Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How do you handle those pesky classroom tech glitches?

We've all had it happen; a classroom technical glitch that threatens to turn a brilliantly planned lesson into a train-wreck.  ProfHacker, the popular columnist at the Chronicle of Higher Ed asks his readers to suggest ways to handle these situations  - not in terms of solving the technical issues (which most of us are powerless against) but instead how to deal with a classroom of antsy students.

Here are a couple of helpful suggestions:

From reader # 1.  I often find that my attitude in face of these “disasters” is crucial. If I have a tech failure and walk into class and start getting upset, railing against the tech staff who “never get it right” or otherwise blow my cool, then the “disaster” really becomes one, with students spreading word of either my incompetence or how the institution “never gets it right.”

However, if I go in with a “well, we’ll skip using that tool for awhile until I get the bugs worked out, lets move on to something else” the situation usually stays manageable . . . .  Remember, its education, not brain surgery. If you make a mistake in the classroom, technology related or not, the student isn’t going to suffer irreparable harm…they will just need to catch up a little later.

From reader # 2. 

[I]t’s pretty important to acknowledge the students’ frustration with a simple, “You’re mad, I get it, I’m sorry. I’m annoyed too.” Then I usually take the opportunity to talk (again) about why I choose to use the tool even though it’s not 100% perfect. Students are usually happier to try again if they understand what my pedagogical goals are, or if they get that the alternative is going to be even less convenientd (sic).

Please, dear readers, provide your own suggestions in the comments below about how to handle classroom IT foul-ups with aplomb and grace.

If you'd like to see more suggestions from ProfHacker's readers, click here (and scroll to the bottom of the page).



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