June 10, 2008

Feedback: Some Technology Frustrations

And when I say some, I really mean just a few.

I recently wrote a response to a blog post by PurpleCar and I wanted to share it on my own blog because I would like to keep this conversation rolling. I'd also like to know what you think about this topic. I'm actually planning on meeting Christine in person sometime soon, so this will give us something to gab about. (Not like we need any help though!) ;)

Christine asked what frustrates us about the early adoption of certain technologies. She was posting about the perceived risks of using new technologies like QIK and or other cell phone recordings or any personal recordings for that matter when it comes to meetings with teachers. I thought it was (as with most of her posts) an thought-provoking question that deserves more light on the subject.

Here is my response:

A couple of things frustrate me, so thanks to (Christine Cavalier, a.k.a PurpleCar) for posting this place to put them :)

1.) Keeping up with it all! It's so difficult on a single income. I do my best and try not to complain and be patient when it comes to the free stuff on the web.

2.) Altered expectations. If you always get back to everyone right away, they grow to expect that from you and it can create more problems for yourself in the long run as you take on more and more because you think the technology makes things easier for you. It can be a bit of an illusion at times.

{edit:} [That came off wrong.] What I mean is: keep reasonable expectations reasonable. Of course you should always respond to people right away, as in as soon as possible, not as soon as inhumanely possible. Just because technology enables us to communicate faster, priorities still need to be set when it comes to communication combined with other tasks. I've made mistakes in the past (and probably still will) where I ended up addressing one person's needs and inadvertently ignoring others because I created unrealistic expectations while trying to impress someone that didn't really need to be impressed. I ended up becoming perceived as being "unavailable" and "unapproachable" when that was the opposite of how I wanted to be viewed.

It sucked and I got burnt out quickly because of it.

Burnout sucks and should be avoided at all costs.

3.) Technology as it applies to education: Case in point: my husband, as you know, is a h.s. physics teacher and he has the task of answering emails from parents. Many times this has to be done outside of the "office" since there is just not enough time during "normal working hours" – or whatever that means. Teachers' plates are already so full and the amount of "early adoption" technology without support that gets shoved down their throats on a regular basis is disturbing. (I've seen both sides – married to one side, been tech support on the other side)

{edit} [when it comes to questions asked and email requests] Some of the parents can be really irrational and overly-demanding, but it's better than the parents who are not involved at all. Many times parents & students forget that teachers are also people with lives and families that exist outside of school so the "what's my grade?! Am I passing this class? Why won't you do all the thinking for me?" demands get exhausting.

{will report on the following "weigh-in" later when I find out what he has to say about this}

Hubby is asleep, but I plan on asking him what he would think about parents using the kind of technology you describe. I'm wondering what his answer might be, but I know from previous examples he's given me, I'm sure he, as a teacher, would welcome it and try to facilitate involved parents like yourselves. Too many times, it's the lack of any participation, whether low-tech, high tech or no tech at all; that is a huge problem in this day and age.

I think so far as the privacy issues are concerned though, it is completely up to the parents' discretion. Teachers and Admins are (or are supposed to be) completely transparent for the most part. Nothing to hide. Privacy on the part of the student is mostly provided by the school on the parents' behalf as I understand it, but I'm with you on keeping it private for those kinds of meetings.

So long as the technology does not cause any impediments on the communication from the teacher/admin to the parent(s), i.e., "oh wait, can you repeat that, my stream died. Oh wait, hold on, we lost the connection. Can we go back? Uh, hold on, it's buffering." then, the teacher/admin should feel perfectly comfortable in front of a camera. They are not supposed to ever have anything to hide and are constantly tested on performing in front of anyone as it were. Anyone at any time is allowed to observe a teacher so they are always on their game.

There should not ever exist any kind of sugar-coating on behalf of the teacher and if you detect there is, then there is a problem and it needs to be addressed. That person should be a politician and not a teacher.

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