As the number of schools embracing technology in classrooms increases, providing sufficient support for teachers to integrate new learning tools into the classroom is a major challenge. More attention must be paid to instill confidence with teachers that the technology being introduced into their classrooms is useful and relevant. Technology cannot become a distraction or a burden, or lead to the loss of valuable class time. If educators aren’t prepared or confident in the reliability and application of the technology, it will result in low adoption.
The benefits of deploying digital learning into the classroom
Enable self-paced student learning
Utilizing digital learning tools such as ActivConnect, teachers can record, design and deliver lessons that students can respond to at their own pace. The assessment data provided by such tools can prove invaluable to teachers as they build customized learning programs for a wider range of learning styles. Students can spend more time reviewing areas where they need more support, while other students can move on to the next lesson when they have mastered the material.
Improve student engagement
Technology is a medium that students enjoy interacting with and feel excited about. Many have access to tablets or laptop computers at home. A classroom of 30 includes distracted students and short attention spans – often leading to some students receiving attention for poor behaviour, and less time for those struggling to keep up. Technology can help alleviate this challenge by adding more variety to lesson plans and exercises and allowing teachers the time to apply their talents where they are most required.
Technology also provides innovative ways to teach and enhance student engagement, such as flip learning. In a flipped classroom, the typical lecture and homework element is reversed. By leveraging interactive whiteboards and ActivInspire software, teachers can record lectures that are assigned to students as homework, and then utilize class time the next day for in-class activities and discussions. This allows teacher and the students to spend time discussing the material in more depth while the teacher is available to help the students with the homework. In a traditional model, students having trouble with assigned work at home, do not have the access they need to access to teacher assistance.
Prepare students for an ever changing workforce
Introducing and developing computer skills help prepare students for careers that may not yet exist. Hands-on experience with ever-evolving technology will provide the building blocks to help students become more flexible and adaptable to the career choices that lie ahead.
Three ways to support technology integration in the classroom
1. Preventative maintenance programs
To ensure that technology is properly set up and ready for active use, it is a good idea to perform preventative, proactive testing at the beginning of each school year – along with maintenance check-ups a few times annually to perform any upgrades or answer any questions that have arisen. These important tasks help address any the issues or concerns that might otherwise leave the technology languishing in the classroom corner, rather than in active use. These services, offered by Compugen and others, ensure that devices are ready to use and will perform properly when in operation.
2. Develop a sustainable Professional Development (PD) model
A sustainable PD model that ensures technology will be used to its full potential is an essential step for each school board before technology reaches the classroom. An ideal model involves designated technology mentors in each school board/department who will receive ongoing tech training that they can bring back to their schools and peers. A sustainable, continued mentorship will support teachers throughout the school year.
3. Technology specialist offering co-teaching support
Finally, once technology arrives in the classroom, teachers should feel supported and confident about using it. Partnering with a technology specialist or a learning consultant in a live classroom setting can lessen the initial burden on teachers, while creating a fun and engaging environment. A learning consultant works side by side with the teacher to co-teach a lesson and provides initial training on how to most effectively use devices and programs.
Build a classroom for 21st century learning
Digital learning is an incredibly valuable tool to improve classroom engagement, encourage creativity and offer an enhanced learning environment for students. Schools can add a number of innovative digital tools in the classroom, however the adoption is only as good as the integration plan. While technology can be an amplifier that makes a great lesson that much better, it can also feel overwhelming without adequate training and support. In order to achieve this goal and attain high adoption of digital learning tools, school boards must build short term and long term confidence in integrating digital learning in the classroom.