With technology becoming an integral part of education, many teachers are finding it difficult to successfully mesh technology into the existing curriculum. As a technology resource specialist, I hear teachers saying that they are “not tech savvy”. Despite fear of the unknown, technology can be simple to use in the classroom.
Here are five tips to assist teachers with tech integration:
1. Start small and simple- Despite the allure of immersing your students in a large scale technology project, simplicity is key. Begin with one relevant website or application and allow students ample time to explore the tool, develop meaningful questions, and achieve a strong comfort level.
2. Use your tech team- Integrating technology into your classroom can be a daunting task and should not be attempted alone. Determine who your support staff is, and use them! Aside from referring to your district’s tech team, do not forget your tech savvy colleagues, and most importantly your students! Our students prove to be an invaluable resource in helping “digital immigrants” move to more technology based lessons.
3. Learn to take risks- On many occasions, teachers who struggle with technology often find it difficult to take risks and allow for mistakes in the classroom. Using new technology in a lesson will entail challenges. Work through the issues, reflect on them, and most importantly learn from mistakes.
4. Be unstructured- Before completely disregarding this tip, allow me to defend it. Unstructured is a scary word for teachers, although sometimes less structure is more beneficial in introducing a new technology in the classroom.
I was recently asked to assist a teacher with introducing a new presentation tool to her students. We both decided that we would take a different approach. We set the students “free” by instructing them to figure it out, make mistakes, and discuss with their peers. As they explored the tool, we rotated to answer questions and offer advice.
The result was an engaged group of fifth graders who learned the basics of Prezi and could even offer their teacher some insight as to how best to use the tool in the classroom.
5. Make it relevant- Simply using tech tools as an add-on will not benefit your students. Truly integrating technology into the curriculum requires ensuring that technology is relevant. Working with your grade level team to create lesson plans that integrate technology at a genuine level will improve the teaching and learning process.