Technical Difficulties: How Much is Too Much?

Staples is constantly lauded as providing not just an outstanding education but an outstanding preparation for college and the mythical “real world” that follows. And in this “real world” we speak of, technology is king. Entire industries, journalism for example, are threatened by the internet, internships want to know how many Twitter followers you have, mp3 players get smaller by the day, and even using the word “mp3 player” probably just dated us.

There is no question that Staples should be incorporating technology in our curriculum.

In theory, the district has taken a lot of steps toward this end. Class Facebook groups  abound, iPads did a stint in the library, and the new Google apps program is up and running, soon to completely replace Microsoft Word, another word that, apparently, is dated.

In practice there is a disconnect. Some teachers who have SMART Boards hanging in their classrooms lament the loss of valuable space. Some teachers can barely use Blackboard, let alone the Google drive. Home Access Center was a nice thought.

Just as frustrating are teachers who are obsessed with technology.

Not everything projected has to be electronically highlighted, starred, written in every color imaginable and surrounded by a computer-generated border.

The amount of clashing colors will cause a seizure.

Every other week, world language students head to labs to use computers to learn. And by learn, we mean sit for half an hour while half the class tries to connect to Sony Soloist. As cool as it is to wear the big headphones, and as comfortable as it is to talk with an anonymous and identically clueless class member, maybe it’d be just as helpful to sit at desks and speak.

We spend money on underused and overused technology when we don’t have enough foreign language textbooks for a classroom set.

What are our priorities? What’s the point?

We don’t love Glogster’s stickers and sparkles and the unlikelihood we will ever use it in that mythical “real world.” We’re sick of making PSAs. We don’t like being told that using a Prezi is cool.

If anyone knows technology, it’s our generation. We can’t imagine a time without the internet. We can barely make it from class to class without looking at our iPhones. We’re our parents’ Geek Squad. We know technology, or at the very least, we think we know technology.

So when you take the same teacher whom we actually saw trying to talk to the SMART Board the week before, and have them tell us that Glogsters are the next big thing, there’s bound to be some skepticism. We’re teenagers. We think we know everything. If you’re going to try and prove us wrong, you have to try harder.

Technology should be purposeful, married seamlessly to important content and curriculum. It needs to enrich our education, not enhance our reputation. Technology has a place in the classroom. Just don’t use Google Maps to find it.