Stacey Roshan, an Advanced Placement calculus teacher at Bullis School—a private school for students grades three through 12 in Potomac, Md.—faced the problem of trying to keep her students engaged as she walked them through the difficult mathematics curriculum. During her previous three years at the school, Roshan notes, students were routinely stupefied by the traditional classroom lecture and often left class with more questions than answers.
“They wanted so much more time in the classroom to work on problems,” Roshan says.
To meet the needs of her students, Roshan made radical changes to her lesson plans. Using Camtasia Studio, a screen recording and video editing program, Roshan uploaded her lectures to iTunes and assigned them as homework. “We’ve kind of reversed the whole dynamic of the class,” she says. “Instead of lecturing in class, I lecture to them when they’re at home, and we work problems together [in the classroom]. I liken it to an English classroom where the kids go home and do the reading and then they come into class and have this lively, engaging discussion.”
Educators must constantly study new, emerging technology tools. Such inquiry and the results will provide classroom teachers and school administrators with powerful information and findings on best practices. I partner with teachers as we study technology and its impact on P-12 student learning. A recent study shows that emerging technology has a positive impact in the classroom. However, integrating technology into, for example, a high school classroom, is much more than a one-step process.
“You can’t just slap a netbook [computer] on top of a textbook and say, ‘Great, now we have technology,” says Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy organization.
Wise says that digital learning starts with teachers, whose performance is enhanced by technology—not the other way around.
Below are some ideas on how to successfully bring technology into the classroom.
According to Laura McMullen of U.S. News and World Report:
By assigning online course content, using adaptive software for students with special needs, and utilizing online student assessments and other digital tools. Educators, as well as parents, students, librarians, and community leaders, can learn about classroom innovations and get new ideas
According to tech writer Drew Hendricks:
It’s frustrating to be in a classroom where there are students at very different levels and needs to a degree where it’s impossible for one teacher to cater to each student as they deserve. A teacher’s job is just as much about knowing the students and understanding how to improve an individual’s learning abilities as it is about teaching students about algebra, photosynthesis, or how to use a semicolon correctly. Studies have found that a technology rich classroom is the perfect place for that level of specialized learning. When teachers and students are trained to use the technology, there are many tools to help track growth, give extra resources, and accelerate learning based on each student’s unique pace. The first step to improving education as a whole is realizing that there is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all education that will work for every student. From there, technology can offer tools for defining unique education.
One of the major benefits of introducing technology into the classroom is the effect it has on the students. In traditional teaching (lecturing, working from a textbook, and taking notes, for example), it’s easy for students to fall into a passive role. Even the best students who have a natural passion for learning can have trouble paying attention to a teacher’s lecture. But when technology is involved, students are more likely to be engaged in learning. Students need to press buttons, think out problems, and manipulate the tools they have to achieve a goal. Educational technology can improve focus among students and it caters to students who learn independently and to those who are more collaborative.
1. Plan ahead: There has to be a comprehensive strategy in place to implement technology into the school system, Wise says, and the teachers have to be involved in the planning stages.
2. Try something new: The Digital Learning Day website includes a number of teacher “toolkits” with lesson ideas and devices for enhancing lessons with technology. One tool mentioned is the website Animoto, which allows students to create and upload videos, such as oral book reports. There are also lists of ideas for digital learning, which have been submitted by other teachers.
One idea that has seen great results, say Wise and Hall, is the “flipped classroom.” With this setup, they explain, the lectures and homework are reversed. Students will listen to a webcast or recording of the teacher’s lecture at home, and then they will come to class and work on projects and problem-solving activities related to the lecture with the teachers. With this system, says Wise, “The teacher is able to engage with each student and immediately determine what their needs are.”
3. Become an educational designer: As technology evolves, so must the teachers. “For the last 100 years, teachers have essentially been the sage on the stage,” Wise says. “They’re the only access point of knowledge.” But now, Wise says, teachers are more like designers, who get to choose and develop what kinds of content their students access and which technologies they use. Wise says that with new content technologies, too, teachers can quickly see assessment results of their students. “They have tools so that instead of seeing 25 students sitting in front of them looking the same,” Wise says, “they now know that this student needs this particular assistance, and this student needs that something else.”
[Experts give parents tech tips on embracing ]
[Some schools rely on in-house tech experts to train teachers.]