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5 Ways Teachers Are Integrating Technology into the Classroom

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5 Ways Teachers Are Integrating Technology into the Classroom

Teachers are developing lesson plans that may not be delivering the learning message that speaks to the times, as well as student learning abilities. How can we fix this issue? By integrating technology into the classroom.

Utilizing technology and implementing tech into lesson plans can ensure a more interactive class experience. Technology can reshape the future of education in big ways, forming new bonds between students and teachers, and with students and the entire learning experience.

“Technology helps change the student/teacher roles and relationships: students take responsibility for their learning outcomes, while teachers become guides and facilitators,” Edutopia explained. “Technology lends itself as the multidimensional tool that assists that process.”

Integrating technology into the classroom, however, can seem challenging for educators. This is due to the tech resources needed, like computers, tablets, software/apps, internet access, and more. With a bit of due diligence, these obstacles can be overcome and tech can be tethered with the learning experience in amazing innovative ways.

Let’s dive into the five ways teachers are integrating technology into the classroom, and how all educators can too.

1. Making Use of the Gamify Learning Experience

Gaming has become a huge part of students’ lives. Whether at home or in the classroom, the gamification of learning is a valuable strategy to pursue. Why? Students want to engage in learning in new exciting ways, and the gamify learning experience can do just that.

For example, you can have digital scavenger hunts in the classroom by challenging students with fact-finding questions that they need to complete online. This is a great way to integrate technology into the learning experience by making a game of it. Students not only learn how to research material online, but they also stay engaged — it is a win-win!

2. Building Lesson Plans Using Differentiated Instruction and Tech

Tailoring your lesson plans to your students is increasing in popularity. This type of teaching has been implemented using a differentiated instruction program that takes into account how students learn, their abilities, and more. For instance, by grouping students in a class based on their abilities can improve the effectiveness of the teaching message.

How can you implement this into your class via technology? The upswing in tailoring lesson plans to diverse learners has caused many companies to create software and online platforms, like Big Universe, that serve up large amounts of learning material aimed at filling the differentiated instruction gap within classrooms.

3. Develop a Class Website

There are a lot of fun ways to integrate technology into the classroom, but none as exciting for students as developing a class website. Students are often mystified by the power of the internet, and being online can be a serious eye-opener for them.

Building a class website is also affordable for educators since WordPress delivers free websites and themes you can use to make this tech-inspired classroom activity happen. The aim is to do it as a class in order to engage everyone, so from start to finish, have everyone involved.

A class website is also valuable for parents and education managers to see what is going on in class and how each student is developing. It is another technology inspired learning asset that is a win-win.

4. Create a Classroom Blog

Since you have a class website, why not go one step further and create a classroom blog. This is an excellent way to inspire students and keep them engaged in classroom activities. Blogs are also essential in teaching reading, writing, listening, using tech, and so much more.

Within your free WordPress website, create a blog section and create interactive activities for each blog. For example, you can start a blog with a title, topic, and introduction paragraph. Then each student will add a section while staying on topic and true to the overall blog story.

Once published, your students can read it all, listen to it, and share it with their parents. It is interactive in the classroom, as well as bringing the learning experience home.

5. Using Social Media as a Teaching Tool

If you have grown students, chances are they are on social media. This is good because you can leverage one of their favourite ways to spend time on learning. For instance, you can pull a video from YouTube and use it for Q&A sessions. Or you can use travel images of social media influencers as a discussion piece in class.

Are You Ready to Integrate Technology into the Classroom?

There are certainly more ways than one to integrate technology into the classroom. The above five ways are only the tip of the iceberg. The goal is to give students the digital tools they need to grow and be successful throughout their education. How do you integrate tech into your classroom?

posted Feb 4 by Sokna

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+2 votes

The future classroom needs to be radically different in order to become relevant for the new era of education. Technology will be at the centre of this metamorphosis. When our parents recall their school days, they make no big deal about a makeshift class under a tree. They were used to taking down notes from blackboard on which teachers would write using dusty chalk. With time, chalk and duster were replaced with touchscreens, audio-visual facilities, and the era of digital learning started.

However, the journey will be much more exciting in the next decade. Here are the 5 things that will not be same in the future classrooms:

 

1. Question papers and answer sheets

We have already seen some tests being conducted online. However, as technology becomes more accessible and affordable, it will largely replace pen and paper-based tests.

The rationale is simple. Online tests need lesser logistical arrangements, can be customized for different batches, and evaluated quickly and accurately using artificial intelligence and algorithms.

Imagine the time saved by future high school and 12th aspirants when they receive their board exam results within a week, thanks to online examination. They can plan the future course of their career and do not have to spend months in speculation.

 

2. Practice books

Practice makes a man perfect. All of us have heard (and practiced) it. But technology will change the way students practice.

For instance - Avocado, an app enables students to practice questions from Maths and Science. Using Avocado, student can get customized practice tests, detailed explanation for answers, and review their results with just a few taps.

What makes a digital platform for practice like Avocado unique is the insights based on test results over a period of time. This helps the students understand areas which require intervention from their teacher or parents.

Using Avocado and similar practice solutions, parents and teachers can also track the progress of their wards and make informed decisions to improve speed and accuracy. All these details are available on a smartphone- anytime, anywhere.

 

3. Computer labs

Once upon a time, computers were a rare commodity for Indian students. The weekly computer lab class was their chance to touch, feel, and see this magic box.

However, this is no more the case. With digital revolution, most middle-class families can afford a personal computer.

Moreover, about 337 million smartphones make India world’s second largest smartphone equipped population. Over the next five years, smartphones and tablets will completely transform the look and feel of computer labs in schools.

These labs will follow Bring-Your-Own-Device and Do-It-Yourself approach. Meanwhile, teachers can take the role of mentors.

There will be many innovations that trigger self-learning in computer labs. For example, Cubetto is a friendly wooden robot that can teach early age learners the basics of computer programming through adventure and hands-on play.

The Cubetto Playset consists of a friendly robot made of hard-wearing wood, a physical programming board, and a set of colourful coding blocks that make up a programming language you can touch.

 

4. Textbooks

Typically, textbooks are written assuming one-size-fits-all’. The need of the hour is to customize the learning journey for every student based on speed, understanding, and interests. E-books can fill this much-needed gap.

Powered by virtual learning, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, e-books are well suited for supplementing conventional textbooks. Students also appreciate the interactive nature of E-books.

Having said that, textbooks are and will remain an important part of the education system. We will see an amalgamation of both textbooks and e-books going ahead.

 

5. Benches and desks

 

The neat rows of benches are meant to seat students in a way that they focus on the teacher delivering a lecture and demonstrating concepts on the board. But this approach will soon go out of favour.

Future classrooms will have flexible seating arrangement suited for the task that students are working on. The design will also consider comfort of the students.

Standing desks for those who find it hard to focus while sitting, accommodation for physically challenged, collaborative stations for group activities, and moving walls to make the space more adaptable are some classroom design innovations that will become the new normal.

+2 votes

Santa Barbara Unified School District is rolling out 1,200 iPads to three elementary schools and an alternative high school. Los Angeles Unified School District plans to put iPads in the hands of all 640,000 students. The goal is to improve learning through interactivity. First, school districts need to mitigate costs and get teachers on board.

High school teachers have a new disruption to deal with in the classroom: the coming of the iPocalypse. At schools across the country, teachers are being told they must use iPads, which will upend everything they've learned over the years about how to teach students. For some, it must feel like the latest, an ignominious blow to a profession often under siege.

Todd Ryckman and student at Santa Barbara Unified School District.

But Todd Ryckman, a former high school teacher and current director of technology at Santa Barbara Unified School District, sees the iPad in a more positive light.

Ryckman says he believes his small iPad pilot project will invigorate teachers, not dishearten them, and make their jobs easier. He says the iPad's simple touch interface and easy-to-use apps belie a device capable of revolutionizing the American classroom. Then there's this extra credit: iPads in high schools might help bridge the digital divide for low-income families.

"This is a fabulous new tool," Ryckman says.

An iPad in Every Backpack

After three years of planning, Santa Barbara Unified School District is finally rolling out 1,200 iPads to three elementary schools and an alternative high school this month. Eighty-five miles to the south, Los Angeles Unified School District is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar plan to put iPads in the hands of all 640,000 students by the end of this year.

The iPads-at-schools goal, of course, is to reshape the classroom and bring it into the digital age. The iPad promises to change the teacher from lecturer and instructor to facilitator of interactivity, whereby students take on a greater role in their learning.

Ryckman says teachers can finally get out of the game of getting students to memorize facts -- after all, Google and Siri make searching for facts easy -- and instead help students to think critically about those facts.

"The [board of directors] realizes where we are in history," says Ryckman, who taught high school history for 15 years. Everyone will have an iPad or a similar device in five years, he says, and Santa Barbara Unified School District students need to be ready for this future.

The future of iPads in high schools looks bright, yet iPad pilot projects should start now.

Textbook Publishers and MDM Vendors Buy-In

After initially dragging their heels, educational text book publishers are finally getting onboard with ebook versions. Introduced a couple of years ago, Apple's iBooks Author that lets teachers create multimedia textbooks has been gaining traction at Santa Barbara Unified School District, Ryckman says. Apple has made strides to combat theft with a service called Apple Care Plus that essentially bricks lost or stolen iPads. And mobile device management (MDM) vendors are coming out with tools aimed at high schools.

Last month, AirWatch unveiled Teacher Tools that gives teachers some control over student iPads, such as the capability to give exams in single app mode, send documents out to the class, and turn off the camera and disable screen shots so students can't pass tests to their friends.

However, many obstacles still remain on the road to iPads in high schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District, for instance, has run into security problems with students taking MDM profiles off of iPads. There are also rumours of iPads being broken and stolen, and closets full of iPads collecting dust while waiting to be distributed.

But the biggest barriers continue to be cost -- who's going to pay for all these iPads? -- and especially teachers refusing to embrace iPads. The iPad represents a paradigm shift in the classroom, Ryckman says, and that's uncomfortable for teachers who like to have complete control of their environment.

iPad Payment Plans

In order to overcome cost, or at least mitigate it, Santa Barbara Unified School District came out with two plans to put iPads in students' hands. In the first plan, students and their parents can opt to have an iPad handed to them, which they'll have to return at the end of the school year. They'll be on the hook for lost, stolen or broken iPads (although this might change as the plan evolves).

The second is a pay-to-own plan, in which the parents must pay the school a little bit every month en route to owning the iPad after three years. They're also on the hook for lost, stolen or broken iPads and don't own the iPad outright until the final payment. The school district, of course, also doesn't profit from this plan.

Both plans allow students to take iPads home, and parents are responsible for watching over them. If a student takes off the AirWatch profile, as students at Los Angeles Unified School District did, or violates any of the acceptable use policies, then the student will be penalized by not being allowed on the network.

Interestingly, the second plan is helping to close the digital divide. Ryckman says lower socio-economic schools began seeing high rates, in the 80 percent range, of parents wanting to participate in the pay-to-own plan, while the more affluent schools tended toward the first plan that puts the cost burden squarely on the school district.

"Parents who don't have $600 to plunk down at an Apple Store saw the pay-to-own plan as a way to provide this technology to their kids," Ryckman says. "Apple said that this would happen, but our board was still really surprised."

Getting Teachers to Own the iPad Program

Getting teacher buy-in is another big problem, one that Ryckman began solving well before the first student got even a whiff of an iPad. Ryckman was just starting to make the transition from high school teacher to director of technology when he set out to get iPads for teachers.

Ryckman convinced the Parent Teacher Association, and, later, a wealthy donor, to subsidize half the price of a teacher iPad. The teacher can purchase an iPad at half price, which would be their personal iPad, not the school district's, in return for a couple of concessions: Teachers must agree to take Ryckman's iPad classes and use the iPad to enhance teaching in their classrooms.

Ryckman's big bet paid off, and many teachers opted in. Since the iPads were their personal devices, teachers didn't feel threatened by them. Like most iPad owners, they used their iPads daily and quickly became familiar with the touch interface and enamoured with the exciting world of apps. They could see the iPad's potential to enhance their profession.

Some three years later, iPads are now being rolled out to students.

"We've had iPads in the hands of our teachers for a long time, well before students get them," Ryckman says. "I think other school districts have made a mistake by trying to do it at the same time."

This isn't to say, however, that the iPad is a teaching panacea. The platform still has limitations that need to be overcome. For instance, AirWatch's Teaching Tools lets teachers force student iPads to open a single, pre-determined app but not multiple ones, such as Calculator and Pages. It would also be nice if a teacher could blast out an app to students at the beginning of class and then take the app off the iPad when class ends.

Despite limitations, the iPad should be a boon for schools. You'd think Ryckman would want to roll out iPads to all 15,000 students at Santa Barbara Unified School District. But that's hardly the case. Many schools want iPads, he says, but they're not ready for them.

Ryckman interviews teachers at schools to gauge their interest, and he still sees some hesitancy. There needs to be nearly 100 percent commitment from teachers before an iPad rollout could be approved.

"This will only work if it's organic, not forced if there's teacher buy-in," he says.

As a teacher himself, Ryckman knows that the best way to get teachers on board is by appealing to their educational values, which is why he offers iPad classes. It'll take time, he says, but eventually, as educators, they know they need to change with the times.

"Teachers themselves tend to be lifetime learners," Ryckman says, adding, "One 25-year veteran teacher told me after one of my classes, 'This is the most excited I've been about teaching in a long time.'"

+2 votes

I’m going to give you a few words, and I want you to just let images that come to your mind float there for a moment: School. Campus. Student.

Now you probably have some specific images of a schoolhouse, or sprawling university campus, or a child-aged pupil wearing a backpack, chattering away with friends…. in English.

But as you’ll hear today, teachers, administrators, and educational innovators are looking for new mediums, locations, and methods to serve all sorts of students.

We start, in Boston, Massachusetts, where the oldest public, taxpayer-supported elementary school in the country was opened in 1639.

“In the real world, you can’t really tease apart math from English from Social Science from Science. And that sort of integration of content is exactly what we need, too, in our schools as well.”

Those words of wisdom we heard from Tommy Chang, the superintendent of Boston Public Schools, who was brought into BPS 2 years ago.

“I am very proud of our instructional vision, that puts academic rigour side-by-side social and emotional learning, side-by-side what we call culturally and linguistically sustaining practices,” says Chang.

“My own personal story as an immigrant to this country, unfortunately, wasn’t one that was always affirming or always sustaining. So I often say my first day in schools in America, my cultural and linguistic identity began being suppressed.”

Chang says affirming a student’s cultural identity is critical to their success. He pointed to his first day in school as an example of what not to do to new immigrant students. So it’s from this background that Superintendent Chang looks to bolster students and create equal opportunities to ensure children from all backgrounds have access to future careers. He says it’s important to make sure students are getting the academic programming in schools that will help them in the workforce.

“For example, we are creating a pathway in one of our high schools around protective services, so cybersecurity. So what the students are learning in math class would directly apply to what they will actually be doing in terms of cybersecurity.”

Connections between private companies and Boston public schools are already materializing. Superintendent Chang says that the financial company State Street is stepping up to the plate to help make BPS students workforce-ready.

“We are working with State Street here in Boston as part of a large initiative called Boston Wins. And as part of this initiative, young people are going through high school getting the mentoring they need to prepare them for college. But more importantly, they are getting work-based experiences,” says Chang.

“And these companies, because they are so invested, they are willing to actually hire our students coming out of high school and coming out of college.”

State Street is just one of these companies and has committed to hiring 1,000 Boston Public School graduates over the next 5 years.

“Now that’s a company that is putting their money where their mouth is. But if you just think about this work our companies are investing, they understand that their job force’s future is going to be our students. They are so much more willing to redesign what education looks like.”

And when it comes to redesigning, the curriculum is just one step. According to architects Brooke Travis and David Damon of Perkins + Will, classrooms today are already being prepared for the instructional needs of the future.

“Schools were once focused on knowing—now they are focused on doing,” says Brooke, a principal architect at the firm, specializing in K-12 school design. “Schools were once teacher-centered—they are now student-centred. These are great ways to visualize the classroom. Schools were about the individual—now they are about the team.”

Some of these changes have been gradually implemented over the years—like L-shaped classrooms, natural lighting, break-out spaces. But other changes are being made in preparation for the future, where the structure of a classroom might not look quite the same.  

“When you are talking about teacher-centred versus student-centred, you are looking at a traditional stand-up-and-deliver methodology, where the teacher is at the front of the classroom and all the students are in rows,” says Brooke.

“But when you talk about student-centred, the way the classroom design looks is very different, because there is no front of the classroom. Things are done… are more varied. They are more distributed exactly around the classroom.”

What education looks like is also a focus of our next guest, Peter Stokes, Managing Director of the Huron consulting group.

“It’s difficult for institutions to grow when they’re in an urban setting,” says Peter. “And so technology is one way that institutions can start to think about expanding their capacity.”

Stokes attributes the growth of online learners to this fact, emphasizing that “Many of the institutions providing access to online education are urban institutions,” although sometimes online programs emerge with rural campuses, as well, because of the ease of access.

“So the relationship between place and reach has evolved considerably over the last several decades. And for some institutions, there’s been, I think, an assumption that eventually places won’t matter at all and that in the virtual world, the place is not so significant a barrier or an issue. And that virtual presence can do away with concerns about the campus.”

But ease of access isn’t the only reason institutions are developing online programs.

“On the other hand, we do see some very forward-thinking institutions like MIT, who are explicitly thinking about the ways in which education technology can not only expand reach globally but can also inform the experience on campus and the role of place and space, classroom space in the educational process.”

So will online learning make the campus experience moot? Peter says that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

“Out of 20 million students in the U.S. higher education, only about 15% are fully online. So that leaves 85% that are having some kind of either full campus experience or some kind of hybrid, you know campus and online. So there’s no question that the campus experience is still critical.”

But, according to Peter, it’s more critical for some students than others. The same on-campus elements that help an 18–24 year old to mature as an independent adult could keep an older, working student from pursuing a degree.

What about education that takes place outside and off-line?

That’s where Christine Cunningham, founder of Engineering is Elementary, steps in. Christine’s elementary engineering program at the Museum of Science in Boston is just one of many programs facilitating learning outside of the classroom.

“Learning doesn’t stop when the school bell rings or when the school vacation begins,” says Christine. “So we’re really excited that here we can work with students, with teachers, and with their families to create an ecosystem of learning where everybody is constantly thinking about how science and engineering constantly intersect with their lives.”

Christine says one exhibit that teachers, parents, or students can engage in is the Yawkey Charles River exhibit—where the river becomes a platform for learning about engineering and science.

“They might visit science in the park, which is one of our most beloved visits because it’s a playground. And as the kids engage in various activities of the playground, they learn more about the physics and the science underlying that. So exhibits are one way that students can interact while they’re here. They can also engage with programs. And we have a wide range of programs.”

Christine says that the school programs offer a lot of freedom because they can leave the Museum of Science to go out into the community.

“So we have a set of travelling programs that go out every day. The vans leave the museum bright and early, six-thirty, seven-o’clock. And drive to schools all over New England, to bring the museum to the schools. We also bring exhibits to people, schools, and teachers nationwide because they travel. For example, the Pixar Exhibit, which was here a couple years ago, is now on a worldwide tour through at least 2023, so that reaches a lot more students and teachers that way as well.”

Christine says that engineering doesn’t have to wait until kids are in middle or high school to introduce. The principles come very easily to kids—if you can engage them on their level. So she introduced a program called “Wee Engineer.”

“They actually start much younger, building block towers, or beds for their dolly. So we started to think about how we could harness some of those natural instincts, and have kids engaged in activities that would get them thinking a little bit more in the way that engineers would.”

Christine says that a big reason that the Museum of Science sought to develop Wee Engineer is to help children to think about themselves as scientists, mathematicians, and of course, engineers.

So while many institutions look for ways to diversify education delivery, does the brick-and-mortar campus still have a place on the educational landscape?

Paul LeBlanc, the president of Southern New Hampshire University, says he thinks that brick and mortar campuses will continue to be an important part of the post-high school education experience—because it’s also a coming of age experience.

“In that case, they seek a whole living and learning community in which they can redefine themselves. Reinvent themselves. Live with people like them. They want to get out from under their parents’ roof, get out of the town where everyone knows them. They’ve seen the depiction of college, and it looks pretty darn good. Not just the studies, in fact, the things they’re probably thinking about in this case are the parties, and the football games, and the organizations, and the study abroad.”

LeBlanc says that while costs might not make the traditional 4-year college experience feasible for everyone in the future, he doesn’t think it will disappear entirely.

“It’s a remarkable experience. It’s too expensive—I’m not sure we’ll continue to believe that coming of age deserves four years of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if we came to a place where we evolve to a three-year residential experience, and the fourth year might be in the work, and we can think about that in other ways.”

“So, I think it will continue for young people coming out of high school. And I would challenge anyone to show me that there is a diminished interest. There is a diminished ability to pay. But people want to send their kids, they worry about their kids off to college.”

So while the classroom is being redefined in a number of ways, most believe that at least some form of physical space will continue to be set aside in the future.

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