How long does it take to setup 35 laptops?

“It took me 40 minutes to get the kids on the computers,” is a common refrain that I hear from my colleagues when I talk to them about using technology tools in their classes.

They are tired of hunting down multiple carts, sometimes 4, with a capacity of 20 laptops each to accommodate their classes of 30-40 students.  Unfortunately, many of these laptops have missing keys, do not charge, malfunction, or are missing altogether from their carts.  By the time teachers have the students take out the laptops, wait for them to boot up, troubleshoot all the aforementioned problems, and finally login, up to 40 minutes of their instructional time has been wasted.

We are not the only school with a scarcity of functional technology.  A long time ago, I adopted the habit of setting up computers on student’s desks BEFORE they enter the room.  When I made this suggestion, I got a universal response of “That’s too much work,” “That’s the kids’ responsibility,” and “I don’t have time for that.”

So how much time does it take to setup a class set of 35 laptops with a few backups?  Watch this video that I made to find out.

How much is your instructional time worth to you?  Forty minutes wasted on setting up computers by the students from scratch or ten minutes to login as they complete a warm-up activity?  Instructional time is so precious, we can’t squander it watching students bottleneck at the laptop carts and then waiting for the computers to boot up as 6 or more students have to swap out their computer due to some unforeseen issue.

We can avoid almost ALL of these colossal distractions that can derail even the best lessons by being proactive.

Here are some other ideas on how to save instructional time and your sanity when dealing with a lack of devices at your school:

  • Take advantage of BYOD – Bring Your Own Device.  Can students use their smartphone to do your activity?  If so, that could cut your technology needs in half or even more.
  • Group the students – Make pairs or groups of 3 and you only need 1/2 or 1/3 of the number of laptops to accommodate your class.  In fact, sometimes having students in groups is the best format for your lesson since it can dramatically increase communication and collaboration.
  • Utilize a station model in which students rotate to a station with 4-8 computers in which they complete the assignment and then log off for the next group.
  • Enlist your assistant or support team members.  If you have a teacher assistant, have them escort kids to a computer lab or help you setup the computers prior to class.  Also, many schools employ a technology specialist (like me) who will help you with all the logistics of running a lesson with technology.

Long story short, we are teachers.  By definition, we adapt, overcome, and jerry-rig our way to success.  That’s what we do.  Simply apply those skills to using technology in your classroom and we will all have less headaches.

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