Why I'm Giving Up Technology in the Classroom

I gave up technology in the classroom - and am SO GLAD! MathFour.comI tried technology in the classroom.

I really did.

I went to 3 EdCamps this summer. I really felt ready to take on some fancy technology stuff in the classroom.

But it just didn’t work.

So many glitches, so little time.

I decided to use Twiddla.com and my Wacom Bamboo pad to project lectures overhead. It sounded simple enough.

The problem wasn’t just a learning curve. It was the combination of multiple pieces of technology all having to work at the same time.

Twiddla glitched on me during one of the first lectures. I’m not sure if it was the service or the Internet access – or plain user error. But it was annoying.

Then, in one classroom, the computer and projector wouldn’t work together. I tried and tried. Then I called in the IT crew. Well, the IT guy couldn’t even fix it!

But there was a greater problem than all that.

Using technology in the classroom is impersonal.

That was a really weird revelation. But it’s true.

I was writing on a tablet and the students were looking at the overhead – on the other side of the room!

I couldn’t tell if they were understanding things, lost, confused, or with me. It was like producing a live YouTube video. It was worse than a webinar – where there’s at least discussion in the chat thread.

Enter the iPad…

So I thought walking around the room with my shiny new ipad and stylus would work.

I could look at the students – make eye contact, see faces – and tell who was getting it and who wasn’t.

But every tool I tried had some other glitch – no online connectivity, bad palm sensing problems…

And you have to press down with the stylus and up with the pad – a double physical challenge that was totally unexpected.

No thanks – I’ll take the whiteboard.

So at the end of the day, I trashed it all. And I couldn’t be happier.

As my pregnancy progresses and standing on my feet for 5 hours becomes more difficult, I’ll request an overhead projector. And some Vis-a-vis wet erase markers.

It’s nice to hear of teachers using technology. But after all is said and done, it’s the learning that’s important.

And if technology gets in the way, then it’s just not worth it.

How about you? What’s your experience with technology in the classroom? Share your story in the comments.

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6 Responses to Why I'm Giving Up Technology in the Classroom

  1. Hi 🙂 I think most of your problems could be over come with a little more practice or by finding more efficient digital tools. I teach high school maths, working in a school that wishes to go paperless, and have found some uses of technology brilliant, especially not having to photo copy resources, but recently I’ve started to think that we (as teachers) are feeding student’s technology additions. Additionally, after having spoken to other mathematicians and maths teachers, I think that good old pen and paper and a textbook *is* the best way to learn, away from all the distractions that digital technology can bring. If they have no easy solution ‘Google’ answer, it forces them to think for themselves, creating deep understanding.

    • Going paperless is a great idea, Lizzy. In fact, I use Evernote in the classroom – almost exclusively. The only paper I’ve used is for tests.

      So I’m not totally throwing out ALL technology – just the digital whiteboards.

      And your idea of googling answers is great! I gave this group assignment the other day: “Look up definitions of these words (via google, wikipedia, Purple Math, etc.) and then create a ‘normal person’ definition in your own words.”

      It worked well!

  2. I think that too much technology can definitely be a challenge especially if it does not cooperate. I think adding little bits of technology at different times during the day can be useful and helpful. I think students feel comfortable using technology. I think this feeling of comfort can help students understand things better.

    • I do encourage (and even require) searching google for definitions – so we do have some technology aspect.

      Interestingly, the same total failure with technology happened again today (in the same classroom) when I tried to show a web page. It’s like I’m doomed!

      Thanks for stopping by, Andrew!

  3. Hi, I’m the developer of PopCalc, a fantastic and simple calculator that acts like a spreadsheet. It’s free for iOS.
    When I developed PopCalc, I tested it with kids and results were great. They loved it. So, I thought that math teachers and kids would represent a big part of my users.
    But I was wrong. Today 90% of my users are adults that use my app mostly at work.

    So, I don’t why. Maybe it’s my app that is not learning orientated. Maybe it’s because not all kids have an iPhone in their pocket…

    • I would also think, Nicolas, that they aren’t allowed to use smart phones. So they keep reverting to the TI calculators instead of apps like yours.

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