Technology. It has it’s good points and it’s drawbacks, to be sure. In my day-job I’m usually attached to a phone in my school’s IT  department answering the questions that fall under our jurisdiction. These questions range from the unique, “My house burned down, how do get a replacement computer?” to the extremely inane. (Don’t think there can be an “extreme” of inane? Good for you. Enjoy your bliss.) I see the gamut of computer-related problems and the frequent downsides of relying too much on a machine to access your life.

That said, as this semester kicks off I am reminded how essential it is to have technology in the classroom- particularly for the dyslexic student.

My example? Renaissance Drama:

1.) The teacher gives us a list of rhetoric terminology with the instructions to keep it close by and study it frequently. We are also to look for the rhetorical devices in each play we read and be prepared to discuss them. However, this list is located on a website we are all able to look up and bookmark. (It is then printable, easy to convert to .pdf files and searchable.)

2.) She then gives us a writing assignment to be completed and turned in by the end of class- write an ode.

“I know what an ode is, but what is the format of one?”

Quick search reveals the history and structure of an ode along with a few examples. From there it’s easy to compose my ode and print it out to the printer at the front of the classroom with no need for me to labor over “nice” handwriting my for my first day of class with a new instructor.

3.) Finally, as we discuss the papers that will be due in class, our instructor gives us the name of a useful reference book. I look it up on – $70 for a used copy. Kindle edition? $45. (Oh- guess what? I’ve got a kindle! Hopefully a money-saving device…but it will receive it’s review in due time.) Quick jaunt over the the university library’s online catalogue. They don’t have the book in my library- but they do have it as a free e-book to “check out”! Expensive source at my fingertips! (I did let the instructor know about the online book so she could tell the class. No reason to keep such valuable information to myself.)

These are just some of the uses I have for my computer during class. I am fortunate to be on a campus where Technology in the Classroom is encouraged- so much that we have a (mandatory) program where each student receives one of the above computers (a Macbook Pro, if you’re wondering) in addition to several printing and computer labs. This is a far cry from me- only a few years ago- having to beg teachers to let me sit at the classroom computers for heavy note-taking days! Even then, my arch-nemesis CHAOS would strike- causing me to mis-remember dates, assignments, project specifications and important papers. Since everything was a hard copy or told to me orally, I was usually at a loss! (It’s a wonder I didn’t make far worse grades in Middle and High School!) Now, I am either given or can create a digital copy of most worksheets and notes and am able to use iCal anytime an instructor mentions a due date- (I’ll admit, I’m still shaky at picking up on altered due dates. But as far as original due dates, I put them in the same day I receive my syllabus- which makes life so much easier!)

sample screenshot of ical, courtesy of Times New Rohan

So today I’m saluting Technology for it’s big help in getting (and keeping!) me organized, in the know and ready to go.

What are your tricks to staying organized?