You’ve planned your lesson perfectly, made all the right preparations, and then suddenly…
…the power goes out.
…or the data projector overheats.
…or the computer crashes.
It’ll happen sooner or later, most likely sooner. I had all my ducks in a row: assignment sheets printed off, spare earphones handy, research space allocated, notebooks organised. All my students sat with their laptops in front of them, ready to get into their composition assignment – the first one I’d ever set where the use of music creation software was a central requirement.
One by one, my students raised their hands and told me they couldn’t log on. We tried everything I could think of before I gave up and called for the computer tech, but he was busy in another computer lab trying to solve exactly the same problem. One false circuit in something, somewhere, had brought down the whole network.
Resigned, I got my students to pack the notebooks away into the recharge trolley and head back over to the classroom.
Rule No.1: when planning a technology lesson, always have a Plan B.
Rule No.2: memorise Rule No.1.
Since I have access to the musical instruments and a stock of practical lessons up my sleeve, technical hiccups like this aren’t a major drama.
I do feel for those colleagues whose subject matter absolutely depends upon a working computer, like IT Studies and the like. It must be incredibly frustrating when the network isn’t functioning, and I wonder how they manage it. How many Plan B’s can you have for a subject like that?
Those reticent about technology would seem to have a point: why go to all the trouble of decking ourselves out in all this whiz-bang technology when a: talk and chalk does just fine, and b: we can’t rely on all those gadgets and gizmos to work?
However, as Chris Betcher points out, staying up-to-date with technology and use it as fully as possible in the classroom is all part of the job, pretty much whether we like it or not.
Our students see all this technology around them every day: they should be able to expect that their teachers know how to utilise it. Age and the idea that they are “digital natives” whereas we ourselves may not be, doesn’t really make a difference: they go through exactly the same process of learning how to use something as we do. If they do it younger, so what?
Failing technology isn’t an excuse to neglect it: it’s a reason to make sure it gets continual improvement, and to invest in quality professional development so teachers have more strategies and technical know-how for when things go haywire.
In the meantime, have a Plan B. Always.
This article by Gabrielle Deschamps is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.