I’ve been thinking about Clarence’s post on technology or literacy. I understand completely what he is saying about technology not being kind as you work in a classroom to firmly focus on literacy and learning. Yet it can’t be technology or literacy. As Kevin says, overcoming tech hurdles can be a form of learning that requires critical thinking, cooperation and an endless amount of patience and ingenuity. While I truly wish we did not have to embrace this form of learning but we all need to share tips we have for coping and keeping the focus on “technology and literacy.”
For a technology – centred classroom to firmly focus on literacy and learning, the tools need to work. They need to be transparent. When everything works, the learners can concentrate on collaboration and producing the best possible pieces they are capable of. But when the technology becomes difficult to use, it stands between the students and their learning and becomes a point of focus all its own.
The tools do need to work but as all of us know that probably is not going to happen, at least not in the majority of schools where I have worked. One thing I have found though is that the kids handle it much better than we do. It can be beyond frustrating.
Over the years I have developed the following strategies to cope with the times when “Murphy is loose in the labs or classrooms.” Let’s say that the problem is that you can’t post on a blog for one reason or another or that the comment feature isn’t working correctly. We give it a couple of tries and decide to switch gears and trouble-shoot in this way. I tell the kids tgo to Word where they continue creating their posts or comment replies. They’ve learned how to note what post they are commenting to or what post they are continuing to blog about. They put that info right in word so that when the feature does come available it is a quick, simple matter of copy and paste. This way we don’t lose (as much) thinking time and creativity time. If we are working on projects we may use that time just to continue brainstorming on what we will include in the project. We use the time to really think and get the right words down to enhance our learning or think about how we can best express our ideas. We have set up a folder on a local school drive where these items can be saved. The kids have had lots of experience toggling back and forth between programs and get quite proficient. They don’t even blink now when I say “Switch gears, go to Word.”
We’ve talked about the problems of the technology acting up and work together to come up with solutions. Another aggravating but common problem is the mouse freezing up. Several efficient students have been trained to unplug, replug cords to fix these type of problems. Another thing the kids have learned to do is to copy frequently so that if things collapse they have a copy on the clipboard that they can salvage on Word until Murphy moves on.
I’ve also learned to bite my tongue (most of the time) when I take these problems to those that have the power to really help in the techie parts. I do a lot of that myself as far as making sure all that can be done on my end is done to see that the computers are maintained in a good fashion. I’ve learned to include the techie people in my praises so that they know how much I appreciate their efforts to keep the technology as seamless as possible.
Sometimes we just switch to podcasting mode to capture our thoughts and perhaps post them later in this form.
I also spend time talking with the kids to get their suggestions for ways to overcome the technology glitches and make the best use of our time. We talk about the difficulty of keeping all the computers going and we talk about ways to cope that work for us. They like being a part of the solution here and it seems to help us when the going gets rough. We’re still frustrated but we persevere.
Anyone else have any strategies to share?