The New Digital Classroom
The classroom of today looks much different than even twenty years before. Blackboards have been replaced by digital whiteboards, and interactive technology is often used as a tool to make the classroom more collaborative and to enhance students’ ability to learn critical-thinking, communication and tech skills. Yet even with such advanced integrations, teachers remain the most impactful way for students to learn and retain information.
In 1987, English teacher Esther Wojcicki excitedly purchased seven new Macintosh computers for her Palo Alto classroom after seeing an in-store demonstration. However, she quickly realized that she lacked the technical knowledge needed to properly operate the machines, so she solicited the help of her students. Wojcicki credits this moment as the beginning of a collaborative learning model that she has continued to refine in the years since.1
In Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom, which she published with co-author Lance Izumi in 2015, Wojcicki advocates changing the culture of the classroom by encouraging teachers to relinquish some measure of control to the student, allowing them to have a say in the learning process.
Their key findings include:1
- The key to engagement is giving students some form of control over their learning tracks.
- To train a generation of innovators, we must innovate in the classroom.
- Students succeed when they are treated with respect and trust.
- Teach mastery of learning by giving students the opportunity to redo their assignments until they truly learn the material.
- Giving students 10 percent of classroom time to work on a project of their choice makes them more excited about learning the overall subject matter.
- Wojcicki also recommends dedicating 50 percent of overall class time to blended learning.
Keep in mind, however, that incorporating technology in the classroom or curriculum doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll want to gradually shift the balance of power towards a collaborative classroom model, empowering students to make decisions on what works best for them.
Take a look at our suggestions below on some key ways to bring technology into your classroom:
Blogging is a multi-purpose activity that not only gets your students writing but also gets them using their reading, speaking and critical-thinking skills.2 Having your students contribute to a class blog can also help them hone their writing abilities into effective communication skills.
2) Virtual Show and Tell
Use a tablet and projector for a virtual “show and tell” of student work, giving students the opportunity to see and praise what their peers are doing in a unique way.3
3) Audiobooks or E-books
While audiobooks are not a recent development, it’s easier than ever to integrate them into the classroom by just downloading the files to classroom tablets or computers. Assigning e-books as reading assignments can also be particularly useful for students, allowing them to look up words they don’t know or find needed context at the click of a button.
4) Video Lessons
Students learn in clips and think in images nowadays, even communicating in emojis or GIFs as they text one another. Because of this, it can often be useful to incorporate short educational videos to illustrate complex concepts and provide visual reinforcement.
5) Video Games
Fun and competition often enliven the learning process for students by making the lessons more interactive. Gamified courses also minimize the emotional impact of mistakes, helping students to see their errors and learn from them in order to proceed to the next round of the game.
Because teachers are the most effective learning resource for students, it is up to you to optimize their learning experience and utilize the best resources available, which allows your students to individualize their curriculum to fit their educational needs. Revolutionize your teaching techniques by digitizing your classroom today.
1Retrieved on June 25, 2017, from huffingtonpost.com/vivek-wadhwa/heres-how-we-can-reinvent-the-classroom-for-the-digital-age_b_7027300.html
2Retrieved on June 25, 2017, from teachhub.com/5-ways-integrate-technology-classroom
3Retrieved on June 25, 2016, from earlychildhoodeducationzone.com/10-ways-to-integrate-technology-into-your-classroom/