Class ahead of the world

St James Primary teacher Joe Stewart has brought new technology to the classroom.
St James Primary teacher Joe Stewart has brought new technology to the classroom.

THIS bunch of fourth graders is the only class in Australia to trial technology that could revolutionise the way in which our kids and those in third world countries learn.

St James Primary School teacher Joe Stewart was so jealous when another class was presented with an interactive whiteboard (IWB) last year that he went home and built his own.

A Wii remote, a doorbell and a projector later, Joe had his own IWB but he still was not satisfied.

“Once there’s two or more kids writing on an IWB, they become very un-interactive and no one can see the board,” he said.

The floodgates had been opened for Mr Stewart’s creativity and he began exploring interactive multi-user interface like a man possessed.

“I found a program called Mouse Mischief that gave each child in a classroom an active presence on the screen via their own mouse,” he said

“I had to have it.”

He sent emails all over the world and tracked down the program’s developer in India, where they were trialling the program, and convinced the developer to send him a copy, under the proviso that he give feedback and not distribute it.

It was being trialled in third world nations as way of keeping the costs of computer technology down, at around $10 per mouse.

Mr Stewart said that a class can be set up with Mouse Mischief for around $500, in comparison to the thousands that an IWB costs.

“It’s only a tool and it’s not used all day,” he said, adding that when you pay thousands for something there’s the tendency to try to get your money’s worth.

“The class love it, they can collaborate and all have a presence.

“Kids love technology and it’s my obligation to pursue it as much as possible.”

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