Just because I was licked before I started…

As instructed in this week’s course document, I attempted to embrace online collaborative projects and began a search for ones beyond those shared in the required reading.  Having no idea where to start, I went with the comfortable google search, typing in a variety of phrases with the hope I would hit upon something useful.  Sadly, as many of my searches go, I found myself hitting one dead end after another.  I suspect this is why my patience usually runs out with searching for anything online.  It’s the broken links and the expired pages that provide the endless shouting and final determination that whatever I was searching for couldn’t have been that important after all. Yet I persevered in the name of education and fear of a failing grade, and eventually hit upon GlobalSchoolNet.Org and The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education.  Although neither of these sites appears to be useful for my own classroom, I started to get a sense of what this whole online collaborative project thing is all about.  There were endless documents and groups for me to join.

Later while reading the Horizon Report 2011, I was reminded why we need to introduce our students whenever possible to different technologies and how to connect globally.  The beauty of online project is the higher level thinking; it’s not about the tools, but the thought process.  I have used Wikis in the past to help students share with their classmates while at home, and last year I began an Edmodo experiment to encourage communication between students.  I have attempted online collaborative, but never on a global scale.  I was feeling ready, excited about this new challenge to help my students become better global citizens.

And then the power went out in my house.  After turning on the generator, my internet was out and the connection struggled to come back, despite the battery power for the router.  Google docs still won’t load and I can’t seem to maintain a connection for more than ten minutes before having to switch back to gmail html.  This is the reality of millions world wide.  I am not alone.  I have mentioned my concerns before, yet they come up again and again.  My students simply do not have the online access that their peers across the globe have.  How will they ever catch up?  How can they explore online collaborative groups when they can barely check email?

Reflecting upon my selection for my post title, which is a paraphrased quote from To Kill A Mockingbird, I don’t believe my students and I shouldn’t try.  We will continue to exercise patience and gather all the learning we can from the pieces of  technology we can get our hands on.

2 Responses to Just because I was licked before I started…

  1. Hi Sarah,

    I had to laugh at this post, as it resembled so much some of my own experiences. I too tried the google search to look into online collaborative projects, with limited results and many dead ends. I also have tried to use Edmodo with my students to encourage interactions among students with academic discussions (again with limited results). Finally, due to our shared location, I have also shared the frustration of Internet simply not working much of the time. This emphasizes the worry that as much as my students are ready and willing to learn, and I’m ready to help them, anything that is Internet-based as a tool is problematic for us. Not to mention that fact that not all of my students even have internet at home, and our Internet at school goes out frequently. I have signed out the computer lab, and had whole lessons planned that involved doing games and online demonstrations of science concepts, with them supposed to share what they learned in an Edmodo discussion. However whenever I plan a lesson such as this, I always have to have a backup lesson, for either power outages or internet outages, and have used them more than a few times. Even when it works, I usually have a parallel assignment involving one of our encyclopedia programs, so they’re not just twiddling their thumbs constantly waiting for pages to load.

    I’m not sure I have any immediate solutions to this concern. I do know t that when I have done online projects and assignments, I have to make broad deadlines, so that there is plenty of time to take advantage of those moments when it comes back. Then of course my own assessment time is drawn out due to lack of connection. So as much as I love the collaborative power of the internet for the classroom, it still has to be a sub-tool, so to speak, rather than a major one. While I do have concerns that they are not developing some important skills of digital literacy, I do know that everything else we do in the class is very good for skills, including higher order ones, even if it doesn’t involve a computer.

  2. Great post Sarah. With all the “flat classroom” hype going on it’s easy to forget that many schools just are capable of the kind of tech many of us take for granted. One of my the teachers I work with used to teach in Myanmar also and I’ve heard stories from her about how intermittent the power can be and how restricted the internet access is. Before I left Japan to work in Taipei I made sure to ask “is the internet blocked?” hehe I had visited mainland China before and I knew that I definitely did not want to deal with that in a place I was going to live. I guess I’ve become too addicted my the internet ;-) I hope you had better luck with your next attempt!

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