Teaching & Technology: Laptop Cart Issues

I, and one other teacher in my building, applied for and were selected for the Middle Years Laptop Pilot in the Minneapolis Public Schools. What I get for being in this pilot are a teacher laptop, which I'm typing on right now. I also get to attend a series of workshops and seminars (of which I hope to teach one on using Twitter in Teaching). The most important thing I get is a cart of 20 MacBooks in a Bretford Cart (the cart is important, more on that shortly).

The laptops arrived on Thursday and our building tech spent the afternoon setting them up, which I was very grateful for.

That, however, is when the problems started. Here's the list of things that went wrong on Friday:
  • There are three power switches on the charging cart, only one got turned on.
On the outside of the cart, there is a master power switch. On the inside, each shelf of laptops has it's own switch. These weren't flipped on. Luckily, the first thing I did was open the cart, try to turn on a dead laptop and figure out the switch debacle.
  • The log-in screen only had teacher names.
Yep, just teachers. No students. Luckily, there is an "other" log-in that we can use if students know there actual user name (which is different from the log-in screen).
  • Using "other," only half of the students were able to log-in
Don't really know why on this on. If they know the user name and password, they should have been able to log-in.
  • Students who could log-in kept getting an error message that would pop-up every 5 seconds, meaning they couldn't do any other work.
Yeah, that was pretty much the last straw.

Luckily, all of my students were understanding, even if they were frustrated. I told them that I was frustrated too.

My next class was able to work with a district who happened to be in the building and get all 20 of the laptops working. I don't know the issues were but my students were patient enough to wait, help and be tech assistants. That was pretty cool to watch.

We were able to do some work on Moodle with embedded Wallwisher page. Day 1 with the laptops, despite frustrations, was decent. I'm looking forward to having everyone on the laptops this week and seeing how engagement increases.


  1. What's the matter with those people running this project? They should have given you a heads up on the power issues around the cart!

    All kidding aside (I'm one of those guys coordinating this project), I think it's critical to stay in the "pilot project" mindset and, if possible, do a dry run on anything you can before going for it with kids.

    Of course, the luxury of time to practice isn't really a part of reality in the classroom, is it?

    I guess we are learning from our mistakes, just like you did between class one and class two.

  2. Hey Todd! Thanks for the comment.

    This post was not blaming in any way. I use my blog to share my experiences and learn from myself. Hopefully, what I write will help others in some way.

    There isn't a ton of time for dry runs. My students were awesome about the issues. We were able to get them running with help from Readus.

    Now, if I could just get my own kids to stop being sick, I could actually be at school and using the laptops!


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