Today was our first day back and I was asked to help with our teacher training. I had all of my documents uploaded to our district email system and fortunately made a back up on a flash drive as well. As I woke up early and made final touches to my presentation I found out that our district email was down on the first day and I would have to go to a backup plan to display my presentation content.
Later in the day our superintendant wanted to show how technologically advanced our district was by talking to our 8,000 teachers at the same time via internet streaming. At every school throughout the district schools were scrambling to get the necessary computers set up, programs installed, internet connections correct, sound systems hooked up, projectors working all before the anticipated moment that our superintendant would speak to us. At the last second her image was projected through our computer to the screen in a small box. We then watched as a pixilated black and white image moved like an old kung fu movie disjointed from the sound that came shortly after. This presentation then got even more useless when our superintendant tried to show a video. The video began playing and no sound came at all. A joker in our group began lip reading and the staff chuckled under their breath at his farcical interpretation of the silent film. If our superintendant was attempting to show our district that technology was the way of the future, then I’ll gladly wait until the future to depend on this technology.
I am not opposed to technology. I spend way too much time on my computer each day and have my students use it each day as well. Yet, I’ve learned that it is tough to rely on technology. For every presentation that I do I have a backup paper and flash copy just in case. For anything on the web, I try and download it ahead of time so that I can play it of my computer instead of the web. In the classroom I have learned to jump to word wall games, while I figure out, which plug is not quite in when my projector won’t light up. No matter how cool the tech companies make their product look, it will always require a savvy human to make it function effectively.
So the next time you hear someone preaching about how their gizmo will revolutionize teaching, consider that for the price of one computer you could pay an average teacher for 56 hours of teaching. I bet that a teacher could accomplish more in 56 hours than that piece of technology can.
(In the comments below, please let me know of some of the good and bad experiences you have had using technology in the classroom.)