I’ve previously written two posts about working with colleagues reluctant to use technology in the classroom. They are:
You can also find both of them at My Best Posts For Tech Novices (Plus A Few From Other People).
In those posts, I explore examples of ed tech use that helps meet the immediate and direct self-interest of the individual teacher by making their lives a bit easier, and how it provides added value to the students’ learning experience.
In this post, I’d like to share some ideas for technology use that meet the second criteria — they clearly provide added value to the students’ learning experience (and there really isn’t any dispute that it does in the examples I’ll share) — but they doesn’t necessarily make life for the teacher easier. In fact, the opposite occurs. But it’s not necessarily a huge sacrifice, and I would suggest that the pay-off in valued-added (a tricky phrase to write considering its use in a different context with the Los Angeles Times controversy) benefits for the students make it worth the cost.
And I believe that teachers who have had good experiences with some of the ideas I shared in my previous two posts are more likely to be “up” for giving the ideas in this one a try.
I’d also like to thank my wise and experienced colleague Alice Mercer for pushing my thinking on this topic.
Here are my suggestions:
* Connecting with an online sister class — ideally in another country: It’s pretty easy these days to make that sort of connection (see The Best Ways To Find Other Classes For Joint Online Projects). And you can find relationships that are as loose or structured as you want (one example is our Student Showcase blog which you can read about here). I personally have questions about the value-added benefit that products like VoiceThreads can sometimes offer to mainstream students (those who are not English Language Learners or are not facing learning challenges). However, there is no question that these kinds of tools can indeed provide that kind of benefit if done in the context of communicating and learning about different communities with peers from different cultures. Having a class participate in the annual student blogging challenge is another option.
* Participating In & Creating Virtual Field Trips: There are many great examples of “virtual field trips” that are available for free on the Web, as well as easy ways both teachers and students can create ones for their own class (and for others). You can learn more about these at The Best Resources For Finding And Creating Virtual Field Trips. Virtual field trips can be integrated with whatever unit is being taught in the classroom and, with current budget restraints, it provides an alternative (though, admittedly, a weak one) to expensive “non-virtual” ones.
* Videotaping Student Presentations: Recording student presentations so they can be replayed and evaluated in a respectful way can provide a huge learning benefit for students. You can learn more about ways to do this at The Best Sources For Advice On Using Flip Video Cameras.
* Helping Students Learn Better Presentation Skills: PowerPoint, or a tool like it, is going to be around for awhile. Since most PowerPoint presentations are pretty bad, spending sometime working with students on the art of communication and using that knowledge to make at least one good PowerPoint-like presentation might be worthwhile. You can see ideas for this at The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations.
I’m interested in hearing feedback, and learning about other ideas people have for just slightly more involved ways to introduce reluctant colleagues to technology and clearly provide a value-added benefit to student learning. When you share you suggestions, please be explicit on what you think the student benefit is. Thanks!