Teaching and learning with technology has become essential in today’s schools but teaching digital natives can be daunting when they know more than you do about technology. With constant technological advancements and the multitude of digital tools available, it is no wonder that teachers feel overwhelmed. To make matters worse, many articles claiming to help teachers use technology in the classroom are written by people who are not actually teachers and have never stepped foot in a classroom. Often recommendations made are simply just not realistic!
Just like a tradie needs different tools to complete a job, teachers need digital tools in the classroom. As a teacher, I have designed meaningful and engaging learning experiences with my students involving some amazing websites and apps. The ones that I use regularly in the classroom, are particularly loved by my students and are packed safely into my digital toolbox. I’m excited to share this with fellow teachers.
With these basic digital tools, you will be able to create opportunities for your students to apply and transform their knowledge and skills into products, solutions and new information easily! The Rundown series within thinkdigitalclassroom.com.au will provide further support for these tools, showcasing short and explicit video tutorials, step-by-step instructions and ideas for classroom use.
My digital toolbox is organised into special compartments:
Analysis or Planning Tools
Students can use graphic organisers or online platforms to plan and share ideas.
These digital tools combine multimedia elements such as text, image, video and audio to enable students to present information, share new ideas, apply knowledge, create digital stories, maps, projects, games, journals, news reports and videos.
Communication and Assessment Tools
Webpage authoring tools, email and online discussion platforms can be used to facilitate social interaction and communication with students, teachers and parents. Online assessment gaming platforms give students the opportunity to receive immediate feedback on their learning and provide teachers with valuable data on their students.
Online discussion groups, interactive platforms and online classroom environments give students opportunities to work together in teams on group projects, solve problems, publish work and create products.
Finding a few apps within the above mentioned categories will definitely give you the basic digital tools you need to get started in embedding technology into the curriculum in a meaningful way with your students. Many teachers fail by trying to have too many. It’s just not feasible. I mean, if they perform the same functions, do you really need them all? Every now and then you will find something that may offer new and exciting features or it may be easier to use. That’s when you know it may be useful to include. It is easier to add or replace items in your digital toolbox once you have the basics.
On a final note, remember that young people need to be highly skilled in their ability to create, share, communicate and develop information using digital technologies to ensure they keep up with the pace to prepare them for their roles in society. They need to be adaptable and flexible learners who know how to take on new tasks and situations, quickly and easily. As teachers we now need to move from integrating technology into the curriculum, to embedding technology into pedagogy (Eady & Lockyer, 2013).
So get started! I hope you found this useful. I’d love to hear your feedback.