Sunday, August 5, 2012

Last Days, Pregnant Super Heroes, Smart Boards, Daedalus, and Teach Tech Do's and Don'ts

The last day of the summer session was an interesting one. A panel of past SECMAC students (Secondary Master's in Education with Certification) came to speak to us about the realities of technology in the classroom. Each one had a very different experience with technology.

One teacher, who teaches in a more affluent school (the school itself is affluent, the SES of the students ranges) uses technology all the time. Every student has access to a lap top and they use them weekly.

Another teacher uses technology sparingly. He teaches math and finds that most pieces of technology (like calculators) just get in the way of his students' learning. But, even if he wanted to incorporate tech that would help his students learn, his school really doesn't provide him with the resources.

The third teacher teaches in a school for pregnant or parenting teenage women. I had no idea such schools even existed, but when I heard about this one I was fascinated. I come from an area which has a very high teenage pregnancy rate. Usually, the girls drop out of school and never graduate. I always thought that was such a waste and I wished the girls I knew in high school who dropped out due to pregnancy had a chance to go to a school like the one in downtown Detroit.

(This is Most Fruitful Yuki, a pregnant comic book hero dreamed up by the writer of Juno, Diablo Cody. I truly wish this was an actual comic book. It would be awesome.)

Sorry, wasn't I talking about technology?

Anyway, the third teacher, her name is Jen, had to beg her principal (who really doesn't understand the full scope and possibility of technology) to buy new computers so the girls at her school could be more prepared to go into college or the workforce.

See? The range of teachers who use technology on a regular basis and those who have access to it really varies.

I think that's why it's important to be familiar with certain tools and to be flexible when you don't have access to them. You never know what resources your school will have or won't have. Or what you will be allowed to do or not do.

The rest of the class seemed to deal with which technologies are useful, and which aren't. One of the students brought up smart boards. She thought we absolutely needed to know how to use them and it was a shame we hadn't learned anything about them. The professor responded by saying A) there wasn't enough time in the course, and B) she really doesn't think smart boards are economical (they are ridiculously expensive) nor are they a unique commodity (meaning, you can do similar things with other tools that aren't as expensive). I thought this was a good reason, the student did not. Discussion ensued.

And it got me thinking that a huge part of selecting which technologies to use as educational tools  needs to meet a few criteria:

A) They need to be inexpensive or free (unless you work at a school that doesn't mind blowing its budget on fancy gadgetry).
B) They need to be user friendly. If your students (who are most likely more tech savvy then you are) can't figure something out or find it too complicated, then drop it. Or, if you find it too complicated, then drop it. You are not Daedalus and technology is not a maze you create and then force your students to run through.

C) Less is more. If you can consolidate your tools, or combine them, your life will be so much easier.
D) If you can do the same thing more quickly and more easily by not using technology, then do it that way. Don't make your life harder then it needs to be. You don't need something flashy, you just need something to help facilitate learning.

1 comment:

  1. Montcalm County, where I am from, has the highest teen pregnancy rate in America last I yeah, you got served! :)
    "The range of teachers who use technology on a regular basis and those who have access to it really varies." I think this is a good point. I like how you incorporate pictures into for blog, it's a good example of teaching with tech.. I'm not high tech enough to do that, totally jealous. I also think that you should be flexible with these technology tools. Do you think one day all teachers are going to have to be tech wizards?