Teaching is a craft that changes with the times whether it is updated information, new teaching methods, or new subjects introduced into the schooling system. Teaching should always be evolving and changing to suit newer generations of students as well as teachers. The same can be said for technology. It is always changing and evolving. Therefore, technology and teaching should go hand in hand and teachers should embrace technology tools in the classroom.
Technology tools are defined as something that can be physical or digital or electronic which is designed to help people perform tasks or create projects. This could mean that teacher could use emails, PowerPoint, movie maker, voice recorders, internet research, etc. in order to make the class more exciting, different, educational, as well as to keep the students up-to-date with the course work and to also keep themselves up-to-date with the students. It can be a challenge for one teacher to get to every student in their class in one lesson, but with emailing, etc. the teachers could be able to check in with the students that they could not get to during the lesson time. However, technology tools are made to help the teachers do their jobs more effectively but not to take their jobs away from them. Technology cannot replace the one-on-one interaction and teaching aspects that only teaching can provide to their students.
Technology tools can be a digital way for a teacher to keep their ‘paperwork’ up-to-date, easy to change and simple to follow. However, this is only the first step of using technology tools in a teaching environment and the main aim for technology tools is for bending learning. Bending learning is a system which, when used correctly, combines the traditional notions of classroom teachings with online information which can allow for individual students to learn at their own pace outside the desks of the classrooms. This could be able to give students a more personalized learning experience as well as to help them question, analysis and think critically.
One teacher, Jeanette Carlson, was able to make a video of herself explain difficult concepts to her students while the real, physical her was free to roam around the classroom helping students who got stuck on individual problems. Another teacher claims that new technologies provide access to very useful services online such as Pro-Papers, where teachers can look up to the relevant topics to give students writing assignments.
However, bending learning may be a big step for some teachers to jump right in to. Some teachers can start off small in order to get used to using technology tools as a teaching method in their classroom. Here are some steps to help some teachers move from old-school teaching methods to old-school teaching methods with technology tools. The first step is to know that the teacher can ask for help from their students.
Students are more tech savvy with it comes to technology and there is nothing wrong in letting students know that a teacher does not know everything. It may help boost the students’ confidence that in return lets them ask more questions and this can improve their learning ability. Teachers should also be able to learn new tools, which are not as difficult as it may seem. This will give teachers a new skill as well as a way to keep their students’ interest and attention.
As mentioned before technology tools cannot replace teachers but they can help with the process of teaching. Teachers can learn how to combine technology with their methods of teaching, also known as blending learning, such as asking the students to make a PowerPoint presentation instead of using paper and cardboard. Alternatively, using screenshots of a diagram, which a teacher can point to, that is more accurate, and this can be easier for them to get their point across with a clear visual. Technology tools are not a stand-in for a teacher but they can be seen as an extension of the teacher.
However, it is important for teachers to put rules into place so that students do not go off and do their own thing on the web, i.e. play games that have nothing to do with the class or go to inappropriate websites. Teachers need to monitor what their students are researching and where they are getting their information. Not all the information on the internet is accurate, true or updated so teachers need to teach students to think and question and not to accept everything at face value. Technology tools can expand students learning capability if there is a guiding eye behind it that points them in the right direction, not just the easiest and quickest.
Teachers should also be able to monitor how technology is working for the classroom. Is it actually helping the students? How can it help them more? What else can the teacher do with technology to benefit the classroom experience? It can also be a good idea to hear feedback from other teachers as well as the students themselves. They are the ones who are using the technology tools so they should know what the ‘bugs’ are or what does not make senses to them in terms of the lesson goal. A simple example could be the students using an app that is about physics while the lesson is about chemistry.
Technology tools can be embraced in the classroom as a way to help the teachers and students learn the lessons better. It is a way for the teachers to keep up-to-date with the students, have new methods to teach them and for the students to be able to learn at their own pace. Technology can bring fun and attention into the classroom as well as help make students more critical thinkers while giving a teacher another tool in their pocket to keep their students focused and get their lessons across in a way that should, hopefully, stick in their brains more.