Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Courses: technology

I always feel a little sorry for people who have extreme frustrations struggling with technology. But I also have no mercy for them either. It's their job to figure it out for themselves as teachers. And if they are a little older, or a little less familiar with tech in general, then they have to work that much harder to get it.

They are the same people who are nearly the only ones actually following the instructor. You know everyone else is on instant messaging or facebook, or doing the homework assignment so they don't have to do it outside of class time. And it's really sad, because these non-tech savvy people are trying so hard to follow along, but they keep getting behind because the instructor is clicking through the screens WAY too fast for anyone to keep up with. Because the instructor also knows that most people aren't listening and he just wants to get through the university prescribed lesson and return to his own instant messaging or facebook.

Ok, that's not true all the time. But it's true enough of the time, no?

All of CSUS' credential centers (i.e. Twin Rivers, Folsom, Elk Grove, and my own UTEC) require a technology course. This is where we learn how to record digital videos (or convert analog to digital videos) and upload them, upload photos, scan and print, use Powerpoint for teaching, and a variety of other things.

We were also given a demonstration of the interactive whiteboards. Which are cool and awesome and l33t. But the type of schools I teach at will never see one until they become obsolete, so I'm not going to talk too much about this.

The main thing we focused on in that tech class was how to use Taskstream. Which, IMO, is completely useless. One of their problems is that you have to pay to use it, and there is no free version like flickr and youtube does. Another problem is that only other Taskstream users can see your work, it isn't viewable to the general public like a blog. Taskstream also does not have the internet's most user-friendly platform - all the color choices and screen layouts are pretty distracting too.

I did enjoy reading academic articles on tech in teaching. That part was really helpful. And I enjoyed the project and presentation on said articles. My group did our project on how sensory overload through technology can hinder learning rather than aide it.

Now that I've listed what we did in tech class, I'm surprised we didn't do more demonstrations of actual lessons involving technology. Showing photos and video and powerpoint are all well and good, but there has to be more than that. I think we should have created a lesson plan teaching students to use technology themselves (my fifth graders last semester were still typing with one finger - painfully slowly, they were not even familiar with the layout of a keyboard) rather than have the teacher throw tech at them. Something to remember in my own teaching.

In both my MA seminars this semester, we have papers that require research. And a lot of research journals are available online through the university library site. I spent an hour and a half Saturday afternoon after class to do my research. I found 22 articles to possibly use for three different papers in that short time. Great efficiency yeah? Well, several of my classmates were pretty stressed and had to have a lot of help from me to just figure out how to print articles out.

Which was why I was a little taken aback when I asked another classmate to point me in the direction of the theses shelves, since I saw her holding some of those green covered books as I headed downstairs to that part of the library. She snapped back at me and essentially told me to find them myself.

This is another word I don't use very often but here is a time that warrants it: MEOWRAR much?

I understand that she was probably stressed about all our individual workloads and didn't want to take much time to help someone else when she could barely handle her own stuff, but what was that? It wasn't like I was asking her give up an hour to help me. Just a point in the right direction of a place that she just came from would suffice. The university library is a very large place, with very few signs indicating what shelves hold what books. It is easy to get lost in there.

Well, in this case, technology brought people together while the old-fashioned way created more tension than it was worth.

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