Using Classroom Technology the Right Way For the 21st Century Learner

Classroom technology has come a long way from the old days of slates and inkwells. And along with embracing modern technology, teachers have to start thinking about new ways of “doing school”. One teacher from Alabama, Suzanne Freeman, is leading the way with some concepts she outlined in an interview with Time magazine in 2007.

This concept is sometimes referred to as “School 2.0”. If you don’t get the reference, it’s time to upskill slightly in your knowledge of classroom technology, as it’s a reference to “Web 2.0”, which is the new way of using the internet – using the internet as a place to share information and write things, rather than just a place to look up information that has been created by experts and professionals.

One of the key ideas of the “School 2.0” concept is the idea of integrating classroom technology properly and the reasons why this should be done.

1. Classroom technology engages students. Most students like using technology and find it fun to interact with, and this applies to everything from videos through to use of the internet for research. Let’s face it: would you rather present your project as a poster with a few photocopied pictures stuck on with glue and accompanied by scratchy handwriting, or would you rather give a Powerpoint presentation where you can add in sounds, animations and writing that changes colour? Would you rather learn times tables by reciting them or by playing a game where you have to zap monsters marked with, say, “4 x 6” by shooting the answer “24” at them?

2. Computers are part of everyday life. We are no longer in the 1980s where computers were boring black and white screens with dot-matrix printers. And computers are no longer a novelty. Your students are now of the generation where computers are part of everyday life. Your students are used to playing on playstations (and the like) and seeing computer technology used for everything from parking meters to displaying songs and sermon notes at church.

3. Classroom technology can be used to bridge the gap between school and home. Emails to parents as a back-up to paper notes is an obvious form of communication. But it can go further. If a student has looked at a website at school, he or she can visit it again at home, and show his/her parents so they can talk about the issues and subjects with them. And projects and presentations can be displayed for other relatives to see – a student can send a link to the class website with the great photos of school sports day to Uncle George who’s working in Hong Kong (and as a bonus, Uncle George can post photos and descriptions of life in Hong Kong that can be used for a study on Hong Kong).