Technology: Almost All Day, Almost Every Day
Technology in education has advanced so much in the last 10 to 15 years and readily available that if we aren’t using it we are simply turning down resources that make our jobs easier and more efficient. This could possibly lead to less stress from districts about test scores, happier parents, and more time for us to spend with our own families.
There was a time when having a computer present in the classroom gave the teacher an advantage. From grade keeping and creating lesson plans to quickly sharing ideas with colleagues, and eventually projectors and PowerPoint allowed us to give full presentations as a lesson. Some of us remember presenting information or questions to students and having to turn around to write it on the board. This short amount of time may seem like nothing, however, with projectors we were able to not only present a question, but elaborate on it and ask questions that lead to the types of answers that we may have been looking for.
Every day when students show up to class they expect to hear our voice presenting a lesson and delivering information. How much do you think they would listen if they heard some other source delivering the information? Website like Khan Academy gives teachers video resources to present to students so that they hear information that you have presented, but from a different angle. This isn’t doing our job for us, because we still have to present the information and prep students for what they are learning.
Allowing students to use their own technology in the classroom for activities is not that bad of an idea either. They want to find reasons to use their smart phone or electronics in class and it’s been hard to find ways to get them to stop using them. So, why don’t we give them a reason to use it? App developers have created app that allow students to use their phones as clickers to answer questions, surveys, or even ring in for classroom participation. Smart phones are also a good idea when doing review activities. With the ability to email photos from smart phones why don’t we give students a list of tasks that need to be done during the class period and the students can email the photo answers to the teacher as a group.
One of the great things about today’s technology is that there are different devices that allow us to give the same information in different formats. Whether it’s using a PC or a Mac or a tablet, students can access the same information. A strategy that I find to be interesting, and have tried myself, is flipping the classroom. With the proper instruction and guidance a teacher can allow the students to teach a short unit. Giving the students the proper amount of time to study and plan what they are going to present. Personally, I allowed students in some classes to plan with their fellow students and ask for help if they need it. I gave the students two weeks and a rubric of what days what groups would present. There is also a pointing system that I gave them were they could earn extra points and the winning team from each class would win something. Points would be given for creativity or if they included a task, such as, plan a lesson that involves the whole class in an activity or example. This gives them an incentive to create a creative lesson plan that engages everyone.
When our students enter the job market they will be given tasks to complete, and most likely those task will involve some sort of technology. If you took a position as a waiter or waitress it was usually a temporary job that could get you through school or some extra spending cash. Even these ‘temporary’ jobs are involving technology into aspects of their work. For example, most restaurants now use iPads and tablets as menus or to take the customer’s order. So, why don’t we prepare them by letting them use the technology? If they have it or if we are lucky enough to work in a classroom that provides them, we should take complete advantage of it. There are plenty of teachers that are using these types of educational strategies. Most education institutions are now teaching about these strategies in programs, such as, online masters in educational leadership for the current teacher and education technologies for those who are less busy.
How much do you try to apply technology to your lesson plans? At what point is there too much technology for an efficient learning environment?