Mini-Epic Fails with Technology

In the classroom, I feel like I have been having a streak of bad luck.  Things are constantly going wrong.  Recently I think I even muttered the words, “I’m done using these iPads!” and “I hate technology!”

Neither of these statements is true, but for a teacher who relies on and incorporates technology into lessons on a daily basis, I have definitely been frustrated.

I am going to preface this by saying I do test the technology in various ways before each lesson to make sure everything is a go.

However, I have had several issues in the past weeks when it comes to technology.

First of all, my teacher workstation computer crashes constantly due to old age. I’m “due for a new computer NEXT year.” That’s great news and all, but we have over 100 days of school left. I can’t wait that long!! The tech department has already wiped my computer clean and I’ve started from scratch. It helped for about a week.

The two programs I use the most are unreliable. SMART Notebook crashes every single day.  I am constantly trying to recover the lost files. Chrome also has a tendency to crash at least twice a week.

My projector bulb is growing dimmer and dimmer by the day, but hasn’t blown yet. With a price tag of $300…I’m still waiting for it to die so they will replace it. Right now it is pointless to use my AppleTV because you can’t even see what’s projected on the board.

The next issue is a blessing and curse. (Isn’t all technology really?) The iPads are awesome  and I like to use them every single day, but there is always some catch. I have learned to run through my lessons every time I plan something new. However, there is always something I overlook or don’t realize. Especially if it requires the students to use their own accounts. Filters, privacy, logins….all issues I can’t always see coming.

Along those same lines, some of the apps are fussy too.  I was all excited to use Subtext a few weeks ago.  I really wanted to use the text-to-speech feature and have the kids tag their evidence to focus questions.  I set it up at home on my iPad and ran through it with Ian on a school-issued iPad.

Then I went to class….the students logged in with their student account to access the article and assignment.  And then they had to “Ask the teacher to upgrade to the Premium account to access the text-to-speech feature for students.”  Not once during my run-through did that important piece of information come up. Grrrrr……

My class has grown in size.  I had two new students enroll at the start of the nine weeks and now with 10 students and 6 iPads (plus my own), the almost one-to-one thing I had going is not possible.  This is a big adjustment for my original class.    As a class, we were definitely spoiled during the first nine weeks.

As someone who obviously loves technology and wants to incorporate it as much as possible in her teaching, I am not sure how to handle all of this aggravation. Is it worth it to plan lessons with technology? Am I relying on it too much?   Every day I feel like I am wasting my students time or not teaching the lesson effectively.  I sometimes think, “What if I was being observed?  How horrible would this look?” 

Like my dad (who just recently gave up his flip-phone) always says, “Technology is great…when it works.”

I don’t think my expectations are too high. I don’t think I am using “too much” technology. I don’t want to be limited or prevented from teaching like I want to teach.  I am not sure how to work around these issues. It’s almost become a running gag in my classroom, the kids noting my “epic fails.”  I try to laugh it off and act like it’s funny…how the computer is messing with me or how the SMART board is smarter than I am.  Inside, I’m not laughing.

What suggestions do you have?
How do you handle on-the-spot tech disasters?
Would my problems keep you from incorporating the technology?

4 responses

  1. Although I’m no longer teaching, I share your frustrations. In my last position, before motherhood, I was an Education advisor for our state education department, and my speciality was assistive technology. I quickly learned that you *always* need a backup plan, and often I’d have plans b, c and d. I remember giving a lecture about educational software using a white board and some butcher’s paper in a blackout when I had no access to my projector or screen It didn’t have the same impact, but there you go. It just reminded me that kids need to learn that things don’t always go to plan and we have to work around things sometime. That links into your theme of resilience. It also reminds me that we’ll always need paper and pencils as the ultimate backup. This is particularly important with kids who have special needs and who rely on technology for basic communication and mobility. They need that “Low-Tech” backup when the technology inevitably fails. The other things I learned is that the technology you use the most tends to wear out the fastest, and that good teachers can do a lot with old technology, and that not-so-great teachers can completely make a shambles of new technology. Methodology is the key and you clearly have good methodology. If it is any consolation, those bulbs will get cheaper. Technology usually does.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts. It’s all about being flexible and thinking on your feet. p.s. I am still waiting for that bulb to blow.

    2. I just found out that it’s not the bulb, but the projector that’s causing my problem. I will be asking for a new one when the technology request forms come out for sure!! My projector is one for the oldest ones so it’s time to be replaced. Yay!

  2. […] to technical difficulties the project was spread out over three weeks. (See my post about unreliable technology.) After we returned from Thanksgiving vacation we spent a few minutes each day doing […]

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