Byte the bullet – get digital
There is so much software readily and freely available now that we really have no excuse to avoid it in our teaching. Of course, as with any resource technology needs to add value to the learning not just used to tick a box.
Managing the environment
A lot of the issues around using technology centre on two key areas in my experience.
Firstly, what I often hear is: what if students abuse its use and search for inappropriate material or use it to go on their own social media sites? This really comes down to how we manage this. Setting the ground rules with the students and making the consequences of any misuse very clear from the start can help. This is especially important if you are asking students to use their phones to access the sites.
Secondly, what if it goes wrong; the internet connection plays up, or students have issues accessing the software on their devices. This can happen and if not managed or anticipated then it can be a point where a lesson loses momentum and an opportunity for behaviour to become an issue. The key point here is always have a backup plan!
Another key area with the use of technology is how confident we feel, as teachers, with the technology. The only way to overcome our trepidations, and fear of technology is to use it and use it as much as we can in our lessons. When technology first came into teaching, I made sure I used some technology in every lesson; it may just be a video clip; a different presentation platform such as Mentormob, Nearpod or Prezi rather than powerpoint; an online word cloud; quiz software such as Quizzes, Socrative (there are so many freely available now); creating blogs, forums and collaborative sites such as Padlet. I also have a professional Twitter account that I use to share links with students with via our VLE platform, Moodle. Start small, and build up confidence slowly, using it little and often at the start but use it as much as you can, even if it is just a quick starter activity. That’s the first step! Then you can start to challenge yourself further.
Trial and error
What if it all goes wrong? Well, that could happen, but unless we try we don’t know. I always tell my students that I have found something new and this is the first time I’m using it in a class, so to be patient, it may not work and that I want them to evaluate it and tell me what they think at the end of the lesson. In this way, they’ll be more cooperative. It also shows them that we’re learning and prepared to try new things, but also accept that it may not work. Also, be very clear that if don’t like it, you’ll take this feedback on board. Be prepared though, it may well not work, it may go wrong, so again a back-up plan is essential.
Sharing with peers
Ask your peers what technology they use; ask if you can pop in and see them using it. This all helps us feel more confident and encourages us to have a go ourselves. Having a go is the key: the more we use technology the more it becomes an established part of our repertoire.