I love technology. If I could find a computer that would brush my teeth for me, it would be mine as soon as possible.
I love technology in my classroom. Every yearly plan since I started teaching has included awesome variety of lesson plans using software, blogs, typing programs, movie making, and a list of websites that almost rivals Larry Ferlazzo's. Just kidding. Nobody rivals Ferlazzo.
Here's the problem: my computer is about to crash. It's SOOOOO slow that it took me 30 minutes to print 3 seating charts from Excel today. No, not to MAKE the seating charts. Those were already done. To. PRINT. them. You know, select the cells, go to the page setup, fit to 1x1, print, OK? Yeah. 30 minutes. Seriously, I'm already making funeral arrangements - do you think white carnations are too passe?
I'm preparing for the inevitable by saving EVERYTHING on a flash drive AND uploading it to Google Docs in order to make it as non-panic-inducing as possible, but when THE CRASH happens, I'll be stuck. I probably won't get another computer, even though there are a bazillion new computers sitting in the district warehouse, because the school budget can't cover it. It really doesn't help that more than half our staff has suffered the loss of their computers in the last year. (All of these machines are 5 or 6 year old Dells. Surprised?).
When teachers lose the use of their computers, we have to spend the rest of the year (and possibly the year after) using machines from the laptop carts that were SUPPOSED to be for student use. Of course, these laptops were bought at the same as the teacher computers, so they're no better than what we have. This practice leads to days like today, when I was planning on using 18 machines from a cart...and I ended up with 6 kinda-sorta working computers. So much for teaching students how to use technology. How much can they learn when 6 kids are crowded around one ridiculously slow machine?
I won't even start on Dell chargers, except to say that I will NEVER EVER EVER buy another Dell because of how terrible their chargers and power supplies are.
I'm tempted to go get myself a netbook (can't afford anything more), but will it run the Promethean software for my board? Can I even GET that software? Of course, the district won't allow me anywhere NEAR the wireless internet with my own machine, which means I'll have to haul out my Big Ol' CAT 5 cord (I'm already asking for a 50' CAT 6 for Christmas). Besides, I was promised a teacher laptop when I signed my contract, and golly-gee-willikers, I think I should have one that works!
Which brings me to another point: The district won't let us do FREAKING ANYTHING to our computers. I can't install or uninstall software, even programs that are horribly outdated behemoths I never use. Not a chance!!! I can't even change basic options, like Power Management configurations. All of those awesome videos and free software resources? Not a chance! You might download naughty things and show them to all the poor innocent young children!!! They've locked down the machines "for our protection," but what good does that do when I've STILL managed to get the DownandUp virus? In order to get anything fixed on my compuer, I have to put in a work order and hope that CreepyStalkerGuy comes to fix it. By the way, CreepyStalkerGuy knows less about computers than I do, and I took the majority of my computer classes before 2000.
So, sorry Scott McLeod. You have awesome ideas to go with your strong opinions but, unfortunately, neither does me any good. I had the best-laid plans for my students to collaborate online, communicate, learn and grow and become part of the global community. Instead, thanks to the idiocy of our setup, the only thing my students know about technology is how frustrated their teachers are.
Photo Credit Kevin on Flickr Creative Commons