Today, there are many websites, tools, and resources that are readily available to us through the WWW. In order to introduce these applications to our students and implement them into our classrooms, we need to know where to find them and how to use them. As educators we already know that every child learns differently, so providing various means to give our students the opportunity to express what they know and to use their imagination through innovation has become part of 21st century teaching, which every teacher should practice.
The New Way of Learning infographic by the Adidas Group gives us hints about why and how we should transform learning:
Even if they aren’t familiar with technology and consequently don’t feel comfortable with it, each teacher should give it a try to transform teaching and learning as it is worth doing. As a first step you can start by talking to your colleagues who are teaching with technology. You will find out that their students are demonstrating a greater responsibility for their learning, they are more active in their classes than they used to be, both as leaders and peer tutors, contributing to problem-solving discussions, teaching each other and developing more collaborative learning skills. In fact, there are so many helpful guides and resources available on the internet that you will soon find out it is not as difficult as you have imagined.
A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet is a great source for beginners to technology integration. After reading it, you may continue with Technology Integration Professional Development Guide by Edutopia.
Learning with web tools is a great opportunity for our students as they will help them tremendously in their future jobs. Even if they do not use these skills in a future job, they can use it for their own personal needs. Mobile Devices for Learning – a guide by Edutopia is a good way to start learning about web tools. After reading it, you may continue with 20 Educational Technology Tools Everybody Should Know About by Edudemic. When you feel comfortable with technology, you can visit Cybrary Man’s Web 2.0 page and A Practical Guide to the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013. You can also check my Pinterest Web Tools board for further information on Web 2.0 tools. Finally, you can find presentations, e-books, and posts on Web 2.0 tools and sites on Free Tech for Teachers by Richard Byrnes and Technology Tidbits by David Kapular.
Once you have decided to integrate technology into your classroom, there are several important points you should consider:
- Before you start using technology, be sure that you really need to use it. After all, our main goal is not to enable our students to use technology but to develop a love of learning and self-direction so that they can ultimately become life-long learners. Therefore, we should plan lessons and activities that would get them excited about learning and encourage them to go out and learn more on their own. Otherwise, using technology for the sake of being a tech-savvy teacher will be a waste of time. You can use the assessment sheet by Sue Lyon Jones from The EdTech Hub before you decide about whether you really need to use the tools and read the blog post about Jerry Swiatek’s tips for beginners to avoid making mistakes while integrating technology.
- The technology you are using must be in line with the curriculum and your students’ learning needs and goals. Therefore, you need to find the best tool that will support your lesson and your students’ learning while you are blending technology into your lesson plans. You can visit Edshelf and Ideas to Inspire to be able to do that. You can also find great tips for using technology in Shelley Terrel’s Wiki, Technology 4 Kids. Some teachers may find it useful to watch the five-minute videos on web tools by visiting the Learn It In 5 Blog by Mark Barnes or the videos in Under Ten Minutes.
- Make sure the technology you are using supports higher order thinking skills and help you develop a spirit of inquiry and problem solving. Andrew Churches from Educational Origami and Kelly Tenkely from iLearn Technology have adapted Bloom’s Taxonomy to digital technology. Their ideas will help you determine how you can use technology to enhance higher order thinking skills and create dynamic learning environments where learners take ownership of their own growth and pursue it passionately.
Considering all the points above is important because the shift in education today is about learning, not about technology. All the tools mentioned above are the means to help us create more exciting, engaging, and ultimately, more effective learning for our students. As teachers in this complex world, we should continuously be learning, implementing, refining, and effectively integrating technology to enrich and extend the curriculum, to enhance and accelerate the types of learning that support the development of our students’ proficiency in the era of creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, leadership, and communication.