Apart from taking both teaching and learning to the virtual world, education technology is also making its presence known in physical classrooms. Smart classes have become a commonplace occurrence, with professors teaching through presentations and audio-visuals. As newer technologies are being introduced on a daily basis, often users get puzzled while choosing which one to incorporate in their enterprise.
Also, according to popular notions, technology can often disable more than it enables esp. when it comes to growing children. Thus making a responsible choice involves a thorough understanding of one’s needs. A few education technology enthusiasts share their views to help you chose the right edtech in classroom that is truly progressive and also make effective use of the tools available today.
Sylvia Martinez asserts that the best way to use edtech in classroom is when it facilitates student learning instead of just supporting the product. She warns against being tempted by options that promise to make education easier and overlooking others that support student creativity yet require more time for learning.
She gives the analogy of the writing process where students constantly need to edit and re-write. Likewise, she points out that technology should make students indulge in their thought process rather than automate it using a ‘push button’. Contrary to its application in other arenas, the goal of technology in education must not be to save time, but to enhance the learning experience through activities like editing, reflecting, tweaking, refining, and even starting from scratch.
Also, by giving students multiple ways to approach to their own work, technology leads to development of their fluency and ownership of their learning.
She further addresses readers who feel they don’t have time to teach students complex things. She urges them to differentiate between complexity and depth. Also, instead of overwhelming students with tool information, she asks educators to introduce small projects and give students the tool, letting them do the work. Additionally, she encourages students to collaborate and share new discoveries and ask home grown experts their questions about the work. She concludes by saying that time spent in becoming fluent with a tool that has depth is time well spent.
Next, Scott McLeod talks of the importance of curation. In keeping with the fact that both students and adults need to get organized more than anything else, Scott argues that the best use of technology in the classroom is to enable students and educators by making them learn how to organize the information and resources they find on the web. He points our attention to some web products that achieve this objective.
According to Scott, Delicious remains amongst the favourites of many. Using this social bookmarking service, organizing web research is only a button away! Delicious also allows students and teachers to add tags or keywords to their bookmarked resources. Being online, this service enables users to access their bookmarked data from any device. Also, recent mobile apps also have the ability to send data directly to Delicious, thus increasing accessibility.
Evernote is another user friendly cyber resource. Mcleod calls it a ‘very robust storage box’, with ample space to accommodate any resources one may need to aid and enhance learning and teaching such as texts, images and documents to audio and video files. (Grab your copy of the Free Guide to Evernote in Education )
Like Delicious, Evernote comes with the facility of saving full webpages or important parts for later reading. Also, through key word tagging and folders, Users can also organize their stored material into folders and label it through key word tagging.
By allowing public, online sharing of folders and access through many gadgets, Evernote further facilitates extension of learning beyond the classroom. Users can go through the website’s user community for tips on efficient use of the service.
In the end, Steve reiterates the importance of organization and integrating curation tools, given the wealth of information the internet exposes users to.
Lastly, Gary Stager shares a few recommendations with the online education community.
To begin with, Gary emphasizes on the need of exposing children to computers capable of programming, video editing, music composition and controlling external peripherals, such as probes or robotics. She points out that school computers need to do all of the things adults expect today and support ingenuity for a long time, given their lifespan.
He further advises that educators must use computers to equip students with experiences that are not otherwise addressed by the curriculum, such as writing communicating and research.
He concludes by saying that every child deserves to have computer science experiences during his K-12 education. She recommends us to consider programming environments such as MicroWorlds EX and Scratch , designed to support learning and progressive education.
We started by pointing out the popular critical consensus around technology; i.e as a disabler rather than an enabler. On reading what these enthusiasts had to say, I’d say I disagree. Technology can be productive when used in a conscious, efficient and responsible way.
How useful were these insights from the professionals to you? Drop in your thoughts/EdTech in classroom experiences in the comments below.