Yes, I’m Resilient, but I Wish Computers Were More Dependable

I read a post by Bill Ferriter on Education Week Teacher (which I read in ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology) where he says in his article, “Our never-ending reliance on digital resilience” that yes, he’s resilient, but he’s tired of it. He thinks that because tech teachers are so quick to adapt to problems (computers don’t work so we pair up students–that sort of thing), that we’ve enabled the chronic problem.

It made me think about the many times I’ve had to adapt because things didn’t work–despite the efforts of my excellent tech people:

  • a website doesn’t work so I try it in a different browser
  • a website doesn’t load correctly so I go in with my admin log-in and download fixes to get the computer running, but in class, that’s an eternity
  • class computers won’t print despite that my lab printer is loaded to their list. I’ve learned to load the IP address of my printer as a more reliable connection, but why don’t they print? And a bigger question: Why periodically–with regularity–do the printers I’ve loaded disappear from the computer?

  • students click a link on the computer and nothing happens. I now teach them to check their internet browser tab on the task bar to see if it loaded behind the current window (for no good reason). This happens a lot with Everyday Math Online–with kindergartners! They cheerfully comply with my work-around, as though that’s merely part of the process.
  • a program works fine with one grade-level class and not at all with another. Murphy’s Law dictates the breakdown always happens when I’m being observed.
  • I have a beloved software program that is glitchy on Win 7. Rather than dump it, I use the experience to teach students to problem-solve
    • Alt+F4 to close a crashed program
    • Ctrl+Alt+Del to reach the Task Manager and end the task
    • Alt+Tab to toggle to a previous window
    • Flying Windows to bring up the taskbar (hidden behind the program) and click on the desired window

The truth is, computers will always be a step-child with core teachers until they are more dependable, until teachers aren’t stopped ten times a day by a computer problem that stalls their lesson. They hope they can reach IT and we can get there in the next six seconds to fix the problem that is fundamental to their entire lesson plan. Many teachers in my school resist using technology for fear it will not work at that critical moment–not because they don’t like what it brings to the educational party.

This is one of the reasons iPads are such a hit. They load instantly, are sturdy, and you know what likely problems are (i.e., battery run down). Rarely do I see an iPad lesson turned upside down by a computer meltdown.

What do you think? What are the show-stopper problems at your school?


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.

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