Tuesday, 15 November 2011

17 signs your classroom is behind the times - a sarcastic approach

If you are serious about being a lifelong learner and you don't already subscribe to it, do yourself a favor and subscribe to Stephen Downes newsletter called Oldaily.  I love the fact that every day I get some interesting education related content delivered straight to my email inbox every morning.  I also enjoy the fact that Stephen takes the time to annotate these articles / bookmarks with his thoughts.

I usually try and check them out everyday.  Today, like most days, I was about five days behind.  Sometimes some of the content can be very 'academicy' but generally speaking I can find something that sparks my interest. One item that sparked my interest today was entitled 17 signs your classroom is behind the times.  The article goes on to articulate 17 ways (obviously!) that you can measure if your classroom is behind the times.  I read the list with interest and thought it was a decent article worthy of some thoughts.  I will outline each thought and respond accordingly with my own interpretations.  

1. Your students turn in their homework on printed paper....instead of digitally.
Well there is one of my favorite things to consider.  My students generally complete a mixture of digitally and 'paper' based homework.  Does this mean that my classroom is behind the times?  Isn't it about the best tool for the job?

2. For poster assignments, your students need glue, construction paper and scissors...instead of using an online tool like Glogster.
Working within a 1-1 environment, one of the hardest things is trying to get the balance right.  As stated above, there is a time and place for both.  There is nothing worse than having all the 'bells and whistles' and poor pedagogy behind it.  

3. You still have chalk.  Or a Dry Eraser.
Now I am not exactly sure what a dry eraser is but up until two years ago I still had a 'blackboard'.  I am not saying that I loved it but it still was an effective medium that I used to communicate meaning.  Does that mean that I am not up to date?

4. You try to pull up a web resource on your computer to show the class and you receive a 'This website is blocked' message
Um...I regularly get these messages.  I don't understand how this point makes me behind the times.

5. You cross your fingers every time you try to connect to the network and access the internet.
Nope I don't do this one.  I am lucky that we have pretty good conectivity at my location and I can always access the network or fix issues if they come up.

6. You don't get interrupted by a cell phone ring, text message or tweet alert at some point during the school year.
My kids have to put their phones into a mobile phone box which lives on my desk.  It is not unusual to hear them going off.  I actually saw some of them pull them out today to listen to music.

7. You spend more time lecturing students .... rather than getting them collaborating and learning from each other.
I actually spend very little time lecturing my kids but sometimes I think that there is a place for the 'passment' of content / knowledge.  I very rarely do this.

8. You have a set of Encyclopedias
Well I certainly don't have a set of encyclopedias.  Our school has a set in the library.  I have seen them being used a couple of times due to the fact that they are a dead source of information.

9. You consider using a PowerPoint presentation as satisfying the need to integrate technology in the classroom.
Ah PowerPoint....one of my favorite topics to explore.  PowerPoint does have a place and a time but it is not the be all and end all of everything.

10. You create more content than your student do.
Nope.  I am huge into this notion.  My motto that I preach is that I want my kids to be active participants in the learning cycle not just passive recipients of information.

11. Your students aren't teaching you something new (likely about technology) at least once a day.
I am constantly amazed by the work that my kids do and the ways that they do.  They are constantly educating me and inspiring me.

12. You don't have a classroom website or blog to post class information, homework assignments and parent information online.
Another big tick for me.  I have been doing this for years and years.

13. You don't have a classroom set of computers, netbooks, ipads or other devices for group work.
I am fortunate enough to work in a 1-1 classroom.

14. You don't find at least one thing to call the IT department about every week.
I never call on our technician on a weekly basis.  Most problems I can solve myself very easily.

15. A student has never requested to complete a project using a new digital tool you have never heard of.
Most of the most innovative things that my kids come up with is mashing up tools that they find together.

16. You have never used or heard of: Collaborize Classroom, Prezi, Evernote, Glogster, MyFakeWall, Typewith.me, Storybird, JayCut, Wordle, or Tiki-Toci
Yes: Prezi, Evernote, Glogster, MyFakeWall, Typewith.me, Storybird, Wordle.  No: JayCut, Tiki-Toci

Number 17 was some blatant advertisement for a conference.

The tone that Stephen talked about this list in his email was a bit condescending and I totally understand why. I am not overly sure of the purpose of posts like these.  What do they achieve?  Yes I do most things on this list but not all of them.  Does that mean that I am not educating my students well for the future?  I certainly hope not.  This was a bit of a rant but I get sick and tired of people saying that if you don't do X you are not doing a good job.

17.)  You've never attended a FREE SimpleK12 webinar or joined the Teacher Learning Community


  1. Ashely - In response to Number 4 - No it doesn't show you are behind the times, but it certainly does show that the educational organisation you work for IS behind the times.

  2. You know what - In response to number 4 - I now work in a school that has completely open access to the internet. We are 1:1 wireless and internet speed on steroids - yet none of these things - nor all of them collectively attribute to the school reaching the 21st century. Teachers in my school do most of these things but that doesn't mean that they are visionary or are ahead of the game.