Blog Post

Tech in the Classroom

I love technology.  I probably wouldn't be in a program called digital storytelling if I didn't.  However, technology in the classroom seems to bite me in the butt nearly every time I try to teach something on a computer (e.g., Final Cut, DVD Studio Pro, Photoshop, etc.).

Firstly, there's the fact that my class (a beginning video production course) is taught in a computer lab.  So every student has an Apple G5 with a cinema-display monitor in front of him/her.  In other words, every day that I'm teaching, regardless of the topic, I have to be entertaining enough to draw my students away from the Twitters, Facebooks, YouTubes, and the millions of other Internet goodies.  But thank god most students realize that the Internet will be there when they get out of class, so it's not a huge, huge problem.

When I teach different production software tools and am actually encouraging my students to pay attention to their computers, it is an almost guaranteed bet that something major will go wrong.  I'm not talking about a student not understanding what's going on so I have to temporarily put the lecture on hold to offer some one-on-one help... that's what teaching is. 

No, the types of things that usually go wrong are weird settings on the students' computers that I don't know how to undo.  While I am knowledgeable enough on these programs to teach basic techniques for a 300-level class, but some of the things that go wrong in class require someone certified in FCP or Photoshop or what have you.

While I'm generally fortunate enough to have at least one student in each class that is pretty knowledgeable (if not certified) whatever program I happen to be teaching that day, but I hate having to tell a student, "Well, I don't know what this error message is; I wonder if your classmate can help us..."

Probably the worst part of all of the errors and problems that pop is that when I go through my lecture before class, using my own computer, I run into no problems at all.  It's only when I'm teaching to 18 people that it happens.  Murphy's Law, I guess.

So I guess that's it really.  I'd definitely love to hear thoughts and opinions from the HASTAC community.  Tech in the classroom seems to open the door to new learning opportunities, but at the same time, it seems to sometimes be something of a digital albatross.


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