Technology in the Classroom

The students of today need to use technology as a tool or support for communicating with others. This will put them in an active role rather than the passive role of recipients of information told by the teacher or delivered by a textbook. Students involved with the “Sage on the Stage” model are completely tuned out to education in general whether there is technology in the classroom or not. To get your students tuned in allow them to use technology where they can actively think about information, make choices, and demonstrate their skills as lifelong learners. When technology is used as a tool in the classroom it supports the students in performing authentic tasks, which usually leads to an audience and a purpose.

The teacher’s role has changed from the center of attention as the dispenser of information to a role of a facilitator helping the students set goals and providing guidelines for learning. As the students work on projects that involve technology the teacher moves about the room suggesting and motivating students on their work. When educators allows their students to help plan, implement, and assess their work they will find that interest will increase and more work will be accomplish throughout the school year.

There will be an increase of student motivation while working on a technology project. You will see students become excited with a sense of accomplishment. One example is a alternative high school project completed by seniors. Their assignment was to create a WebQuest for fifth grade students. The topic was the Civil War. As the seniors worked and planned they were allowed to make many choices on the process part of the WebQuest. There were many activities for the fifth graders to use the technology in their classroom to complete their assignments. The best part of this story is that the time came for the seniors to graduate (the alternative high school was moving at an accelerated pace which means each semester translated into a years worth) and the work was not completed. After graduation we felt that the project would not be workable because the authors of the WebQuests just ran out of time. But to our surprise several students showed up the next week to finish their project for the elementary students. Do you think they would have showed up if the authentic task of writing a WebQuest, which involve an audience and purpose had been the “old-time assignment” like type a report?

Teachers report often that their technology skills are lacking and that is the reason they don’t use technology in the classroom. They need to let go and have their students show them the ropes. These are digital kids who grew up with the World Wide Web.

The real pay off for technology in the classroom is more collaboration with peers. The new way to communicate is using BLOGS (A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web). The activity of updating a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger." Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog. Postings on a blog are almost always arranged in chronological order with the most recent additions featured most prominently. What a great way for students to work with peers and to communicate their ideas and to get immediate feedback.

All of this discussion of technology in the classroom is evolving every minute of the day. Someday your students will be carrying a palm device with instant access to you, their friend, their family, and the global community. Will you be onboard or left in the wake?