I don’t usually take the time to complain about technology. Things work… or they don’t.
But this morning I’m downright angry, extremely sad and disappointed for the kids in my classroom for the second time in a few weeks.
Skype has always been one of the great additions to my classroom. It has brought us connections from across the globe over years. We’ve learned to make photostories from David Jakes in Chicago, talked to classrooms in Los Angeles, on Long Island, in South America and in Asia. This year we’ve had an almost daily call with our Idea hive partners in Ontario. We’ve had Silvia Tolvisano teach us valuable lessons about cristallnacht and world war 2. Countless connections.
But in the last several weeks we’ve had two “mission critical” failures from this cornerstone technology:
1.) We’ve worked hard for months with our partners in Ontario in Heather Durnin’s class on Markus Zusak’s brilliant novel The Book Thief. We read it aloud everyday using skype and then wrote our own version of a Field Guide to Molching and published it on lulu.com. The day the books showed up, we were scheduled to have a skype call as we unwrapped the books together in each classroom. We wanted the kids to see each other as this event took place. And Skype failed. Skype was down for hours across wide swaths of the world.
2.) More importantly, Heather had worked hard to get in contact with Markus Zusak himself. Saying that he doesn’t usually do this kind of thing, he agreed to stay up until midnight in Australia and skype with our two classes. This was to be the highlight of the school year for my classroom. The culmination of months of work and the chance to meet this talented author. Every student in my class arrived an hour early for school. We were making an event out of it, calling it “Breakfast with Markus Zusak.” The kids brought all kinds of food. When the appointed hour arrived – no skype service for us. We worked desperately on our end, even finding a tech geek at our division office who was in working early who stood on his head to try to get the service up and running for us. All to no avail. The kids in my classroom were hugely disappointed to say the least. Lots of kids hanging their heads. More frustrating was the fact that the service worked fine an hour after we needed it.
This is the frustration felt by teachers starting off with technology and then things not working out for them. This is the reason that people are reluctant to jump on board. While I am not swearing off using technology in my classroom by any means, I’m frustrated, I’m angry, I’m sad for the kids in my classroom who worked so many hours for this day. And then things didn’t work.