What to do when your technology fails in the classroom? This was a student teacher’s question submitted for our weekly online forum. The ensuing discussion was robust, with many examples shared. When the projector broke down in an elementary class, a pupil in the class had suggested the perplexed teacher sing the fun-dance action song that was intended to be played, and the pupils could act along. In another case a teacher decided make animal noises to compensate for failed sound clips; another played charades. When a Smart Board broke down, the pupils proclaimed “The Smart Board isn’t very smart today.” Smart pupils! There were many wonderful and creative examples. In some cases I think the workarounds were as good as, or better than, the technology-supported versions.
Below is a list of some lessons gleaned and summarized from this class’s collective practicum experiences and workarounds shared in the online forum. Inspired by a session offered by BCcampus’s Amanda Coolidge, there was interest in the class to share helpful products developed in the class with a CC license. I’ve named this one Another Click on the Wall, and I hope others will not only find it useful in their teaching-with-ed-tech practice, but also 5R it for others as well. (It should be copy-and-pasteable from the text below.) This project brings to mind discourses around “pedagogies of failure” but that’s for another time.
And here are some accompanying lyrics, which may be sung to this fairly recognizable tune:
We don’t need no applications
We don’t need remote controls
No dark projectors in the classroom
Teacher leave them vids alone
Hey! Teacher! Leave them vids alone.
All in all it’s just another click on the wall
Another Click on the Wall
Classroom technology fails and bails
By the students of EDIT 4150 TRU, Spring 2018 class. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Tip 1: When something breaks down and you can’t fix it, explain the intent of the activity to the students and let them suggest alternatives.
Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to step out and try something different when you’re stuck. It may be risky but students will appreciate your efforts, especially if you can maintain a sense of humour about it.
Tip 3: Check everything – technology, connections, accounts, passwords, permissions – ahead of time to make sure everything is working.
Tip 4: Learn from accidents – e.g. sometimes students will listen more closely if the volume of a video is lower even if it wasn’t originally intended that way.
Tip 5: Think on your feet – example: put a microphone (if available) up to a mobile device speaker if the audio output to the A/V system isn’t working. AKA pulling a rabbit out of your hat.
Tip 6: If your planned AV doesn’t work, mime or mimic the actions or sounds you wanted to play. Or… have your students do it. It might even be fun. AKA practice your farm animal sounds ahead of time.
Tip 7: Have a hard copy handy – e.g. in case the audio book stops playing, you can keep reading from the text. Same goes for slides, discussion/activity notes, etc.
Tip 8: Flip the app – e.g. turn an app designed for competition among students into a cooperative class activity by having them all work from the one device (gather them around, or if possible plug it into your projection system and let them provide the answers for the teacher to input).
Tip 9: Remember to sync the Smart Board; or else you’ll sink it.
Tip 10: Have your own emergency tool kit – a few cables, spare adaptors, charger, audio connectors, etc. suited for your own digital environment. Also paper and pens.
Tip 11: Charge the devices. Keep them charged. Check early to make sure they are charged.
Tip 12…add your own…