Technology Obstruction

Technology Fail

I didn’t have the intention of being a paperless class and I don’t believe that paperless is a goal within itself.  Nevertheless, last year, out of necessity, I became a mostly paperless class at the college because I had no easy access to a copier.  As it turned out last year I had it great because I ended up taking on another class near a copier so I was able to make copies if I needed them.  This semester my choices for copying are:

1.  Take personal time from my high school job to get to the college early enough to make the copies. Uh, non.

2.  When I’m done at 8:05pm, call campus police to ask them to open the building where the copier lives.  Drive to the upper campus, walk 10 minutes in the dark to the building where the campus police may or may not be waiting for me.  Uh, definitely, non.

3.  Take personal time from the high school in the middle of the day to go on T/TH to go make copies.  Uh, non, non et non.  The whole reason I decided to work a 13 hour day on M/W was to avoid going to the campus four days a week.

So I am committed to not making copies and highly motivated to find another way.

And so far this has worked out remarkably well.  Even great.  Necessity has definitely breeded invention.  Because I had to, I have evaluated anything I made copy of and have created a whole new way of delivering the content using different Slide decks.  However, last week, this no copy business failed.  Not so much failed, but the digital version just wasn’t as impactful as the paper version has been and I was sooooooo disappointed.

Here was the lesson- the end of the first unit has a reading of nine different “biographies.”  Using a graphic organizer, we read the first three, one at a time, and together and fill in a graphic organizer with “Nom, pays, profession, nationalité” with one word answers.  Then I divide the class into six groups and give each group a “copy” of one of remaining six biographies.  They fill out the graphic organizer for that biography.  Then I take away their copy  (leaving them with just their notes) and then they get assigned to a new group with a representative for each biography.  Each student is responsible for telling the group about his/her specific biography information so that at the end, everyone has the entire grid filled in.

It’s a great activity.  By making them fill in only one word into the graphic organizer they are pushed to say create language on their own when they get to the group.

Only this last time, technology made it not great.  I had “passed out” the copies in Google Classroom.  The problems were numerous.  First, for some reason Google Classroom assigned thumbnails to the wrong files.  So Group 2 saw the thumbnail for Group 1.  Next, because the thumbnails were wrong, when I checked the assignment before passing it out, I assumed I was missing one of them and ended up making two copies of the same “biography.”  So we didn’t get all six biographies and ended up with two of the guy from Québec.  Quelle catastrophe!  Finally, because I couldn’t “take away” the reading before they went to the jigsaw group, there was no urgency or incentive to make sure that they understood what to say.  The students simply re-read the biography instead creating their own language based on their notes.

I watched the whole activity in wonder.  I anticipated the last problem, but I didn’t expect the impact the technology would have as a whole.  I was incredibly disappointed because I’ve seen it work so well and in this case the technology just made it weak.

I wouldn’t say the technology obstructed the lesson, but I would say it definitely made it less effective.  It was the first time I’ve had that happen to me.  Next semester, I will make these copies at the beginning of the semester when I copy the syllabus because this is one tech based lesson I will not be repeating.

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