Laura Nicholson – May 2019
Click on any of the images below to view traditional teaching activities with over 50 examples of how to enhance with technology.
Teaching with Technology
Teaching with technology doesn’t always work; perhaps that’s an odd statement to make when introducing a website which promotes technology in teaching. However, I think it’s important to clarify that I do acknowledge the difficulties with implementation from a practitioners perspective. I have experienced lesson failures from using technology, but let’s face it we have all had a lesson which hasn’t worked well when we’ve used traditional methods too.
There are relevant concerns about the inclusion of technology in lessons, let me try to address these.
1. It takes too much time to get learners registered to use the technology.
I agree that introducing a registration process in the middle of a lesson interrupts the flow and risks losing student focus. There are two ways to prevent this from happening. You could select three pieces of technology that you plan to try an implement in the next academic year; there’s no need to rush into using technology in the very next lesson, and you don’t need to make every lesson technology-based. Once you have made your software selections get each student registered on the three different software tools in one sitting; the first day of term is ideal for this. Alternatively, get students to register for the software at home a week or two before the technology tool will be used in class, this enables instant log-ins on the day.
2. The students need to be taught how to use the technology, in addition to teaching the lesson topic; this wastes valuable lesson time.
Yes, but there is a way around this, it just needs some careful planning. Not easy when managing large caseloads of students, alongside piles of marking, lesson planning, administration tasks etc. This is why I stress you should only select three new pieces of technology to use; there isn’t the time to plan effectively otherwise.
Firstly use the technology yourself, on multiple occasions. Technology doesn’t just have to be used by students to enhance lessons; lesson delivery will be improved through the use of technology too. For example, if you have decided to introduce an online mind mapping tool, such as Coggle or Mindmeister, the first time you use it should be in your lesson delivery.
Mind maps can be used at any point in a lesson, start by showing a ready-made mind map to give an overview of a topic. The time you have spent learning the software has then been beneficial as you have created something to use in your lesson. Then use the same mind mapping tool a few weeks later to create a mind map with your students. Load the software onto the whiteboard, start with your centre topic and add branches to it as students share their ideas with you. This is a win, win situation, you have gained more experience using the software and the students have had a demo of the software too.
Similar to traditional teaching methods, online mind maps enable collaboration as groups of students can all work on the same mind map at once from different computers. However, technology-based mind mapping tools have the added benefit that the content can be easily updated as new ideas unfold. It’s also possible for the student to add images, videos and weblinks to enhance further. Mind maps are also great notetaking and revision aids, so in teaching students how to use this tool, you have also provided them with the opportunity to use the software independently for themselves in their future studies.
Once you are comfortable with the software, match it to an upcoming lesson which requires students to use mind maps. Then create an instruction sheet for the students to refer to if they face difficulties when using it for themselves. If it helps, I have included a downloadable handout on how to use Mindmeister (and handouts for other tools), because if this reduces planning time for other practitioners, then I’m happy to share.
3. When things go wrong.
If you have followed step 2, then this point becomes less of an issue. You will no longer feel the need to have a tech expert in the room because you will have used the technology for yourself on multiple occasions, so you will be aware of how to rectify any potential issues that arise. Plus, we all reflect on what worked and what didn’t when we use traditional teaching methods, so it’s just the same thing when we reflect on how we could make the technology work better for us when we use it again next time.
This website includes multiple examples of when free technologies could be used to enable increased collaboration, engagement, differentiation, ease of assessment and recording of progress, to name just a few benefits. I do not use technology in every lesson; it’s not necessary to. However, I do try to subtly embed it at various points throughout the academic year because I know from experience that when used confidently and at the right moment, it can improve learner outcomes.