What does technology integration look like for the 21st Century learner? How can you begin to use technology to bring your classroom to life? Are students participating as an observer, designer, presenter, or creator?
Today in education, students are becoming more at the center of learning. May educators are moving away from a day that contains all lecture-based instruction and teacher-led activities. Students are being asked to actively participate in a different way than 20-30 years ago. Students are taking a project from the beginning to an end as creator, editor, presenter and reflector of their work. Teachers are using technology to engage students and enhance their assignments. However, trying to pack in 3 or 4 different technology integration tools or methods into one lesson can be technology overload. As with anything in life, there needs to be a balance and it is no different for integrating technology into your curriculum. While technology plays an important role in everyday life as well as in schools, it should be used as a tool and as an enhancement to high-quality instruction.
There are many tools out there and different opinions to go along with them as well. The brand or popularity of the tool is not as important as how the chosen tool can be woven appropriately into instruction. I am going briefly focus on 4 topic areas of technology integration:
Casting tools can help the student present or share materials, projects, and research with others in their classrooms. It does not have to be an expensive tool to be effective. There are many casting apps out there for iPads, browsers, Chrome Devices, etc. Casting allows the student to take control of sharing and presenting materials. It can be done in group discussions, in front of the class or from the comfort of the student’s own chair. Some popular casting tools and a teacher’s blog include: Screencast-O-Matic, Jing, CamStudio and Google Cast in the Classroom – Jeremy McBrayer, Kathy Schrock – Screencasting in the Classroom.
Blended learning is a powerful approach. How many times do you remember as a student or remember a friend who needed to review the materials covered for the week? Students, like adults, are different types of learners and some students may need additional resources to grasp certain concepts. For example, in a hybrid blended environment, teachers can record their lessons and make them available online for students to review. Teachers can also pre-record parts of their lessons and move around the classroom to interact with students as they are working on assignments at their own pace. It one way easy way to “flip the classroom” for your students. Do you have any student experts in your class? Students can record themselves explaining a math problem or how to use a graphic organizer for reports. Having the students actively participate in peer learning is a great way to help everyone learn. Some useful blended learning teacher blogs posts include: Jaclyn Calder – Blended Learning and Catlin Tucker – Blended Online Classroom Discussions.
Interactive Digital Content
Creating interactive digital content is a fun way for teachers and students to create games and apps to present research, projects, and ideas. There are apps that educators can use to create apps for their students to use in the classroom. Do your students need extra math review? You can quickly create an app for that with Tiny Tap App for free. Involving students as creators and editors of digital content can have a life-long impact on them as learners.
Virtual Reality – Exploratory Learning
With Virtual Reality (VR) tools, students can travel to the Pyramids in Egypt, see the Great Wall of China, and see firsthand the vastness of the Sahara Desert. With an app, iPad, or the Google Street View tool, the student can complete exciting fact filled reports. An Inexpensive VR Viewer, like the cardboard viewer discussed by Discovery Education, can enhance the experience for students too. Along with traveling, teachers can use Skype to connect with other classrooms around the world or authors without leaving the classroom.
The tools that I have mentioned are relatively simple to use and are just a few examples of how to begin to engage 21st Century learners. Students can provide feedback too as to what technologies they would like to see utilized in the classroom. Students can learn valuable information as they explore the world as creators, editors, and presenters of their own projects. Proper technology integration paired with high-quality instruction can help bring your classroom to life.