With this new piece of technology spreading across to another school (at least) this year, it has gotten me thinking about what other systems might exist that could help make our jobs easier and more efficient so we can spend more time worrying about lesson plans and helping kids than the drudgery of filing cabinets.
Free systems like Schoology or Edmodo have facebook-like interfaces and can keep track of attendance, grades, communication, file uploads, and more. Instead of making a separate blog for each class on various websites, these services provide them in one location. Instead of documenting everything on paper and wasting energy to recycle that paper years later (if it doesn't end up in a trash heap), we can digitize things so they are more easily and freely accessible. I plan on using Schoology this year with my students so that we all can keep track of things we need to.
But don't fall into the trap of thinking every new piece of technology is the "silver bullet" for your classroom. Really think about what it does and how it changes your interaction with students. For me something like Schoology will definitely provide more feedback to my students at a faster rate than it would without. It will save paper, of course, but it will also save students from the inherent disorganization some of them have. It is impossible to lose something you never physically have. Granted, that means I have to trust in the servers of Schoology to never shut down; but I have enough faith in them to keep them up.
I've also thought more deeply about the need to have an interactive whiteboard (IWB) in my classroom. More specifically, I don't need it. An IWB almost forces the attention of the class in one location and make me feel like I need to be standing next to it the entire class period. Instead, I made the decision to purchase the Wacom Intuos4 Wireless so that I can walk around my classroom and write on the projection on the board. This tool will allow me to walk around the room and share writing with my students as well. Instead of having to ome all the way to the front of the room to solve a problem, they can do it at their seats. Amazing.
These two are just two systems that I think will help keep classrooms student-centered and more efficient. More are always welcome. Good luck on a great 2011-2012 school year!