. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Technically Cursed

Friday, April 22, 2011

Technically Cursed

I [heart] technology.

But technology does not [heart] me back.

Every time, no wait...

EVERY time I use it, ANY of it, in my classroom, it craps in my hand and runs away.

And these are the words coming out of the mouth (keyboard) of someone who is pretty durn adept at using technology.

Take a stroll with me down Technology Torture Lane:

Our district pays good moola for us to have access to Discovery Education, and I have made it my mission in life to put that moola, combined with our class set of notebook computers, to good use this year. Many weekends have been spent developing lessons that integrate the vidoes and other pieces available on the site, only to find that our bandwidth is inadequate for all the students to stream said videos at the same time or even for ME to stream them on my computer alone for the kids.

If, by some blessing from the bandwidth fairies, students can stream videos on their notebook computers, then no fewer than eight of those computers will require a reboot in the middle of the activity for no particular reason, causing panic and disappointment on a monumental level for those nine-year-olds because it takes at least 10 minutes for their computers to complete a reboot.

Challenge 1: Give yourself and your family big bowls of your favorite ice cream, but you sit there for 10 minutes doing nothing while they eat theirs, complete with lots of slurpy sounds and yummy moans. Sucks, huh?

Or, since some of the computers have Internet Explorer as the default browser and others have Mozilla and one or the other is incompatible with Discovery's streaming (depending on how the wind blows), some kids can stream and others can't and a third group can stream but without any sound.

What was intended to be a highly engaging activity melts down into an hour of me running around helping distraught miniature scientists who just want to watch a damn video clip on electromagnets, build a digital frickin' version of one, and take a gosh darn quiz on what they just did.

Instead, they get a tiny hourglass on their computers and a frustrated teacher trying desperately not to lose her s&!t in front of them.

So then I decide to give myself and my kiddos a break from Death by Discovery Education, and we bust out Qwizdom. Qwizdom has standards-based lessons and quizzes and much more, and each student gets a remote...

WE GET REMOTES! yesssssssss [insert fist pump]...

that they can use to send their answers to my computer. We get immediate feedback on how well they did on each question (complete with a pie graph). The power students feel just by being handed a remote is palpable. Qwizdom is a useful, fairly straightforward, tool and SUUUUPER motivating to the students...

...when it works...

I am about to clap out then number of times it has worked this year. Ready? Here I go:

Did you hear that? THAT was what zero claps sound like. (I told you I was technologically literate.)

Of course, it always works for SOME of the students, but never for all of them which leaves those without a remote feeling dejected, disappointed, and decidedly UNmotivated. (See Challenge 1)

So I give up on all the fancy-dancy stuff and just get out their notebook computers again for them to use ST Math, an online math instruction site which we use because of a grant our district received.

...except we can't use it...

...at least not all of us because three computers crashed, two students can't remember their eighteen character passwords, the Internet dropped off and we all lose access, and then when it comes back twelve computers now have the site displayed only the right halves of their screens and there is no sound.

It's enough to drive a girl to drink...

...in class...

...WITH the kids.

But I won't.

Because drinking requires some sort of device to cool the beverages, like a refrigerator, which might be considered technology by some standards...

... and I'm afraid it might rise up and kill me.


Anonymous said...

Oh Edna Lee--you are a girl after my own heart! I have gone to a WHOLE LOT of trouble to use technology as often as possible with my daily 150 kiddos. First, I had to admit I knew nothing and start from scratch-that was 12 years ago when I was a mere child of 51. Now, after many, many, many courses taken on my own initiative and dime, I am MUCH older and MUCH wiser--yet, like you, I end up wanting to:
a. bang my head on my desk without stopping
b. throw my teacher computer through the 4th floor window-no easy feat, considering our building is all on one floor
c. throttle the beheebes from district office who made us fall madly in love with smartboard technology only to find their servers have inadequate storage capacity to actually SAVE any lessons we create--and even with smartexchange we have no room to save downloads unless we pony up with flashdrives galore
d. discover a way to use Discovery materials without alienating the poor babies who just want the damned thing to work--much teeth gnashing, head tossing, eye rolling, and VERY loud sighing accompany the frequent crashes in our lab--
e. find the idiot at state level DOE who schedules the high-stakes state tests for our building at times the state site is closed for maintenance
f. etc, etc, etc.
I so share your pain!

Edna Lee said...





I have, in fact, threatened to throw MYSELF out of a window over these issues. Like you, my building is one story which would mean after my plunge I would simply have to pick myself up off the ground and walk back into my classroom in shame.

LindaS said...

It seems that inadequate server space is a near-universal problem. The other problem is time - it takes TIME to master programs, which teachers seldom get. Instead, the PD ends up being the latest fad-of-the-month (FOTM).

Teacher Man said...

It seems many school districts fall prey to the same problem with new golly gee whiz technology. They love to buy it because it looks pretty and because they can brag that they have the new technology. However, they then don't make the investment in the infrastructure (i.e. servers) necessary for the new technology to operate properly. But, hey, no one can see that part, so who cares?