Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Video Killed the Radio Star

My big class is in a room where the students sit at a series of long tables. The set-up is that of a school lunchroom or mess hall. I've been teaching the same sort of classes for so long that I'm in the habit of making heavy use of the whiteboard, both for structuring my own points and for recording students' comments and questions. In this classroom, though, the whiteboard is too small for me to use efficiently, particularly since not everyone can see it. This means that I either have to come in with all my content prepared in advance or use the virtual whiteboard that requires me to draw with a stylus on the computer monitor at an awkward angle. I suppose I could just lecture, but somehow the technological excess of the classroom makes that seem like a perverse approach. Today I'd prepared a Powerpoint presentation only to discover that something had happened to the document when I saved it, rendering it unusable. It was a very frustrating discovery.

The anxiety of having to move on to Plan B, coupled with the difficulty of using the virtual whiteboard, had me feeling like a fish out of water. And then I started to obsess on the fact that many of the students in the class aren't even looking in my direction. It's not their fault, obviously, since the tables force many of them to look elsewhere. But gazing out at a sea of students with their back turned to me, watching the screens that project whatever I write on the virtual whiteboard, had me feeling extraneous. Loss of confidence is not the pathway to successful pedagogy. I'll pull it together and get things working better for next week. It really bothers me, though, that I'm going to have to expend so much of my preparation time on technological details. I suppose the labor will turn out to have been good for me in the end. Right now, though, I'm feeling bleak about the semester of "New Media" teaching ahead. At least my morning class went well. Apparently my relief at having a functional whiteboard in that smaller classroom makes me excel.

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