The Power of “Refresh” in the One-to-One Classroom

"Pause, Refresh - Drink Coca Cola" by Jake Spurlock

“Pause, Refresh – Drink Coca Cola” by Jake Spurlock

There are a few basic functionalities that will keep some teachers from drowning in the big classroom management shift when their school goes one-to-one.  The most basic of web troubleshooting tricks – the refresh command – acted in my classroom as a way of tapping into digital natives’ nearly innate sense of instant gratification from seeing a webpage fully load.  Here’s how I have turned that button into a classroom management tool rather than just a troubleshooting feature.

For PC users, Windows uses the F5 key on the top of your keyboard to activate the “Refresh” command in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.  For Mac users, the “Reload page” command is initiated by holding Command and tapping R.  (The point for livelier naming that represents the Web as an active, growing universe actually goes to Windows for that one, but you’d never guess it!)

Refresh for posts/replies to your Edmodo wall or other discussion board

This idea was courtesy of a colleague I am now coaching through our school’s digital transition.  As a warm-up, the teacher always has a bell-ringer question waiting on her Edmodo wall.  As students enter, they have developed the good habit of going right to it and writing their responses.  After taking attendance, the teacher refreshes the page (while it is on display on the LCD projector), and students enthusiastically tell her to check for theirs.  That instant gratification of seeing their response in the collection with their peers helps her start class, access background knowledge and/or review yesterday’s lesson all with a frequent tap of the refresh button.

Refresh to point out who turned in what assignment

In my own classroom, I used this feature to check (in the first or last few minutes of my class) who had submitted the right file or right file type.  I had aways given students naming conventions for files so as to avoid issues with spaces, punctuation or missing names from messing up my weekend grading.  Particularly when it comes to videos uploaded to an LMS, you want to make sure you can identify those who you are grading and that you have a rendered and playable video file as opposed to the database file for the video project.  I would refresh the page and announce who had misnamed or mis-saved the files that they submitted to my LMS.

This method also worked well for making sure that every group had submitted an assignment that required only one member to submit.  I would use my LCD-connected PC to announce who had turned in the assignment, and questioning eyes would begin darting around tables to recall whose role it was in the group to submit the assignment everyone was responsible for.

Of course, having the assignment blown up massively on the projector alongside who had submitted might add some gravity… the big things should show big!

A Refresh Button on the Street?!

“A Refresh Button on the Street?!” by Sean Webster

A troubleshooting tool in the classroom, really?

Monitor and adjust.  We’ve had it ingrained in us as teachers, but many teachers have a hard time monitoring what is going on in digital user interfaces.  This simple troubleshooting act is one that is almost synonymous with what tech-Knows always ask when someone comes running up to you with a device error: “Did you restart it?”  Sometimes, the devices adjust themselves, if given the opportunity.  (Don’t we wish we could rely on that when it comes to our students, too?)

This simple command used to be the go-to for web designers and coders, because they would have to save webpage-supporting files and then refresh the page templates to see what they tweaked.  What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) web design services and software are pushing out this command, but it still holds a lot of value for day-to-day Internet users.

You might be surprised by how many kids are sent out of the classroom (and thus lose instructional time), only for me to tell them to refresh the page.  The refresh can fix a number of Internet-browser related issues: plugins that don’t load right; logins that don’t send you to the welcome page; streaming videos that stopped or won’t play past a point; and misplaced text or images on a page… all of these I have fixed with just a refresh, saving you face-to-face time with students or eyes-to-the-screen-comfortably-at-your-desk time during your plan periods.

[…Just don’t use the refresh command without copying and pasting your blog post into Word.  From experience writing this blog post and running into a file upload error, it’s not fun losing work you did in a form.  Maybe another post on copy/pate is in order.]


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