While my personal relationship with technology could be considered contentious, I do not want to carry that attitude (or my bad luck in ending up with manufacturer defective technology 80% of the time) into the classroom. I understand both the need for and vitality of finding new ways to engage students with technology as it becomes more deeply integrated into our schools and daily lives. I find the potential for collaboration, project based learning, and creative problem solving through technology very exciting.
My current use of and access to edtech is pretty limited and traditional. I regret to say that my daily use of technology is pretty much showing videos and presentations and using the document camera. I know there are ways to be creative with English and technology, but without everyday access to computers it is easy to fall into doing things the paper/pencil/book traditional way. There are several computer labs at my school, but there aren’t any iPads or laptops or Chromebook carts that can be brought into the classrooms. Most of the time we can go to a computer lab, but there isn’t guaranteed access if the teacher doesn’t book the day. If they do get access, students may have to use different computer labs if the teacher can’t book the same one several days in a row, which can cause some confusion. Sometimes it can be good to get students out of their routine and into new spaces, but it would be more efficient to bring the technology to our space so we could rearrange the room into table groups to work collaboratively and have easy access to classroom materials. Teachers all receive a Macbook, have a document camera in their rooms, and are able to check out things like cameras and recording devices when needed, but that’s about it.
Despite a lack of daily access to technology, there is a push from the administration to be as paperless as possible. They encourage teachers to use programs like Google Classroom for assignment submissions and sending information to kids and parents. They are no longer investing in scantrons, so they want teachers using the testing features of Synergy in their place. This is a good idea for multiple choice tests in theory, because the students get immediate feedback and the program adds the scores from right into the grade book. However, it is difficult to solely implement those methods without 1:1 access to tech. Students have to use personal phones or computers, so students who don’t have them are at a disadvantage. Plus, it makes it difficult for teachers to monitor what they’re doing and muddles the already unclear cell phone policies.
I’d like to learn how to more creatively use the resources I have available to me, as well as understand a little more about what possibilities exist outside of those resources. I want to be able to function in the tech landscape of whatever school I end up in, and use what I have to enhance the language arts experience. I also hope to learn a bit about how to be an advocate for equality of access to technology–for example, how would I find grant money, and how do I make myself or my school a competitive candidate for that money? I’m excited for this course and the open-ended possibilities we can explore together.
Photo Credit: The great growling engine of change- technology. Alvin Toffler by Kate Ter Haar on Flickr