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Experiences of Teachers using Laptops with

Circus and Fairground Children.

The teachers of the Circus and Fairground children had the use of a laptop for the use of the project. Having completed their initial training, they were encouraged to use the laptop on site with the children in whatever way they so wished.. Here is a summary of what they reported:

Word processing: Children were encouraged to use the laptops to complete some written assignments. At first this was time-consuming but children' speed and accuracy increased with time. Not having a printer on site was a hindrance but some teachers saved work and printed it in school the following day and subsequently brought work back to children.

Software: Teachers were all given different software titles covering different aspects of the curriculum. This ensured children would not be exposed to the same software with each teacher but have experience with a variety of titles. This was the most common and successful usage of the laptop with children.

Internet and email: Not feasible due to the slowness of the mobile phone system. A special cable connecting the families' mobile hone to the laptop can make a connection but a trial showed it to be overly time-consuming. With the development of 3G mobile phones over the coming years, this option could be looked at again.

Lack of fixed line: Initially, teachers found that using laptop battery in the absence of a main power supply led to unexpected crashes but with greater experience, teachers organised their laptops to be fully changed up before going out on site.

European Experience: A recent distance education technology project with the aim of bringing direct multimedia lessons to the Circus and Fairground children using satellite technology has been completed. The project was a very high-tech project and technical difficulties with its implementation caused it not be as successful as was envisioned originally. This highlighted to teachers the danger of being too ammbitious with technoogy, loosing sight of the primary educational work.