HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY INTEGRATE TECHNOLOGY INTO THE 21st CENTURY CLASSROOM – WEB TOOLS


HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY INTEGRATE TECHNOLOGY INTO THE 21st CENTURY CLASSROOM – WEB TOOLS


Today, there are many websites, tools, and resources that are readily available to us through the WWW. In order to introduce these applications to our students and implement them into our classrooms, we need to know where to find them and how to use them. As educators we already know that every child learns differently, so providing various means to give our students the opportunity to express what they know and to use their imagination through innovation has become part of 21st century teaching, which every teacher should practice.

The New Way of Learning infographic by the Adidas Group gives us hints about why and how we should transform learning:

Even if they aren’t familiar with technology and consequently don’t feel comfortable with it, each teacher should give it a try to transform teaching and learning as it is worth doing. As a first step you can start by talking to your colleagues who are teaching with technology. You will find out that their students are demonstrating a greater responsibility for their learning, they are more active in their classes than they used to be, both as leaders and peer tutors, contributing to problem-solving discussions, teaching each other and developing more collaborative learning skills. In fact, there are so many helpful guides and resources available on the internet that you will soon find out it is not as difficult as you have imagined.  

 

A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet is a great source for beginners to technology integration. After reading it, you may continue with Technology Integration Professional Development Guide by Edutopia.

Learning with web tools is a great opportunity for our students as they will help them tremendously in their future jobs. Even if they do not use these skills in a future job, they can use it for their own personal needs. Mobile Devices for Learning – a guide by Edutopia is a good way to start learning about web tools. After reading it, you may continue with 20 Educational Technology Tools Everybody Should Know About by Edudemic. When you feel comfortable with technology, you can visit Cybrary Man’s Web 2.0 page and A Practical Guide to the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013. You can also check my Pinterest Web Tools board for further information on Web 2.0 tools. Finally, you can find presentations, e-books, and posts on Web 2.0 tools and sites on Free Tech for Teachers by Richard Byrnes and Technology Tidbits by David Kapular.

Once you have decided to integrate technology into your classroom, there are several important points you should consider:

  • Before you start using technology, be sure that you really need to use it. After all, our main goal is not to enable our students to use technology but to develop a love of learning and self-direction so that they can ultimately become life-long learners. Therefore, we should plan lessons and activities that would get them excited about learning and encourage them to go out and learn more on their own. Otherwise, using technology for the sake of being a tech-savvy teacher will be a waste of time.  You can use the assessment sheet by Sue Lyon Jones from The EdTech Hub before you decide about whether you really need to use the tools and read the blog post about Jerry Swiatek’s tips for beginners to avoid making mistakes while integrating technology.

 

  • The technology you are using must be in line with the curriculum and your students’ learning needs and goals. Therefore, you need to find the best tool that will support your lesson and your students’ learning while you are blending technology into your lesson plans. You can visit Edshelf and Ideas to Inspire to be able to do that. You can also find great tips for using technology in Shelley Terrel’s Wiki, Technology 4 Kids. Some teachers may find it useful to watch the five-minute videos on web tools by visiting the Learn It In 5 Blog by Mark Barnes or the videos in Under Ten Minutes.

 

  • Make sure the technology you are using supports higher order thinking skills and help you develop a spirit of inquiry and problem solving. Andrew Churches from Educational Origami and Kelly Tenkely from iLearn Technology have adapted Bloom’s Taxonomy to digital technology. Their ideas will help you determine how you can use technology to enhance higher order thinking skills and create dynamic learning environments where learners take ownership of their own growth and pursue it passionately.

 

Revised Bloom's Taxonomy

Considering all the points above is important because the shift in education today is about learning, not about technology. All the tools mentioned above are the means to help us create more exciting, engaging, and ultimately, more effective learning for our students. As teachers in this complex world, we should continuously be learning, implementing, refining, and effectively integrating technology to enrich and extend the curriculum, to enhance and accelerate the types of learning that support the development of our students’ proficiency in the era of creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, leadership, and communication.

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Comment by Samantha Coblentz on January 30, 2014 at 1:31pm
I am going to school right now to be a teacher and this blog post contains so many resources that I would never have found on my own, thank you so much for putting this together. I think that teachers often do forget the goal of teaching when they try to incorporate technology and the learning becomes a side note and using the technology becomes the meat of the lesson. I have often seen lessons fall apart because the teacher attempted to use technology that they did not understand causing them to spend the whole class period educating themselves and/or the students on purely how to use the technology. Also, I liked that you pointed out that technology does not need to be incorporated into everything if there are other ways of keeping your students interested. Have found ways to apply the 70:20:10 model from the Adidas diagram in a classroom?
Comment by Aysin Alp on January 30, 2014 at 2:20pm

Dear Sam,

Thank you so much for your kind remarks. If you are interested, you can follow my blog at http://aysinalp.edublogs.org/ As for  70:20:10 model, I use a lot of collaborative learning models in my classes to give the students the opportunity to learn from each other. Because I believe teaching something to somebody else is one of the best ways to learn.

Comment by Dave Eveland on January 31, 2014 at 7:39am

Honestly I hate postings that garner a lot of 'I agree' comments, but more than agree, I have to harmonize with what you've stated Aysin.

Using technology for technology's sake is like using wood pulp to blow your nose - it's close to being tissue <paper> but it's not as effective, even if it's a different form of the technology. The metaphor isn't perfect, but the basic idea is that students learning and how we attempt to facilitate and foster that learning should be driven by a consideration for the student, and an adherence to the objectives/goals in mind.  There are lots of other non-digital methods that can be (and are) at least as effective as using all the digital tools out there.  The Greatest Generation did just fine in getting us here (w/o a lick of web 2.0 anywhere) - and we don't just call them the 'Greatest' generation for nothing - other generations have other adjectives.

Bringing technology into the classroom doesn't make the classroom better.  I often tell my colleagues that effective use of technology isn't based on the use and mastery of all the tech out there, rather it's the selection of a few technologies, that help with the learning (academic), tedium (administrative), and/or growth (professional development) of you as a teacher.  Essentially - pick a few technologies that are relevant to what you're doing and use them until something else more effective comes along.  "More effective" doesn't have to relate to the technology per se - if the technology is failing the student - it may be time to try a non-technological method - which may be just as valid and possibly more effective for that student or that lesson or learning event.

One other thing I wanted to offer feedback on is the perspective of how learning needs to change from information in/information out to "creative synergistic collaborative problem solving and engineering" or something like that. If I want information, I can look it up. If students can be imbued with a thirst and an awareness that they have a capacity to learn and that 'learning' is not merely about accumulation of information, but the leveraging of that information (facts, skills and procedures) toward something creative or inventive, or even innovative, that becomes a win - a move forward.

As the planet is becoming smaller, it's inevitable that we'll need to be working together even more, and if we don't teach children how to do so now, well there'll be consequences, so I appreciate your inclusion of the 70:20:20 model.

When I did my undergraduate work years ago and wrote about my philosophy of education - I used the glass-half empty metaphor.  Students came to class to be filled up and I was their filler upper. Very thankfully, my perspective has changed.  Thank you for this good (well linked) post. I can see I've got some follow up reading to do.

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