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10 creative uses for your under-used classroom computer

Ten creative uses for your under-used or unloved classroom PC or Mac

Do you have PC which sits somewhat under-used in a corner of your classroom? Perhaps it’s a cast-off from the computer suite which has been refitted with more up to date models, or a gift from a well meaning benefactor, or even just a piece of furniture which is there because every other classroom has one.
Every classroom computer, whatever state it is in, can be useful with a little lateral thinking. Here are 10 possible uses – some more unorthodox than others.

A Gateway EV500, found in a classroom in San M...

A Gateway EV500, found in a classroom in San Mateo, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. Use it as an interactive moving art display installation. Create  tag-clouds , post-it boards, or  wordle posters for current teaching topics. Or turn screenshots or photos of pupils’ work into permanently running custom screensavers. Alternatively, use a repeating Powerpoint presentation as an interactive display board – for example to display classwork, projects, upcoming events, helpful tips or reminders or lesson objectives and expectations.
  2. Use it as a research station for things which otherwise would not be researched. For example, you might create your own wikipedia style pages on a topic, or create a school / classroom Youtube account to display selected videos in a controlled environment. Or use the PC for enrichment – here’s a fabulous Anne Frank resource, which allows students to walk through an interactive house, as an example.
  3. Use is a repository – a store and record of everything taught in lessons – whiteboard screens, powerpoint or prezi presentations, handouts, homeworks or resources. Display the seating plan (2), classroom rules, pupil contracts, merits or house points etc.
  4. Use it as an alternative library – a source of eBooks (many are available at low cost for schools – here, here and here or free- here, here and here), audiobooks – again many are available free, and more here; or a DVD station. Also, you can install a computerised library system for your classroom / year group books on it. This software is perfect.
  5. Use the computer to create podcasts or a classroom radio station. This one is easy to use, free and works on older machines. There’s more advice on free software here.  These can be uploaded to itunes podcasts, where there are also thousands of educational and curriuclum based podcasts which can be listened to or downloaded from itunes university.
  6. Use planning and mind mapping software. Or turn your computer into a text to speech facility to allow your pupils to hear their writing read back to them. Here’s a great free application .
  7. Create a bank of revision materials and videos from youtube – like this one.
  8. Extend areas of your non-core curriculum – for example Art – Artrage (the starter edition is free), Music – Sibellious, Art – Photoshop, Sports coaching.
  9. Use online resources, such as Flickr, to create a resource bank of images to use as an impetus for creative writing, (more here),  humanities projects, art or displays.
  10. Set up a moderated and safe email pen pals scheme – such as epals – communicate with different countries, cultures, and in different languages.

Finally – give it some personality. The one in my classroom is called Trevor.


Tom Tolkien is a qualified teacher with senior leadership experience in a 3-13 prep school and teaching experience in Key Stages 1,2 and 3. If you require consultancy and curriculum advice, tutoring in English, Maths or History, or you are looking to fill a part time or full time vacancy for a teaching position, please contact him via this website or Linkedin.

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