Technology is a valuable addition to any classroom—when used correctly. In order to make the most of technology in learning, it’s important that you build a culture of tech in your classroom, rather than simply using it to “drill and practice.” This is not only boring for students, but is not as effective as when technology is used to immerse students in learning, according to Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning.
Immersing students in tech-based learning creates a more interactive experience, which ultimately improves learning and engagement. “One of the benefits of well-designed interactive programs is that they can allow students to see and explore concepts from different angles using a variety of representations,” according to the authors of the same technology study.
Here are three simple, yet effective ways to begin building a culture of technology in your classroom.
Make Technology Your Default
To create a culture of technology in your classroom—one that improves the learning experience—you must make technology your default for as many things as possible.
“Use it to time a test, record a presentation, or play music during reading time. Encourage students to see technology not as the iPad or Chromebook they pull out for a project, but the go-to tool for all sorts of learning needs,” says Jacqui Murray, edtech author and K-8 technology teacher.
When you do this, students may begin to see value in technology outside of what they consider technology, like cell phones and laptops. When this happens, students will turn to technology more frequently, ultimately empowering them to create their own learning journey and become (and stay) more engaged.
Replace Manual Tasks
When making technology your default in the classroom, it’s important that you start by replacing as many manual tasks as you can. This further enriches the technology culture and shows students the many ways in which technology can be used.
Some manual tasks that can be easily replaced include:
Paper reading Logs: Replace traditional reading logs with Whooo’s Reading, an online reading log that allows students to track their reading online. Bonus: This tool also provides you with insights on student reading progress.
Attendance: Throw away your attendance book and replace it with an attendance app like TeackerKit, a free attendance-tracking app. With it, you can also track behavior and manage your seating chart.
Homework Submission: Whenever possible, encourage—or require—students to submit homework via Google Classroom (if your school uses it) or Google Docs. You can organize your Google Drive based on students, classes, assignment types, etc. You can even download Flubaroo, an add-on that automatically grades work for you.
Bring Digital Citizenship Into Lessons
There are so many ways to bring digital citizenship into your lessons on a regular basis—you don’t even have to tell the students that that’s what you’re doing. However, using social media, blogs and online research in the classroom opens up the doors to these discussions on a regular basis, which also helps to create a culture of technology in your classroom.
A few easy ways to bring digital citizenship into the preparation and instruction for average, tech-based assignments include:
- When students are doing research, require them to explain with one or two sentences why each source they chose is reliable and credible. This gets students thinking about what’s on the web and how to decipher what they should and shouldn’t believe and trust.
- Begin any social-media based assignment with a quick discussion about what is and isn’t appropriate—it’s easy to bring up the subjects of privacy, sharing, and digital footprints in this case. You can choose one digital citizenship “lesson” to focus on with each assignment, to make the most of these opportunities.
These digital citizenship resources will give you hundreds of other ideas for tying digital citizenship into your lessons.
Building a culture of technology in your classroom will not only engage students, but will give them a chance to see technology as the powerful educational tool that it is. Use it more in your every day tasks, such as tracking attendance, and encourage students to do the same by submitting homework online. You may be surprised at how the learning experience improves as your technology culture develops.
Bio: Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Whooo’s Reading, a San Diego-based education organization that motivates students to read more every day. It’s available to teachers, schools and districts. Jessica grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their new ebook, How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom, just $2.99 on Amazon.com.