If there are so many great digital tools are out there, it is a wonder that not everyone is using them. I’ve discussed in a previous blog post that sometimes fear and uncertainty can inhibit teachers. But, what holds the willing back? Sometimes a lack of infrastructure or resources can prevent even the most eager teacher when it comes to integrating technology into the classroom. What can we do? Many of us who are in the classroom every day trying to effectively weave this technology have little to no say when it comes to funding and infrastructure. The best advice I have ever received? Work with what you have.
None of us have that magic wand that we can just wave and cutting-edge technology appears. Even those who are in control of funding and resources usually have their hands tied. I would like to outline some strategies for dealing with limited tech in a tech-driven world.
Collaboration Through Sharing
Over the last few years, my school board has been introducing devices into the classroom. We started with Dell Netbooks and have now worked our way up to tablets. The tablets are great. There is so much potential for use in the classroom. However, every classroom teacher was only given a set of 12. I think you would be hard pressed to find a classroom with 12 students. Many of us wondered, what are we to do with just 12 tablets? This is when collaboration comes in.
What a perfect opportunity to engage students in meaningful collaboration. Not only will they learn about the task/topic at hand, they will develop and hone communication and interpersonal skills. According to Integrating Technology with Limited Resources, sharing a device is the perfect opportunity for students to collaborate on a story, written assignment, project (Hertz, 2010) using a Google Doc or Dropbox. Students could work together with Screencastify to create screencasts to demonstrate their learning. It is highly unlikely any student when they enter the workforce will have cutting-edge technology at their fingertips every day. Developing theses problem solving and collaboration is far more valuable than having access to top technology.
BYOD – Bring Your Own Device
Want to do a video or photo project, but your school does not have audio-visual equipment? Most students these days have some form of cellular phone. Have students work in groups and use a personal technology device to create. The article Integrating Technology on a Limited Budget with Little Support outlines many different tools that can be used after for editing and projecting such as Prezi and WordPress. Limpreis (2011) suggest integrating student technology in the classroom will provide students with meaningful and tech-rich learning experiences on a limited budget.
The whole BYOD initiative has been met with some resistance. I know in my own board it has been criticized as encouraging elitism among students. However, I feel like this is something that is next to impossible to avoid. Same thing could be argued for the student who has a fancy mechanical pencil. Should we not let him use it because it is too fancy? A pencil is a pencil and a device is a device.
Barriers are everywhere, not just in the classroom. Creating a classroom environment where barriers are not seen as roadblocks, but as learning experiences will create resilient students who understand that the world will never be perfect and that they will need to sometimes find different ways to get from point A to point B.
Limperis, G. (2001). Integrating Technology on a Limited Budget with Little Support. EdTech Digest.
Hertz, M. B. (2010). Tech with Limited Resources. Edutopia.