Friday, September 7, 2007

If Technology is So Essential, Why Does It Always Break?

Recently, I have heard numerous teachers share this sentiment in one form or another. As our district works to get a great deal of new technology up and running this year, there is a lot of frustration when things don't work as planned. Specifically, we have installed a great deal of SmartBoards, projectors, and sound fields. Unexpected issues have put us behind schedule and some of our teachers have had to start the school year without their equipment working yet.

My first reaction to these comments is to share in their frustration. Many of these teachers went out of their way to take training during the summer so they would have time to practice with the new equipment, create resources, and get used to a new way of doing things. They should have had access to the equipment so they could accomplish this.

To their credit, most of the teachers I have spoken with have not let this stumbling block dampen their spirit. They are still committed to learning how to use the equipment in their classrooms. They are still excited about trying new things. But there are those who are saying that technology is too unreliable to become a part of their classroom.  How can they teach effectively when nothing seems to work?
While technology is full of its fair share of frustrations, from the above mentioned problem to glitches and computers freezing and slow networks and numerous other issues, we can not let this stop us. There is no question that technology is changing fast and our ability to learn it, assimilate it, and support it can not keep up. However, if you look at our kids, you will see that these things do not stop them. I've never seen a kid decide not to play a video game or use a cell phone or update their MySpace account because of a technical problem.

I often use the example in my trainings that when I taught third grade, I hated doing craft projects. I hated the mess, glitter spilling, glue on hands, paint on desks. But it never phased the kids. They loved doing crafts, and I needed to get over my anxiety of a messy classroom. The same is true of technology. We need to get over our anxiety of things going wrong. They will go wrong. Expect it. But don't let it stop you from moving forward and doing great things with essential tools.

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