Technology in the classroom – again

So what temperature is the internet today? Brrrr!! That cold, eh? The frosticles are out and have been for some time. Learning is what happens because of you. What you put into learning. The choices you make. The things you do (the choices you make). Not all learning is downloaded. Not by a long shot. Some of it is. It still then comes down to the choices you make. How you react. How you act. Whether you choose to try or just give up and just do what you have always done. What you choose , what research you do and your own learning. How well you know your materials , sites, applications and devices, curriculum expectations, learning criteria and methodologies. What else you know is added to that.

I am deeply committed to computers, tablets, social media and the internet. Smart phones not so much but Instagram is opening my vista this year. Games consoles…err, no. I love all my technology stuff. It makes me excited and come alive. I am surrounded by creative and very talented people on Instagram and it is a joy to see what they have been doing and share with them. I could have just as easily fitted into my mother’s generation because I love all of my patchwork, quilting, knitting, sewing, cooking and preserving. It comes down to the choices I make and, in truth, I have a lot of choices. I adapt very quickly to gadgets and technology and learn amazingly fast. For my age it puts me out of my time and yet, having an interest in textile crafts and cooking also puts me out of my time. I am now someone who is keeping those textile crafts and skills alive. Information technology is taking over and digital living is losing the craftmanship skills from the world. To prevent or decrease that I need to know how technology functions and what its limitations are. That way I stay in control of my life and my decisions.

Google can be so helpful in bringing up a raft of sites which will support any point of view you hold. It will reinforce opinion and stance really well. In that sense it muddies the waters so that in the end you are required to think for yourself and either keep endorsing what you believe without challenging your thoughts and behaviour or really search out what you want to know. If you follow UX (user design) principles then you will always test run your ideas with real people against reasonable benchmark criteria. Getting technology right in the classroom means you have to know your curriculum, performance standards, performance criteria, software, hardware, apps and sites. You have to spend time learning what can and cannot be done. You have to know how to improve and you have to know what to improve.

Math Open Reference looks at The Ten Fundamental Reasons for technology in education including things like weight and costs. Using technology can be very cost effective if you look at what you are using, how you are using it and whether you have planned to save printing costs and other costs like dictionaries, for example. That has to be thought through.

TeacherswithApps looks at the Top 10 Reasons Technology is Important for Education.

Assessing students performance can be done instantly with technology. It’s more than just test scores, simply understanding students grasp of the subject in real time can be done on tablets in classrooms. A classroom could be questioned with a multiple-choice problem. Students could then input their answer and the feedback score is instantly given to the student and teacher. Corrections can be made long before examinations.

You have to find the sites and apps which will do things well and very effectively. You then have to have a way of calibrating that learning in terms of global, local or national assessments/competitions. That is the best feedback for knowing whether a site or software is doing its job. You can also use apps to do your own assessment feedback where you want to assess something in particular. Learning data is provided easily and quickly through technology use. If you set students online sites to work on and just supervise that then you are not teaching. You have to work out how you intervene as a teacher as they are learning and what you can do to improve the online learning interaction.

Educational Leadership offers Five Reasons Readers Need Technology One of the criticisms you see a lot is that literacy and numeracy have fallen off since the advent of technology. As an English, Languages and to a lesser extent ESL teacher over 42 years in a classroom I have used all sorts of ways to improve language acquisition and facility. Technology has a real impact on learning vocabulary , structure and expression. You can deconstruct texts more effectively, find more and better ways of getting students to manipulate language and expression and have confidence in that. You can watch their capacity to compete nationally or internationally grow. You have to look for the right tools and you have to have a well considered plan. You have to test it all out. You have to get feedback. The points made in the Five Reasons Readers Need Technology are valid and underscore the practice of making the right choices.

THE USE AND ABUSE OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM is a post from a primary teacher and it’s from the point of view of a real teacher in a real classroom. She questions the use of drawing in a drawing app when paper would do the job. It’s about choice of medium. All artists have their preferred medium for expression. In class I have always asked students to make their own decisions about how they are going to make a picture but then to photograph it if they chose paper so we can proceed digitally. That she has shared her thoughts, ideas and experience is invaluable because it is how teachers are helping each other to grow professionally now.

Technology should give choices. We are blessed to have a lot of technology in my classroom and my favourite part of that is the choice it gives my students in both their learning style and in sharing what they have learned. When allowed to choose, some students prefer to read on iPads or computers. Others choose paper books. I think choice is important as we accommodate the variety of needs our learners have.

Even though we have been using technology in classrooms since the 70s and computers since the 80s there are still those who say it is not valid. In the real world we are surrounded by it and everything is running more and more via internet, wifi, bluetooth and Smart Socket which I blogged about yesterday is poised to be the next big thing techwise. In the meantime we have moved onto Web 3 where we are grouping ourselves specifically to crowd fund, crowd activate, crowd learn, crowd support. Technology is a real part of our lives. It is not real life. Why the confusion?

ICT is priceless

Surprisingly, first world countries debate whether we should use ICT or not. Whether it would not be better to stay with books, paper and pens. We are surrounded by technology in the real world. Everything is being upgraded in terms of technology and we wonder if it is valid. Some teachers choose not to use it. If schools are not using technology they have been given then it needs to go to the SOS Children’s Communities , Kenya or India. There are hundreds of clips on YouTube showing us how ICT in places like that is giving women livable lives, saving their children and making a difference in their communities. Many of these communities revolve around a radio station. It is their technology and community hub. If people can get access to mobile technology they can then get the help they need. They can save their children, they can give birth safely, they can learn to read, write and broadcast their messages. It puts them in control of their pathways. We need ICT to educate our children appropriately for the 21st century and part of that will be fostering viable links with communities which need to deliver much needed help and education via mobile technology, satellite links, mobile connectivity. It is humbling when you watch these clips but also enlightening because it puts ICT in perspective. It’s life changing.

Benefits of technology

benefits of technologyKristina Hollis has a blog which specifically looks at teaching and technology. She has just written a post about the benefits of technology in a classroom because she has been studying it. I’ll let you read it for yourself:

Educational Technology – Affordances

Blogging away in year 10

blogHow are the year 10 blogs going? Really well! They are mostly doing better on traffic than the year 11s. These students, now they understand what they are doing, have set sail in the blogosphere and know how to make themselves known , how to tag and how to do something different. They did not understand blogging so I have had to go about it differently from the way I do it with my year 11s and 12s. I have found it better to actually create the blog posts in class and then offer things for them to do at home if they want to. Those who are now comfortable can see the benefit of building their blogs and take up the options but it also allows everyone a chance to work on different aspects of blogging and that has been building the knowledge base which then expands the growth and productivity!.

What have we done specifically?

1. Made sure we have a good title for our blog post.
2. Made sure we have a visual aspect to our blog posts.
3.Used our blogs to document our learning .
4. Visited each other’s blogs
5. Learned to tag and categorise properly.

These students are in a league of their own when it comes to tagging and some have taken it to a whole new level. They make tagging original, interesting and it has a visual impact the way some of them do it. Now they feel at home on their blogs, their personalities are coming out and they are confident in how they manage their blog posts.

How did I do it?

I used term 1 to set the blogs up and work on the technical aspects of blogging.
I used term 2 to grow the blogs by working on posts in class and offering ideas for out of class.
I am using term three build up links between them and other student bloggers at school to grow the connectivity.

I am impressed with how quickly and effectively students can get new ones up and running on a blog. They have been very positive and efficient. Blogging in year 10 is different, but it is certainly well worth it.

You can just sit there

percolator

Image: WeCoffee

You do not have to be doing all the time. You don’t have to always be trying new technology, software, ideas. Sometimes you just have to sit with what you have. Your brain and mind learn from repetition and practice and an opportunity to engage with educational theory. You have to allow time for the new things you have been learning to percolate into your system and practice so they take hold as real change and knowledge. It’s the action of repetition which then leads to refinement because you are thinking about what you are doing and then have the time and space to improve and enhance. In many respects it is the theory of games. You go over and over certain aspects of the game until you have mastered the skills and ideas. Then you level up and take on new knowledge and ideas and work on those. It is no different with classroom technology. There has to be time where you just do what you do with technology so you can see how to get the best out of it and then know what you are looking for next or can embrace the next stage in implementing a different approach , idea or device with technology. ReSit therepetition and practice then  talking about it , sharing, lead to growth.

Image: quotes-clothing.com

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