Integrating technology into the classroom can be a tricky proposition. What should encourage engagement can often court distraction. Learning to pace a lesson with exciting new tech requires a learning curve. And then, of course, the elephant in the room…
“What are my pupils looking at? How do I keep them on the sites and apps that I want?”
A few words of advice.
Solid, effective teaching is built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect. Now, of course we know that trust can be abused, and respect, tested. That is why we create boundaries. Head phones in ears, cameras attached to devices, these are the bane of the modern teacher. As in any other subject, teaching with technology requires a set of ground rules.
No, teachers do not want their photographs taken in class. We do not want to be the star of your Snapchat videos. No, we don’t care if you use a flattering Instagram filter.
If that fails, put some sticky tape over the device’s camera.
BLOCK DISTRACTING WEBSITES
Enjoy the gamut of emotions on the pupil’s face as they frantically click from site to site, one block after another. Confusion, frustration, sadness, and finally, grim acceptance. No to Facebook. Goodbye to Netflix. See you after school YouTube (unless you want the site active, of course). You can disable them easily enough from each class device. A step further is to remove the sites entirely from the school’s WiFi. Let’s face it, kids hate using their own data!
THE WAY OF THE NINJA
Where do all the cool kids sit? The back of the class. They could probably use some company, as you take some quality time while tech is to hand, teaching from the back. Many teachers swear by this approach, setting up the lesson from the front, and then hovering from behind, out of sight, silent… but ever-watching.
If that isn’t your cup of tea…
USE TECH TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Okay, so it’s felt a bit heavy so far. All the site-blocking and class-prowling. You might be ready to give up on enhancing your teaching a thousand-fold with tomorrow’s technology.
The easiest and most effective way to monitor a pupil’s web activity, is to employ an online tool to keep an eye on wayward tabs remotely. There are plenty of great sites and systems available to link class devices to the teacher. If your school uses ChromeBooks, run GoGuardian. How about LanSchool, which pulls up every child’s screen to your laptop in a handy grid.
You can sync these systems to your own mobile device if you want to be traversing the class freely. You can even link them to the projector and kids can follow each other’s progress (don’t overuse this tactic, and promote positive interaction when children can see their work writ large).
Use technology as a support for your teaching. Don’t rely on it. For education, you are still the best asset you have in class. It can be easy to get carried away with the possibilities of having laptops and tablets on every desk. But devices shouldn’t be employed from bell to bell. Rotate group usage. Break up the action with conversation and context. Children’s minds will not wander off-topic if you keep them on-target and engaged. Make the technology work for you!
MAKE THE TECH ENGAGING
Pupils will be less inclined to stray off-topic if you ensure your digital resources have their attention. Wibbu’s learning app RUBY REI is designed to keep children immersed and learning. Choose your resources carefully and you won’t have as nearly as many internet strays to chase.
How is your class engaging with technology? Smooth sailing or a daily struggle? We’d love to hear your experiences and help where we can. Get in touch and get the conversation about technology started!
Truan Flynn, Educational Game Writer