Thursday, November 19, 2009

Live By The Computer, Die By The Computer

Last night my son's mother, my son, and I went to one of the two high schools we're considering for him next year. It was Parent Information Night, and we were there to learn about their course offerings, their programs, and to see how the staff can present the school in its best light.

The presentation was dreadfully boring, and I understand why--all those staff members were there in the evening, not getting paid for it. I'm sure the thought process was something like, "I've got to be here, so I'm at least going to talk for a few minutes about my program/department." Some, of course, merely read their PowerPoint slides....

One of the things they touted was how technologically advanced the school is--after all, they have six interactive white boards! (Blah, give me an overhead and a whiteboard and I'll teach kids.) Several of the speakers mentioned technology and some of the courses built around it.

Of course there were several glitches, not only with the PowerPoint presentation, but also with the podium speaker system :-)

As I said, just give me an overhead and a whiteboard.

(PS Not to slam the event completely, I'm now much more comfortable with the school than I was going into that meeting, so in that regard they succeeded. But so many people got up and left during the "lecture"; I hope that tells the staff something for when they plan Parent Information Night next year.)


Anonymous said...

Presentations like the following continue to reinforce the idea that any lecture is poor pedagogy. I suppose they could have done a walk around museum with discussion centers and hands on manipulatives, but that would have been too much work.


Darren said...

I'm not so sure it's poor pedagogy, but it wasn't implemented very efficiently. They could just as easily have had each department/program at a table in the very large room, with the PowerPoint just for that department running on a continuous loop. That way I could have skipped those departments/programs we couldn't care less about, and gotten the information we wanted much more quickly.

Polski3 said...

I will always give low marks to any presentation given to me via powerpoint in which the presenter reads their pp to me. This tells me that this presenter has decided that I cannot read the pp myself and that I should be enthralled at his/her ability to read the simple data on their pp. Damn, use the pp to show the graphics (pictures, graphs, and other VISUALS), and tell me the data. Let us know your expertise beyond what you can scrawl on a little screen. Don't freekin' read it to me; I ain't three years old!

Ellen K said...

Administrators LOVE technology. They can count computers, projectors, CPS systems and smartboards. But that doesn't equate to learning. I think many of our students use technology to dodge learning. Students, at least in my technologically "advanced" school, tend to regurgitate whatever they read on the first website that comes up on Google. They don't qualify it, they don't consider opposing views and heaven help them if you want them to analyze what they have read. While I use technology some, I will tell you up front that I would give up some of it in a moment to have smaller classes. BTW, and I speak as someone who has the oldest and worst computers in the entire school.

allen (in Michigan) said...

As a computer jock I can tell you that I'm still bemused by the near-religious attraction of technology in the teaching community. I can understand why district officials and other administrative types are entranced by computers since they give the appearance of forward-looking and thoughtful oversight at which point the computers have served their purpose.

There's a definite "Emperor's New Clothes" aspect to the use of computers in education in that virtually everyone is sure they must play some vital part in education but no one, and I mean no one, is able to articulate what that part is and don't particularly care to have the lack brought to their attention.