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Making the Most of Tech in the Classroom

Choices, Choices, Choices

Make no mistake about it, technology can be an effective tool to increase student learning. More and more classrooms are being outfitted with devices to help gather data for the teacher and to allow students to learn in ways that they never thought possible. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Programs are becoming more commonplace and earbuds are becoming an essential back-to-school item. However, all schools are faced with the same daunting task of determining which devices to purchase. This is problematic as more and more new devices are released each year and technology as a whole continues to move forward at a rapid pace. Regardless of the device that is used, here are some ways to get the most out of the technology in your classroom.

Meet My Friend SAM R.

The most important thing that you can remember about technology is that it is just a tool. Technology ineffectively utilized will not change anything. What you do with the technology is more important than the actual technological device. No one understands this more than Dr. Ruben Puentedura. Dr. Puentedura created the SAMR model which provides guidance for educators on classroom technology integration. If tech is used to substitute a task, then don’t expect leaps and bounds in student learning and success. However, if tech is used to modify a task or redefine a task so that students can create something new, then educators might be starting to understand how to use technology in a positive way. When the harnessed in the right way, technology can help teachers be more effective than they ever thought possible.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Because how you use a device is more important than which device you use. Educators should invest in a variety of different devices that can do different things. Chrome books and iPads are an example of two very different devices. Allowing students the opportunity to create an iMovie project about a social studies topic might be a great way to allow them to demonstrate their understanding while using technology to create something new. Conversely, having students collaborate on a Google doc about a persuasive essay might be a great use of tech in the classroom. Putting all of your eggs in one basket could be sheer folly, especially if students are more talented with one particular device or program over another. Bottom line: make sure that you provide tech options for your students and don’t limit their choices to devices that the classroom teacher is only familiar with.

Rotate, Rotate, Rotate

The last way to get the most tech out of your tech in the classroom is to realize that you do not need an entire classroom set of devices. Technology is great when it is purposeful, allows for student choice, and is used in small doses. Teachers can utilize a smaller number of devices through a station rotation format. A station rotation consists of a teacher running several small groups within the classroom that are all working on different activities. One of the groups could be utilizing a tech device for the activity. Conducting a station rotation will allow a classroom teacher to understand that they do not need a 1:1 device initiative for their school. Starting with fewer devices in a station rotation format will also help teachers be purposeful in the technological activities that they have assigned their students as well.

Tech is Just a Tool

Technology can do some pretty amazing things. It can allow for students to travel the world on virtual field trips, connect to other classrooms that are halfway around the world, and allow students the ability to collaborate on projects anywhere and at anytime. However, technology should not be used just because it’s there. Educators have a responsibility to make their tech use count because tech is just a tool and it will never replace an effective educator who uses it with purpose.

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The 21st Century Classroom

Children working with technology in the classroomTechnology in the Classroom

With technology becoming an integral part of our world, it can be valuable to teachers and students alike. The ultimate goal of schools, from elementary to higher education, is to produce lifelong learners and successful students who are prepared for the workplace. Technology can help educators meet that goal in a creative and motivating way.

There are 7 key advantages of using technology to improve a student’s classroom experience.

  1. Teachers are facilitators

    Teachers can use technology to facilitate learning instead of lecturing. As a facilitator, a teacher’s focus is to guide the students in their learning. When teachers facilitate learning, students become active participants leading to increased comprehension and application of the material. Students learn at a higher level as they make connections to real life experiences and discover how to become more of an independent learner.

  2. Learning is student focused

    Student focused learning allows students to make decisions about their learning. It gives them a say in planning, goal setting, and assessment. As they become engaged in these processes, it helps the students take ownership of their learning. This type of classroom learning best simulates real world situations as students track their own progress and become more self-reliant.

  3. Learning is active and engaging

    When students are encouraged to take an active role in learning, they are more likely to retain the knowledge they’ve accumulated and build essential skills that will accelerate their learning toward college preparations and career readiness.

  4. Lessons can be enhanced

    Teachers can use technology to supplement the work with activities that can be customized and focused on a student’s problem areas. Technology can also allow a teacher to personalize the work so it more closely matches the student’s learning style. If students want to go further in depth on a subject than the textbook allows, a quick connection to the internet offers a wide variety of information accessible at the click of a button.

  5. Learning is adaptive

    All students are unique. They learn at various paces and also process things differently. Technology encourages learning to be more adaptive in order to help students maximize their unique styles of learning. Technology in the classroom also lets students learn at their own pace. By allowing students to be self-paced, more learning can occur since it is tailored to the student’s level. Adaptive learning is also valuable because it assesses students, gives immediate results and personalizes learning based on the assessment. There are various adaptive learning programs teachers can use in the classroom, like Dreambox, I Ready, and Knewton.

  6. Captures student’s attention

    Students today live in a technology driven generation. Students are intrigued with technology outside of the classroom, so bringing it into the classroom brings with it a sense of familiarity and interest. It helps pique student’s interest and makes learning more fun for them.

  7. Teaches skills for the future

    With technology all around us, many jobs have a digital aspect to them that they didn’t have 30 years ago. Using technology in the classroom in collaborative ways helps build teamwork practices that will aid students in the workplace. It prepares students to manage projects, think critically and problem solve, all of which will help in real life scenarios.

For more ideas of ways to incorporate technology check out https://www.edsurge.com/e/summits for a list of companies.  

Technology is changing the way we live and work. Technology has the ability to enhance a child’s tomorrow. Therefore, as we prepare students for their future, it is important to integrate technology into the learning process.

Learn more about technology in the classroom in “The 21st Century Classroom Part 2”