This is the first part of a four part series explaining the steps you can take to integrate technology into your classroom. These articles assume you're a K-12 or higher-ed educator, so some topics are intentionally vague. But hopefully you'll find something useful. Apologies in advance to English teachers.
The technology we use in our day-to-day lives moves fast. And it seemingly moves faster with each passing year. As an educator it's your job to give your students the educational foundation and resources they need, to contribute to society in a meaningful way. I don't intend to insult anyone with my personal views of how the education system should be set up. I don't even consider myself an educator. But I share the frustration of any educator who struggles to keep up with technology. And I hope that someone who reads this will share my resolve to adapt classrooms, to better accommodate the technologies that best help students learn.
Understand How Students Use TechnologyYou can't teach students how to use technology if you don't understand how they're already using it. Take a look at some of the available statistics to get an idea of the big picture. Here are some choice stats from the resources listed below:
- The majority of lower-income children, children from less well-educated families, and Hispanic children do not have a computer at home.
- Children under 2 spend twice as much time watching TV and videos as they do reading books.
- Half of all young children have access to a smartphone, video iPod or tablet device at home, starting before the age of 4.
- 58% of 12 year olds and 73% of 13 year olds have a cell phone.
- 73% of online teens use social networks.
- 75% of college students say they wouldn't be able to study without technology.
- Nearly 75% of college students who own tablets prefer them to traditional textbooks.
- 38% of college students say they can't go more than 10 minutes without using a digital device.
Self-EducationThe biggest advantage you can give yourself is to learn how to stay relevant. It's not necessary to stay current on every trend or internet meme. But you should definitely know what an internet meme is. Jason Falls has compiled a great list of his Top 50 Education Blogs to get you started with some useful enrichment resources. He was also kind enough to outline his methodology for finding them; quite useful if you're interested in finding more.
Also, take a minute to think about where the educational system (and your future job) might be heading. Fred Wilson has some interesting insights into the trends and patterns he's started seeing.
One of my favorite things about the WWW is its approach to making education more open. Take this Online Education Database Open Courseware Collection for example, and take any college class for free. I also found this directory of learning and performance tools quite comprehensive.
Getting up to speed is only the first part. It can also be quite overwhelming at first. Pick your favorites from Jason's list of 50 Education Blogs, subscribe in your Google Reader, and skim through the blog posts every 2-4 weeks. There's bound to be some good ideas (or at least conversations) therein.
[Read Part 2]
image by OnlineEducation.net