Student: “Sir! My pencil broke!”
Teacher: “Oh geez! Not again! Ok, go down the hall to the Writing Utensil Specialist” and ask her to reset your pencil.”
It was in the middle of one of my digital photo classes and my students were getting a little rambunctious. Naturally I got frustrated with their behavior, minutes later it dawned on me. It wasn’t them so much as it was the tech issue they were dealing with. They were to upload photos to our class blog and reflect on them. Of course, the network was not being kind to us and the uploads of very small resized images was taking a long time and in a few instances, they weren’t uploading at all.
Same day, Patrick has my lab checked out and has a videocomponent in his middle school tech course. He was having his own set of issues with compatibility and so forth. So while the kids were working on their video project, we cracked open a cold one. What?! No, it wasn’t a beer…although we could have really used one at that point. As we sipped our synthetically sweetened carbonated beverage, we laughed about the sometimes absurd nature of tech in schools and tech integration. How can we as tech teachers promote tech integration when we know of the problems that can arise (and they do arise) and how frustrating it can be at times.
Seriously, how many “issues” could arise when having a dialogue in a Social Studies class about dictatorship, revolutions, or racism. What would it look like?
Student: “The whiteboard eraser is streaking. Sir! We can’t write on the board…it’s streaking…what do we do? How can we complete this task?”
Teacher: “Yeah, we have been having this problem around school. We’re trying a workaround. But for now, I’ll run and get one of the WB Eraser Staff members and they can defrag our board. Just sit tight”
Student: ” “;
Teacher: “Billy, your answer is blank. Can you retry please?”
Student: ” “;
Teacher: “Damn! Did you install the new audio codec on your vocal chords? What? Did you try the Strepsils 2.0??”
All joking aside…no really, lets be serious for a moment. Tech in schools is prone to problems. But that is part of this wired world and students are learning valuable lessons as they deal with these issues. It can just be very frustrating when it gets in the way of learning. That’s why I think tech integration pushes for the sake of being “in with the times” is useless. The technology being used needs to be proven. It needs to be tested. And a back up assignment/activity needs to be in place in the event of a tech meltdown. And they happen. Just ask any tech teacher.