When the technology lets you down

As anyone who reads this blog will know, I am a great proponent of new technology and its potential for education. I am though, like everybody else a victim of when the technology lets you down.

I am a consultant in Primary Mathematics and have to give presentations as a part of my job. I don’t know how many times I have had a wonderful Powerpoint available only to see that it doesn’t load or that the link to some website or other doesn’t happen and I stand there making apologies along the lines of “the technology lets you down!”

Yesterday was another example of this. I was looking up a brilliant list of resources called “The Clearinghouse” http://www.curriculum21.com/index.php?path=/clearinghouse from Century 21, an organisation that I belong to that is promoting the use of web 2.0 technology.

I came across a really interesting search application called Yolink. I went to the Yolink site and watched the videos and was really impressed by what the application could do. It could take your normal Google Search and then scan through the results for links to particular words. It could do the same for text and the results could be saved or shared.

It seemed to make searching much better and as they said in the video it meant that you could go from “search” to “find”. This really got me excited and I foresaw a blog entry coming up on the power of Yolink.

I found that there was a Mozilla Firefox application that I could download and I dutifully did. I could hardly wait to do my first search and then quickly scan for word matches and then text matches. I tried but it didn’t quite work.

I decided, since there was a “Google Chrome” version that I would download Chrome and see if this worked better. This was duly done and , no, it did not appear to work a lot better. I tried a version for Internet Explorer and it didn’t seem to work with the efficiency that the young lady in the video had promised.

I am not discouraged though, because I am sure that the programmers will eventually sort out the problems and this is a potentially powerful application. But it did bring to mind that technology can let you down at times and that it does not have all the answers. It has great potential and there are programs and applications coming out all the time that are widening its ability to develop our learning.

But there will always be the power cut, the blown light bulb in your projector, the internet crash and the little bug that sits in the program that seems to wait until you use it. It can be very frustrating, it can make you feel like screaming.. but stick with it even when your students are laughing at your ridiculous attempts to rescue yourself from this technological hell and realise that it’ll improve in time and it’s worth it in the end!

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