Maximize Student Time-on-Task

Question: What are some strategies for maximizing student time-on-task in the computer lab and minimizing wasted time with non-curricular technology tasks?

The IT Guy says:

Student time in the computer lab is generally in short supply. Teaching and encouraging the use of “template files†can be an effective way to reduce wasted time in the computer lab and get students on task faster. Websites used for a particular lesson can be embedded within a template file, which can be a word processor, presentation, or graphic organizer file. Another benefit of using a template file is that every student, upon opening the file, gets his/her own “untitled†copy of the original document, which is not alterable by a student double clicking it.

Saving template files in a network folder to which students only have “read†access is also an effective strategy. Teachers can place files for their lessons in the template directory, but students cannot delete or change those files provided their network rights for that folder are “read onlyâ€.

Teaching students to always save their file first when starting a project can also save a lot of time and headaches down the road. Students as well as teachers must learn to make two fundamental decisions every time they save a computer file: what to name the file (NAME) and where to save it (LOCATION.) You can configure lab computers to save student files by default in a public shared directory, or in the student’s home directory (if students logon with unique user IDs and passwords), but the speed value of this configuration should be weighted against the dire need for every computer user to learn about file management. Students as well as teachers must understand how to save files in different locations, and if the lab is configured to “do all the thinking for the users,†their individual levels of computer literacy could be lower as a result.

Next Tip: Classroom Teacher Role in the Lab

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