Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eyes, Hands, And The Internet



I had a visitor in my classroom yesterday afternoon. Sam Abels, our WCS go-to guy on computer issues, along with Spanish instruction, dropped in to configure LanSchool for me. This year saw Westbury Christian make a giant tech leap as every student grades 8-12 was issued a laptop back in August. With new technology comes new issues, sort of an educational Brave New World. Being technologically deficient gave me the jitters as the 2012-2013  year began but for the most part, it's been pretty smooth, at least for me. Wiring each classroom for Internet has allowed me much better access to wingclips and YouTube videos which greatly enhance my ability to visually make a point from my desktop computer via the large screen projection system. I'm still learning how to incorporate the students into my lesson plans online so it's pretty much restricted to two usages: using a  website with various Bible translations for quizzes and memory verses and Microsoft Word to take notes for tests. I really like discussions with the youngsters typing their notes; it's a blessing to our international students and it makes the kids seem very professional.

Recently, however, I've become suspicious of some of my students staying on task. I've seen a dramatic drop in test grades in the past few weeks and as the tests are taken from class notes, I came up with two scenarios. First, I've lost my ability to convey information and ideas which I don't think is the issue. The second option is that some of my learners are not where they are supposed to be on their laptops when we are discussing the ministry of Jesus. Choice B seemed most likely so that is where Sam came in. LanSchool is a management program for student computers, allowing teachers to monitor each laptop in the classroom. In my case, I had Sam show me how to only allow only www.biblegateway.com to be accessed in Room 258 as well as Word so they can take notes without the ability to play games. Two days in and so far, there have been few glitches except for my forgetting to turn off the system when each period is over so the students can use the Internet in their next class. Is it working? I guess I'll find out when the next set of tests are graded.

You know, part of me wishes I had kept Sam out of it and dealt with the issues myself. I feel like I don't trust the kids like I should and I know it's not all of them. On the other hand, removing temptation is a scriptural strategy! I try to put myself back in the desk as a sixteen year old sophomore if we'd had the Internet. Would I have stayed on task with notes or would I have been looking around online for the latest Nebraska High School Class B basketball rankings? I'll have to plead the Fifth which means you can surmise the answer. Jesus taught if our hand or eye causes us to sin, we need to get rid of it. I asked my 8th graders last week if that meant bodily mutilation. I asked how many of them knew other kids whose phones got them into trouble- all acknowledged they did. Maybe that could be what the Savior was talking about in a modern setting. I'd probably get into legal trouble if we did any eye gouging for Internet wandering so maybe its's just better to reduce that capability on their laptops. The word Jesus uses for sin in the NIV in Matthew 5 is stumble. We all know that the Internet can trip anybody up. Hopefully, I've moved at least one obstacle for one hundred ten teenagers for forty-six minutes. Well, I should say Sam did.

Applicable quote of the day:
Steve
Luke 18:1
www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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