Does the idea of using technology in your classroom send chills down your spine? Are you overwhelmed by the sheer number of programs available to you? Do you shudder at the thought of encouraging all of your students to actually “use” their devices in class? Yes, it can be scary, but in a world where technology surrounds us, it is our duty as educators to not only allow, but promote the use of technology in the classroom.
Ultimately, a teacher’s goal is to facilitate students’ learning in order to create well-rounded citizens that can contribute to the progress and development of our thriving world. Companies and organizations are increasingly demanding more from prospective employees and thus students are expected to perform. The leaders of tomorrow are the students of today, hence let’s teach them how to be leaders and how to be critical thinkers. Let’s teach them the importance of self-discipline and the importance of self-organization. Provide students with the right tools for the 21st century, and watch them flourish.
Gradually, many professions are shifting towards applying and integrating these valuable skills into technology. Yes, of course there are the typical “Tech” jobs out there, but I am talking about jobs all across the board here. Think about a coach who uses an iPad to review different plays with the athletes before a big match. Or perhaps designers who use apps to design the latest trends before actually sticking thread to needle. Doctors, electricians, construction workers, architects, the postman and the list goes on. The world around us is going digital, so let’s join in! Isn’t it time that we kick those fears out the door and move on towards a brighter, bigger future? I sure think so! Here are a few tips and solutions to some of the fears teachers may have.
The students know technology more than I do
Yes, they probably do. Just because students know how to use the device better than you do, doesn’t mean that they know how to apply real-world skills to it. You are their role-model and you have the opportunity to teach them how to use their devices to facilitate and manage their daily learning tasks. There is a difference between using technology as a means for entertainment and using it as a tool for growth and development. Let’s prepare these children to be citizens of tomorrow’s world by using the right tools today. You don’t need to change your teaching methods; you simply need to adapt them. All of those tried and true methods that teachers already know on how to promote effective working skills will continue to be just as valuable. And who knows, maybe over time you will get even better at it than they are!
What if it’s too complicated to use?
Some programs are too complicated to use. They are poorly designed and they don’t have the teacher or student in mind. Of course, this can also be true of any tangible student-planner, textbook or workbook. We live in a world of options. Make it a point to speak to your friends or colleagues to find out which programs they use. The best part about asking friends or colleagues is that they can be there to guide you every step of the way!
Won’t students become reliant on technology?
They already are. Students use technology to socialize, play games, catch up on the latest celebrity gossip, and much more. Bringing technology into the classroom will not create reliance, but rather it will reinforce how valuable it can be as a tool for learning. Students need to know how to use technology appropriately, and who better to show them this than teachers?
I will have to redefine the way I work
Yes, but you don’t need to redefine everything. Teachers are incredibly flexible and they change or adapt lesson plans all the time based on their students’ needs. Go through the process of lesson planning as you normally would. Decide what it is that you want to teach the students. Select how you want the students to learn this, and based on that, decide which tools and technology can help you achieve the best results. Once you bring technology into your classroom, you’ll see that the transition is actually pretty seamless. As the use of technology becomes second-nature in your classroom, you will notice how it helps you to manage your tasks and your time more efficiently. Perhaps you’ll finally get those weekends back over time.
Students will get distracted
Students will get distracted no matter what. A spider on the wall, the first snow, a pencil falling to the floor… there’s just no way to avoid it. As teachers, we already use classroom management tools in order to minimize distraction and optimize learning. These same tools will work for students using their devices in class. As long as you are clear about the rules from the start, you will have no problem. If you don’t know of any classroom management strategies for your class, or if the ones that you have simply aren’t doing the trick, then take a look on TeacherVision to get inspired.
Won’t it be time consuming?
Some programs can be time consuming, but most programs that are intended for the classroom have been created with the teacher in mind. That being the case, they know that teachers don’t always have the time or energy to fuss about with complicated apps, electronics, websites, etc. Remember that you don’t need to become a master techie in the classroom. You simply need to know the main functions of the program that you are using so that you can guide your students through the process. Once you have set them off, they will explore other tools and ways to express their results and they will reward you with amazing projects and solutions. Let yourself be impressed.
What if the internet doesn’t work?
Technology can be quite irritating to use if the internet is not working or if the connection is not stable. The good thing is that there are many educational programs out there that don’t require an internet connection. Today’s programs and platforms often have an offline mode. Simply ensure that your preferred tools have this function and losing the internet will no longer be a big deal.
“The secret to change is to
focus all of your energy, not on
fighting the old, but on
building the new.”
Change is always scary, but it can also be exciting and it’s filled with hope and opportunity. Embrace the change and let technology enhance your classroom. Bring your classroom into the 21st century; into a world where technology does not generate fear, but rather a peace of mind. Be bold. Be a teacher.