As you may have determined from my previous entries, the place I work has money and they like people to think highly of them. The school pumps a serious amount of money into classroom technology and wants people to know it. I will admit that in many cases it isn't necessary and sometimes can even get in the way. One such example is the SMART board in each classroom. They're kind of cool to play around with and let you add text to a computer screen, but in the way they're used, you could achieve the same thing with a computer projector and a whiteboard. They can be used for so much more but with the students I teach, you can't really do a lot more with them. I get the feeling that even with what I use it for, a lot of other teachers use it for less. I've heard complaints that it's in the way of the actual whiteboards and as a result, the whiteboards are pushed to the side where they're harder for students to see.
My feeling is the technology is there so I might as well learn how to use it and possibly think of ways in which it can really help my teaching. At the very least, I might as well learn how to use it so I can put it on a resume and impress some future employer. Sure, getting into my classroom a minimum of five minutes early to get everything set up is annoying, but once you get into a routine, it's no big deal.
Many people may then ask, why does the school bother? Part of the answer is, "Because they can." As most people are aware of by now, Dubai is in a financial crisis after a few ostentatious construction projects including palm tree shaped islands, an indoor 400 meter ski slope, and one on the drawing boards that's been put on hold: a rotating building in which each floor rotates independently. The same could be said for these projects: "Because they can." The U.A.E. can afford the best technology in the world and they're going to provide it, whether or not it's necessary. Then they'll tell everyone about it.
Believe me, I have no problem with a school promoting itself and respect a school that recognizes the need to get their name out there. I'm not trying to make fun of how much this school promotes itself. I am just amazed by all the resources that they put into promoting themselves. Here is the advertisement that they put on BBC World last year and the announcement talking about the ad to the staff and students. Keep in mind that this is a school that is for nationals of the U.A.E. only, that is free for said nationals, and was advertised on a worldwide news network.
I got into a discussion with a co-worker of mine over who could they could have possibly been advertising to. My reaction was that they were obviously promoting it to teachers. The idea being, get the name out there so the next time a teacher considers looking for a job, the name may possibly remain in their mind and they'll think, "I saw an ad for that on BBC World. That must be a top tier school."
As if that wasn't enough, they have events like the Festival of Thinkers with all the Nobel laureates and whatnot. Also, I'm friends with one of the staff who has the duty of showing visitors around the place. This person listed a number of names of people that she has had to show around and told me that if I want to know who is walking around, look at one of the video notice boards around school which will say, "Abu Dhabi Men's College would like to welcome (name of person) to the school." A few weeks ago was former U.S. ambassador John Bolton. I've seen world leaders like the president of Ireland, as well as various celebrities and academics. Supposedly George W. Bush paid a visit. Pele and Kareem Abdul Jabbar have been through there. I've seen photos of various dignitaries from the past 20 years such as Margaret Thatcher wandering the halls of my illustrious institution along with a dozen others that I have no idea about but I'm sure are pretty important.
The natural question is, "Why would all those people go to Abu Dhabi Men's College for a tour?" It seems that when a foreign dignitary, businessperson, or celebrity comes to the capital of the U.A.E., Abu Dhabi, they are shown the Emirates palace, and perhaps the Grand Mosque. After that, there really isn't anywhere else to take them so they get a grand tour of our facilities such as the library which, if the truth be told, are quite impressive. All I can say is that they don't see the students I teach or the rooms I teach in.