IT’S A JUNGLE OUT HERE
I’ve been wanting to write for a long time about the challenges that technology users face in some schools, in some rooms, in some educational cultures. It’s something that we all face on occasion, from a colleague who “doesn’t really do technology” to a school leader with an uninformed knee-jerk reaction to social networking, from infrastructure that is unable to support the increased hardware and bandwidth demands of a classroom to pure, simple, reluctance to change… being on the leading edge of technology-based education reform—and worse, being on the bleeding edge—is not for the meek.
You can insert your favorite Don Quixote quote here if you like.
A little bit of a wildcat mentality may come in handy if you’re more gung-ho than your colleagues, administration, or school is currently willing to support… and dare I say it, a little bit of cash. When LCD projectors first dropped to the barely-sub-$1000 price range a few years ago, both I and a colleague of mine each bought one. It’s not that we had loads of cash lying around; it’s just that we were *that* committed to trying to transform the way we were doing things in the classroom.
If your school can’t buy you a computer that meets your needs, try to beg, borrow, or buy one that will.
If a decent backup strategy for your computer isn’t currently available to you, buy a service, or get an external hard drive, or learn how to roll your own backup strategy on a friend’s server.
If your kids don’t have “clicker”-style Classroom Response Systems, get a set of whiteboards and dry erase markers that they can use to record their responses for display to the instructor.
If your school blocks YouTube, use a video downloader plug-in like Flash Video Downloader to pull down the video locally onto your computer and show them from there.
The point is obviously that there are almost always options. We just need to be creative.
Will Richardson tells the story in one of his blog postings about the time he was giving a presentation at a school, and there was one teacher who kept road-blocking efforts to move forward technologically. “Yes, but that won’t work because…,” and then, “I tried to do that, but…” Finally tired of the negativity, Will stumbled upon a response that both acknowledged the man’s concerns and placed the responsibility for addressing those concerns squarely on his shoulders: “Yup, you’ve got some challenges there. So what are you going to do about that?”
“What are you going to do about that?”
It’s a jungle out here, and we’re all looking for ways to survive. It’s okay. We signed up for this. We can deal with it.
I stumbled upon this post a couple of days ago, which is a nice reminder of how we sometimes need to do things a little differently. It comes from the Business section of Wired Online, but I think it’s got a lot of relevance for educators as well.