Saturday, November 12, 2011

Technology in the Classroom is a Disaster waiting to Happen!

"Mr. J.P., I have a problem, Glogster is out and I have a Philosophy presentation..!"

"I can't get connected to the Internet."

"Oh yeah, the sound system is not working, why? Beats me!"

Rings a bell? You know you've been there. I remember back in the days, when a Power Point presentation, a white screen, a huge CPU and a projector were the coolest thing around, I had this practicum doctor as a Biology teacher who ran into a tech problem and would simply cancel the session for that day. Well, so much for significant learning...

Once I heard a preacher say that all things in their original form are better. He would give the example of the typewriter and the upcoming of the electric ones. In the event of a blackout, he would say, you can no longer use the electric typewriter. Now, this was back in the 90's. Today, pretty much everything has an electric and/or digital version. Just think about all the problems you could run into, especially if your life pretty much depends on your phone's battery life. And what have we done?: bring this technology into our classrooms, but it did not come alone. Tech brought with it the potential disasters and nerve-wrecking events that haunt us and will probably happen within the walls of our classroom (or outside of it) as we apply these technological software.

Here's a list of some mishaps you have probably been through or will eventually be when using technology in the classroom. Place a check if it rings a bell. ;)

-Your students are presenting today using Prezi, which is loaded with pics and vids; it is taking half of the class period for it to load. You planned for three groups to present today, but this one could not get done.

-You are using Twitter today, so you need to report it due to your school's firewall. The "guy" in charge of un-blocking social networks has reported himself sick. Try to get him on the phone and you'll get to the end of your class...

-You see the six birdies carrying the huge elephant. (Twitterates will understand what I'm talking about.)

-The computer is simply not starting.

-There is no Internet connection! Why? There could be many reasons for this: do I really need to number them? Yeah, didn't think so. You're not getting connected anytime soon anyway.

-You get the lovely "Sorry for the inconvenience" message. Yeah, you want to know how sorry I am?!

-The QR codes are too loaded and there is no Apple® that will de-code them.

-You're in the middle of the coolest Slide Rocket presentation ever, kids are back-channeling, the class is super engaging, interactive learning is taking place, and bang! Power blackout. A special thank-you tweet to your electricity provider would be nice. Except it will have to be with your phone.

-The bandwidth in your school is so slow that if you are going to be watching a10-min TED talk in the class, you must start the video 30 min before it begins, and hopefully it has loaded halfway by then.

-One of your students' device is missing! Oh man, this one can make time stop!

-You have a Skype session with your epals in Polland (ok, in the hypothetical case that your school allowed a sleep-over with everyone on pj's and mattresses in the classroom) and your speakers are not working. Let's call "techy" guy for troubleshooting...wait, it's 2 hours past midnight! Time to practice sign language...

-"Something appears to be broken here".

-404 Site not found. Look again!

-You can't see the video in full screen because once you do that, all you get is a dark screen. God knows why that happens. Your kids have to cram closer to the little projection. Too bad for Tim and his vision problems.

-You have to be disconnecting the monitor to connect your projector every time you are going to use it. Ask your school's geek what that does to your hardware.

-Your SmartBoard® went "dumb" today for no reason. (Or your Promethean® , or your Mimio® board)

-Guess what, the electronic pen ran out of batteries! You must order fresh ones with a two-day advance...:/

And the list goes on. Now, one characteristic of an innovative teacher is creativity and pretty much being able to cope with adversity in the saddest times. So, these are the moments to pull out those superpowers.

First thing to do is relax, or at least seem relaxed. It is not a good message to students if you start sweating and losing it right there in front of them.

I truly believe you should always have a "Plan B" under your sleeve. Maybe not written necessarily, but at least the "what if" idea. That will help you in the relaxing process.

So, let's keep the conversation going. Please share with us what was your most recent technological disaster (hey, how about a Twitter hashtag #techdisaster...nah, too long) and how did you get around it. Hearing from other experienced educators would help us remember that we are not invulnerable.

Take care everyone and may the Lord Almighty give you strength and patience when things don't happen the way we wished they did.
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