In a world of rapid digital transformation, teaching now requires being not only highly creative but practitioners need to capitalise on how to implement technology into curriculum effectively using innovative expertise and pedagogy.
Development of technology within the classroom can aide the identification of contextual factors that may or may not contribute to effective use of technology in enhancing quality learning experiences. Factors such as organisational culture, teacher self-efficacy and their confidence and experience in utilising technology, resources and learner engagement all have to be considered to allow for an integrated approach.
Technology and Play
Technology has evolved at an astronomical rate in recent years and is designed to make it easier for teachers to provide opportunities to accelerate learning. Many argue that technology is taking over traditional teaching methods, but as teachers, we should evolve equally at a rate that is on par with the digital world. If anything we need to be one step ahead of the children in order to avoid embarrassment in the inevitable occurrence and excuse claiming that ‘the internet is down’ but in actual fact, it is more of a lack of knowledge or the fear of navigating the gadgets we desperately try to inverse into our classroom practice every day. A sure way to self-reflect and evaluate your own competence using technology is to ask a child! They always know the answer when it comes to ‘techy-stuff’.
The big question for teachers now is how to work collaboratively with expert peers who are proficient in using tech to plan and embed effective learning programs which lend themselves to an exploration of skills such as, problem-solving, creativity, research and evaluation of learning experiences.
Making connections with traditional ‘play’ and combining this with technology will allow learners to become more curious and confident in becoming technologically literate. Encouraging play in early years develops communication and movement as well as providing immersive experiences, engaging learners in physical, social, emotional and cognitive situations.
Pioneering digital technologies further enhance creativity and learning and are required to be succinct in allowing children to become more motivated in their own learning in a variety of engaging ways and encouraging them to make links and manipulate formulated outdoor learning opportunities through technology.
Environment learning isn’t just about going outdoors and studying leaves and rainfall but more as a vehicle for prompting critical thinking and environmental respect. Technologies allow this to go beyond the learning environment by enhancing skills and stimulating interest in the wider world taking into account many ethical issues that we are faced with today.
Technology and Books
Children today are very ‘tech-savvy’ with social media sites being the main if not only way of communicating. How do educators motivate non-readers when there is a generation shift that continuously network using mobile phones, social media sites, computers and gaming devices? It is a good educator who will seize this opportunity and utilise technology to provide a variety of reading alternatives. Some of these are: audible storybooks, e-books, online reading libraries and most importantly multi-platform books specifically aimed at motivating reluctant readers. Using this type of technology allows readers to be matched with suitable reading text on par with their ability and can use visuals to comprehend storylines. Some may see the role of the teacher being obsolete here, but in actual fact, identifying materials is crucial in ensuring learners are entertained. Any teaching method that sustains interest and motivation surely is the best tool available. A good teacher will rise to this challenge regardless of ‘tech confidence’ and implementing this to help any struggling reader.
Technology and Engagement
Learner curiosity, a basic human instinct, can be the most powerful motivator when initiating engagement through technology. Not all curiosities can be met through individual interest and mastery can only ever be attempted when resources are relevant and freely available. Information overload can result in some curiosities not meeting outcomes. Maintaining learner’s curiosity can be achieved by stimulating interest using technology to support autonomy, competence and deeper more meaningful learning. When children have grown up in a digital world, often educators feel challenged to reconsider contextual and situational factors in light of a ‘tech-savvy’ world.
Many questions can be raised with regards to ‘tech-savvy’ learners such as:
- How do educators accommodate interests and curiosity?
- Could these learners become disengaged when engagement can’t be sustained?
- How do learners know what resources will satisfy curiosity?
As educators, learning modalities for promoting curiosity, interest and sustained engagement in learning must be tackled and learning environments adapted to ensure the pathways associated in promoting these must take into account personal, situational and contextual factors that construct recommendations for future learning opportunities. By understanding the factors that ignite learner’s curiosity and sustain engagement, educators are preparing young people to embrace diversity and competitiveness in a constantly changing digital world.
Technology and Tradition
Interactive whiteboards have found their way into classrooms at an extensive rate, placing the traditional chalkboard into extinction.
new addition whilst some remain apprehensive of this robotic vastness within the classroom. For me, it has allowed the all-important ‘whole class teaching’ approach to enhance learning activities but I do miss conducting the old ‘chalk and talk’ lessons such as cursive handwriting. This is my biggest barrier. Being a ‘lefty, attempting to write in a cursive fashion on an Interactive White Board (IWB) is an almost impossible task especially when those words are spoken once again …’ABANDON LESSON!!’, much to the delight of Primary 6.
Features of the IWB that are deemed useful include, saving notes and images created, using preloaded grids and paper options, digital timers and the ability to play games using little fingers or stylus pens are greatly appreciated by the learners. On installation, the IWB was labelled as a glorified chalkboard but as mentioned previously this was most probably the reaction from those practitioners who lacked confidence in navigating it in front of that curious little audience.
Facilitating technology in the classroom required trained practitioners to provide clear structure and execution of key pedagogical strategies to engage learners in their learning and relate this to learning in the real world. Technology learning opportunities should also be directed towards deeper understanding.
As educators, we must look beyond the norm and try the unconventional. Technology and the classroom should never collide but should work in unison to embrace and transform ways in which teachers capitalise on their creativity and fit within curriculum content and pedagogy to intensify quality outcomes.
Jackie McKay @JMcKay1972 is a creative and highly motivated teacher at Bannockburn Primary School, Stirling. She is enthusiastic and keen to drive new initiatives to enhance learning and raise attainment.