Tag Archives: technology gap


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Having taught at two schools now that require student laptop use, I have given much thought to the management of laptop usage.  In essence we have given our students a tool for endless distraction, a fun toy, and then we ask them to ignore all the games and other entertainment while they write an essay.  We are fighting an uphill battle in many ways.  Think about the average staff meeting where teachers have their laptops.  How many of them are really taking notes rather than playing on Facebook or chatting to someone across the room?  Perhaps I fear what my students are up to on their laptops during class as I am one of the biggest offenders.  I can blame my ADD all I want, but really it’s that I have limited self-control.  How can I ask my grade 8s to have more control than I do?

My grade 8s and their endless Mac products

But I do.  I walk around my room demanding Facebook and other chat sites be turned off.  In Yangon it’s all in the name of bandwidth, but let’s face it, I just want them to get to work.  The words “lids down” consistently comes out of my mouth and I spend time on my teacher Facebook account checking out who is online.  It’s a delicate dance.  Without the internet or computer access within my room, research would be impossible.  We simply lack the resources.  So the uphill distraction battle I will fight!

I find that a few classroom guidelines beyond the school’s limited AUP has helped.

1. Use of any chat program in class results in the loss of online privileges for the rest of the period.

2. Laptops are only used when necessary.  We have dictionaries.

3. A word processing program is essential.  Work handed in using Text editor is not accepted.

4.  Limit the number of screens that you have open.  Students do notice the extreme different when all of them are on at the same time and all have sites open that constantly refresh.

5. Playing games is never ok.  This behavior may result in being plugged into the projector for future online sessions.

In the end, like any educational tool, we must teach our students to use it

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appropriately and keep distractions to a minimum.  Staying focused is key to effective technology use.

Now, I should probably close all my open tabs and stop chatting with my four friends on Skype.


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.

In the beginning

As I begin my journey to eradicate my digital illiteracy and advance my fledgling education tech skills, I am searching my past for reasons.  How did this happen?  I was given a laptop to experiment with back in 1993.   I went to university next to Silicon Valley.  I worked outside of Hong Kong.  Yet I still consider myself a tech novice.  Sure, I can create a blog, email, search and assign tech projects, but I frequently feel like I am drowning in the vast sea of technology.  This adventure I have begun is an attempt to hone my skills in the name of education.  I want to save my students from entering adulthood with the stigma of digital illiteracy.