I should have known when I got to my classroom on Monday that something wouldn’t go well. I opened the door for students I had never met before and walked into a strange, dark classroom with no light switches on the wall. The lights came on by themselves if you entered the room far enough. I turned on the control panel at the teacher’s station, but nothing worked even though all the buttons lit up: no document camera, projector, or computer. Now what? Have I become so dependent on technology that when it fails me, I fail at teaching? How can that be?
I remember the days with chalk and blackboards and when TVs had to be delivered to the classrooms after they had been reserved. Overhead projectors were not in every classroom. And yet, as I stood before the class and welcomed the students, my mind was racing ahead in trying to figure out how I was going to conduct the class without my Prezi presentations or without being able to show the students the syllabus by projecting it on the screen. It was a grammar class, and I usually start the diagnostic test by showing a couple of the items on the screen.
In fact, I started to realize that I use the document camera and the computer all the time in class. Luckily I had handouts prepared. I also remembered that if we call TECH, we might be able to get someone out to the classroom to fix the situation.
Still, this got me thinking about my dependence on technology (and might I add, dependence on the technology I know – what happens when you only use Apple computers and the classroom has a PC?) I first thought it was like performing without the expected props, but now I think it is more like performing without a major character on the stage.
Technology is supposed to aid teaching, and yet the lack of it hampers teaching. Perhaps the same could have been said when textbooks were first introduced. What would teachers have done if they had forgotten their textbooks? In any case, I knew that the technology problem would be solved, I had hard copies of work sheets, diagnostics, and the syllabus, and the students had paper and pens. And my brain was still functioning.