A true integration of technology into your classroom can seem daunting. Let’s assume right off the bat that you have devices and that they are reliable – hopefully that’s true. But you don’t need a 1:1 to truly integrate the principles of creation, collaboration and connection in your classroom. A 1:1 is ideal, but you can be super successful with students sharing tablets or laptops. It’s absolutely possible. So you have some devices, and you are ready to revolutionize your curriculum – how do I do this?
1. Give up control – A 21st Century classroom is student-driven and filled with authentic learning opportunities. Students have every answer they need at their fingertips; their answers don’t need to come from you or the textbook. Accepting that you are the content facilitator and not the content expert goes a a long way. Which leads to…
2. Make it known that you are NOT a tech expert – the sooner the students know this the better. You don’t need to know how to expertly adjust settings in an iPad or the ins and outs of Prezi – you are the content facilitator and project evaluator. Having general knowledge of Apps and programs is helpful, but don’t spend six hours in an iPad boot camp. That’s why there is a Tech Coach and tech geek students handy.
3. Don’t answer tech questions – this is difficult, so hear me out. The moment you start troubleshooting with individual students, you’ve become the “go-to techie” in the classroom. Bad idea. Even if you know the answer, have the student ask another student. Someone in the classroom knows the answer. Better yet, start a classroom blog/wiki where students can post and answer questions, as well as create tutorials. Pretty soon the class is teaching themselves about technology, and you are focusing on your primary job: being the content facilitator.
4. Create a classroom system of tech support – this builds off of Number 3. In a few weeks your tech experts will step up to the plate. Identify these leaders, and utilize them – the students will love being seen as role models in the classroom. This can be informal or can be more formalized – and it can be as simple as writing Apps on the boards and the names of student who are experts in that specific App.
5. Offer students choices in learning – assigning a project? Give the students options – film a movie! Create a comic strip! Build an interactive slideshow! Create a tutorial using a screen-casting tool! The more the better – projects will be of higher quality, and the students will appreciate you putting learning in their terms, no doubt resulting in greater learning outcomes.
6. Use Twitter – Twitter is bursting with engaging professionals and resources. Create a Twitter account, find these individuals (I recommend starting with Tom Whitby and taking a look at this Twitter Stalwarts list), follow them, and interact with #edtech and #edchat hashtags. The enthusiasm for ed-tech based learning on Twitter is palpable. If you really want to break down the walls, build transparency, and increase communication in your classroom, start a classroom Twitter account. Then using your phone or an iPad, take pictures of classroom activities throughout the day and post curriculum concepts for students to discuss with their parents when they get home. Parents will build a statue in your honor.