What happens when technology lets me down in the classroom?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 | Computer Usage

When it comes to technology Murphy’s Law applies: anything that can go wrong will go wrong.  Imagine you have spent time preparing a lesson and you planned to use technology to present the material in an interesting way, but when you switch the equipment on, you discover that it does not work.  You’re stymied!

You always need a Plan B when you use technology.  This is true of any form of technology: computers, data projectors, interactive whiteboards, mobile devices and yes, even old-fashioned overhead projectors.  Unless you have another trick up your sleeve, you will not be able to deliver your lesson when technology fails.

You must plan for contingencies, so that the time it takes to try fixing technology does not eat into your teaching time.  Your best Plan B is to have an alternative activity available.  Technology will not often let you down – once you know how to use it properly – but it can do so at the most inconvenient time.  So be prepared!

What can go wrong?

The electricity supply is interrupted.  Much of the technology you’ll use in the classroom is dependent on electricity.  Continued use of a laptop or other mobile devices (such as cell phones and digital cameras) will not be affected by an electricity failure, but PCs and display devices such as data projectors and interactive whiteboards will be affected.  You could install an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) system, but this is expensive.  It can be argued that this investment is not warranted, as the use of interactive devices is not a mission critical activity.

The laptop breaks down.  When this happens, and you have your lesson backed up on a secondary storage device (like a data stick) you may borrow an available laptop from someone else in the school and continue with your lesson.

The technology malfunctions.  Anything can go wrong with any of the technologies you’re using in the classroom.  Unless you are a technical wizard, there is nothing you can do about this, except to call a technician.

The possibility of technology failures must not deter you from using it – this would be like saying you’re not buying a TV set for you home because the power may go down or the TV set may break down.  Just make sure you have a Plan B ready for an emergency situation.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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6 Comments to What happens when technology lets me down in the classroom?

[...] What happens when technology lets me down in the classroom … [...]

Mark C
Wednesday, 3 November, 2010

My challenge to you Kobus is to go into a school and teach whatever you can teach with the technology we implement and promote. We can start with Chris Hani Sec. Experience the problems that teachers experience and then write about it.

Plan B is for the teacher to never visit the lab because they waste too much time logging on. Plan B is for the laptop to stay in the safe because they can’ t log on and to use a book together with a photocopier. Plan B is when the IAWB does not work, is to put a green board in front of it and write on it with chalk. Plan B is when they have to fax something when the internet line is down…again.

Sorry for my foul mood..but I am becoming more and more demoralized about the fact that somehow our education managers understand very little about schools. They talk a lot but do very little. the problems are always deflected back to the schools or someone else. They never get their hands dirty. My plan B will be that I will tech for as long as their are tech problems. I will help with Science and maths for as long as there a problems there, but if a learner does not do well it is their problem not mine. I have done my bit. How about others doing theirs?

[...] What happens when technology lets me down in the classroom … [...]

John Thole
Thursday, 4 November, 2010

Yes, technology in itself can be very frustrating! Much of this frustration lies in the lack of vision for the use of ICT in the school and this includes the precise issues raised in the blog. A vision is not only a dream, it goes further than that by outlining and developing the orgnsiational issues, support and structures that a school can implement in order to minimise the frustrations. Whilst we only focus on training and technical resolution I fear that we will keep investing poorly – it is time to invest heavily in the developmetn of capacity at the leadership level. Where this has taken place the outcomes are evident and measurable.

Friday, 12 November, 2010

Clearly many of these are sustainability issues which must be addressed as a matter of urgency. The older the technology, the more likely it will malfunction. Also the more people using a particular technology, the more likely it will malfunction. Naturally the more technology malfunctions, the less likely it is that an educator will use it for curriculum delivery. Sustainability is therefore key.
The issue of educational leadership is also vitally important. Leaders are responsible for creating an environment in which their team can function optimally. A leader who fails to understand the use of technology will fail to create the necessary environment for his staff and no amount of additional technology will change this situation.

[...] will I cope if technology lets me down while I’m using it to present a [...]

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