Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Technical challenges in the classroom... they're everywhere. If we didn't know that before our last class, we know now. Granted, it was a lot of fun watching such terrible, terrible presentations. Unfortunately, the reality is that students sometimes misuse technology in the course of their academic career. I have three personal "pet peeves" when it comes to technology use in the classroom:
  • technology that does nothing to add to the presentation/task at hand
  • students that fail to test their technology before they need it
  • students that choose to go for "flash" over a quality project
If the best method of delivery is a simple pen and paper, then that's what the student should use. It's annoying watching students type out their notes, and then format them to look and "feel" like they've been handwritten. Or when they use "handwritten" fonts. If you want it to be handwritten, then hand write it. It's like using a synthesizer instead of the actual acoustic instrument. If you've got the instrument available, and you play the instrument, and it's easier AND sounds better to play the actual instrument, why wouldn't you?

Absolutely nothing is more irritating than watching someone fiddle with technology, fail miserably, and then proceed to duff the remainder of their presentation or project. If your entire presentation depends on a working piece of technology, my suggestion would be to ensure that the technology is working properly. Would you attempt to write an exam with a pen that was out of ink? Doubtful. Would you go into a performance with a broken instrument? Also doubtful.

Finally, technology comes with many inherent benefits. Unfortunately, some students choose to exploit these benefits for all they're worth... even to the detriment of the assignment. I don't usually assign marks based on how many fonts I can see on the page, or how cool the "word art" is on the title page. I also don't usually give a grade based on the number and frequency of sound effects, slide transitions, flying letters, or flashing backgrounds. Quality over quantity, and brevity is the essence of wit. I am always more interested in what the student KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS, rather than what the student can DO with technology.

Technology can be a powerful tool in the classroom, and like every other tool available to our students, is best used to exemplify depth of thought and quality of expression. Technology is not designed to be a "smoke screen" to hide inferior work, nor is it a good idea to use technology at the expense of efficiency. Technology has great potential to assist students in making meaning and constructing knowledge, and should always be used with this in mind.


  1. I love the cartoon. I agree with your point too. Technology should enhance our lives and our teaching, not become the content of our lives.

  2. Touche my friend. This is exactly how I feel about it. Keep on bloggeramaing!

  3. I agree with you Matt! I would actually say, your whole presentation should absolutely never be completely dependant upon a specific piece of technology working properly...unless its the staple holding together your papers :P