When most people imagine a teacher in a classroom, they picture a person standing at a chalkboard. Icons used to signify the education world are rulers, apples, and books, but the average classroom no longer revolves around chalk, rulers, and textbooks any more. Our world has become high tech and our schools and students have evolved with it.
Most classrooms in the greater D.C. area have at least a single computer for each teacher. Chalkboards have gone by the wayside. Many classrooms now have interactive whiteboards, such as SMART Boards or Promethean Boards. One area county has been issuing new lap tops to each teacher and still more schools are lucky enough to have iPads in their classrooms for student use.
Bringing technology to the classroom is a great way to enhance learning. With different learning styles, students process knowledge in different ways. There are many applications of a computer, iPad, or SMART Board that can bring a lesson to life for all students. Technology can allow a teacher to present a lesson in way that will target all learning styles. Using technology in this way could help those students that perhaps would not have grasped the concept without it. The use of multi-media applications can help keep even the most distracted student engaged.
To take the learning style focus a step further, some educators and parents have found success engaging students with special needs by using assistive technology inclusive of multiple learning styles. In one case, an iPad app helped a student communicate, which in turn helped her gain new confidence. Interactive technology can provide new opportunities for students with special needs to participate and accomplish skills that would otherwise require assistance from a live person.
One of the biggest challenges with technology in our schools is whether or not the teachers know how to maximize its benefits. Without proper training, teachers may have a SMART Board in their classroom but only use it as a resource to project images. This is a waste of a great tool. At the request of local teachers, we created a course for beginners, SMART Board for the K-12 Educator, Part I, and the first four sections quickly filled. The participants in that course gained confidence in the introductory skills and instantly wanted more, thus, we added a SMART Board, Part II, which we will offer for the first time on Saturdays this fall.
The world around us does not stand still. Technology touches a part of our lives every day. We take classes and buy our groceries on lap tops, pay bills, check email and video chat on our phones. People have become accustomed to instant online services. To keep up with those demands, we added the conveniences of online registration, access to online grades and transcript requests, as well as Continuing Ed courses conducted completely online. Those automated services are what afforded us the ability to branch out into developing new courses, such as the SMART Board course. Perhaps adding technology components to your instruction will provide you with some much deserved extra time in your classroom.
As we approach the 2012-2013 school year, familiarize yourself with the technology tools available to you. We offer a few Continuing Ed tech courses here, but county schools and community centers also offer trainings on classroom technology and every teacher should take advantage. The start of the school year is also a great time to find a tech savvy colleague you can go to when you have a question. Just like children, teachers need to set an example and keep learning.
We won’t be going back to the chalkboards anytime soon, so embrace technology and what it can do for you. What are you doing to get ready?