* This post is directed at the students in my educational technology class, though I think the tips are usable by anyone. Some of the mentions in the post correlate to things we covered during the semester. Â In most cases, I’ve tried to link back to the specific class to which I refer.
Dear rising teachers,
At the beginning of this class you all took a survey about your level of experience and comfort with educational technology (results here). As you leave this class, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve expanded your technology toolbox significantly. Â If this is all you leave with however, I’ll feel as if I haven’t been a very good teacher. Â The primary purpose of this course isn’t to show you a bunch of interesting tools, but to promote a more student centric style of teaching in which technology is an assistant, not the driver of pedagogy. Â I introduced this idea in the second class with two other mantras: 1. Move beyond the “bells and whistles” of tech; 2. Use tech to kill “two birds with one stone.” Â With these ideas in mind, I offer a few final tips.
Tip 1: Beware of the PowerPoint
Presentations (PowerPoints, Keynotes, Prezis, etc.) are very teacher centric and often over-utilized in the classroom. Brain surgeons didn’t learn brain surgery from a PowerPoint and students won’t remember 30 bullet points about War of 1812 by tomorrow. You’ll know exactly what I mean if you check out the classic comedy routine titled ‘Death by PowerPoint’ embedded below.
Here are some tips on how to make your presentation more student centric.
â€¢ Instead of words, use a picture and then tell about it. Often, when I use a presentation, I only use pictures and have the students draw their own interpretation of it and include a caption about the picture. This works especially well if you are telling a story or historical event (see the 1300s Black Death sample).
â€¢ Keep it short – if you’ve got more than 25 slides or Prezi jumps (unless you’re just cycling through pictures), you are losing your audience.
â€¢ Have activity breaks after a few slides of your presentation for group shares, a hands on activity, or a quick assessment
Tip 2: Use educational websites and review activities (flashcards, games, interactives) to shrink your room.
We usually think of technology expanding the classroom, but it can actually help shrink your classroom in a positive way. Last year, I did a study on the impact of 1:1 on student progress. I found that 1:1 worked well for some activities and poorly on others.
One of the biggest benefits, which I hadn’t thought of until I got some data back, was that the students performed the best when I got to meet with them in smaller groups.
Instead of having everyone in the class on a computer related activity (reviewing for a test, completing a lab, etc.), the students performed best when we split up the class. Half the students worked on a web-based activity and the other half worked with me directly, then switched. Compared with whole class computer activities or whole class teacher led instruction, the results showed a distinct advantage for the blended model. Elementary teachers use stations very effectively (like our speaker @BarbInNebraska), but this methodology tends to lose steam as students get to middle school and beyond. Using technology to shrink your room through stations or dividing the class can increase student outcomes at any level.
Tip 3: Keep Diigoing, Keep tabs on your field, Keep Experimenting
â€¢ Many of you embraced Diigo from the first class and have been building your online storage tent of websites. I sometimes search my tags for sites that I bookmarked 3-4 years ago. Without Diigo (or Delicious previously), I’d have wasted time on searching and may have never found what I needed. Bookmark everything that has potential.
â€¢ In class on Tuesday, I’ll be sharing with you a list of people to follow in Twitter (organized by content area) and a starter list of blogs to follow. Take some time each day, each week, or even every few weeks to see what others in your field are doing. It will help you grow professionally and get lots of great ideas from fellow educators.
â€¢ Try out something new with your classes on a regular basis. If it’s a tech project, more than likely it will fail the first time you use it with a class. The first time I use something new with a class, it’s almost always disastrous. Don’t let disaster stop you from trying it again. Be patient – it’s not the end of the world if you have to spend an extra day on a project.
In closing, when it comes to educational technology, don’t be afraid to let your students teach you a thing or two. As our speaker (@catlett1) in class 13 pointed out, the digital generation knows a thing or two about all these devices. It doesn’t hurt to let them share some tidbits.
In the comments, or on the form sent via email, let me know what you think. Do you feel prepared to take on the classroom of the 21st century? Are there any other things you’ve learned in this class or others that you think are valuable? What challenges relating to technology still need to be addressed?