Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Red Herring of Technology

I teach both French and business. Technology is one of my passions and at Business teacher conferences, I am a regular presenter. Before I learned about TPRS, I presented at all of our district language teacher conferences on technology and am the "go to guy" person with technology at my school. I have tried every new technology with my students from blogging to powerpoint to PhotoStory movies and audio portfolios. Kids like technology and quite frankly, they are better at it than most of their teachers.

However, despite my best efforts to integrate technology into the curriculum, I haven't been as successful at it as I would like to be. I think the problem is that when you put the technology into the hands of the kids, it takes time. In a 80 minute class, if we take the time to have the kids do a powerpoint, they will use all 80 minutes (and some of them more) to create a 10 sentence story that they can share with their fellow students. In that same 80 minute period of time, the amount of comprehensible input I can give them is enormous. The opportunity cost of putting the technology in their hands is just too large for me to do it as often as my techie side wants me to.

So, I use technology as a fill-in when I can't be there or as an occasional break. The kids get satisfaction knowing they can write a short story in French and then turn it into a product that they can "publish" for their friends and family, but they don't learn a ton of French doing it. I had a college methods teacher, Dr. Bush, who would regularly say "Technology will never be THE solution, but if properly used, it can always be a part of the solution."

I think I'm comfortable with that. I love my digital projector and I love using it for "kindergarten" storytelling hour and/or youtube videos that provide CI, but I used to spend a lot of time in class focusing on implementing technology into the curriculum and that was a red herring.

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