4 Things You Don’t Want to Hear About Teachers’ Use of Technology

Avoiding 4 common pitfalls of teacher’s tech tools.

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by Westmore Smith

Technology in every classroom is an administrator’s dream.  An interactive whiteboard in every classroom, access to mobile devices for every student and engaged students.

The burning question will be, what are teachers doing with this technology to support learning in the classroom?  Are they using it effectively?

Here are 4 common practices teachers may want to reconsider when using technology in the classroom.

1. Interactive Whiteboards are “Interactive.”

The interactive whiteboard is just that “interactive.” It is not an electronic chart paper where teachers record their material for the class to copy and/or review. It is there as a resource tool to engage, construct new ideas and for students to demonstrate their learning with the interactive features. I know my students love to construct sentences as a writing activity in French class. The 2 big manufacturers of interactive whiteboards, Promethean and SMARTboard have sites which allow teachers to create and exchange lesson plans and activities for K – 12 classrooms. SMART Exchange has an extensive bank of activities you can search by subject, grade or file-type. You will just need to edit the files to adapt to your lessons. Promethean Planet is another community of resources for Promethean users. You can search by keyword or subject. You are limited to US lesson plans as there is no Canadian site. The important feature of using an interactive whiteboard is that you don’t have to re-create lessons if you choose not to.

If you want to show videos, just bring in a flat screen TV and connect it to the internet at a reduced cost instead of purchasing an interactive whiteboard, a projector and a laptop which can cost over $6000.00 which includes installation.  There is more to an interactive whiteboard than just a screen projector. You can move items, create shapes, type messages, cut, copy and paste images, play educational games all on the interactive whiteboard. All with the touch of your finger.

2. Tablets are used only for Camera and Gaming Functions

Tablets such as the iPad or Samsung Galaxy have cameras on them that allow users to take pictures or create videos. When on a school excursion, this can be a great resource tool for an investigation or data collection for a Science project on the environmental impact on waste reduction. Don’t forget, there are many educational apps available on these tablets. There are math apps such as Operation Math or Sushi Monster that elementary students can use to develop their addition and subtraction skills,  multiplication skills and problem-solving skills.

3. The Teachers are Using the Technology and NOT the Students.

I currently have students who have never used an interactive whiteboard before coming to my class. Through many lessons created on the interactive whiteboard, the students were able to be active and engaged learners in my French classroom. They were learning French and learning how to use technology. They did so well that they became the teachers of interactive whiteboard showing teachers in their school how to use the tools.

4. Teachers use Technology with their Students Without Discussing Digital Citizenship.

Teachers assume that this current generation understands how to use mobile devices better than we do and that may be the case. However, as the use of technology in the classroom is still fairly new, many students still use these mobile technology tools as entertainment devices and not educational devices. I can’t stress the importance of first discussing digital citizenship with your students. They need to understand the realities of Privacy, Passwords, Permission, Use of Property and Protection.There is a valuable article on Digital Citizenship which teachers can use to direct students on the right path to full digital literacy.

There will always be some resistance or misunderstanding on the use of technology in a classroom. What a school community can do is to provide workshops for teachers to observe students demonstrating their learning through the use of technology and maybe the positive results will inspire teachers to further develop their understanding of technology in the classroom.

 

Author: wjasmith

Elementary School Teacher in Canada. I teach French as a Second Language to Grade 4 and 5 students. I am currently an M.Ed. student in Education Technology at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). I am interested in 2nd language learning using technology to develop authentic communication skills.

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