Picture the modern office. What would you expect to see in there, technology wise? You’d expect a computer per workstation – with internet access for each one – plus a proliferation of laptops, Palm Pilots, Blackberries and all the rest. So why do you see most schools – where the next generation to enter the work force is being trained – using methods of teaching that haven’t progressed many steps on since the use of the slate? Primarily, this is the main reason why you should try to integrate technology in your classroom.
And that’s not the only reason why you should integrate technology in your classroom. When an organization you belong to wants to contact you (and thirty other people) about an upcoming event, how do you get notified? Via email, usually. So why do teachers still use “Pupil Post” and send messages home on slips of paper to parents (a notoriously unreliable method of communication)?
Even if you’re the sports coach/physical education teacher, you can integrate technology in your classroom. Don’t all the top sports coaches use slow-motion replay to show the athletes they work with how to improve their technique? While you may not be able to provide this sort of coaching to every student, you may be able to use a video to show how the muscles in a runner’s leg work together, to give one example.
The possibilities are almost endless. Here are some suggestions to try if you want to integrate technology in your classroom:
Use video. This is imperative for science, social studies, film study, media studies or Shakespeare study, but this most common form of technology has wider, cross-curricular uses. Similar technology types include DVDs and online video clips. Don’t just play them – use them creatively as part of your lesson.
Use computers for research. Most of your students probably already know how to use search engines to find what they need or want to know. As a teacher who wants to integrate technology in your classroom, your task is to teach them how to use these (if they don’t already know), how to sort good and useful information sources from unreliable ones (e.g. someone’s blog is probably not likely to be the best source of scientific information… unless it’s the blog of a leading scientist), and how to cite internet-based sources correctly in a bibliography.
Use computers to present information to your class. Whether you have an up-to-date projector or not, remember your students and you are used to seeing images via media players on the internet. It is important to learn about different players and use them in center work with the computer or in guided instruction with the class if you have a projector. There are different media files to know, but the Internet has already updated itself and a lot of embedded players play right from their webpage so you can bookmark, time signature mark or have several of the same pages queued for matching different lesson points. Don’t forget PowerPoint, it is still an effective point-by-point, easily available and usable software program for presenting lesson information. New technologies like the interactive white boards are coming, so take a look at online tutorials and usage because even if you don’t have the technology yet, there are creative lesson ideas and techniques for using technology .
Use a classroom video camera to record your most important lessons and upload this to your classroom website. This way, students can catch up on lessons they missed out on, parents can have a way to see what’s going on in the classroom, valuable classroom activities and student participation can be had by having and using a classroom video recorder and you and your students can learn valuable editing techniques that come with camera software.
This is an exciting time to be a teacher. The new resources open up unbelievable possibilities, especially when time is such a constraint in your day to day schedule, but it is important to take the extra time to set up technology in your classroom and in your lessons. The result will be better lessons for your digital native students.
Don’t let the words “ technology integration” scare you. Standard methods for using media in your elementary lessons are still the benchmark for an effective lesson. Technology should be seen as just another tool in your lesson-not the lesson. Check out the free video tutorial “The 7 Biggest Mistakes Teachers Make Using Video in the Classroom” to see how your lessons measure up and download the Expert Guide for your Lesson Planning Resources.