OER4Schools/ICT/01 Netbook familiarisation/zm

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Educator note

The following activity, as with other activities in later sessions, assumes that you have some netbooks available. If you have other forms of ICT available, you could use those instead. In future sessions, we will use internet browsing, spreadsheets and GeoGebra (among other applications), so if you doing the OER4Schools programme with ICT, then it's important that you have access to these.

If you are doing the programme without ICT, you can skip this part, and instead spend longer on the other activities in this session.

Activity icon.png Same-task group work (20 min): Practical activity exploring netbooks. Here is a netbook familiarisation activity that you can use with your students. Spend some time working through the activity yourself now and think about how your students will respond to it. Make sure that you can answer all of the questions.

Netbook familiarisation activity

small group of pupils working with a netbook computer

Take the school netbooks to your class - making sure that they are carried and used according to the rules set by the school.

The pupils work in mixed ability groups (with computers distributed evenly). Groups do not need to progress at the same speed: There will be faster groups and slower groups. However, the faster groups should be helping the slower groups. If a fast group has managed to do something, their task is to split up and help others to reach the same stage!


  1. Exploration of turning on a computer. Allow pupils to figure out how to turn them on (find the power button). The pupils should be discussing this in the groups. Encourage them, e.g. by making analogies with other electrical devices. If they are stuck, first show one group and then ask that group to show others. When they have managed to turn on the computers, they should observe what happens; the login screen comes up. Remember that faster groups should help slower groups.
  2. Exploration of the login screen. Ask groups: What do you need to do next? What do the parts of the netbook do? Can you give names to the parts? Give them plenty of time to discover and press things on the netbook (with the password screen up), without telling them. They can’t really break anything if they are careful. Let them help each other and discuss with each other what they are finding out.
  3. Logging in. When groups have figured out how to type text, tell one group about the username and password, and see whether they can enter them. When they have managed to do so, they should immediately help other groups to reach the same stage.
    1. username: classroom
    2. password: student
  4. Exploration of the desktop. They now need to apply their new knowledge: “click” on “username” classroom, and “enter” the “password” student. They now see the desktop. When a group is ready to move to the next stage, the teacher demonstrates how to open a web browser (to that group). Ask the students to do the same. Again, the students find out what happens. Don’t worry if they can’t open the web browser - let them try to open whatever applications they like. After a while, repeat the instructions about opening a web browser to the same group. Again, get the groups to help each other how to open the browser. They should immediately share anything they find out with the whole class.

This activity is an example of enquiry-based learning, which we will cover in much greater detail later in the OER4Schools programme.

You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Netbook familiarisation.

Here is a Zambian teacher's experience of introducing netbooks to her class:

The netbook familiarisation was impressive. Each and every pupil participated fully. What was more impressive was the fact that some of the pupils were very much acquainted with the computers. They can open, they can play games, they are also able to type, they are able to close. So they were able to help others. Of course this no go without challenges. Some pupils had never seen computers before. Nor touch them. So it was difficult for them. However, after being helped, they found it so interesting that they did not want to stop. Just look forward to working with them once again.

While participants learn about their own use of ICT, it is really important that participants are aware of their own learning process. While they are learning about ICT, participants should think about how they could engage their students in the same learning process.

This of course could apply to learning anything new, but in the context of the OER4Schools programme, ICT is likely to be a completely new skill, so it's particularly important to bring awareness to the process.

Educator note

Each participant should log in and out several times. If they just do it once (or even just watch once), they will not remember. How difficult do they find typing at this stage? How difficult will your students find it? Encourage discussion about this during this part of the session.