By Guest Author Jeff Fields
Educational technology has evolved from merely placing computers in classrooms to providing a full range of technology tools and resources into the grasp of all students. Today, more than ever, kids are learning at amazing speeds through multiple technology sources, from pc-based software to mobile applications. By integrating educational technology in your classroom, your students will have a better chance at learning complex subjects and retaining this information to become future successes.
In addition to making the decision to use classroom technology, and what products to utilize, school administrators and teachers are often left wondering how they can best integrate technology with their existing lesson plans. Read on to learn some best practices for the most effective use of technology in the classroom.
Make sure technology is appropriate. Before you decide to bring any technology into your classroom, take the time to research the best products for the ages and learning levels of your students. While kids are picking up technology at a break-neck pace, it is not necessary to give them access to everything all at once. For example, younger students may like hands-on technology such as iPads and fingerboards vs. older students who will prefer to use gaming and software products. Use the appropriate technology for each type of learning style, as well as cognitive ability, to get the most out of this resource.
Avoid using technology as a distraction. Even the most attentive students can easily become distracted and lose the ability to focus on lessons when technology is used in the wrong way. Never use technology as a wayto keep students’ attention, but rather as a way to engage and interact with them. Instead of “zoning out” during classroom sessions, your students should be actively participating in the lesson. Remember, technology is not a babysitter, nor can it ever take the place of effective teaching.
Mix old teaching methods with new technology. To best use technology in the classroom environment, be sure to use both your traditional methods of teaching and modern technology. This best-of-both-worlds approach will help your students to learn more, recall information, and absorb the lessons in a meaningful way. For example, read a story aloud, then use a computer graphics program to allow kids to digitally draw and animate what they’ve heard.
Develop hands-on lessons using technology tools. While no two children learn the same way, by using technology you can combine all the best learning resources into one. Use a mix of tactile, visual, and audio learning modules using web-based technology alongside a hands-on lesson. Bring educational games into the classroom, followed by a physical exercise or dance. Try allowing students to write math problems on a smart board in lieu of a traditional chalk board.
Let your students decide on the technology. One effective way of determining the best use of technology in the classroom is to allow your students to give it a try. Take the time to test out new products on a regular basis, and bring in new tools to see what students best respond to. For example, you may decide to switch to digital textbooks after giving a test group of students’ e-readers. This can be a good way to try before investing in providing this technology to all students.
Classroom technology will continue to expand the minds of kids, and it is definitely here to stay. As a teacher or school administrator, it’s critical to keep abreast of educational technology, so that your students have access to advanced learning opportunities. Find the right technology to bring into your classroom and you will unlock the creative and learning ability of tomorrow’s great minds.
About the Author: When Jeff Fields isn’t covering helpful student assessment tests and other educational tools, he is immersed in the blogosphere keeping his readers informed!