Technology, Students, and Their Teacher

School tools have really changed. When I went to college, desktop computers were just emerging. The PC used two 5-1/2″ floppy disks–one for the program and one for storage. There was no such thing as a hard drive, unless it was a peripheral outside of the machine. Apple Computers just came out with their Macintosh with a 6-” screen and a funny thing called a “mouse”. We thought it was a brave new world then, but that was nothing compared to today.

Today, some students have more technology on their phones than I ever had in a big, clumsy PC back in the day.

Recently I had to go to a class to learn how to use technology to “communicate” with my students. The software is called Blackboard 9.1, and it’s a terrific tool–IF a student has a computer. The people I teach are lucky if they’ve had the experience of turning on a computer.Furthermore, I think if the college expects my students to use computers, there should be a prerequisite for them to learn how the machine works.

Nevertheless, this semester I’m going encourage them to put their toe into the digital communication tool by introducing good ol’ Blackboard in my class. Of course, I can only do this with the aid of more technology–an overhead projector connected to the classroom computer. (Too bad the classroom doesn’t come with an audio/visual guru.  Invariably, I look stupid in front of my class trying to get the damn thing to work!)

In order to help them, I had to take a training class to learn how to use a the software. The tool is really pretty amazing. It’s designed for instructors  to “communicate” with students, give tests and post grades with a few keystrokes. A few key strokes? Huh!

I’ve taking HOURS to set up my “Blackboard Classroom”, but my instructor assures me all my hard work will save me lots of time. So far, I’m not a believer.

But, I’ll tell you what would be a real time saver — a software that could grade papers! Now that would be a great tool!

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