Monday, May 17, 2010

Adobe Connect Experience

What I attempted to say near the end of the conversation tonight is that I'm very spoiled when it comes to integrating technology in my classroom. Because Jefferson signs a contract with Project Lead the Way (PLTW), I am required to have certain technology in my classroom. I have a full computer lab, robot, mill, rapid prototyping machine, various integrated circuits and other digital electronics paraphernalia, and a laptop for my use. I also have access to funding outside the usual department budget so I have the supplies I need. I am spoiled and I know it.

What don't I have? Support. The school district and my administration do not provide the support to encourage students to take these college preparatory classes. We have to "advertise" to incoming 8th graders and to our student population. As an elective, I understand that it's our responsibility to elicit interest in what we offer, but these are classes that encourage problem solving, personal responsibility and the attainment of 21st century learning goals so why isn't there more enthusiasm from the top? Why don't the other two high schools in the district offer these classes? Why don't we get support from our IT people?

In the final unit of the Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) course, students are supposed to complete a design project with students from other schools. PLTW calls it virtual teaming, and it's becoming more and more common in the real world. I would love to be able to use a communication tool like Adobe Connect in my classroom to complete this activity, but I can't. Our IT department won't allow us to use programs like this on our network. We have webcams, but we can't use them. Crazy! I considered surreptitiously installing one on my laptop so I could be part of the gang tonight, but it's not worth the hassle.

So, to summarize...I'm spoiled rotten, but I'm up against an entrenched system that rejects changes that would actually make things better so I'm frustrated. Every one of the 4-year PLTW awards that I gave out earlier tonight to our seniors went to a student who also got awards in math, science, athletics, foreign language, music, or national honors society. These kids are going to college with at least 12 credits from engineering alone. If our goal is to have all students go to college (which is another rant I'll save for another day), support the programs and teachers who provide learning opportunities that don't come from a textbook, but from real world problems and situations.

Yes, it's almost 10:30, and I'm still awake. This is one of those moments I should probably refrain from hitting publish so I can rethink this with a clear head in the morning...nope.


  1. What a great post. I could TOTALLY start a rant on the importance of engineering in today's world. That you have this program is unbelievable. That you don't have administration at your door wondering what they can do to help is equally unbelievable. My son just finished his freshman year in engineering at ISU; it was incredibly challenging, and he would have been so much more prepared if he had a program like this in high school. Good for you! Keep squeaking--you'll get the attention.

  2. WOW. You have quite a collection of good stuff. I would like to learn more about what you have. It sounds like you are having problems getting students to take your class. How big is your typical class?
    Maybe you need to do a little marketing.
    I don't remember how you learned about our Masters program, but we (the division) were the ones who initiated and completed most of the marketing.

    Leigh Zeitz