|Image Credit: "Blue Light-Saber Special." Sean Dreilinger, 12/25/2006|
1) What happens to the grades when you enter them into the Web 2.0 grading program without saving BUT leaving your computer on and open to the program overnight, OR
2) How many new combinations of naughty words I can come up with if I can't recover the grades.
Or maybe both.
I've been reassured by those in the know that the program locks up after ten minutes of idle time, so they are likely there, and all I'll have to do is log back on and hit the save button. That doesn't help me right now - I wanted to finish entering grades at school today before the last day of the trimester. When I logged on this morning to finish off the last few assignments, there was a whole lot of nothing on the screen - no evidence of the grading I had completed the night before. I've taken a pretty powerful and convenient student management tool and ... well, I'm not sure what I've done with it. For me, at least, it's not helpful.
I have a colleague who can say the word "awesome" with the exact sarcastic tone necessary for this precise situation.
Web 2.0 tools are great, no arguing that point. They still require a bit of attention from the user, but for the most part, they take a lot of guesswork out of the picture. For example, in the time it has taken me to write this paragraph, I've seen the "save now" button at the bottom of the Blogger window flicker over to "saved" about three or four times. I haven't had to do anything in that regard.
Not so with the grading program - there is a save button and you have to manipulate it manually. The safety valve is the locking function after ten minutes, and the prompt you get to save when you changes classes or screens, or try to quit the program. It's good not to have the automatic save because you need to verify the grades before you save. I'm sure that whoever thought of this had no idea that there would be knucklehead moments like the one I created for myself. I just want to have the option of using "the force" to unlock my laptop - right now at home - from where I sit - right now at school.
I suppose there is a network setting, download or utility that can allow me to do that - but I don't care because the here and now is what is my concern. I won't rule out that I'll do this again, but I don't know if going through all of the work to set up my laptop to prevent this is worth it.
Web 2.0 is helpful. Only a handful of times has the network been slow or gone down, and that's only been at school. It's been something of an issue lately with the district network bandwidth being used up more and more with online teaching tools, and no real plan for expansion in then near future. That's when we could really use the force. The force to expand the bandwidth, to reduce unnecessary use of YouTube and other streaming that's not really used for classroom purposes, to eliminate drop-outs with the wireless network. Those issues are largely out of our control as teachers, but they do affect how we use our Web 2.0. When all of that is clicking, Web 2.0 is great. When it ain't, it ain't.
Every time we use a new Web 2.0 tool, we learn something - and usually make some mistakes. The mistakes will always give the reluctant teachers a reason not to continue using those tools, but it should also push us to find new ways to keep pushing for better implementation in the classroom. Even when we have "the best thing out there" such as PowerTeacher, there is always room for improvement and new learning. There will always be knucklehead-moment-producing people like me to show how even the most intuitive features can be rendered unconscious. Just don't let it ruin the party.