Monday, October 18, 2010

The (Mis/Over)Use of Technology in my Classroom

The number one most important thing you need to know about the way I view teaching is that I value student feedback. Students know what they need and want and that must be considered when lesson planning. Recently, I asked students to complete an anonymous survey to give me some feedback on how my classes are going this semester. I got the following wonderful comment from one of my students:

"The only thing I'm not sure how I feel about is how technological the class is. It's nice to be more modern but when your computer decides to not work for a night you're screwed. And it's difficult to remember to turn something in online that you already turned in in class. Which reminds me I need to go do that..."

At first when a teacher hears this kind of comment, I think our natural reaction is to think that the student is just being lazy or disorganized but when I start really thinking about this statement, I know I've been hearing it since the beginning of the semester. As you might imagine, if you know me at all, this is a complaint I get every semester and I have a tendency to let it in one ear and out the other because I do believe that incorporating technology is important and even though I teach Spanish, I also teach life skills to some extent.

However, I'm also a student and I've been using a lot of technology for presentations and work. My colleagues are always very impressed but it really makes me reflect on how much tech is involved in my classes. Just because I find using a website or blog instead of a PowerPoint easier, doesn't mean that it is true for everyone. This student comment really has me reflecting on the fact that I have two, quite large, major assignments this semester that are portfolio-style projects and they are both online besides the online workbook and other random online exercises. It occurs to me now, and it probably should have occurred to me earlier, this is too much!

To take a step back, I'm going to offer my students the option of completing one of the two projects on paper, if they consider it a simpler option. I'm also going to create a grade sheet to outline everything they have due so they can check each off as complete. (Thanks to Dr. Bonham for the inspiration on that one!) I hope that will help resolve my students' issues and help them focus on the subject matter and less on the technology.

The important lesson here is that is vital to listen to our students, take criticism well, and be prepared to modify lesson plans when it makes good sense to do so.


  1. I agree your class is technologically challenging, but I know that life is becoming more technically challenging so I welcome the challenge as a chance to be better prepared for my future career, teaching. I thank you for challenging me, usually my greatest accomplishments have come through the greatest challenge.

  2. Thank you so much, Jennifer! You have such a wonderful attitude and I'm so glad to have you in my class. Unfortunately, I can see where lots of my students are coming from on this one. I'm glad you look at it as a challenge and I hope others do too but I don't want to overwhelm anyone to the point where they shut down or become too frustrated to really learn. Thanks for your feedback, Jennifer. I really appreciate you! :)