The other day I read a post by Alfie Kohn where he says “We can’t answer the question “Is tech useful in schools?” until we’ve grappled with a deeper question: “What kinds of learning should be taking place in those schools?” He’s right but I’m also wondering why we are still stuck in the past regarding schools. We’re talking about the future of education in respect to real life learning, when problem-based/ game-based/ project-based learnings are making a huge impact on education. So the right question should be how do we enable our students so that they can maximize the potential of technology for learning?
Shaping little Einsteins
In order for our students to indulge in their curiosities and set their learning goals, the students need to learn how to ask the right questions, and that is where the power of learning lies. When students become active participants in a classroom instead of beings who regurgitate memorized material, they set their own pathways to becoming responsible citizens. This leads me to believe that we as educators should not be the ones setting rules for what kinds of technology should be used in the classroom. Instead it should be a joint effort, where the teacher could either be the oldest member of the classroom community (the teacher) or even the younger member (the student). The roles could change inter-variably, with the teacher becoming the learner and vice versa. This is what an ‘active participant’ would be, one who sets their own goals themselves.
At the beginning of the school year we set up classroom expectations/agreements with the help of the students so why shouldn’t we do the same when discussing the potential of technology and it’s productiveness. This will also help build the notion of digital citizenship while collaborating and communicating with others in the classroom or across borders. This would also help ‘redefine’ the usage of technology and different platforms. The trick is to finding that right balance.
Classroom management strategies when using devices with students
After reading this article, I have adapted the given strategies for a healthy balance of media and technology in my classroom. I plan to start the school year in the fall using these strategies to maximize the potential of technology in the class environment.
- Be a role model Use technology wisely by using the appropriate tool needed. Get parents onboard to help with this strategy. Model digital citizenship by sharing what you as an educator does or would do in person or on a social platform.
- Start good habits early Set up a Responsible Use Agreement at the beginning of the school year as a class, keeping copyright, digital citizenship etc. in mind. Follow the agreement and feedback guidelines to use for constructive purposes.
- Use media together Use various platforms like blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, podcasts etc. to create, communicate and collaborate not just in the classroom but across borders with other classes.
- Keep distractions to a minimum We as educators have to help the students build their attentional capacities by teaching them ‘mindfulness practices’. As Goleman says, digital devices are not the enemy, it’s how we use them whilst building the abilities to concentrate on the task and not lose focus.
- Turn off work Set a limited time for ‘tech breaks’ between course work to enhance productivity of their minds. Bring in ‘gamification’ so that even though they are not concentrated on academics, they will still be building their social skills by working together as teams to achieve certain levels in a game. Take a brain break with GoNoodle, or simply go outside on the playground to refresh the mind, body and soul.
How are you utilizing and maximizing the potential of technology in your classroom?