Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Technology is Not the Goal

Reader Ann asks:

What do you do on the days when your server goes down or the Internet is unbearably slow? My classes all have assignments they can work on off the Net, but I am always looking for more ideas.

Fortunately the server has been pretty reliable. I've been paperless for two years and doing 1:1 computing for the last three. Even going back six years ago, my entire gradebook has been online. Sure there are occasional issues, but they are the exception.

As for what to do when there is catastrophic technology failure? Well, the only reasonable thing to do is laugh. And read poetry. And have a conversation with the kids. Of course, that's the way a good paperless classroom works anyway.

The great thing about a paperless classroom isn't making 'tech-based lessons'. I've never in my life made a 'tech based-lesson'. Rather, the great thing about a paperless classroom -- especially in a 1:1 setting -- is that all the kids are connected to the outside world. It's much harder to be insular when your Art History teacher has you write a blog post on events from the front pages of the New York Times and comment on the blogs of professional writers and journalists from the likes of The Atlantic and Newsweek. What I'm saying is that the more you use the available resources, the less they feel like resources. By analogy, you wouldn't think of a house as 'hammer and nail based', that would be silly; but just try building a house without hammers and nails.

It's funny, but if you just walked into my classroom on any given day, you probably wouldn't even realize it was paperless. Most of the time, the kids and I are sitting around a big table talking about the material in class as well as the material of life.

Technology is really just the environment. It's not a goal.

1 comment:

  1. Here's another case study!


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