Today, about 73 percent of teachers say students use laptops or tablets in their classrooms daily. The widespread use of technology in schools is exciting to some and worrisome to others.
For administrators, rolling out technology programs and initiatives can be overwhelming.
So, how can you ensure effective technology use in your school? What are some technology best practices in classrooms and schools? Let’s take a look!
Benefits and Drawbacks of Technology in Schools
If you decide to increase technology use at your school, you may receive push-back and hear complaints from some teachers and parents.
To give you an idea of what to expect, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of integrating technology in the classroom.
- Personalized learning
- Automating tedious tasks, saving time for teachers
- Access to more information and resources
- Preparing students to succeed in modern colleges and workplaces
- Ways to collaborate between students, teachers, and even experts around the world
- Methods of expressing understanding through multimedia
- Less human connection
- Inequality (some schools can afford technology and some can’t; some students can afford technology and the Internet at home and others can’t)
- High-tech cheating
- Reliance on devices that sometimes malfunction or crash
- Excessive screen time
Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of classroom tech can help you implement it more effectively. There are plenty of strategies to maximize the benefits while reducing the potential risks.
Now, let’s consider some best practices for technology use in schools.
Effective Technology Use in Schools: How to Implement Smoothly
Whether you’re rolling out a 1:1 program or planning to up technology use at your school, these tips will help.
Provide Tech Training for Teachers
Before your teachers can enthusiastically adopt technology or teach it to students, they’ll need training.
Provide technical training on learning management systems or other tools all teachers will use. In addition, offer optional trainings on other tech tools that may be helpful.
You should also discuss what teaching and learning will “look like” in this new environment. Encourage teachers to voice their ideas, questions, and concerns.
Note that students, too, will need time to practice with new technology before they’re expected to use it for assignments and assessments.
Address potential scenarios like laptops becoming a distraction, tech malfunctioning, damage to laptops, etc. Consider:
- Where will students go for help if a device is not working? What will constitute a device “emergency? When will students be allowed to leave class for tech help?
- If you’re doing a 1:1 program, how will you smoothly distribute devices to students? (Orientation is often a good way to get devices into students’ hands and have both students and parents sign off on receipt of the device.)
- How will you communicate expectations about device use? Be sure to create a Responsible Use Policy that goes to both students and parents.
- How will you reduce damage to devices? What will you do if a device is damaged?
If you want technology to run smoothly at your school, consider possible challenges and plan for them. It’s also helpful to have a tech support staff to fix issues as they occur. After all, teachers shouldn’t spend significant time troubleshooting tech.
Complement, Not Substitute
Technology should complement lessons delivered by the teacher. It should not (and cannot) serve as a substitute for the teacher.
Teachers should still interact with students, provide feedback and assistance, and deliver engaging, accessible lessons.
Technology can complement these lessons by making them more personalized and providing new ways for students to interact with the content.
One of the most powerful advantages of technology is personalization and student choice. Encourage teachers to share the big idea, then allow students to choose how they will share their learning. In this way, teachers can address multiple intelligences and engage diverse learners.
For example, students might write a report, create a movie, build an infographic, or make a PowerPoint or Prezi. These options can be introduced early in the school year and made available as often as possible.
Keep It Interesting
Integrate technology in a variety of ways. Encourage teachers to share how they use technology in their classrooms, teach a range of ideas through professional development opportunities, and even pair hesitant teachers with a technology mentor.
Here are a few ways to integrate technology in the classroom:
- Project based activities with tech
- Game-based learning and assessment
- Interactive whiteboards with student response systems
- Virtual tours and web-based exploration
- Student-created videos, podcasts, slideshows, blogs, and more
- Collaborative online tools
- Interactive polling/surveys
Tools to try:
- Google Classroom
- Google Docs
Final Thoughts: Effective Technology Use in Schools
Used appropriately, technology provides a huge boost to student engagement and achievement.
By following these tips, you’ll ensure that technology integration at your school goes smoothly and produces positive results.