Tools and Infrastructure

This week I had a rant in my department meeting. We had been talking about the divide that was currently taking place in our school. A divide between the new technology that we are adopting and the infrastructure to support the implementation of that technology. My fear is that we are looking too much to new technology to be our answers to the problem, rather than using that new or existing technology to support our learning in the classroom.

I could give you any number of examples about how this is currently being manifested in my work environment, but this isn’t probably the appropriate forum, but how this relates to this weeks discussion is as such — new tools are great, but we need to be sure of how to use them, and we need to be certain that these tools will ultimately support our learning and the learning of our students. This week, I experimented with a tool that I have used before, Prezi. Prezi is an online presentation tool, that makes presentations more dynamic and embeddable. I first heard about it because a colleague of mine was having her students create presentations on it. After playing with it for a few times, I would agree that it is a very cool tool. However, I think it is a total pain to use. Maybe it’s too much of me being a newbie, but I was constantly trying to figure out how I was supposed to do things in the program. I was constantly in the wrong mode to do the things that I wanted. No offense to my colleague, but if I was to give this to my students as a tool, I would spend most of the time showing them how to use the tool (if I could figure it out) rather than them being actually engaged in learning outcomes.

Regardless, here is the presentation that I made with Prezi. It’s all about Jump Cuts:

.prezi-player { width: 550px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }

I don’t want you to think I am down on technology, because I really love it. But we need to make sure that our students are able to use the technology as an invisible tool. As we say in the Editing world, “Your job is to be invisible”. The tool should be a transparent way that we can engage with the content, not a road block.

  • Mr. Zevallos

    Hello Rob,I am in complete agreement with the idea of a need of strong infrastructure to support some of the new technology that is floating around there. Prezi, much like voicethread, or glogster, etc. all rely on the access to the "Cloud" rather than using proprietary programs on the Mac (or pc). While I am all for the development of Cloud computing – to apply this successfully in schools requires a strong network infrastructure that will be able successfully handle the bandwidth load. My school went 1-1 macbooks last year grades 6th -12th, and at times our internet is crawling. Which makes using things like Prezi in school almost out of the question. Also, what's necessary to keep in mind is a maintaining a strong and continuous professional development for teachers. How will they integrate this into their curriculum, making sure that it's more of a help than a hinderance. I'm not in favor of chucking out the notebook in favor of a laptop, because I feel that the laptop can be restricting in someways. However, with the advent of touch screens, e.g. the iPad, and more reliable bandwidth in schools, I feel we will see more and more strong implementation. Let's hope the school provides the necessary resources.