Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Students Speak Out on Technology in the Classroom

There's been a lot of talk recently about 21st Century Skills. But most of this talk has been between folks who stand to make a lot of money off the use of tech on the one side and folks who are suspicious of -- if not fundamentally opposed to -- tech on the other. Like most discussions in education, the voice missing in the debate is that of the students themselves.

So, I asked students in one of my paperless high school Latin classes to tell me how things were going for them. I wanted to know whether or not they felt like the tech we use in class was actually helping them. Here are a few of the responses. These are unedited and range from the top student in the class to a student facing a serious uphill climb marching into fourth quarter. They've all got something to say.

I think the paperless classroom is great. I like the blogs because I can keep everything straight knowing what I turned in and what I need to finish. I also like Pixton. It's very fun and easy to use.

One thing I definitely don't like is the Google Docs. They take too much time to work on I feel like because sometimes it deletes your work if another person is editing at the same time. They do work as far as putting work together for you to see, but for a class to use, it doesn't work out.

So all in all, I really like the idea of a paperless classroom; it makes doing work at home and in class much easier.

I love using blogger as a place to keep all my work in class. It makes organization and being able to access my work on another computer so much easier.

For the most part, I think I really like Pixton. It helps me get the translations in my head. I can guarantee that if any of those translations were to come up on an exam or something, I would remember them because of the comics. The only thing I don't like about it is that it freezes up too much. Now maybe it's just my computer or maybe it's not, I'm not entirely sure, but it definitely makes a six slide comic about two hours to make. I think if it could respond a little faster, the comics would be so much easier to make and not half as frustrating as they can be now.

The only thing I absolutely hate above all things computer-related is Google Docs. I seriously just want to murder it. Whenever we're all working on a document at the same time, it will suddenly refresh without saving my work and scroll me all the way back up to the top of the document. This makes work that should last maybe a half an hour tops take and hour and half! I think the problem might be that all of us can't work on it at once. I don't really know how much group work you could get accomplished that way but I really don't think Google Docs is working for us.

I think Blogger is a really good website to use and it's really easy to use. I like how it keeps everything organized. It is also very easy to find past assignments. It will be a nice portfolio after we graduate. Blogger sometimes doesn’t load at school though. It only works at my house.

I like Pixton but I think it is only effective for short translations. If the paragraph is really long, I find Pixton to be tedious . Plus if the text is really long, it takes up a lot of space on the panel, leaving no room for the animation.

Google Docs does have potential but it is kind of annoying right now. Our group for the radio show is actually using it to write the script .

I love Whitaker's Words [an online Latin-English dictionary]. I find it very resourceful! I don’t even use other dictionaries anymore.

The use of the computer helps very much in Latin class. In most classes we just listen to the teacher talk for 40 minutes, so most of the information doesn't sink in. In Latin we learn with interactive programs, such as Pixton and Blogger. Learning is much easier and more fun when there is visual aids and class participation included. Also we do many interesting and different projects about once every two weeks. Each project is unique and fun, and range from making a Google Doc, to making your own radio show. These projects are much more entertaining and productive then doing worksheets and getting lectures every class. The only downside to the computer is the technical issues, like when blogger is down, or if you have a hardware issue. Overall I enjoy the use of the computer in class and I think I have learned a great deal more because it.


  1. Check out etherpad.com. It allows for real time collaborative documents. I haven't used it with students and only allows basic text editing, but it might solve some of your students' concerns with GoogleDocs.

  2. Teaching Paperless?? This topic has been brought up in my online course that I am currently in as to how we feel about this topic? I definitley agree that teaching paperless will one day be extremely effective for some teachers and some students, but I don't agree with getting rid of paper completely in classrooms. I just don't see the point. I agree that it might be easier to share and organize your work through googledocs and email, but the feelings of writing a document, printing it out, stapling it, and handing it in making sure there are no creases or tears on your paper are satisfying to many.
    Why is it that computerized offices are using more paper than ever right now? Printing has never been so easy to do lately. For me, printing is free and unlimited. So of course I feel the need to take advantage of that. Also, it helps me a lot to print out articles, documents, powerpoints and more because I like to organize my thoughts by side-notes in the margin and by color coordinating with high-lighters.
    Also, how can you have an art class without any paper? There's no way.

    On the flip side, I can see where most teachers would prefer a paperless classroom. From my class I heard about a newer piece of technolgy called the Kindle. It is the size of a paperback notebook and weighs very little. It can store several text books in it as well as documents and novels. I also noticed that some laptops are beocming jsut like notebooks, where you can flip the screen and take notes right on your screen and it saves it atomatically as a document. these notes are Your own handwritting(there is no typing involved) Pretty cool stuff.

    well, those were just some of my thoughts on a paperless classroom. Although I'm still up in the air on this one, I'm definitely not a paperless classroom. i just don't want to see ALL paper disapear. Then I think we would have a problem : )

  3. I couldn't agree with this more! I am currently in college and taking a Computers in Education class. Before taking the class, I really wasn't big on computers. There is so much that technology can bring to the classroom that I never even realized before. The opportunities that students will have because of technology being used is countless. However, I am not sure if going completely paperless would be the most beneficial thing for students. I think that alot of things that are done on paper can be changed to being completed on the computer or a similar tool. However, I don't think I would like if everything became paperless! It just wouldn't feel the same!


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