With so many options on the market to integrate technology in the classroom, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Of course, cost and electronic compatibility with your own classroom are on the top of everyone’s mind but there are few other things to consider when choosing what technology to implement.
Whether it’s a computer, tablet, app or tool it’s important to consider how much time you will expect students to use it. If students will only need it in the classroom, then you probably only need a small supply. If your class sizes are generally small, it’s not unreasonable to have students share technology. With larger classes, it’s a better idea to have the technology available one-to-one, to maximize student accountability. If you plan for students to use the technology to complete homework, make sure students will have access after school hours. This could mean checking a tool out to a student for the night, or determining whether or not students have internet access. Many already do have internet access at home, of course, but if they don’t some school districts can offer network connection passwords that students can use at home.
There are a number of tools that are great just for teachers, allowing them to move around the classroom while adding writing to a projected screen at the front or offer a unique presentation of new material. For most of the education though, the goal is not only to use more technology but to expose students to it as well, better preparing them for the workforce. So be sure to look at how interactive the technology is. If the program or instrument can only be used by one person at a time, it may not be a great choice. Some programs can be used by multiple people, but only with the addition of another piece of equipment. Be sure that’s in the budget before you plan on using it.
Application to Content
Try not to underestimate a student’s ability to appreciate authenticity. When a teacher forces the use of a new strategy or technology because they want to be cutting edge, students can sense it a mile away. Instead, look specifically for technology that meshes with your curriculum. A platform like a smart tablet can support applications for almost any content, as well as providing programs in which a student can complete assignments or create graphic organizers. There are also educational games available in all content areas that can be used on a variety of platforms, including laptops or even smartphones that some students already have.
Potential for Misuse
Part of bringing technology into the classroom is also anticipating the distraction it can present to students and teaching them to avoid those pitfalls. As you work with a new technology, be sure to look at it from the student’s perspective. Consider administrator controls that can greatly minimize student access to potentially dangerous online content. Encourage students to check their research sources for author names and timeliness and remind them never to use pictures or content without citing the source. Mostly, be sure to ask yourself if the technology has more potential to increase student learning than it does to distract students or pull them off task.
In the end, teachers need to be able to measure their student’s progress on objectives. Whether this is through informal discussions with students or formally graded work, decide how you will gauge the effect of the technology before you begin using it. If you want students to create work to show you, what format will you plan on getting this from them? E-mail can be a quick way for students to turn in homework but it can also clog up your inbox if you have a large number of students. Check into online storage options that allow students to save their work and access assignments from one location. You can grade and resave them all and students can see your feedback, without the hassle of sorting through e-mail. For quick assessments, some interactive technology can allow you to view a student’s screen or even multiple student screens at once. You can even set up surveys through free online services where students can provide you with feedback on how helpful they feel the new technology is.
Author info: Kristen Thomas is an avid blogger and contributor to TheLearningExperience.com, a leading daycare provider with quality child care centers in New York.