As much as I love the new technology and the experience of teaching in a one to one classroom, the end of my day usually puts me in a bad mood as I am faced with the task of trying to unravel 30 hanging dongles. I thought we were going wireless? Imagine 30 hanging cords dangling in 2 cubic square feet with barely any light and no organization. Was it too much to ask for the district to make sure the corporation distributing the carts neatly arranged all 30 dongles? Ain’t no teacher got time for that! (Oops, I used “ain’t.” I hope the My Big Campus Thought Police don’t come after me. They already flagged me for using the word “dongle” and that’s the dangling cord’s official name). I tried having the students be responsible for putting their tablets away but they didn’t put them in the right slots and didn’t insert their dongles properly so the following day the batteries weren’t charged. I’ve been spending at least 40 minutes extra after work dealing with all the dongles. Thank goodness we only have two more weeks of the cart!
As much fun as I am having teaching with the tablets, I have to admit I wanted to throw them out the window the first day (only my hurricane shutters got in the way and I’m on the first floor and I needed at least 20 feet to do some damage). If I am feeling this frustration and I am someone who actually got a little training and is embracing this technology, I can’t imagine what the average 9th grade Social Studies teacher is experiencing with these tablets. They probably haven’t even opened their carts and I can’t blame them because the lock on the carts is so darn complicated. Which brings me to my next point. Why invest in the technology and not invest in your staff if you actually expect people to use it? There is already plenty of resentment as teacher Facebook groups are filled with comments like “I’m not touching it until they train me how to use it. “ “What good is it if they block youtube?” In case you haven’t heard, the district now allows open access to youtube. It’s awesome! I can insert any link to a video to my My Big Campus classes and they can watch it at home for homework and I can quiz them on it the next day. You can hold online discussions and keep track of which students participated and the quality of their answers and give them grades based on the discussion. I love it! (In case you don’t know how to get into My Big Campus, just log into the district portal, click on the applications tab as if you are going to the gradebook and click on My Big Campus. Bam, you’re in and you can find your classes under groups. )
Unfortunately the district did not invest in training their staff and most teachers will probably just let their carts collect dust and their students’ tablets collect Cheeto crumbs in their backpacks. What a waste! You would think they would have learned from the Los Angeles School District’s disastrous Ipad rollout (hey, how come they got Ipads and we got the HP tablet? It’s like the orthopedic shoe of tablets-ugly but functional) http://articles.dailypilot.com/2013-10-04/opinion/tn-dpt-me-1006-apodaca-20131004_1_ipad-high-school-students-local-schools/2 . Hoboken NJ had similar issues and now their tablets are sitting in a storage room until they can find someone to pay to take them away http://www.wnyc.org/story/why-hoboken-throwing-away-all-its-student-laptops/.
Contrast these scenarios with Mooresville, NC where they invest in summer trainings for their teachers and believe the person behind the fancy box is more important than the box itself. I really like what their Chief Technology Officer had to say, “The point is not the box,” Scott Smith, the Mooresville district’s chief technology officer, said Tuesday, referring to the laptops and iPads. “The point is changing the teachers and the learning environment and doing what’s best for kids.” http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/07/22/5060274/ushering-in-the-digital-classroom.html#.U_WPxzmjTww
So if the district really wants this tech initiative to be successful and is not just out for a photo op, they need to first and foremost do what’s best for kids, invest in summer training for their teachers, and hopefully purchase laptops in the next go round so I never have to see another dongle.