Finding some interesting things along the way…

Over the past year, I’ve been analyzing and learning about tech in the classroom from different angles and perspectives. Today’s post however, will take on a somewhat different and more flexible approach, as I’ll be spending my time discussing some of the interesting finds I’ve come across over the past few weeks in my directed reading course.

Oh hey, check what I found!
SOURCE: GIPHY

Tuesday night’s class was very helpful to me because the discussions that came up during the meeting brought to my attention some aspects of tech I failed to even think about or address in my blog a few weeks back. The discussions we had in class definitely allowed me to connect more of the dots to some of the questions I had asked myself in my previous posts (take this one for example).

Dr. Alec Couros joined us this week and mentioned a few interesting facts relating to tech availability.

Dr. Couros shared an article with us that ended up bringing some interesting things to my attention.

Big Settlement For Los Angeles School District Over iPad Controversy

“The L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) bought approximately 40,000 iPads at $768 each, and pre-loaded with software from Pearson, a major textbook publisher and online educational tool creator. But while all iPads and mobile Apple devices use its iOS software, the problem wasn’t with Apple but Pearson’s product that teachers complained was scarce on content, riddles with bugs, and difficult to use.”

In this example, we see how even purchasing state-of-the-art tools can result in some major issues. The L.A. school district bought these devices with the intention of having them perform one simple task. Although Pearson is partly to blame here, this example shows us that we can’t always rely on tech for the answers and solutions were looking for. In this case, the school district dumped A LOT of money into this investment only to encounter these major issues of functionality and reliability.

One of the other interesting points that came out of our meeting on Tuesday related to attaining tech and other digital tools for the classroom. For my blog post last week, I brought up how we could apply for technology grants or seek outside funding to purchase class computers, laptops or tablets.

My classmate Kyle however, mentioned how some districts actually have rules and restrictions relating to these types of classroom purchases. I learned that the reason for which teachers are sometimes restricted or flat-out denied permission to make these types of purchases is in part because school boards are often unable to repair or provide support to devices as they may sometimes differ from the “universal” brand or model that they are trained to repair and support. What this means is that for school boards, having teachers bring new types of personal devices (primarily laptops and tablets) can lead to more problems than anything else.

Denied!
SOURCE: GIPHY

Let’s take the RBE tech support for example. For them, bringing in devices that they haven’t worked on could potentially require additional training and additional costs (warrantees, software issues, machines that are more vulnerable to viruses, etc.). For a school board, this isn’t necessarily solving any problems, but causing new ones instead. This could potentially lead to you not being able to do much with that grant you were just given by Best Buy. Bummer.

Dang!
SOURCE: GIPHY

This actually reminded me a lot about the L.A. school district article, as it addresses some of the same issues regarding support and functionality.

This also led me to think about how obsolete our tech becomes in a matter of years. The following article got me thinking a lot about the quality of the tech we are providing our students:

BYOD – Worst Idea of the 21st Century?

If we’re going to provide students with tech, it should be of best quality, otherwise why bother? Furthermore, if we aren’t going to provide students with tech, and we’re taking the BYOD approach, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves what type of tech our students are bringing into the classroom?

Failing to realize that not everyone is bringing top-of-the-line devices to school could result in issues with compatibility and functionality. Students from higher income families bringing in brand-new state-of-the-art tech can be problematic for families that don’t have the means to afford these types of tools.

This might not cut it….
SOURCE: GIPHY

I’ve actually experienced these issues myself, as some students will often bring the latest Apple phone and products, while others will still be using older IPhone 4 models. At first this might not seem too serious of an issue until we start running newer software and apps on these devices that simply don’t work or are not supported by older Apple products/models. This often results in students not being able to use their personal tools and devices the same way a student with a “better” device could. This brings up all sorts of questions, whether it’s about student equity or the fact that simply bringing a device to class doesn’t always cut it.

This article definitely got me thinking about the whole “quality” argument. I mean… what is quality?

SOURCE: GIPHY

You may have bought the most powerful laptops in the market, but how long will this tech put up until it becomes completely obsolete? In connection to my previous point about tech support for devices that may differ from those your school board may use, this could further lead to these devices breaking down and becoming utterly useless due to lack of support.

Please stay on hold while one of our highly trained representatives gets back to you
SOURCE: GIPHY

Whether the tech isn’t being maintained or updated, these devices have a short lifespan and become difficult to use the older they get, especially if we aren’t actively taking care of them.

Another interesting point that came from our discussions brought up the quality and functionality of our products. We brought up netbooks, and whether or not they are that useful at all, or if they’re simply glorified web-surfing devices. Although these devices are excellent tools for simple word processing projects and research, they are unable to run legitimate PC or APPLE software. If you are wanting to do some photo or video editing, or you’re wanting to try your hand at some 3-D animation or coding, you’re not really going to get too far with these things. The computing power is nowhere near as adequate as it should be to be running those types of programs.

Feelings of inadequacy
SOURCE: GIPHY

This led to another interesting point: if these devices are unable to provide its users with an adequately powerful and up-to-date creative tool, what’s the point of really using these things?

I’ve actually experienced a few issues relating to these very same problems in my class.

This fall, I had my class create video artifacts for their health projects. Students were given the opportunity to use digital tools on the Chromebooks we have at our school. A lot like some of the video artifacts I’ve done for my previous tech classes, I showed the students how to use a couple of the tools I’ve used to create my own videos.

Although my students ended up creating some cool videos, the process was actually very tedious and frustrating for them and myself.

First of all, the tech is not strong enough to process the large volumes of data that usually go into video editing. Files were taking fifteen minutes to transfer from their phones to the computers. Kids were unable to use certain files, and converting them was taking so long, that many of them ended up having to do these things at home on their own computers. To make matters worse, since so many students were connected to the internet, and there was such a high volume of data taking up the bandwidth, even the WIFI was cutting out.

What this actually ended up leading my class to do was use their own devices to create their videos. Most of them have IPhones, which means most of them were able to do their assignments on apps such as iMovie. Luckily for me, everyone had a device (and ones that were capable of performing these tasks with relative ease).

Watch your step!
SOURCE: GIPHY

So how useful were the netbooks in this case? Not really to be honest, which is a little frustrating considering these tools have replaced the laptops we had a few years ago. I understand why school boards often make these types of purchases, but it is a little frustrating to realize they can’t do some of the things you’d hope they’d be able to do.

I really appreciate the discussions we’ve been having in class, it’s definitely opened me up to new angles to some common issues we experience when working with tech in a classroom. In the coming weeks, I am hoping to make more connections to my area of focus and draw more conclusions from some of the observations I’ve been making.
Thanks for reading everyone, have a great week!

Dre

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7 thoughts on “Finding some interesting things along the way…”

  1. Thanks for sharing Andres! I can definitely relate to planning and working on a project that doesn’t always go as planned due to technology. It’s nice that all of your students have a device and you were able to figure something out. I had a similar issue when creating videos. The plan was to create an iMovie in response to a book they read. I invited the students to BYOD, but was actually surprised that most of them did not have a device to bring to school even though I teach grade 4/5. My backup plan was to use wevideo on the chrome books and borrow extra iPads if need be. Wevideo did end up working but it took some time to figure out. The students ended up loving it and it was an overall success. It also went well, because the assignment and expectations were simple. It was a good choice because right now, the project we’re working on is not simple, so it is definitely more challenging.
    I think technology challenges are here to stay and as educators, we will continue to be faced with figuring things out as we go. No easy task, but it comes with the job, so to speak!

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  2. Great post Dre! I agree that there are definitely pros and cons to BYOD. Like I have mentioned, my students all have phones all the time – and I really like this when I need the phones for something quick (i.e. a 10-question kahoot, a quick google form, etc.), but I still book out the computers for bigger assignments because phones can’t do everything. Not only that, but I have run other problems that you mention – like a lack of WiFi, so students can’t connect with their devices. Students aren’t always keen to use their own data for assignments, either, so BYOD doesn’t always work. However, it does solve some problems, like I mentioned before – so it is definitely not a black and white situation!

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  3. Dre, you brought up so great points….When talking about funding, getting additional devices etc. I never once thought about the poor suckers at the board office that would be stuck updating, putting anti virus software etc. on these devices, you are right it does make it challenging and in turn would be more of a hassle than it would good. I guess like anything there are pro’s and con’s to everything. As we learned in our udnergrad lesson planned doesn’t always go as lesson taught, we can plan and plan and plan what we think is a great lesson and it could turn out to be a disaster. Does adding tech make this more of a challenge? I am not entirely sure, I know from my standpoint I do not have a lot of training in the world of technology and would love to have more access to professional development so I would be better able to help my students. Great post this week, i look forward to reading your next two posts! Have a good week!!

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  4. So many great points! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed hearing about the video project that you incorporated in the fall for your student’s health project. It’s great to hear that you are incorporating things that you have been learning about in class into your own classroom. I enjoyed the questions you posed. I have also wondered how long we will continue using notebooks. Change is often a slow process. – Having enough devices available and working for students is definitely one of the biggest tech challenges. Have a great week Dre!

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