Sunday, February 13, 2011

Technological Experiments

            I seem to go back and forth every week between loving technology and hating it! A few weeks ago we looked at Garage Band and had to create our own podcasts. It was an interesting experience, as I had never used a program to create an audio file before. Reading other people’s blogs the following week, I noticed that someone had mentioned that Audacity was another good audio program; they had even posted the link to a download. I figured the program might come in handy at some point, so I decided to download it. Needless to say I’m glad I chose to download it, as I’ve spent the past week working on a video project.
            I conducted numerous interviews around a topic I was researching for another class, and decided it would be quite fun to organize the answers into a video presentation. While I had downloaded Audacity a few weeks before, I hadn’t yet had the chance to play around with it. I spent hours recording narratives, cutting and splicing interviews, adding background music, and wondering why some of the tracks came out with voices that sounded a lot like Alvin and the Chipmunks! It took some time, but I think I finally discovered my chipmunk problem. I found a way around it, but I’m convinced there must be a simpler way. I’m sure there were many easier ways to do things, and I’m certain I would have benefited from a short tutorial, however it was still a fun experience. There are so many tools I still do not know how to use, but it’s amazing the things I managed to figure out. In the end I created nine audio files, most of which had at least background music, a narrative, and an interview clip. I had a lot of fun playing around with the program, but I hope I’ll be a little more prepared to use it the next time a similar opportunity presents itself.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Stuck In A Rut

          I must say that I sometimes find myself getting rather annoyed with technology. Technology can be great when used appropriately. Sometimes, however, it begins to feel like a gimmick, or a show-and-tell over who has the shiniest, newest product. Why does it matter who uses a Mac and who uses a PC? Why do I need to know which is better: the iPhone or the iPad? Sometimes I simply feel like running face first into a brick wall. If I am purchasing new materials for my classroom, then yes, I suppose I will be doing my research before making any purchases. What are the customer reviews like? How do the products compare in price? Which product seems to run into fewer difficulties? I don't think technology should be the be all and end all though.
          I found the conversation over real books vs. electronic books to be hilarious today. You can buy 90 books, or you can buy 90 expensive electronic devices on which to read the books. Really? How many schools are going to allow teachers to run out and spend thousands of dollars on these things? Would students be allowed to take them home? I highly doubt it. So what, we "give up" hours of class time for independent reading because that's the only time and place the students can use these devices? It just doesn't seem reasonable to me. I'm getting so annoyed by the amount of time I'm spending on my computer this term. I seem to spend hours doing my homework on the computer every day. I'm not just being dramatic when I say I think my eyesight is getting worse. My eyes end up exhausted, and I end up squinting by the time I'm finishing up. I've definitely heard that from other people as well. So would books not be the "healthier" option?
          Why, when students are spending so much time fairly isolated with their technological devices, are we not focusing more on socializing? We've increased the number of physical education credits because students aren't getting enough exercise anymore. I would say it's fairly safe to venture that this is largely due to the number of hours they spend online, playing video games, etc. I'm pretty sure gym teachers aren't having students play video games in gym so that they exercise their thumbs. Could a similar context not also apply to other subject areas? When technology is the best method for teaching or learning, then by all means, we should be using it. If there are other options that will work just as well, if not better, why not introduce or immerse our students in those methods or activities too? That way they're gaining more exposure to other methods of learning.