Being Digitally Resilient

Last week, I was having issues with my school laptop. The trackpad and keyboard suddenly stopped working. A child brought in a disc with photos of her Flat Stanley visiting an out of town friend. She wanted to project those pictures for the class to see while she talked. How would I access the disc without a keyboard or mouse. I suddenly remembered I had a mouse app on my cell phone and used it to get her disc going.

Later in the day, I got a USB mouse and keyboard and things were going well until, at some point, I tried to show the kids the first 5 minutes of a National Geographic film on the Nile River. I wanted to use their visual and auditory skills to get a sense of the animal and plant life of the Nile. After about a minute, my computer froze, leaving a lovely still image of a water buffalo sipping water out of the river.

An important tool for any educator is the ability to quickly assess the merits of the technology you’re using with the objectives of the lesson. Though I have seen technology increase the motivation of many students, it isn’t always reliable. For my class website, I’ve used Weebly which is a great simple site for creating web pages, but what if it gets purchased by a big company or goes under. Then what?

Education Leadership this month has a great short article about being Digitally Resilient. Technology can sometimes be frustrating when it doesn’t go according to plan, but teachers need to have a plan B or C or D, whether that’s moving on to another lesson and returning later or modifying it with low tech instead. With regards to the frozen film clip, we decided to go the low tech route and pull all our Ancient Egypt books we had borrowed from the library. The kids found plenty of information.

We met our main objective, but I think we met a few unintended ones as well: being resilient, flexible, and able to trouble shoot by looking at multiple ways to reach our main goals. The ‘tech fail’ turned out to be a great teachable moment.  If we expect students to feel safe enough to take risks and make mistakes in order to learn, they need to see us do it from time to time.

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