Saturday, October 9, 2010

Low Expectations?

I spent three years as an elementary technology teacher before returning to the classroom, first as a third grade teacher and now in fifth grade. The thing I appreciate most about the extra time as a "special" teacher is that I was really able to think about how I could use technology in the classroom, and since I've been back I really have tried to use technology often in the classroom.

I probably approach my tech integration like a lot of teachers do: teacher using the projector to show films and kids creating "final copies" in a word processor. Over the course of the last 3 years I've really tried to expand my horizons. I still show my Brain Pops and my videos from United Streaming, but here's a list of some of the other things I'm trying to do:

1. student research & collaboration in Google docs
2. movie editing
3. interactive simulations
4. podcasts
5. posting and commenting on our class wiki
6. video recording with iPhoto

These are all great things that the kids really enjoy, but the kicker about my list is that these are things I'm trying to do. Why trying, you ask? Because in the four years since I've been back in the classroom I have never had a spin with the laptops or in the lab where all of my students have been able to sit at a computer, log in and get right to work. There have always been log-in and connectivity issues. I don't blame my "tech guys" - they are 4 or 5 people trying to do a job that should be done by at least double the amount of people. I just assumed that this was the way things were going to be. Having problems is just part of using technology.

Until the other day, after another email about problems, I got an email back. The email ended with this sentence:

"Let me know if you continue to have trouble with things not working the way they should."

And that made me think (and respond with), "Can you tell me how exactly SHOULD things work because I don't know." I suppose I've always just had low expectations and assumed problems were part of life for a teacher trying to integrate technology. Maybe I was wrong about that. I haven't gotten a response to my reply yet, but it'll be interesting to see what the answer is.

How SHOULD technology work in school? Are problems always going to be a way of life?

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