In my second year of teaching, I was overjoyed to discover that my new principal would be providing me with a key piece of technology for my classroom—an overhead projector. How things have changed! Technology has rapidly transformed the classroom, something that can be equally exciting and overwhelming.
One of the most important education conversations that teachers have is about the effective use of technology. Sometimes, just like students, we are distracted by the bells and whistles provided by a new device, app, or tool. We end up using it more because of its novelty than for the purpose it serves in the classroom.
One incredible challenge for today’s teacher is to uncover effective uses of technology in ways that lead students to engage deeply, think critically, and work collaboratively so that they may learn, solve problems, and create results that wouldn’t be possible without the tools being employed.
This is no easy feat—teachers must contend with endless limitations, such as device access, technology hiccups, budgets for hardware and tools, and, of course, time. They must learn to use the hardware and tools well enough to be able to teach others to do so, while also managing the concerns that go along with students being given access to the Internet or social media. This is a huge task, but it is a worthy one because of the AMAZING experiences technology can bring into the classroom.
Think of this…today, somewhere, a teacher is using technology to do all of the following:
1. Stream Video. Introduce students to other children of the same age, via video streaming. Kids can have a live conversation with someone who might live thousands of miles away.
2. Connect with History. Ask students to choose and research a Prohibition-era figure through primary source images, text pieces, or video available through safe classroom products like LaunchPacks: Social Studies or Original Sources.
3. Create and Collaborate. Have students collaborate on writing a shared story in real time. They can edit, add content, draw illustrations, and create their own book jackets – even when they aren’t seated next to each other in class.
4. Travel Virtually. Expose students to a place (or even a time period) a world away through a virtual field trip, allowing them to see the landscape, the historical structures, the art, and the people with their own eyes.
5. Present in Engaging Ways. Students can create a video presentation, with time-lapse footage, to show how they approached testing a hypothesis for an experiment.
With the addition of technology, teachers are able to transform learning in ways that simply weren’t possible 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. However, making learning transformative isn’t just about having access to the necessary hardware. It also depends on classrooms having access to digital resources that are reliable, engaging, and with high-quality content that can be trusted to be accurate, appropriate, and verified.
What are some of your favorite digital tools for your classroom? One of our favorite new products is LaunchPacks: Social Studies. Designed by teachers to fit the PreK-12 curriculum, it brings together a diverse range of content, organized for immediate classroom use. It saves teachers prep time and supports existing lesson plans to make them more dynamic and engaging. Its simple and flexible sharing features integrate into the existing tools and platforms that teachers and students are already using.
Take a free trial today and test one of the ideas above on using technology in the classroom!