Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Technology Tussle

Here is my almost daily question: Why is technology so unreliable? Actually, a more accurate phrasing of that question would be: Why does technology not really do what it advertises it will do?

Here are my experiences just this week:
  • -- I moved to this site in August because I was really bothered by Ning becoming fee-based and I did not want to be an ad platform for Pearson (nothing personal against Pearson -- I just felt wrong becoming an ad place for them). Of course, is now following the money PLUS I have not been able to access any payment options for weeks on their site or been able to make my public so I can see my front page again. Today, I cannot even access my No notice, just no available. Can't wait for my class later today when we actually, surprise surprise, wanted to use our to ... collaborate ...
  • Crocodoc -- I thought this would be a great alternative to Diigo (which could be a completely different bullet except I have not used Diigo in months because its annotation tools are SO unreliable). So, I get my class all set up, they start annotating, and we quickly have annotations scrolling for pages that are linked to sentences way, way above. No way to close comments or to respond to comments -- just one long list of comments that really are not visibly attached to anything ... so no collaborating on annotating with this collaborative annotation tool ...
  • Skype -- My professor is trying to use this for the audio portion of our class (because Adobe Connect's -- our conferencing software -- audio is apparently known to be problematic), and he has struggled for two weeks now because half the people cannot hear. It is never the same half of course. I feel so sorry for him because, as technology teacher myself, I know the headache of trying to troubleshoot on the spot. All he was trying to do was to communicate via the web ... what Skype promotes itself as ... hmmm ...
I love the ideas I have about how to teach better and more powerfully through the tools I can harness in my school's 1:1 laptop program. But if I had made a scorecard of hits and misses, I have to be honest that my misses column would be far, far longer. The hits make it all worth it (Google Docs -- thank you for changing to allow synchronous editing!!) ... so just thank you for allowing me to vent.


  1. I feel your pain! If I had a nickel for every time I started to share a new tool with a class of students in the lab or a group of teachers, I would be able to buy a few Starbucks Venti coffees. But it's just something we learn to deal with and adapt to, which obviously you are doing a good job at.

  2. Thanks, Jeff, for the support. I think I will save a nickel for every glitch -- that will give me a great reward after awhile!

  3. Hi Susanne, I stuck with Ning even though I have to pay for it here in Australia. It still represents to me the best way to foster an extended conversation and connections in a classroom. I know the Pearson advertising is a bugbear for you in the States, but I'd go back there because of the benefits the platform provides for stable communication. At one stage I considered Thanks for the heads up that they have gone for a paid model too. Good luck!
    Jenny Luca.

  4. Stay strong, Susanne! I'm sorry you're having so many challenges lately. It makes it hard to remember the successes. You're at the forefront of change and once more schools get to that place I believe the tech will become more reliable. I have a similar post coming up on my blog about how much I love open-source software, but the downside is of course one can't depend on it (and why should're not paying for it!). It's still frustrating.

    I live in Europe now and Skype being down last month was terrible. I felt isolated from my family back home and I'm already an ocean away. It's hard not to feel completely helpless since we rely so heavily on tech. These are good lessons for students to learn, though.

  5. Susan, Greetings from - yesterday's issue was the most painful one in our 6 years history. The service was kept free for the last 2 months but the payment system will be reactivated next month. Cheers,
    Chief Grou.pie

  6. Thank you for your comment on my blog, Emre. It is nice to see a face behind I have been trying to get the front page of my ( to show for two+ months now. I made the public, but my front page is still blocked. To hear that the program has been free is great, but can you tell me why I cannot get my front page back or upgrade to get it back?
    Thank you,