Technology in the Classroom: How to Help without Hindering By Dixie Somers

Modern students are often inundated with electronic distractions. They also have access to more information and more processing power than any previous generation. What can educators do to manage valuable technological resources like iPads and online programs without letting it get in the way of real learning?

Rapid Feedback

According to current research, quality feedback is one of the most critical factors in student growth. If feedback is not clear or timely, however, its usefulness decreases rapidly. One of the greatest ways to tap into technology for education is to use tools that assess quickly and communicate directly with students. Free websites like Kahoot and Socrative offer easy to access assessment tools that can provide immediate feedback while collecting data for instructors about student mastery.

Collaborate

Student collaboration is also a key component of any well-developed curriculum. Old fashioned group projects and low tech student collaboration may still be important, but students today are natives of the digital landscape. They understand online environments and thrive in social media. Services such as Edmodo and Google classroom have recently exploded the possibilities for classroom collaboration online. Services like these can help educators set up digital classrooms for ‘flipped’ instruction or simply provide a quick way for students to access assignments while working independently or with partners.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

One of the most common reasons that veteran instructors do not adopt new technology is that they are simply not comfortable experimenting with new systems and software in front of students. You will find that if you are open about your skill level and allow students to explore a new system with you, they are often very forgiving and willing to try something new with you. Even it fails in class the first time.

Whether you are using software to collaborate with students in a high school English class or assessing participants in an online MBA program, learning how to incorporate a new technology into your instruction usually requires lots of practice with the system and you must be comfortable with making mistakes along the way, even in front of students.

Routines and procedures

When you get access to new hardware or software, it is tempting to put it into students’ hands immediately, but to preserve your classroom environment, it is crucial to establish norms, routines, and procedures related to technology use in your classroom. How will students access devices? What should they do with the technology? How will they interact with it? How much time will be allotted for activities? Most importantly, how will students be accountable for responsible use in your classroom?

Use available tech

Not every institution has access to banks of new computers. Some instructors have very limited access to student technology, and many have learned to use what is at hand. Many students today have access to smartphone technology that may be more advanced than anything else accessible in the classroom. Use web apps that run on mobile devices to tap into this resource and increase student engagement.

We live in a digital age. Students expect us to adapt to the technological landscape and doing so appropriately has the potential to make educators lives’ easier and instruction more effective. Keep these tips in mind as you work to incorporate technology into your classroom.