Before you think I’m going to bash technology, know that I always covet the latest, greatest, newest inventions. I may not buy them but I want them, love to figure out how to use them and then find a way to share them with others. As a result, my husband calls me a tech-geek. He laughed out loud when he found me on the couch one evening listening to my iPod, texting on my iPhone and playing Farm Town on the computer—all at the same time. This probably isn’t a far description from what our students do in their free time!
When does technology become too much? Really, how much attention could I have actually devoted to all three of those activities at the same time? If I think about all the technology we have to use in our classrooms these days, my head begins to swim. When they first made me start using an electronic gradebook to speed up the grade reporting system, I longed for the days of using a calculator and hand entering grades into the “big book” because I was convinced that I could weight, calculate, and write faster than I would ever be able to type the grades into the computer.
And what about having to update grades every Thursday, so parents can check their student’s progress before the weekend and dole out punishment for missed assignments and failed tests? Or worse, call me on Friday afternoon at 3:05 to tell me I’m not doing enough to help their child do well in class? Online grade reporting is definitely one technological advance of which I’m not a real fan.
However, I was the first teacher in my school and one of the first ag teachers in Arkansas to have a SMART Board. When I saw one at summer conference, I found a way to get one as soon as possible. It took me several years longer to get the PlasmaCam, but I got one. Those were technological advances I believe were worth the money and I thought would really make a difference in student learning.
And today, there’s so much more. Who would have thought we would have LCD projectors that fit in your pocket, skill saws with laser guides, environmental management systems that operate every apparatus in the greenhouse, computers that hook up to tractors and tell you where the problem is and the steps to fix it, Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe free on iTunes, and FFA meeting reminders on Twitter for students?
With all this amazing technology, it’s easy to get consumed by it. We talk about not having enough hours in the day to get everything done and how technology is supposed to help make tasks easier and faster, but does it really? How many hours have you spent creating PowerPoints, entering grades on online reporting systems, shooting video of judging classes and aligning that PlasmaCam? The list goes on and on.
So, when does technology become too much? Share your thoughts, suggestions and ideas on the NAAE Communities of Practice. It is only through sharing and discussion that we can all grow into the educators we all want to be.