Teachers far and wide are embracing the gadgets and gizmos that their students love so much and using them in lessons. We find out more about how you can get involved…
From their iPhones and tablet computers to Facebook and BBM, asking a student to give up their favourite technological outlets is the teenage equivalent of requesting that they hand over a kidney. Stats released in 2011 also showed that teens are ditching traditional methods of entertainment, like watching TV and reading, in favour of spending time with their smart phone.
There’s no doubt about it – technology has a huge impact on the way in which teenagers communicate, entertain themselves and even learn. Recent research from the University of Oxford showed that any perceived risks of internet use for youngsters are far outweighed by the benefits. According to the study, teens who don’t have access to the web at home feel ‘educationally disadvantaged’.
INTO THE CLASSROOM
With technology playing such a large part in youngsters’ lives, it comes as no surprise that teachers are bringing technology into the classroom. But when you’re a generation away from 24/7 technology, the idea of stepping away from the white board towards a computer screen can be daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be. From smart boards to iPads, social media to handy revision sites, ICT is a lot more accessible, and easier to use, than you’d think.
Scotland’s education system has long recognised the benefits of technology in learning. Scotland is the first country to have a nationwide online community for education in the form of Glow. While Glow has been met with some criticism, Education Scotland is constantly working to improve its functionality. On Glow, you can upload study notes, homework reminders, interesting videos and links to revision sites. You can also exchange ideas with other practitioners across the country through forums and message boards, as well as discussing the latest initiatives.
Education Scotland’s section on iTunes U is a great resource, playing home to audio and video files which can be used in education – just download iTunes to your computer to gain access. Twig, accessible through Glow, is another fantastic find, offering educational videos for maths, science and geography which can help demonstrate learning outcomes or be used for revision purposes.
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
Of course, it’s not just about traditional laptop and desktop computers that furnish school ICT classrooms and libraries. More schools are purchasing tablet computers, such as iPads, for use in class too. In the eyes of pupils, using an iPad beats traditional pen and paper, especially for students who don’t have access to them at home. You can use download a range of applications, or apps, for use on tablets, from programmes which explain science experiments to grammar quizzes. Simple games can have educational benefits too, helping kids’ problem-solving and reasoning skills. Many apps are available free of charge too, meaning you don’t have to worry about departmental budgets.
This doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom. There are lots of fantastic apps out there for android and iOS (Apple) devices which can help students study and organise their workload at home on their own devices. Get your hands on a smart phone or tablet and have a look around the iTunes app store or Android marketplace to see what’s out there, and have play about with the many apps on offer. Whether it’s a Spanish verb tester, capital city quiz or study timetable generator, there are lots of handy tools available which students can use to revise in a fun and interactive way – a great supplement to the pages of notes they’ll have accumulated over the year. Once you’ve found the best ones, put together a recommendation list for your pupils.
Your students might be more inclined to download to latest podcast from Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1, but have you ever thought about creating your own for studying purproses? Podcasts – audio files which are a bit like downloadable, pre-recorded radio shows – offer a great platform to provide audio revision notes for pupils. All you need is a laptop with a microphone and audio software (you can download something like Audible for free) and you’re free to start recording short audio files covering different units, modules and topics. This is something you can do yourself, or encourage your students to create their own. You can then upload the files to Glow, ready to be downloaded and put onto iPhones, iPods and MP3 players for students to listen to as they study. Study podcasts can be great memory joggers, and mixing up study methods can help student’s retain information. Check out CPD opportunities in your area to find out more about podcasting.
A number of schools are embracing social media too, to communicate with pupils. A Twitter feed or Facebook page for the school can offer a great platform for keeping pupils – and their parents – in the loop with everything from exam dates to holidays. The phrase, “I forgot…” could soon be a thing of the past with a class-specific Twitter feed for homework reminders and fun facts! Check out the General Teaching Council guidelines for advice on social media use to make sure that you use your outlets appropriately.
Loretto School, a private boarding school in Edinburgh, has commissioned its own app to keep parents and pupils up to date with what’s going on in the school, from exam dates to school plays and sports matches. This is a slightly more costly option, but it will be a hit with busy parents and tech-savvy students alike.
This is just a taster of how technology can transform your teaching – there are plenty more techniques out there for you to try, and dozens of courses which explain how you can use them. Get in touch with your local authority to find out more about techy CPD opportunities in your area.