My second week of school, much like the first, has pushed my lack of technology experience and knowledge to the top of my worry list. The first assignment given to me in Sociology class was to present to the class a chapter from the textbook. My presentation was to be in lecture format, supported by a PowerPoint presentation that incorporated video, audio and still photos to help inform the listeners of the necessary points of the text (study and research results), as well as to emotionally engage the listeners to a level of interest sufficient to participate in discussion questions. The theme of the chapter was socialization, and addressed the problems of institutionalized children, foster care, and the developmental stages of socialization. Given that my last name begins with an earlier letter of the alphabet, of course, I was assigned to go first.
Under normal circumstances, "going first" is enough to cause any student angst. Going first, and being the "old woman" in the class takes angst to a whole new level. I am happy to say, however, that I was not the least bit worried about the assignment. I have had a fair amount of experience with public speaking and as luck would have it, I also had experience as a foster mother. In the two years leading up until now I fostered four children in addition to my four biological children. One of these children still lives with me today. Yes my friends, it's easy math. Eight children! If I could run a household with eight children while navigating the Wayne County Foster Care System, I could surely handle one thirty- minute power point presentation. The rest of the class of early twenty-something’s were only learning about socializing children of different backgrounds from a textbook. I had lived through it! Deep down, I must confess, I pitied the poor sap that had to go after me.
As expected, I had no difficulty preparing the lecture, and was finished with that portion of the work within one hour. The PowerPoint, however, was an entirely different story. I will spare you the embarrassing details, but let's just say I had to learn as I went, and it took hours just to get the bullet points and still photos into the presentation. The real problem, however was taking a video off of YouTube and inserting it into the PowerPoint. That seemingly small task took two out-of-state phone calls and four back and forth e-mails from my "techy" friends to maneuver!
Finally the big day arrived. I had my presentation saved on my laptop, and at the advice of a friend, I had even saved it on a flash drive. That morning I shed my "back at college uniform" of jeans and a sweatshirt, and actually put on make-up, and a long plaid skirt with a nice sweater. Save for a comment from one of my beloved children about my skirt looking like Nanny McPhee's, the morning went well, and I felt great and ready to go.
When I was in jr. high and high school (back in the 1980's), there was always what we called an "audio-visual guy" in school. The A.V. guy was that shy, quiet boy who never had much to say, but who could always be counted on by teachers to make what was then the "latest technology" work. He threaded film reels into machines, figured out how to make the sound come on, and how to make the overhead projector light up. I think A.V. guys existed in high schools all across America at that time. Thank God, twenty years later, a modern day A.V. guy was sitting in the back row of my Sociology class. Upon taking my place to begin my presentation, I soon discovered that the necessary cords to connect my Mac Book Pro were not available. Ok, minor setback. I had it on a flash drive. Nerves then turned into panic, as the flash drive wouldn't load into the classroom computer. I could feel tears at the back of my eyes and my face burned with shame. I knew the young students were inwardly laughing at my complete lack of tech knowledge. At that moment, a knight in shining armor (my new name for the A.V. guy) awkwardly appeared from nowhere, pushed this, typed that, and shazam! My presentation was on the screen. I wanted to kiss him dead on the lips. I restrained myself, and got through the presentation, even though the embedded YouTube video didn't work. And the girl after me? She did a great job, and the A.V. guy had to help her too!