Getting Over Technology Hurdles In The Classroom
There is a major push right now in classrooms across the world to plug in the newest technology and use it to educate today’s students. Of course, teachers are often drowning in administrative duties, lacking resources, and pressed for time. I wanted to try and overcome a few of these obstacles in my classroom and thought perhaps it was necessary to address at a few of the excuses we use for putting off technology integration in our schools. I wanted to see if it was possible to work around a few of these hurdles rather than knocking them over clumsily as we race towards our goal.
First of all, we are all on shrinking budgets. If you are lucky, you have been given use of the computer lab or may even have a few computers in the classroom. If so you are ahead of the game. While we are years away from every desk having an iPad and wifi in every classroom, there are ways to share these limited resources. It is imperative that if we assign projects involving technology that students get equal time with the tools to prepare their work. I have found that more students have access to cell phones these days than ever before. I try to limit my presentations to class size demonstrations on the flatscreen TV and ask the students to use their cellphones, their parent’s devices, or their home computer for online assignments. For those without access, I will allow for extra time to complete assignments and make sure they have time during the class to use the school’s facilities.
Time is probably our most precious resource as teachers. This is why It is so important that we are well organized when it comes to technology use in the classroom. No student has the patients to watch you fiddle with USB cables before a lesson. It has been beneficial to me to have a practice class at home in my office or in between classes at school anytime I attempt to use a new piece of tech in the class. Many teachers get wrapped up in trying to bring technology in the classroom and forget that most of these children spend more time online than adults ever will. Take advantage of their tech savvy knowledge and require to do some of this online work at home. Finally make use of technology like Google Docs, Skype, and even social networking to share ideas in real time rather than having students print out documents and bring them into class.
Finally, we have to address the fact that integrating technology takes time away from our duties as administrative workhorses for our administrators. It is more important than ever that teachers become familiar with online calendars, Microsoft Office software, and Google’s online apps to cut down on the time it takes to complete these endless administrative tasks. The more we use technology to clean up the paper trail left from our desks to the front office the more time we have to teach.
These are just of a few of the thoughts I had for being proactive with technology in our classrooms. If we all sit back and wait for the administration to implement technology requirements in the classrooms by the time it gets here, we will be too far behind to use it to our advantage. In McFarlane’s (2016) book: “Authentic Learning for the Digital Generation: Realizing the potential of technology in the classroom,” she told us that “After billions of pounds of investment, continuous evaluation and reams of policy documents it seems that the precise role of technology in schools remains unclear….After more than 40 years of debate on what effective technology supported learning and pedagogy should be there are still no simple and clear answers in this complex and nuanced debate. What is clear is that there remains a substantial gap between what effective technology-supported learning and pedagogy could be and what happens in the majority of schools.”(p. 10)
It’s time for teachers to do their part in shaping this debate and shortening this gap through bold experimentation. All teachers know that innovation starts and ends in the classroom. It is our responsibility as educators to educate ourselves on tools that can make our jobs easier. Of course we can not learn without sharing our successes, failures, and experiences with each other. Please tell me about some of your hurdles and how you got over them in the comments section or reference me to your own work. Thanks for taking the time to read my ideas.
McFarlane, Angela. (2014). Authentic Learning for the Digital Generation. Routledge. Retrieved 22 September 2016, from <http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=637101>