3 Easy Ways of Implementing Technology in the Classroom
Is there an easy way to implement technology in the classroom? Why is implementing technology in the classroom such a challenge for teachers? Many teachers struggle for several reasons. They are intimidated by the idea of using technology in the classroom. They don’t have the time to go about implementing it. Or their class periods are already so jam-packed with other things, that there doesn’t seem to be an easy way, or a perceived need, to include it.
Why is technology integration in CTE so important?
There are several reasons why implementing technology in the classroom is a good idea for teachers. Just to list a few…
Administrators, directors, and parents want you to be implementing technology in the classroom for your students. There may be a hint of “so and so is doing it” in their want, but there’s some truth to that argument in this case.
Part of your responsibility as an educator is to help prepare your CTE students to be competitive in the marketplace. They need experience with technology to do so.
Students also want more opportunities for learning with technology in their courses. In an article about student engagement strategies, Dick Carlson said:
"Students have a smart phone attached to their thumbs, an iPod hooked to their ears, and a flat screen in every room of their house. When they go out for the evening, it’s to a big-screen movie or a concert with a dizzying array of screens and audio inputs. So let’s think about a few ways you can use this love affair to your benefit as a student engagement strategy in the learning process."
Back in 1997, Jan Hawkins brilliantly described the importance of integrating technology in the classroom in her forward-thinking essay “The World at Your Fingertips: Education Technology Opens Doors,” for The George Lucas Educational Foundation’s book Learn & Live.
In it she describes how technology provides richer materials for learning, encourages teachers to use time differently, and helps teachers with their own professional development. If you haven’t read this article, please take a moment and get inspired!
Myths and problems with technology in the classroom
Are problems with technology in the classroom non-existent? No. Technology is technology and just like your Internet access at home can get wonky from time-to-time, using it in the classroom doesn’t give you a special get-out-of-any-technology-issues-ever card. But there are worse things that can happen than an issue with technology. Ever have a kid throw up in your classroom? Stuff happens, right?
It’s how you handle what happens. Any teacher integrating technology in the classroom on a regular basis will tell you, always have a backup plan. That doesn’t mean that you have a full-scale, every minute accounted for backup plan, but it does mean that you can easily transition into another activity should the gods of technology take a vacation.
The problems with technology in the classroom don’t all include technology problems. Take a look at the Los Angeles schools iPad rollout debacle:
“The initiative, the largest of its kind, stumbled this fall during its first phase – a $30 million rollout to 47 schools – after some 300 high school students skirted the tablets’ security to surf social-networking sites.”
They were criticized by the One-to-One Institute, “Did they have a desired goal beyond the ever-present we want our kids to be 21st century learners? Why do we want every child to have an iPad? Because it will do what?”
So, yes there are problems connected with implementing technology in the classroom. However, there are also some myths out there.
The biggest myth about implementing technology in the classroom is that the technology in any way replaces or minimalizes the teacher. No, no, NO! Technology does NOT replace teachers, put them on auto-pilot, or make them stale.
Who isn't BETTER at their job using technology?! Why would it be any different for teachers?
3 Simple ways of implementing technology in the classroom
So knowing how important it is to include technology in CTE courses, how can you easily get started?
1.) Free Trials.
Taking advantage of free trials for online and other technology services is a fantastic way to implement technology in the classroom without making a huge commitment. Free trials exist for the very purpose of having you try them out! Don't make the mistake of signing up for a free trial and just poking around in what is there. Take the plunge and try a few things out with your students.
There's no better way to determine whether or not the tool is going to work well in your classroom. Trying it out also gives you the opportunity to ask questions about your experience to see if there is something available in the tool that will do x, y, or z, or how you can customize or tweak what is available to best fit into what you are already doing.
2.) Find out how other people are doing it.
If you do a little research and networking, you'll find some great examples of how other CTE teachers are implementing technology in the classroom. Steal their ideas! And don't stop there. Ask the technology creator for case studies on how the tool is being used. Or ask the technology developer for references or names of teachers or schools that are already using it. These teachers and schools can be a huge resource for you.
3.) Stop your all-or-nothing thinking.
If you read the post referenced above, then you already understand that implementing technology in the classroom does NOT mean throwing away all the fabulous lessons and tools you are currently using. Instead it means integrating the technology into those spots in your current lesson plans where the technology can help make that part of the lesson more fulfilling, more successful, more effective.
What you may not have considered is that you also don't have to use the technology with every student at one time. You can split your class into groups so that you can work more directly with a small group of students while the others engage with the technology.
You can work with a group of students that are struggling with a concept and keep the rest of the class moving forward. Or you can move forward or go deeper into a topic with a group that can move a little faster while another group that needs it can use the technology for remediation.
Want to know more about using technology in a blended learning classroom environment? Read this free guide about 4 Strategies to use Blended Learning in CTE Programs: