Teaching With Gadgets

How Technology Can Help Today's Teacher

Monday, January 16, 2006

Flying High With Wi-Fi

Wi-fi is, perhaps, one of the greatest inventions of the last decade. From a teaching standpoint it has made my life so efficient that I no longer can do without it.

I got my first Wi-Fi router almost three years ago. Most Windows Mobile devices were starting to include Wi-Fi inside the package and I manged to pick up a PC Card for my notebook computer. Ahhhhh, the joy of being able to sit outside on a nice summer day to conduct research for my lessons (yes, there are those of us in the profession who actually do plan over the summer months!).

Only recently, though, have I leveraged the technology in my classroom. While my school does not have wireless access points per se, it's really not that difficult to add it into your classroom.

My dad had recently purchased a computer and he received a D-Link wireless router with the machine (about $40). All Dad wants to do is to hop on the internet using his boat anchor of a computer. He lovingly gave me the router.

I must say that I enjoy a productive relationship with the IT guys at my school district. They provided me with the proxy address (most districts will employ this for security reasons). I simply plugged the router into the wall, entered the proxy address in Internet Explorer and, voila, I was surfing the Internet on my TC1100 tablet!

Now I am completely mobile. I use Gradebook Wizard (www.gradebookwizard.com) to store my grades. I was able to walk between the hallway and my classroom and have access at all time. The tablet allows me to post grades immediately for my parents to view and allows me to respond in good time to any e-mail requests that they may have. I'd say that my turn-around time with parental response is under an hour. This is due to always having a device that can connect to Wi-Fi.

Today, I was using OneNote to take my students through a guided lesson for their science projects. I used wireless Internet to insert bits and pieces of information into OneNote. Amazing technology!

Teachers, talk to your District and see what they can do to help implement wireless technology. Whether you own a table, Windows Mobile device, Palm, or even a notebook computer, you won't know how you lived without it!