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Mr G Online
Aug 09

Scenario 1: The wifi and router at school is dead and needs to be replaced. Your entire grade’s work is either on the now inaccessible School server or sitting online on one of 10 Web 2.0 tools you have been using. The collaborative online discussions the students have been having on Edmodo have been cut off from the real world and our reflective blogs are now in no mans land at school. The class has bookmarked 30 top quality references to support the projects they have been researching for the last two weeks. Panic stations or alternatives are planned for?

Scenario 2: There has been a spate of “accidental” screen breakages on the shared laptops and iPads. Several stern messages have been delivered to the grade with no change in care and the screen carnage continues. The decision is made that the only choice is to ban access to all ICT to drive home that there are consequences for a lack of responsibility and accountability and that next time you’ll really be a friend by stopping the mistreating of equipment or reporting incidents to teachers. Your entire grade’s work in either on the now inaccessible server etc etc……. Hesitant to ban or necessary to have gain through pain?

Scenario 3: Being the early adopter that you are, you have spent the last 6 months trialling a truckload of Web 2.0 tools with your grade. Like 99% of the population, you don’t read the terms of use ( I certainly didn’t this time last year 😱 ). Days before all of your class are to hand in their Glogs/Prezis/SlideRockets/Xtranormal/GoAnimate/Animoto videos, you receive emails from these companies informing you that you have breached their No Under 13s policies for free accounts and all of your students work has been deleted as per the clearly stated Terms of Use and Privacy policies you didn’t read! Your entire grade’s work ………. you know the drill.

Before thinking I’ve overdramatised, I know from personal experience that these scenarios can, have and will continue to happen.

The question is – are we prepared for these scenarios to happen?

Clearly from the subject matter of this entire blog, I am an absolute advocate of technology integration into all aspects of education. I’ve been a driving force of change in ICT in all the schools I’ve worked in. In the Contemporary learning environment of the cliched “21st Century Classroom”, there is no turning back. We live in a tech driven world with a tech driven society.

But I also taught in the Luddite era of the late 80s and early 90s before the Internet existed and computers were barely accessible to most schools. The students managed to learn and learn well. Through Facebook I am now in contact with many of those former students ( they found me, I’m not a stalker😁) and they all live happy, successful lives.

When I look at the access and opportunities to tech our current students are getting in Primary (Elementary) schools and look at what they are moving to in High School ( hint: in many cases, it’s far less than we offer), I sometimes do ponder are we setting them up for disappointment in a couple of years. ( Don’t lose faith in me, I quickly come to my senses and realize we aren’t preparing them for high school; we’re preparing them for life beyond so we are doing what is right for them.) Exams are still pen and paper, tests are still pen and paper, we still have to make sure they can handle pen and paper.

So do we at times go too far with this technology push? Can our students research without Google? Can we teach them without our interactive whiteboards and flipped videos and online lesson delivery systems? Is it that bad if the students hand up hand written reports with crossed out words and bad paragraphing and have to rewrite it all over again just like we used to successfully?
Do we have to force the artistic children in our grade to make a kitschy Glogster poster when they’d rather paint, draw, cut and paste their way to their own creation? Can a kid with an infectious personality, an engaging voice and some effective hands on props and snapshots outdo the kid with the whiz bang but superficial-in-content Prezi or PowerPoint? Are we breeding a future generation who won’t cope if their boss expects them to listen to his voice and not watch his presentation? Can our students – and us – survive in a classroom without tech?

Contemporary teaching and learning – is it about the 4 Cs – Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical thinking – or the 4 As – Apple, Android, Acer and ActiveInspire? Obviously, I believe in both ( maybe not the Android/Acer bit😜) but I think we do need a bit of balance in our classrooms. Sometimes it just humans. We can survive.

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3 Responses to “Can your class survive a week without Technology?”

  1. Henrietta Miller Says:

    Hi Mark

    Just like you I love technology and it is often embeded in my program and teaching. But not always. I am a strong believer that we should only using technology when it enhances our teaching. By that I mean it is about the learning not about the tools. Aren’t we lucky that for the most part we have the choice whether to use technology or not.
    Last year I offered an open-ended challenge and 80% of my students chose to create a cardboard board game rather than using any technology. You might like to read my thoughts here.

    http://www.classroomchronicles.net/2010/07/30/creating-with-cardboard/

    Thanks Henrietta

  2. mgleeson Says:

    Agree, Henrietta. I think there are still a lot of kids out there who who don’t see tech as their first choice. We need to follow our mantra of individual learning styles a bit more seriously and not force them to use tech for tech’s sake. It might be easier for us but it should be about their choice.

  3. Viv Says:

    Well, I have to say I would not be happy without the current access to tech tools my students now have. However, I could certainly last the week. It was not so long ago I taught maths with no technology at all and my students for the most part at least improved, and many did very well. I could survive.
    Students could survive writing a handwritten journal/creative writing and drawing/using cameras. It would not be the end of the world!
    Drama lessons would be no drama at all, nor would physical activity. Science is massively hands-on and class discussion can and does occur in real life.
    I do sometimes think that we are a bit precious about tech and ICT and go for the overkill (some of us that is lol). We do not have to use tech just for the sake of it, and whilst it would be very annoying for students to lose all their online work, life and learning will go on.
    Great post. Life goes on!

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