Risk-Taking with Technology: a Recent First Attempt in Learning

My students and I benefit from using technology in the classroom and it's evident that we are all becoming more comfortable and proficient with it. There are times, though, where this risk-taking doesn't pan out and I have the opportunity to model how I handle failing (this time--there will be others, I'm sure!).

I wanted to introduce a new unit of study using primary source maps and prompts in History using an app that would allow me to link the class' ideas on one screen. (The app shall remain nameless, I don't believe the app is at fault, rather user error on my part!) I had read up on the app but felt like we could figure it out as we went along and that's usually a successful strategy.

The students in my first class downloaded the app and we all tried to link together. One student showed us how to find a QR code and I thought we were on our way. I gave myself a limit of 7 minutes to attempt this new technology--if we couldn't get it downloaded and ready to go by then I wasn't going to use any more valuable time to figure it out during this attempt. Sure enough, after 7 minutes we moved on to Plan B--having the students download the images into One Note and predicting independently, as a table, and then as a class.

My next classes went a bit further in our quest to use this app thanks to the insight of the QR Code but, sure enough, we couldn't figure it out and moved to Plan B each hour.

Several lessons were (hopefully) made evident: I was able to model the fact that trying and not always succeeding is OK, that class content is more important to me than the use of technology, and that I didn't get overly frustrated when things weren't working out for me--we moved onward and continued the activity.

I will try this app in the future but will first observe a few colleagues working with it in class--I am a person that needs to see something in action and then I will most likely be able to use it.

First Attempts in Learning are important and necessary growth opportunities for all of us, teachers and students alike.


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