When is technology too much??
Technology is empowering and restrictive at the same time. I’ve always been a proponent of advancing technology in the classroom because I believe teachers should be always, at the very least, one step ahead of the students.
I have always been the pilotER of new technology at my school, being one of the very first develop a website for my classes, using databases such as Turn- It- In and providing professional development on the uses of it, applying to have a Smart Board in my classroom and integrating it into my teaching…. the list goes on. Eventually, a technology team was put in place comprising of a teacher from each discipline; I represented my department.
Technology has a way of making collaboration an easier task. A colleague and I decided to pilot a collaboratively taught course with his AP Euro class and my British literature class– using technology as the primary tool of communication between our students. Google Docs was adopted school-wide, and we were among the first users paving the way for our students to use G Docs as the platform for their work.
Students set about designing websites depicting different eras of British history from a variety of approaches (including literary, history, psychology, autobiography/biography and language). It became a model for technology that was showcased later in the year before the Board of Education as an exemplar of technology use in the classroom.
When the IPad II became available, I jumped on board, with the hopes of creating a completely paperless classroom, discarding of my bound paper planner and gradebook. The IPad is an easy portable way to organize my information in one place.
In ONE PLACE being the operative phrase.
With the rapid advancement of technology, I’m learning it’s difficult to keep up. Every time I turn around, there’s a new APP or a better APP. There are so many things I want to do, but OH SO MANY limitations.
First, my students don’t all own the same Smart Devices, and my school can’t afford to make sets of any one device available to teachers. SO, I have a mish mosh of students– who has an IPhone? who has a Droid? who has a tablet? who has a laptop? and what kind of laptop do you have? Are these questions important? Yes, they most certainly are!
The smaller devices are ideal for looking up information, but no so much for creating word documents. Throw in the fact that the school’s web is Web sensed… that throws another barrier in the mix, altogether.
While Google Docs is an excellent platform for sharing and collaborating for the students, it doesn’t have all the ability to gauge the authenticity of student work the way Turn-It-In does, which is absolutely necessary in this world of common this and common that. Kids are kids; they take the easy way out sometimes, and it’s my job to make sure I’m grading their own work. So, do I ask them to create their docs on Google Docs, then upload to Turn-It-In? It seems tedious, but necessary.
While my website has always been my HUB for all of my students, it’s quickly becoming a mish mosh of links, which, admittedly looks confusing to them. I provide a scavenger hunt at the beginning of the school year to ensure they can access all I need them to in order to continue moving down this paperless path. But I end up with students who forgot their passwords from last year, so I ask for them to be reset, but the students still have difficulty accessing what I need them to. I offer tutorials after school; I have even offered them in class. Sometimes I feel more like a technology teacher than an English teacher.
Trying to keep my APPS and links straight is becoming an organizational debacle that I’m not sure how to straighten out. It’s really giving me a headache!
How much is too much? I’m trying to find the line. Any suggestions are welcome!