- They are natural users of technology and feel comfortable with it
- They just know how to use things - they can pick it up and go
- Technology is more appealing to them and is the best way for them to learn
- Their brains are wired differently and old approaches in education will not work
Rather than being simply a new generation of learners, we consider them a whole new species.
It takes time to save time
An example might be as simple as a teacher wanting to get students to word process a narrative they have written. You could consider:
- Can the children turn on the devices and find the software?
- Will they open a blank document or use a template? (Have they even heard these words before?)
- What are their typing skills like? Do they know how to capitalise letters, add full stops, commas or other punctuation? Can they start a new paragraph?
- Can they use spell check tools to assist them?
- Can they format the text? (size, colour, font)
- Can they add other formatting features?
- Can they add pictures?
- Can they save their work to a certain location, print or submit in another way?
- Can they shut down the software and device properly?
One of the common arguments I hear, is that there simply isn't time to teach all that to students while trying to also cover an increasingly demanding curriculum. I find that easy to understand, but will argue that an investment in these few lessons can continue to pay off for the remainder of the school year. Consider also the options of modelling during teaching, setting up older buddies or teaching a couple of student champions, who can the tutor their peers.
Another argument is that there is no point teaching devices and software that will be obsolete in a few years time. While technology is evolving rapidly, learning the ropes within a certain interface or on a certain device is not a waste of time. Many concepts are transferrable between interfaces. Icons and symbols, even simple processes remain consistent - even in augmented reality platforms! These experiences gradually build digital literacy, understanding about computational processes and develop knowledge of digital symbolism.
It's always pedagodgy first, technology second
Keep the following questions in mind when thinking about introducing a new technology tool in the classroom:
- What skills/ knowledge will I have to familiarise the students with before they start using this tool?
- How will I manage the tool within the classroom? Does this tool need any special rules?
- Will the use of this tool achieve and/or enhance my learning objective?
- Will the use of this tool exclude anyone?
To avoid some of the most common pitfalls when using new technology tools:
- Ensure devices are charged before the lesson
- Test the devices and app before the lesson
- Check Wifi and settings
- Be prepared with student logins and passwords, if required. Log in as a student to familiarise yourself with the user experience.
- Have a spare device or charger (if possible)
- Always have a Plan B!