Monday, February 8, 2010

Tech Agony and the Ecstasy

Have you ever fallen into an unexpected tech problem that complicates exponentially in a matter of moments? Well, that happened to me a couple of nights ago. I backed up my Macbook to an external drive. When I finished, I picked up the computer and toppled over the hard drive. I checked it out, and it started clicking. Then I found that I could not write to it-- kind of a problem for a back-up drive. This led to a series of diagnostics and tests. I looked up the warranty, filed a service ticket, etc, etc.

Almost two hours of my life disappeared with nothing to show for it as I wait to hear back from customer service. At moments like these, I wonder, if this junk is really worth the trouble.

But a few hours later, technology solved in ten minutes a problem that I thought would take two hours.

Last semester, I kept track of my AP students' blogging on vlogs with a spread sheet. This was a time-consuming, joy-killing, and inaccurate. So I brainstormed with students about going to a self-assessment model. We all agreed it was worth a try, but I couldn't see an easy tech solution until yesterday. I opened last semester's spread sheet in order to ponder it. Eureka! I erased the data on the sheet originally created with Numbers and converted it to Excel. I uploaded the Excel version to Google Docs. I created a Google Doc of instructions and linked that to the new spread sheet. I then imported my class email list to the new Google spreadsheet and invited the entire class to be editors.

It worked perfectly. In moments I had taken my old spread sheet and turned it into a public document. I know this is not exactly a cutting edge technology, but it is new enough to me to still seem like pure magic!

Flickr Creative Commons Photos: "agony is" by hometownzero and "Ecstacy" [sic] by Michael Downey

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