New Teacher Tips – How Teachers Can Use Educational Technology Successfully

Educator, trainer, and presenter, Thomas Crawford talks about educational technology and how new and seasoned teachers can start using it more effectively in their classrooms.

Dorit:

Hello Thomas, I want to thank you so much for taking time to take part in this interview. You just came back from the blog conference in Seattle. Can you give our readers a conference brief on some new insights on educational technology happening for new and seasoned teachers? The conference was the T + L (Technology and Learning) event by the NSBA.

Thomas:

Schools are moving very quickly into the 21st century. The T+L conference sponsored by the National School Board Association (NSBA) allows educators, administrators and school board members to have access to the most current and insightful technology available to them. It is more than a vendor fair. It is an opportunity to share and discuss innovations in information technology through round table discussions and forums.

Dorit:

What advice can you give new and seasoned teachers who are just starting to express an interest in using educational technology, but don’t feel 100% comfortable using it?

Thomas:

Teachers can learn the technology by using it and not being scared from it, which makes things a lot easier. We tell our students that practice makes perfect. The same goes for us. I always tell teachers to ask for help if they need it.

Teachers should spend time getting to know any online learning resource or computer program before implementing it in their classrooms. Therefore, practice and asking questions is the key to adapting with any new form of technological instruction. Start small and use your colleagues as resources

Dorit:

In many of the schools I teach, I see whiteboards collecting dust and teachers are simply not using them. Can you explain why this is so? What are some alternatives?

Thomas:

Often, whiteboards are misused. They become a very expensive display device and their potential is not maximized. In addition, whiteboards loose a lot of interactivity and student engagement because the placement of the whiteboard. In many elementary classrooms it is often too high and out of students reach. As a result, students are not engaged and discipline problems can occur. There are some cost effective ways to deal with the issue by using a projector, wireless slate. This way, the teacher can move around the classroom and still maintain some degree of interactive control.

Dorit:

You spent a great deal of time in London working with some of the online educational resources. What are your observations and insights about how teachers use educational technology? How can US teachers improve their understanding of information technology in the classroom?

Thomas:

I worked in a primary school in London. Teachers like to share and they like things that are free or inexpensive. In the UK there is an abundance of teacher created web based resources that are readily available. The government even put together free web based resources for teachers. The more teachers used these resources, the more confident they became about creating their own. Here in the US, teachers can experiment with different resources from around the world to gain understanding of how the Internet and its resources can be used effectively in our own classrooms. We can learn a lot form what International organizations such as ISTE and BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) have to offer.

Dorit:

What makes an instructional design successful in terms of its ability to engage learners?

Thomas:

A successful instructional design is one that addresses all the needs of the students and has a multi-sensory approach. By this I mean it has a highly interactive web based activities, audio-video components at the very least, and is also easy to follow, understand and navigate.

Dorit:

Please share with our teachers the features of your website and how teachers can differentiate their instruction to cater to English language learners, (ELLs) group instruction and working with students of special needs. What makes it user-friendly and accessible for ALL teachers?

Thomas:

In addition to curriculum from a host of content providers that include full courses with assessments and individual learning objects, the IQity platform allows teachers to custom design classroom assignments, lesson plans or units to meet the needs of individualized learning style of single students, small group and large mixed ability classes.

In fact, custom designing lesson plans helps with the classroom management piece by catering to individualized instruction. Teachers can design multiple assignments based on a students IEP. There are several hundred schools using our platform successfully with positive results. Schools use IQity as a platform for a full time digital school, additional course offering and even credit recovery.

Dorit:

Great! Well, thanks very much Thomas for this interview.

Thomas: It was my pleasure and I hope new and seasoned teachers alike find this information useful.

Make Your Teaching Sparkle. Teach for Success. Make a difference in the classroom.

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Breakthroughs in Educational Technology – From the Humble Blackboard to the Indispensable Smartboard

If you enjoy wandering around the Internet in search of insights into the explosion in the use of technology in traditional classrooms and industrial settings, YouTube should make you feel like the “kid in the candy store.”

On a recent visit, we stumbled across something interesting in a video entitled A Vision of Students Today. A graphic towards the end of the video displayed the following comment about a revolutionary breakthrough in educational technology in the classroom. Here is the quote:

The inventor of the system deserves to be ranked among the best contributors to learning and science, if not the greatest benefactors of mankind.

The author of the statement was an American educator named Josiah Bumstead. The year was 1841. And what was the “system” of which he spoke? The humble blackboard/chalkboard!

One could speculate that as far back as the time of the Ancient Egyptians, a few people responsible for teaching realized the value in using visuals in the classrooms of the day, but the technology simply was not available. Pigments and wall drawings took time.

In that context, consider how revolutionary the advent of the chalkboard was. It freed good teachers from the prison of their lecture notes and allowed them to “think on their feet.”

If you think back over the course of your life to the teachers who inspired you, among them there was surely one or more who were veritable wizards at the chalkboard.

They dazzled us with their enthusiasm and the speed with which they displayed their words of wisdom for all to see. What’s more, from time to time they actually asked for our input. Remember the thrill you felt the first time your own words appeared on the chalkboard? Good teachers knew not to filter what we had to say. They accepted our thoughts and up they went on the board. And great teachers gave us the ultimate thrill – the opportunity to write on the chalkboard ourselves.

It has long been an axiom of educational practice that seeing words as well as hearing them leads to better learning. Today, research on how the brain learns confirms what many have believed for more than one hundred years – active involvement of students in the learning process facilitates learning.

In its day, your own words appearing on a blackboard was a significant facilitator. Brain-based research now tells us colors and sounds enhance visuals even further. Although the cleaner and more visually appealing eraser board long ago replaced the chalkboard, it still lacks the appeal of a well-designed PowerPoint presentation. Or does it?

PowerPoint presentations with the most dazzling graphics and sounds imaginable can still suffer from one major drawback – whose words appear in the presentation? In effect, the implication here is that in at least one aspect, students scribbling their own thoughts on an eraser board is superior to a pre-prepared power point presentation.

And today we have the twenty-first century version of the chalkboard available to us – the Smartboard. In essence, it’s a chalkboard linked to a computer. If you have never heard of one, or seen what they can do, pay a visit to YouTube and be prepared to be amazed.

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Reasons to Get a PhD in Educational Leadership Through Educational Technology

Since technology has become part and parcel of our everyday lives, we have accepted its company as though the air we breathe. Similarly in the teaching environment, younger aged students quickly grasp the technical side of technology. They may not actually understand why technology is useful but rather it’s a means by which we live. As it may come as a surprise to many, technology is not exactly the do-all and see-all. Technology as a tool remains a steadfast fact. It does not supersede man unless it’s one of those horror science fiction flicks whereby robots take over the world and make man into their slaves.

In order for a teaching professional to better understand how and when to incorporate technology as part of their profession, obtaining a PhD in Educational Leadership through Educational Technology is a good avenue to look into. As part of this doctorate program, the student is made to understand how modern technology shapes the education process. It also imparts clear statements on what technology represents. Being able to identify the latest in processor chips, memory specifications, smart devices, applications and the likes is just a tip of the iceberg. A student is exposed to the role of technology in education, when to include technology as part of the process and when to abstain. When applying technology into the education process, various types of technology are up for discussion and selection. Manufacturers of hardware and software scramble over one another to convince educational leaders of their superiority and latest advancement.

As part of the coverage in a PhD in Educational Leadership through Educational Technology program, the PhD student learns the principles, aspects and importance of designing a curriculum to better apply education into daily lives. The curriculum may or may not adopt technology as an active participant as conventional pen and paper works better at times. In incorporating technology into the education, care is taken to ensure technology complements the curriculum.

Upon completion of this doctorate programs, many candidates pursue a career at academic institutions of higher level such as colleges and universities. Some opt for consulting positions by providing services to assess an institution’s methods in using technology as a tool for education. Others may join governmental or educational authorities to participate in think tank projects to promote education with technology.

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Using Digital Education Technology In Today’s Analog School

It’s mind-boggling: more than sixty percent of our first graders will some day work at jobs that are not even created today.

We can’t even imagine what kinds of jobs exactly might those be, but one thing is for sure: it will has to do with technology. That’s why every child needs to learn how to use technology.

It is important to note right away that this enormous emphasis on technology use does not mean that the teachers will become less important, quite contrary. Technology is here to be used as a tool by teachers and empower them to deliver lessons in a way that the old analog school, still stuck in the last century, is simply not able right now. Teacher are indispensable as the most powerful motivators that exist to actually get children to learn, using the most modern technology or not.

Examples of using education technology in practice include, for instance, incorporating rich media and online resources as means of accessing knowledge. Even games can be used as education technology, especially adaptive software that is made to be greatly interactive. Classroom assessment tools can enable teachers to immediately spot the gaps in their students’ knowledge and tailor their teaching accordingly. Data analysis and management tools can offer valuable feedback that assists teachers and school leaders in better information management.

Some studies have found that when technology is involved in learning, the students are more engaged in knowledge acquisition. Since technology in the classroom offers specialized learning, struggling students are more likely to catch up with their peers when they can use education technology.

Of course, it is impossible to talk about education technology without at least mentioning e-learning and the MOOC (massive open online courses) revolution. They are giving the students around the world the unprecedented access to the best schools and best teachers available today. At the moment, MOOCs are used in higher education almost exclusively, but in the not too far off future they may be used from kindergarten!

It is hard to stress enough how important is incorporating modern education technology and all it can offer (we’re only just starting to scratch the surface on its possible uses and benefits) in today’s school.

Expenditure on technology in schools is steadily rising every year, and around the world. Mobile technology, such as tablets and laptops are contributing to this rise the most.

School leaders obviously firmly believe that investing in education technology is the way of the future.

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