Technology Obstacles in the High School Theatre Classroom

Theater Arts, by definition, is a performing art. At the very center, it is meant to be a moment shared between a performer and audience in a live setting. Technology is already woven intricately into nearly every facet of the theater. We are still left with obstacles. The Common Core, student performance fears, and the ability of all students to have computer/device access are the top three obstacles to technology integration in Theater classrooms and stage.

The Common Core does not directly address Theater Arts specifically. (Neither does the textbook for this class.) I feel that Common Core becomes our first obstacle. When it is not a stated priority but inferred to be part of English/Language Arts, then the true value of Theater is left off the table. States are left to adhere to Common Core, or like Colorado, create their own statewide Common Core that addresses the Arts. More states should write their own CC standards and push for a revision of the National Common Core. This would also help administrators grasp what Theater can actually do for a school, both as a challenging class on its own, integrating into a variety of curricula and as a platform for teaching responsibility and live literature in the performing space.

Student fear is real and palpable in many of the first time Theater students. Studies have shown that just doing it does not solve issues for introverts. It takes time and patience to teach someone the skill of having their butterflies fly in formation. My solution would be a blended environment, incorporating many MMORPGs and virtual environment experiences to all for a greater number of basic skills to be taught and confidence increased. “Whatever the purpose, the nature of the virtual reality is such that students have the potential to become engaged in a simulated activity and collaborate in a dispersed setting that more closely replicates the advantages of being face-to-face” (Eschenbrenner, Nah & Siau, 2008, p. 92). Eschenbrenner, Nah and Siau also state that not being directly in the space with the other person allowed “more daring interactions among students/avatars” (p.93). Many of the lessons previously taught in real time could be enriched by “creating an interactive environment” that would allow these lessons to go in directions only imagined in previous years (p.110). I still feel that Theater is a performance art and a blended environment still recognizes that ultimately we will perform in front of a live audience in real time and place.

This leaves us with questions of access. As a football, soccer, ice hockey and track coach, I never had to ask twice for anything I needed to include software programs to make running those programs and teaching or coaching easier. Mentoring numerous Theater programs, I often had to fund raise or reach in my own wallet to pay for needed items. Wanting to employ technology to stage design and save the school funds, I was denied the opportunity to use a school device and was denied funds for the software and ended up supplying both from my own pocket. Many schools are faced with funding decisions to supply classes addressed in the Common Core devices to reach clearly defined nationwide goals. Added to this obstacle are the differences in funding from area to area, locale to locale. “Disparities in computer and information technology use can be found among individuals in rural and urban locations, with the division drawn upon socio-economic lines” (Kidd, 2009). Kidd further addresses the issues of “home access to technology, therefore impacting urban student achievement associated with homework” (Kidd, 2009). It is hard to flip the classroom if the student cannot view the material at home. One cannot simply purchase devices without planning for their maintenance, software, upgrades and eventually replacement. My solution would have to involve long-term fund raising and grants. In order for that to happen, once again, stakeholders would have to be involved and educated on the value Theater Arts brings to the high school student and curriculum.


Colorado Arts Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2014, from

Eschenbrenner, B., Nah, F. F.-H., & Siau, K. (2008). 3-D Virtual Worlds in Education: Applications, Benefits, Issues, and Opportunities. Journal of Database Management, 19(4), 91–110.

Kidd, T. T. (2009). The dragon in the school’s backyard: A review of literature on the uses of technology in urban schools. International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education, 5(1), 88-102.

Roblyer, M.D. and Doerling, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


Are Walls The Answer?

This week’s post is a VoiceThread discussion. Feel free to comment directly on the VoiceThread. Please follow the link to my VoiceThread (my WordPress account will not allow the embed).


O’Donovan, E. (2012). Social media: Guidelines for school administrators. District Administration Magazine. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from

Smith, F. (2007). How to Use Social-Networking Technology for Learning. Edutopia. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from

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Internet Safety

“With great power comes an even greater responsibility”, said Voltaire as quoted by Beuchot & Miger (1829). If you google the sentence I just used, you will find many taking credit for these words. Some on the Internet project that Stan Lee wrote these words for Uncle Ben to share with young Peter Parker in Spiderman, Amazing Fantasy, 1962. Voltaire may have even taken a variation from scripture as a similar quote appears in Luke 12:48 “To those who much is given, much is required.” The quote is powerful and for this example sheds light on two facets of Internet Safety. Teaching students by modeling proper Internet use and stewardship demands that we as educators set the tone. The accessibility of both vetted and unvetted information allows students to do things I only dreamed about as a teenager.

Part of the problem is the challenge of the medium. Do children really understand the complexity and possible danger? Zheng addresses similar issues that children simply do not comprehend the concerns as the child sees only a screen and is disconnected from the potential pitfalls (2009). Furthermore, Zheng expressed that CIPA and the current in-school approaches (filtering, banning access) does not necessarily guarantee wise student choice and in fact may make the problem worse (2009). The common thread between both articles seems to point to positive encouragement, behaviors, education, modeling and mentorship on the part of adults in the lives of students.

Exploring Internet safety also requires educators recognize patterns of use. Wang, Luo, Gao & Kong indicate correlations to sleep and hostility issues and problems with interpersonal skills by those students whose families and adults are less involved in setting limits and encouraging real-time social interactions (2012). As we develop our Internet Safety programs educators should seek teachable moments to encourage students to implement good Internet habits both in their research and entertainment.

Please visit my Internet Safety Guide HERE.


Beuchot, Adrien. J. Q. and Miger, Pierre.-A.-M. (1829). Œuvres de Paris, Lefèvre. Retrieved from

Wang, Ligang, Luo, Jing, Gao, Wenbin, and Kong, Jie. (2012). The effect of Internet use on adolescents’ lifestyles: A national survey, Computers in Human Behavior, 28(6), 2007-2013,

Zheng, Yan. (2009) Differences in high school and college students’ basic knowledge and perceived education of Internet safety: Do high school students really benefit from the Children’s Internet Protection Act?, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30 (3), 209-217,

Zheng, Yan. (2009). Limited knowledge and limited resources: Children’s and adolescents’ understanding of the Internet, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30(2), 103-115.


Relative Advantages of Hypermedia in the Classroom

Please enjoy a change as my blog visits a video format.

Text Version of Script:


Clara, M., & Barbera, E. (2013). Learning online: massive open online courses (MOOCs), connectivism, and cultural psychology. Distance Education, 34, 1, 129-136.

Gerjets, P., Scheiter, K., & Schuh, J. (2008). Information comparisons in example-based hypermedia environments: Supporting learners with processing prompts and an interactive comparison tool. Educational Technology Research & Development, 56(1), 73-92. doi:10.1007/s11423-007-9068-z

Liestøl, G. (2006). Dynamics of convergence & divergence in digital media & learning. World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2006, 2006(1), 2902–2909.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon – the Strategic Planning Resource for Education Professionals, 9, 5, 1-6.

Roblyer, M.D. and Doerling, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: a theory for the digital age. 1-6. Retrieved from

Wessels, P. L., & Steenkamp, L. P. (2009). Generation Y students: Appropriate learning styles and teaching approaches in the economic and management sciences faculty. South African Journal Of Higher Education, 23(5), 1039-1058.