Pete Roythorne gets to grips with Atomic Learning
A major issue surrounding ICT in the classroom is training teachers to use the technology they have at their fingertips. Not everybody is so comfortable with technology that they can just play around in their spare time and learn through trial and error. For the rest of us it's training courses, but getting time away from school to go on relevant courses is never easy. Also, courses tend to be tailored to the lowest common denominator so you don't necessarily learn what you need toI
One of the things I have seen working well in schools is an "ICT buddy" system where each department, or set group of teachers, has an ICT guru who they can turn to for help. The groups also get together to share best practice and tips on their use of ICT.
However, there is another more immediate way of getting the ICT help you need: if you haven't yet discovered Atomic Learning, then your ICT prayers have just been answered.
Atomic Learning is a web-based, learning-on-demand resource, which provides thousands of bite-sized tutorials on dozens of applications, covering most of the common classroom applications for Windows and Mac computers. It even covers software such as StarOffice and OpenOffice. The service is subscription-based and you can get this to cover the whole school - staff and students. Costs vary depending on the size of your school, but it's worth speaking to your LEA as some authorities are getting subscriptions for all of their schools.
When you go to the Atomic Learning website, click on your required platform (Mac or Windows) and you'll see a range of software titles. Click on one of these and you'll be confronted with a list of topics, each of which links through to a video clip which tells you how to perform the function you require.
Let's say you want to know how to import text from Word into a PowerPoint file on your PC. Click "PowerPoint - Intro", then under the heading "working with text" you simply click on "3. Importing text from Word". The following video clip walks (and talks) you through the process. Each clip is short (between one and three minutes), so is easily digestible and straight to the point, telling you just what you need to know. And if you don't understand the first time you see the clip, just keep running it until you do.
Of course, it's not just for teachers. The package is equally useful for students. You will need to have Flash Player loaded on your computer, but the site will guide you through this. All you need to do is enjoy your new-found wealth of ICT knowledge.
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