Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When Technology Fails (or Why Flexibility is One of the Two Most Important Words in Education)


That was my relationship with technology today.  The first day of school.  Sigh.

The sad part is how long I spent prepping today's lessons.  And to be fair to myself (which I really don't feel like doing at this moment in time) my four classes at the middle school went fine.  My embedded Prezi apparently no longer exists, but it was on the Prezi website, so it was all good.  (Always have a plan B.)

Then I went to the High School.  I had reserved the laptop cart; I had my wireless keyboard and mouse set up and tested; I was good to go!  Or so I thought.  The students couldn't log on.  I checked everything (I thought), and then (mercifully) my sophomores had to go to an opening day assembly, so I called for tech support.  Our Goddess of Technology (Cyndee Brazill) came down to my classroom, did a recheck, and (with a smile) pointed out that my ethernet cable wasn't plugged in.

FAIL!!  Did I say my sophomores were out of the classroom?  They were, but I have two freshmen and a senior who were there to bear witness to my moment of stupidity.  Oh, it gets better.  One of the freshmen is my darling daughter, so you KNOW when I'll hear the end of THAT one...just as soon as her sister stops reminding me that the toaster won't work unless it's plugged in...but I digress...

So we were all plugged in, ready to go, waiting for the sophomores, trying to log in...and...FAIL

The almighty Ms. Brazill returned (nope, no chasm opened into the earth for me to disappear), but as it turned out THIS time, it wasn't my fault!!  The new laptops hadn't been properly configured.  Brief relief, but still no tech.  SuperCyndee invited us to the computer lab.

Step 1:  students set up gmail accounts....FAIL due to....I'm not really sure, but it works on my home computer, so something at school is blocking it.  OK, move on...I can set up the accounts myself later....

Step 2:  BREATHE...

The rest of the lesson went along quite smoothly all things considered....if you don't mind a large shadow in the middle of the projector screen, but I think I have proven my adaptability, and I wasn't going to let a shadow get me down at that point!!

Here is my point:  technology can be a friend or a foe.  There will always be those FAIL moments.  If the lab hadn't been open?  I would have punted, and done something else.  It bears repeating:


Even those of us who use technology in our classes will have moments where we just go dim (really, you have to plug it in) or when technology fails us -- even the experts, and I am far from one of those.  Don't be afraid to try.  This is what we ask of our students every day -- especially in foreign language classrooms.  We ask them to sound silly -- in front of their friends, and generally take major social risks.  We need to be willing to do the same, and laugh at ourselves when we fail.  And at the risk of sounding corny, this has been tweeted repeatedly over the last couple of weeks, and I just love it:


It's all part of the process, so don't be afraid.

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