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Hey guys,  so what do you do when your computer doesn’t work, and you have a mac that doesn’t have the port to connect to the projector??

You try to teach without the visual feeds and the media that you planned… It is a difficult task. I’ve got to admit that I have a lot of respect now for old fashioned teaching (with no power points) I don’t know how they pulled it off. In all honesty, I don’t know how I pulled my class off today! It was nerve-wrecking. When I was a student I remember how I couldn’t follow with the teacher without the media or at least guidelines to what she talking about.. I was trying my best to not to let my students feel that way today. All in all, it was a good lecture, would’ve been better with the slide show and video, but I kind of managed to shift it into a good old fashioned marker and white board thing.  So any suggestions to what should be done if this incident happens again in the future would be much appreciated!

Thank you!

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11 comments to COMPUTER DIDN’T WORK !

  • Not being able to access my discussion materials is one of my biggest fears (!!) anddd something similar, though more my fault, almost happened to me ‘this one time’. I realized as soon as I got to class that I had left my USB at my office the previous night and there was no way I was going to be able to retrieve it at that point. Luckily, I had been transferring the file between computers earlier in the day without my USB- meaning I was emailing it back and forth to myself (oh, sophistication!) so I had a version of the powerpoint. Regardless, I’m not sure there is a better way to handle it, except as you did – stay calm and teach on – and be super aware of how challenging it can be for students to follow along without power points. Another idea might be to photocopy your notes for class, if basic enough, and share with the class so they too have a structure to go off of. Or, to break the class down into topical sections which you spell out from the beginning so the class knows the arc of the discussion that day. Anyway, sounds like you did a great job! Sorry I have no input on ‘how to get technology when the technology is broken’..

  • I remember when white boards and markers replaced chalk and blackboards. I began teaching when AV equipment meant film strip projectors and 35mm movie projectors.

    For the first two years at Queens, I printed out my lesson plan and notes at home; and before class, I picked up a laptop and projector in one building and brought it to another building. The first night of class, I set everything up. The projector did not work, but the laptop did. So I began the lesson without the slides being projected and in the middle of the session I thought what if it wasn’t the projector but the outlet? Switched the plug to another outlet in the room and voila success.

    That night I realized I always need a backup plan. I often have static pages of web sites available on a thumb drive should the internet be down. I plan for the worst and am delighted when everything works the way I want it to.

    • Wow it is amazing that you think about everything. I have to start to do that as well. But these are things I did not know… We all learn from our mistakes. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • It never fails that my tech will stop working on the day I lecture on technology in the classroom. Ironic yet frustrating.

    My method is to never let them see me sweat. I announce that they may use their phones to access the power point on Blackboard and that I expect they will be respectful and not take advantage of the phone access. I then ask them to put their chairs in a circle to facilitate discussion and I either sit or stand in that circle. (Obviously this doesn’t work with large lecture classes.)

    I then give my lecture in more of a Q&A. I give information, then ask a LOT of questions to guide discussion. Since my students have a small amount of reading they have to complete before every class, I begin by asking what their take-home point was of the article. I then try to keep the class engaged by making it more of a symposium than a lecture on that particular day.

    While I prefer the uniformity of the lecture on the board, sometimes you just have to make it work. I have found that this is a good way for me to get everyone to participate on days when I have to wing it.

    • Nicole,

      Interesting that you share your powerpoint on Blackboard. I’ve done some personal research with my classes and without exception, I have found that sharing the Powerpoint leads to lower mean grades and lower quality note-taking. In addition, it opens the door to students selling or at least transferring the slides to those in future classes. While that could lead to preparation for future students, it could also lead to taking things completely out of context.

      I’m curious about your thoughts on this.


      Phil Lewis

      • Hi Phil,

        These are interesting points to consider. Overall I have not found lower mean grades over the semesters I have been teaching the same class; I have actually found that grades have improved. While the lectures have remained the same, so much has changed in the structure of my course (getting rid of a final exam and periodic quizzes to accommodate a portfolio, for example) that I can’t say confidently that the rise in grades is for that reason.

        I would also say in reply to the passing on of work that my power points are general information on theory and that I expect my students to take notes on the details I discuss. Overall I find this isn’t a problem, and I would be curious to your opinion as to how this might differ across subject. Since I teach educational psychology, we have a lot of discussion and critical examination of theory; how would the lectures differ in something a little more concrete, such as calculus? I would love to hear your thoughts.

        I find that about 65% of my students have printed out the power point and take notes directly on the printed paper. Learner differences and differentiated instruction are a big part of my practice simply because it’s what is in the curriculum for teacher training and a large part of what they need to learn as future educators, and I make it clear to them early on that I expect they will explore how they learn best and if that means printing the PP then so be it. If it means they don’t take notes at all, I expect that they will be properly prepared for the exam and for their final portfolio.

  • Good discussion.. A lot of information to consider. I found that since I have placed my power point by chapter on blackboard ( without my added notes) is a safety measure. It also helps the students who read the chapter write their own notes and they bring it to class and add in my input. So, if you forget your zip drive just pull it up from blackboard and go with the flow!

    Wow Carol, I just remember projectors and maybe an overhead projector. I was in a class with 200 students and if you didn’t do the readings you were really lost! When I first started at Queens I had no idea how to even use the IT equipment and found that asking the students sometimes helps!

    As far as the Quizzes- our department really wants to acclimate the students to online testing because the licensing exam is online and my course is hybrid- so I try to do as much as possible through blackboard. Still haven’t worked out the cheating though. The only recommendation was to set up a computer lab for the day of the exam and have the students come in and take it.

  • tiberiosnaidero

    Basing all your class on technology is dangerous, unless you have contingency plans, like Carol. Many times blackboards or whiteboards also do the trick, don’t they?

  • This is the worst. I am teaching in the world’s worst classroom (ok, not really, but it sometimes feels like it) with 68 students this semester. It’s about 4 rows deep and about 30 students long. So there are three smartboards lining the front of this hallway-shaped room. Every day is like Russian Roulette- which one of the smartboards will be out? Which third of the class will not be able to see my handout? UGH.

  • I seem to be in the minority, tech-wise; tech has yet to fail me because I carry an ultrabook with *all* the stuff I need for any given lecture in the semester; I also carry a complete roster and **every** exam and essay every student has submitted to me, ever (I’ve been at QC since 2009). What isn’t submitted via email (like blue book exams) I scan.

    I never rely on the PC in a smart classroom; I use the ultrabook for everything: attendance (yes, I take the roll call every day), lesson plans, handouts (including an HDMI-to-VGA adapter), Google Earth, YouTube, and a complete copy of what I have posted on Blackboard. Just in case, a copy of the semester’s stuff (as described above) is on my Google drive. The Google drive has only been down once, and then it was a matter of minutes before being restored for my use.

    . . . AND I have a complete backup copy on my home PC . . . just in case. I know that’s a bit of work to keep everything in sync, but it’s worth the trouble.