Technology Is Essential –
This goes kind of without saying. With the constant innovations being brought to the market it is imperative for teachers to keep up. The idea that a teacher can continue to use the blackboard, chalk and slides is outdated.
Don’t get me wrong, I love teachers and understand the passion that they must have to put up with children, parents and administrators. It is part coach, counselor, therapist, warden and parent all wrapped up in one package. That said, it is also just as important for the teacher to keep up on tools, ideas, techniques for their profession as it is for the doctor or lawyer to keep up with diseases and court rulings. You can’t stay in the past.
So, when the budget is tight and money needs to be spent fixing the building or adding on, what do you do? Here are a few ideas we pulled from a recent post by Dawn Casey-Rowe an Author at Edudemic, an online resource for education and technology.
Let Them BYOD
They will know how to use it and they will take care of it better. Imagine if you were sitting at home working, and someone came in, took your phone, your laptop, and tablet, and replaced them with a type you don’t use. It’s disorienting. Students and teachers are more comfortable using the devices they love.
Tech purchasing comes from top-down. It’s important to be on the front lines when choosing technology. Sometimes a school-wide platform is necessary and helpful, as with electronic gradebooks, home-school communication platforms, or learning management systems. But for the rest, ask, “Will students use this? Will they look forward to using this or will it be a burden? Does it fill some need or make life easier?” Ask. The answers are sometimes surprising.
Amazon Prime and Netflix have tons of documentaries and shows that support curricula. Before these were unblocked, if I wanted to show a documentary to my class, I had to buy it. Now I can rely on my Prime, and show ten minutes or so to underscore my point. In addition to this, I love TEDx speeches. They help me teach public speaking and content simultaneously. Students love them, and they’re free.
Bring Tech To The Students
Computer labs are important, but they often come with challenges. They’re expensive, and research is showing that tech in the class saves time and money, increasing productivity. Teachers don’t have to compete for valuable lab time and expensive machines aren’t sitting unused. We’re used to technology integrating into our lives. It must be the same way in schools. Allowing students to use their own devices or having a group for the class to share is less expensive than wasted labs in the long run.
I was at a large tech company and needed to print a boarding pass. There was no easily accessible printer. I joked, “This reminds me of schools…printers are broken or out of ink.” Then I realized the truth – printing is so 20th century. It’s rarely necessary anymore, if you stop and think about it. Once tech is fully integrated we won’t need to print much. We’ll google-share, take polls on Socrative, use Learnist instead of books, and crowdsource projects. Killing rainforests will be a thing of the past. These resources on web tools and apps help me think about reducing paper and clutter one piece at a time.
But there are also tools and programs that can help with the integration of technology in your classroom.
eBeam by Luidia – yes this is self promoting but you were expecting that right? eBeam takes advantage of your existing assets (whiteboard, projector, computer) and allows you to bring interactivity to the class at a reasonable cost. By adding the eBeam receiver to your whiteboard or wall you also don’t have to give up valuable whiteboard space to a static piece of equipment (i.e. Smartboard).
eBeam Connect – This is perfect for pulling students and teachers together to share, everything. Based in the cloud Connect allows you to post and share documents, assign documents to groups where they can work on them together using their own device (See BYOD). Currently this service is free while it’s in Beta phase. It will move to a subscription based model which will then be available on an annual basis.
You can see all of the great eBeam products at http://www.ebeamrocks.com.