I find that most of the teachers I work with that do not like to use technology in their classrooms, when asked why, generally have one of two responses: “The computers never work right”, or, ‘I don’t know what to do”.
Now, for the purpose of this article I would like to define “technology” in a very narrow way – a computer. Be it in a lab or a laptop many teachers seem to find using computers very daunting, and if you don’t use them a lot, they can be!
When it comes to keeping your PC’s happy and running well, the secret is to use them, and use them often! Districts like to run updates in batches for their PC computers. When an update goes out it sits there and waits for a computer to connect to the network and then it will download the update. And, as we all know, updates slow down computers, especially if you are doing anything cloud based. Now when computers are used a lot this is not generally an issue. There will be times when they are slow, but will finish their update quickly, and as you have students in different classes logging in and out of them the need for restarts is minimized. However, if you seldom use your machines all of those updates get backed up and will really bog down machines when you do finally use them. By way of example I use my cart of netbooks on average of four days a week, and seldom have issues. A colleague who uses his once every other week, if that often, got so frustrated with them being slow and needing restarts when he did use them that he gave them up and now does not use them at all. This is a shame as he is an excellent teacher who just needs to be assisted in how he uses his technology.
As for the “I don’t know what to do” folks this is where a school needs a good support system. The best of all worlds is where you have a dedicated technology integration person that can assist the teacher both in the planning and execution of lessons involving technology. If there is no one to assist in this, and you don’t have a teacher in the building that can help I recommend YouTube. You can learn anything there. And as educators if we are not willing to learn new things for ourselves how can we be asking students to?
Computers are a great tool to have in a classroom. Like any tool they need to be used in order to gain mastery and they need to be maintained in order to be effective. This does require a commitment to both the technology and the process by which you lesson plan and how you execute your lessons. There will be much more on these last two topics, and who knows what else, in the future. In the mean time, thanks for reading and I welcome any thoughts you may have.