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Friday, December 7, 2012

What's Annoying

You know what's annoying? To integrate a computer (or whatever) effectively, I most often need it for one thing in a class. I need like five minutes for kids to

 - go to polleverywhere and vote on something
 - go to a link and drag a red dot somewhere
 - take a photo of their work and send it to a dropbox
 - open Geogebra to construct something and mess with it a minute and make a conjecture

I would like this to actually take five minutes. We have other things to do, here. We have to argue about what they voted on. We have to look at everyone's red dots and talk about what information we need to figure out where it should go with some more precision. We have to project someone's proof and tear it apart.

But for those 5 minutes we need every student to do something on a device, it takes one or more of the following:
 - a coherent school-wide tech plan maximizing the chances everyone will have basically constant access to a functioning, charged device
 - signing out a mobile cart, tracking it down, and wheeling it to my room
 - websites we planned to use being up and running
 - all students bringing their school-assigned tablet and having it charged OR
 - students who don't, having a smart device on their person that plays nicely with whatever website or app
 - all students powering up and getting logged into their device with no unexpected "I can't login"s

So using the devices for something that I would like to take 5 minutes usually takes 15-20, with the associated distractions of attention and loss of momentum. It seems like with all the preparation in the world, I can't get these interludes to take less than 15 minutes, and I can't ever, hardly ever, get it so every single student can participate. And mind you, I am not a noob at this stuff. At the risk of sounding hubristic, I'm probably one of the more experienced classroom-tech-deploying teachers you are likely to meet. And everytime I'm like, "Oooh, we need a device for this part," I'm also like, "Crap. Is there any way I can avoid this?"