When it comes to me and technology, all I can say is “You’ve come a long way baby.” I grew up in an era when technology was a reel-to-reel film on Friday afternoons during my formative years and electric typewriters in high school. And when I purchased my first self-correcting typewriter I thought it can’t get any better than this. But it has. I’ve been handing off my iPhone to my two and a half year old granddaughter since she was barely a year old so she can access her favorite apps.
I recall during the early days of just having a basic calculator how pleased I was to no longer have to cart around an adding machine when it was time to calculate my students’ grades. As more and more of my students got calculators I began to think about the appropriate use of calculators in the math classroom and knew it had to go beyond just using their calculator to check their homework. And with time it did go beyond that. I eventually had classroom sets of calculators where they became a useful problem solving tool for all my students.
And let’s not forget the overhead projector!
Not only could I add a little color to my lessons (and hands as well), but I could do it all while facing my students. No more back to the class while writing on the chalkboard! I had them in full few all the time – a teacher’s dream. And the students loved the projector and the diversity it offered in presenting information and models.
But one of the biggest steps along my trail was when I sat down for the first time in front of an Apple IIe computer and struck the first key. I was petrified that I would hit the wrong button and the thing would blow up in my face. I handled the floppy discs as gently as a Chihuly glass sculpture so as not to break them. But in time I learned those floppy discs were appropriately named and you could just “flop" them in the computer.
Reflecting upon all of this has given me pause to think about how the technological changes equated to teaching changes for me. I would be lying if I told you that there wasn’t some discomfort and disdain and that some of the changes didn’t happen overnight. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that I’m glad I hung in there and endured the discomfort and disdain long enough to see the benefits for both me and my students in habitually and purposefully using new technology. It was a win-win for both of us in making teaching more manageable for me and providing more opportunities for learning for them.
Today you and your students have more information and tools available than ever before. It seems like everyday there’s a new technology buzz word to describe a new product or trend. My technology trek continues as I’m just as anxious about these new products and trends as you and your students are. I’m always interested in their potential for a positive impact on teaching and learning. But sometimes it’s too overwhelming and difficult to try to keep up with it all.
A summary of the 2013 Speak Up Survey Report from Project Tomorrow http://thejournal.com/articles/2014/02/03/10-major-technology-trends-in-education.aspx reports that there are ten major technology trends in education that provides insight into both technology products and practices that can enhance both teaching and learning opportunities. Now I’m not recommending that you need to be doing all ten of these, but I do suggest you take a look at them and consider trying something you’re not currently doing or using. And remember as you trek along your technology trail that the short-term frustrations you feel in the early stages of implementation are often well worth the long-term benefits for both you and your students.
The Speak Up report shows that students cited an interest in online learning, particularly math online learning because they believe they will get more support from an online math teacher. And that’s one of the reasons we feel LearnBop is a great learning tool to implement with your students. The easily implemented program provides an online tutorial that guides a student through a step-by-step process in solving a problem like a one-on-one tutor would. It provides intervention and support as the student is working through the problem.
But another reason we think LearnBop is a great online technology tool for you is the quickly available data reports. The data reports help you to know immediately which students need help and what specific concepts they are struggling with so that you can provide immediate interventions and support for struggling students. This alone can be a huge time saver for a teacher.
I’d be interested in hearing about your technology trail trek so, I invite you to share your comments and feedback. Thanks!