you should just jump into. You must make sure you are aware of your school's policies with regards to posting children's work on the Internet, have sought written permission from parents and guardians and put appropriate safe guards in place. Take the time to look at what other schools are doing. What do you like about their blogs? What don't you like? What would work for your class? Make sure you have a clear purpose for blogging. Seek advice from other established teacher bloggers. A class blog has a lot of potential for enhancing the learning experiences of your class; however, lack of thought and planning can have the opposite effect.
Karen McMillan wrote in her blog about the idea of practising the concept of blogging using paper This is a great way to help kids get the idea of blogging, have them think about writing for an audience and also to have them practise writing comments and feedback for others. This is a great idea to use when introducing blogging to any students. In a classroom where you have limited or no Internet access you could then choose to post some of these posts for your class and share any feedback with them. The children have then been engaged in the act of composing the post - which is one of the most important aspects, you have helped to widen their audience by posting it for them and by sharing feedback this will hopefully increase their motivation to write.


Children could type blog posts in a "Word" document (or similar). In fact I have my younger students do this when they first start blogging so that we can conference about the blog post and make editing and revision changes as necessary. It has the added advantage of allowing me to monitor and moderate what is going online before my children hit the "submit" button. When you have limited/no connectivity (and this can happen even in the most connected classroom if the server decides to stop working for some reason) these documents can be saved onto a data stick and transferred to your home computer or TELA laptop for uploading. It also means that if your only access to the internet is via a computer suite or similar, that you are able to take the children's work with you to upload while you are there.
Using good old pen and paper you could compose a class blog post as a piece of shared writing and then type it up yourself when you have access to the Internet. To share the final result with the children (and any comments they may have received) you could try caching the page on your laptop to show them at school. This is as simple as opening the page on your computer while you have Internet access and then taking your computer to class with the page still open. You just have to remember to plug your computer in at school so that you don't lose the page because your battery decides to go flat. Another option is to simply print the page out. Or you could use Web2PDF which has a number of options for turning a web page into a PDF document which you can save to open on any computer with Acrobat Reader (or any other PDF reading programme).

It's worth remembering that your students may have access to the Internet at home, which means that an online blog post allows them to share their work with their families. It also means that they may be able to track their feedback/comments from home.

Collaborative Projects
Keypals, Travel Buddies, Postcard Exchanges, Flat Stanley, Monster Projects - these are just some of the possibilities for engaging your students in collaborative projects where they have the opportunity to learn, engage and interact with students across the country or even across the globe. The great thing is that you don't necessarily have to have regular or whole class access to the Internet/ computers in order to participate. In fact I had classes involved in many of these projects as early as 1998. At the time we had 1 computer in our classroom and the only access we had to the Internet was my home computer with its dial up modem.

The following links will take you to websites where you can explore/ sign up for many of these projects:
Keypals, Travel Buddies & Other Online Projects
Postcard Exchange
Monster Exchange and
Flat Stanley Project
Quad Blogging

For additional information you can check out this page on the wiki - Creature Collaborations

Don't forget that these can still be useful if you have them available to you. If you have Encarta Encyclopedia the children can practise their research skills just as easily as they can with Google. Programmes such as Reader Rabbit give children the opportunity to engage with technology while reinforcing literacy and mathematics. Just be aware that most of these are designed to run on just one machine unless your school has licensing for more.

Software Availability
"Paint" is a standard programme on most Windows based computers. It's a seemingly simple programme but one that actually has a lot of potential for use in your classroom. You can use it to create diagrams, a sequence of slides for a simple animation, to modify a photograph, create illustrations for a piece of writing. I am a huge advocate for children creating their own digital illustrations to use in their work as opposed to clip art that was created by someone else.


... and after



If you are using Linux or Mac computers "Paint" won't be an option. The following programmes are free.
Sumo Paint
Sumo Paint is an online/web based drawing and photo editing programme. These are examples of pictures created using this programme.
Butterflyinvasion.jpg planet_image.jpg
Mac only. Download onto your computer. Can be used as a drawing tool, for photo editing and even takes screen shots.

Windows, Mac or Linux. A free download that can be placed on as many computers as you wish. Kid friendly with lots features that will appeal to younger students.


Don't have access to "Microsoft Word", "Publisher" or "Pages" (for Macs)? If you have internet access then there is always Google Documents (with the added advantage of being to be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection).
If you want to create a web page for your school or class you don't necessarily need to use a programme loaded onto your computer. Once again Google has an option called Google SItes. Or you could create a Wikispaces page just like this one. Just click on the Wikispaces logo at the top of this page to find out more.
Don't have Garage Band and yet want to have your students create their own music for projects? Try Aviary's newest addition, their Music Creator. While you're there you might like to check out some of the other tools they have available.
Want to create simple slideshow movies with audio and/or music with your students? Haven't got Kidpix or Pixie? Try Photostory - a free Microsoft download (unfortunately it's PC only).
Don't have Comic Life but would like to have students create a project in a similar style. Simply open a "Word" document and use the Autoshapes and Text boxes to create a similar result. To insert pictures into the autoshapes I just right click on the shape, select Format Autoshape, select Fill background (or background colour), choose the option for using a picture, browse for the picture I want and it's done. Obviously it takes a little more time and effort then using the Comic Life programme; however, it does give the children an opportunity to develop their skills, discover what the programme can do and engage in a bit of problem solving.
Pikikids is an online alternative, although it can be a bit fiddly to use. You can embed the finished product on your blog.
Comix is a simple to use option. It's quite a basic set up but easy to use and the finished product can be saved to your computer.

Sound Recording

Many computers come with built in microphones. If they don't then you can pick up an external microphone that plugs in to your computer fairly inexpensively. Another option is to purchase headphones that come with a microphone attached. Many computers will have some form of software included as part of the standard operating system that will allow you to record and save sounds to your computer.
If you have the finances to do so, purchasing an Easispeak microphone is a great way of recording kids contributions. They are sturdy and kid friendly, saving recordings in mp3 format. It is also possible to purchase relatively inexpensive mp3 recorders from places such as Dick Smith's or JB HiFi.
Most modern cellphones have the ability to record sounds. If your phone also has Bluetooth enabled and you have Bluetooth on your computer, you can easily record with your phone and send the recording to computer via the Bluetooth connection.

Photography & Video

I often use my own digital camera in the classroom, although I monitor the children's use of it quite carefully. This works for me because we have one camera in our classroom and bringing in mine allows more children to have access. In the past I found it useful to use my own camera, particularly in schools where we only owned one or two cameras for the whole school.

Remember your cellphone may be able to take photos too, although you might want to weigh up all the pros and cons of this, particularly if wanting to photograph students.

Cellphones and digital cameras both have the ability to record video - not hours worth, but certainly enough to be useful in the classroom. Keep this in mind if you don't have easy access to a video camera.

For an easy to use and kid friendly video camera option there is the Flip video recorder. I take mine to school and let the kids use it. With a few ground rules in place they are really good about looking after it. In fact, even though it belongs to me, it is mostly only used in my classroom.

Remember too - although it can be a bit limited and tricky computer webcams, either built in or attached are another option for videoing, especially for situations such as interviews, journal plays, etc.

Projectors and IWBs

I don't actually have a projector in my classroom, I do have a TV set that connects to my laptop which I use in place of a projector. This is a good alternative (depending on the age of the TV when it comes to connecting it to a computer). Another option is to attach a second, slightly larger computer monitor to your laptop to increase the number of people able to view your screen at one time.
Prior to having a projector I would often simply gather a small group around a computer and we'd look at what ever it was that I wanted to show them. Then we'd rotate onto the next task and I might have another group come and look/work with more or leave one of my newly created "experts" from the previous group to take charge while I moved on to work on a different teaching task. This works for me as one of the reasons I often use a projector is to teach everyone how to use a particular tool at one time, by breaking it down into smaller groups I could achieve the same ends with just my laptop.
When I did have a projector - but no interactive white board - I found that projecting onto my normal classroom white board allowed us to "write" and "draw" on the image using whiteboard pens. If I particularly wanted to keep what we'd done I would take a photo with a digital camera or project onto a piece of newsprint or cartridge that I could store or hang up on the wall.


Have you ever thought about how you could use your old Playstation in the classroom?

What about Nintendo DS? Especially with programmes like Brain Training.

iPods - as members of my family have bought themselves newer models I've gathered up their old iPods for use in the classroom. A basic iPod shuffle makes a great listening post if used with a splitter for multiple headphones, or as an individualised reading programme, spelling tester, etc.

Old computers that still have life in them but no one wants any more? They may not connect to the Internet or your school server, but can be great to use with stand alone software, or as a computer for word processing, etc.

There are many possibilities depending on the needs of your class and the situation you are in. It all comes down to creativity. What innovative ways can you come up with to include ICT amongst your repertoire of tools for enhancing and supporting teaching and learning?


ICT PD Wiki page

Jacqui Sharp's Blog
Paper Blogging
Keypals, Travel Buddies & Other Online Projects
Postcard Exchange
Monster Exchange and
Flat Stanley Project

Quad Blogging
Google Documents
Google SItes.
Music Creator
Comic Life
National Geographic Photo of the Day
Story Bird
Big Huge Labs
Glogster Edu
Lego Digital Designer