Classroom Tech, Part VII: “Everything’s Amazing; Nobody’s Happy.”

In this, the final post of the summer-long Classroom Tech series, I conclude with a little reflection on the state of educational technology (for previous posts, feel free to click here, here, here, here, here, or here).

Our amazing librarian shared this video during a training a while back and I thought I’d share it with those few who read this blog. While I wouldn’t recommend this comedian’s other YouTube videos, this one is pretty funny (and of course it would be on Late Night with Conan O’Brien). I think it fits with what I’ve been covering this summer in the Classroom Tech series.

As I conclude this series, I am very excited about integrating some of these ideas into my classroom, whether keeping students organized with iGoogle or teaching students how to make more effective presentations. But I am now in my third year of teaching. I have two summers’ worth of excitement under my belt, and those have been greatly tempered with two years’ worth of harsh reality. The reality of our schools is that, while we may get excited about some of the new things we’re planning or some of the technology we’re using, our students likely will not be.

I am coming to realize, however, that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Do I want my students engaged in what we do in class? Of course. But I also know that not all students will be engaged in the sense that they are excited and eager to come to class every day. It is still school, after all, and no matter what teachers might do, some students will apply their paradigm that school=boring. This is true of writing, watching movies, or using cell phones in the classroom – because it’s happening at school, students’ paradigms are often negative.

But what I must continue to remind myself is that technology is not about engagement. I am not integrating technology because it will be more fun for my students. My job isn’t to make all of my students happy, no matter how amazing the technology is that we’re using. While I certainly hope this is true, it is not the goal. Instead, I am integrating technology for two much more important reasons:

  1. The technology I am choosing to use will somehow enhance and improve the lessons I am already teaching. For example, Google Docs is not useful in and of itself. It is useful because it will make the writing assessments I’m creating more relevant and more efficient.
  2. Technology is, and will be, an integral part of my students’ lives. If I choose not to use technology in my classroom, then students may not learn how to use it or use it responsibly. In addition, if they don’t learn how to use today’s technology effectively, then the technology of the future will be even more confusing. For example, if I had never learned how to use MS Word 98, and I tried to immediately jump into Word 2007, it would be much more difficult to learn.

As I continue on this teaching journey, these are the two things I feel I really need to remember about using technology. As much as I want my students to love coming to my class, and as much as I want them to have fun, it is infinitely more important that they are coming to class and learning something that is valuable, both to their future educational pursuits and to their lives in general, even if they’re not happy with the amazing things I’m trying to do with them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this summer’s Classroom Tech series. I’d love some feedback on what you liked or what you would like to see improved. Best of luck to all of you in this upcoming school year, and stay tuned for more discussions here on Edumacation.

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One response to “Classroom Tech, Part VII: “Everything’s Amazing; Nobody’s Happy.”

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