Technology in the classroom has become a hot topic in the last year or so. With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning and student technology are at the forefront of educators’ minds. One thing we have discovered is that more technology is not necessarily the answer. We need to start utilizing the technology that we have a little more to ensure that the largest number of students can be met. How do we integrate that technology in the classroom without alienating large populations of students?
Use Asynchronous Tools
Yes, Zoom, Google Meets, WebEx, and a host of other meeting apps are fabulous, but not all students are in situations where being in class each day is possible. Sometimes parents work, and the children are in childcare centers or at a family member’s house. In a perfect world, they can still access the internet and programs in these locations, but that is not always the case. You can record lectures or chats with students during meetings, post lecture notes, or handouts to help with the materials.
Utilize Analog Technology
Sometimes good, old-fashioned textbooks and documents are the best things for students. Do not be afraid to rely on older technology to reach students. Textbooks also sometimes come with compatible digital copies. This dual availability allows teachers to use the paper textbook or the digital copy in lesson plans. When students prefer the feel of the textbook, they are not left behind.
Use Their Technology
Students, even those with limited resources at home, often have social media accounts and internet-enabled devices. Use apps, games, and social media that they are familiar with to meet them on their level. Children need to be able to connect with adults in meaningful ways. They often feel disconnected from adults in authority positions, and getting on their level will help. Be sure to follow any district, state, or federal guidelines for associating with children outside of class, but a Twitter account that tweets reminders, an Instagram account with photos of graphic organizers, and a Snapchat with silly videos from teachers can bring students much-needed information in relaxed atmospheres.
Webquests have fallen out of popularity, but they can sometimes be adapted for new uses. Rather than sending kids on a boring activity searching for one thing or another, let them design and search for things together. Web scavenger hunts can also be fun activities. Let students discover information by following clues and doing a little detective work.
Jeopardy and other games have been used in classrooms for years. Now, teachers can incorporate them into new technology. Students can play against each other or play alone. Classroom activities can also include math flashcards that are used as a baseball game. If the student get’s the flashcard right, they go on to the next base. However, if the student misses, they are out. The flashcard can be flipped on a screen. Quizlet and other programs can help teachers to create flashcards for these games.
Message Boards and Forums
Create message boards and forums. You can act as the moderator or participate in the discussions. Many instructors want students to participate in their own learning, so allowing student discussions to continue without much intervention is sometimes preferred. Step in to correct students when they have the information incorrect or are not using appropriate internet etiquette.
Teach Appropriate Behaviors
Students do not always understand appropriate behaviors and protocols for the internet. You cannot expect them to just know how to respond and what is appropriate. Students hear different types of language inside and outside of school walls. They do not always realize that some of that language is not school appropriate. However, teaching students to interact online will carry them through more than just their classroom. They will need to interact in this manner throughout many endeavors in their lives.
Virtual Field Trips
You are probably already using the internet and synchronous learning for some of your class time. Invite the children on virtual field trips. Many programs are offering free virtual field trips during the pandemic. You can take your children to museums on the other side of the world, or they can meet tribes in the deserts of Africa. Sometimes, these field trips might include things they can do asynchronously so that students do not miss anything if they are not available to be online.
There’s an App for That
Let students use Kindle, video conferencing, or library checkout apps. When they want to read a book from the library, they do not need to have a paper book. They can read digitally. Introduce apps that are free and have free content. Classics and other books are free on Kindle, Nook, Rakuten, and other media apps. Additionally, many public libraries allow students to check out books using their school information, and they have digital resources available.
Integrating technology does not need to mean introducing a new piece of equipment. Be sure to use the equipment that they already have. They can use technology that they are familiar with and add new skills. Be sure to teach students what you expect and about netiquette. Students do not always know what they are expected to do, learn, or be online. Be sure to be explicit and guide them rather than doing things for them. Let them explore the internet with restrictions.