Monday, May 17, 2010

The Computer Ate My Homework

I just made my first real podcast! I am so excited!!!  I also added the iPhone app, uploaded my podcast to iTunes, and added the text below.

The week I began graduate school, my dogs ate my homework. Well, they didn't actually eat my online assignment, but they did consume a textbook thrown over the fence by a careless delivery person. As I laughed about seeing by backyard covered with a dusting of white pages, I began to think about how my students now blame missing homework on the computer instead of the family pet.

Since most of the assignments in my classroom are taught and learned with the help of computers, my students occasionally come to class unprepared as a result of technology glitches. Many times, these students try to blame the computer instead of themselves. However, blaming a computer for a missing assignment is never an acceptable excuse.

I continuously teach my students how to save their assignments using the best technology available. I tell them to always save their work in two forms. Most students opt to save their work to a thumb drive and email it to themselves as an attachment. I also teach them to be careful to check the item's name and file type before saving. This system has worked moderately, however I recently discovered that saving work to "the cloud" is much safer than a thumb drive and Google is much more responsible than any of us. Now, most of my students choose to create assignments in Google Docs, which automatically saves their work within their Google Account. Since a variety of file types can also be uploaded to Google Docs, they can also create permanent portfolios.

However, sometimes accidents happen. Computers crash, servers go down, viruses infect files, and even humans make mistakes. When these things occur, I tell my students that it's unfortunate, but they must figure out a way to overcome the setback. I can't grade something that I cannot see. Resilient students find time to quickly redo or fix the assignment. Those who dig in their heels and blame the computer, will probably have a second chance to practice resiliency in my summer school classroom.

Though, my students may feel that I am little cold-blooded for not simply crediting them for the work eaten by the computer, I am confident that I am teaching them real-world responsibility. If I am going to teach my students to respect and value technology, I need to emphasize that the computer is the tool and they are the users. However, I can dream of the day my dogs accidentally eat a giant pile of essays I need to grade.

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