Technology? Bah! Humbug!~~~Not!!!

No, I haven’t gone over to the dark side, but I have had some bad luck lately with  technology, and it has given me some insights as to why others with less passion for it, skip it entirely.  But, let me back up and explain what’s happened.

A little while back, I started my students on Voice Thread, a program that others around the globe use and love, and in which I see great potential.  But, the first day I went to use it with my students, I had them use their cell phones to comment on the pictures since our class is Oral Communications.  The result? Rotten reception in the classroom and garbled audio.  So, the next day, I brought new headsets with microphones and set them up in the classroom for the students.  Half of the computers in the room had the recording capability turned off in a variety of places.  Now, had that been a class which was homogeneously grouped based on the students’ technical expertise, I might not have had a problem.  But, it took nearly the entire class period before we got most of the microphones working, and then it was time to go.  Because of Deep Freeze on the computer, the next day we would have had to set everything up again.  Regroup or quit?  Never say die!  I will not let this beat me!

Monday we tried something new. We were going to use Poll Everywhere for what I would say was a pretty exciting review lesson.  It didn’t work–or should I say, I didn’t set it up right, so it couldn’t work.  We reviewed anyway, but not using the poll aspect of the program.  It took me a while that evening to figure out that I simply hadn’t activated the Twitter component on the application.  One little check mark fixed that.  So, we’ll do it again tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and I told the students I had it figured out~and I did, at least that problem.  So, we continued with the previously planned review, and it worked.  Well, it worked for five students.  The other students couldn’t get their computers to register their votes.  Why?  I don’t know.  I haven’t figured that one out yet.

Am I ready to give up?  Absolutely not!  Despite my computer woes, the students are still excited about using new technologies, and they have said that one of the things they enjoy about my class is that they’re always learning new things.  Maybe they’re learning persistence because I’m not giving up, and I’m trying it again.  Maybe they’re learning patience because they see me counting to ten as the smoke escapes from my ears and I stifle comments I don’t want to make.  Or maybe they are learning that we are all human and that we have to forgive ourselves our mistakes if we want to learn something new, and that we have to take risks and be willing to fail once or twice before meeting success.  We’re learning to have alternate plans, to think on our feet, and to try, try again.  And we are learning never to lose our enthusiasm for learning or our sense of humor!

At this point in time, my students are still using Voice Thread.  We are learning to create this project together, and it is turning into something we will want to keep.  Besides learning to use the application, I am learning something about the amount of time necessary to do this kind of lesson with the students.  I will definitely continue to use Voice Thread again and again because I really like it and I can see it turning into an important element of my language classes.  (I would also like to use it with the teachers in my department for communicating and planning, but that presents other challenges.)

As for Poll Everywhere, we will continue to use it, but in a different computer classroom at least until I can find some time to get into that first room and experiment with the different computers.  But, all is not lost.  One student commented yesterday as they were leaving that while they are learning to use this application, they’re also learning different ways to use Twitter and their cell phones.  Evidently, my students are not defeated but rather stimulated, and I have only just begun with these new tools.  I can’t wait to see what we’ll create once we get the glitches out.

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