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Not-So-TechNo-Savvy

October 8, 2011 16 comments

This week I went to curriculum night at my tween-age boy’s school. He’s in the 8th grade. After a brief introduction by the head master and head of the middle school, we were directed to our children’s “Advisory” class-rooms or to put it more plainly, their “home-rooms”. From there, we were to switch classes, like our kids do, only we’d be spending 10-minutes rather than 100, in each of five classes. As a nod to the general “age-group” of the parents in attendance and to emphasize the progression of technology over the years, the archaic sound of the internet connecting through the phone lines via modem was played over the PA system, signaling us to move on to the next class.

For your listening pleasure and for those who are too young to remember anything but silence when connecting to the “net”, I borrowed one of YouTube’s renditions of a 56K Modem making the internet connection, back in the day.

Easy enough, I thought. How difficult could this be?

While I appreciate the nostalgic effect that particular sound brings with it, it truly has to be one of the most annoying sounds on the planet.

After ten minutes in five classes and a brief description of options offered in the “Arts” quite frankly, I was dizzy. It wasn’t the obnoxious modem sound or the subject matter that threw me, it was the technology and how information is disseminated that left me feeling well, stressed. Truth be told, I was absolutely exhausted by the time I left. It was overwhelming to try to keep up with how information gets exchanged between student and teacher and parent and administration, without a single piece of paper being is used.

Gone are the pen and pencil requirements. I’m not even sure these kids know what loose-leaf is anymore. There are hardly any textbooks either. Every child has to have their own lap top –in class! Homework and class assignments are posted either on the school’s website, a white board or a smart-board. When completed, the student uploads their work to a Google-docs, except in science where they put it into a wiki page on a wiki space. Here the students interactively edit each other’s pages and the teacher leaves comments or wiki-texts for individual students.

No offense, but I’m just starting to get the hang of  regular “text-ing”.

What is “wiki-text-ing” and is it really necessary? Am I going to have to learn this too?

In science my son is going to be “paired” with a student from another school who is working on the same experiment his class is; one involving Menthos and Diet Coke –think lots of fizz and a minor, okay maybe not so minor, explosion! The pair will video-chat their methods and findings.

Are you still with me? 

Good because by the time I got to the third class, I was losing steam and clarity, rapidly!

It started with the white board, moved to the smartboard and in Spanish we were introduced to the (new) soundboard! This is not like something you would find in a radio station. It’s something the student uses at home. They speak their homework into their computer and through this new program and technology, the teacher “hears” how they’re speaking in Spanish on her computer and assesses their progress.

In order to better grasp these technologies and try to make sense of what I saw, I tried looking them up when I got home. Here’s what I found:

A Smart Board is a series of interactive whiteboards developed by Smart Technologies and includes the 600 series, the 800 series and the 400 series (only available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Mexico). The first Smart Board interactive whiteboard was introduced in 1991. (Wikipedia)

Got it? 

Me neither.

An “interactive whiteboard” is the electronic equivalent of the physical whiteboard and may be software in a user’s computer or a stand-alone unit. It allows users in remote locations to simultaneously view a running application or view someone’s drawings on screen. Whiteboards may or may not provide application sharing, in which two or more people are actually working in the same application at the same time. (PC Magazine)

I think they’re messing with me here.

Is a smart board a whiteboard or a whiteboard a smart-board or what??

A soundboard is a computer program, Web application, or device, traditionally created in Adobe Flash that catalogues and plays many short soundbites and audio clips. Soundboards are self-contained, requiring no outside media player. (Wikipedia)

I totally got lost on this one. Is it a program or a device? Does the kid have this board at home? Is this another required purchase?

And again, is this something I am going to have to learn how to use?

I’m confused.

Even though I don’t quite understand them, I am pretty blown away by the capabilities of these boards although, I can’t say I’m fully on board with what seems like an inundation of technology.

Truthfully, I miss the chalk board.

Photo Credit #1 Chalk Board

Video Credit #1 56K Modem

Photo Credit #2 Smart Board

Photo Credit #3 White Board

Photo  Credit #4 Texting

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