Teachers have been embracing technology whole-heartedly in attempts to engage a student audience that is used to constantly being entertained. Simply playing a movie isn’t enough to catch the classroom’s attention anymore. Today’s students need to be able to actively interact with their methods of learning in order to be able to focus on it and really absorb the concepts.
1. Steve Rayburn was one of the earliest teachers to use Twitter in the classroom. He gained fame in the education world for having his students write tweets from Dante’s perspective for each of the nine circles of hell. Rayburn said his students were more engaged and he could tell that they were reading and understanding the epic better than if they wrote essays.
2. Mr. Featherstone on his blog, had his students create Facebook profiles for literary characters. The students were in charge of filling out every section, including what their character liked and disliked.
3. Teachers have actually sprung up due to Google+. People like Lee Allison have started impromptu cooking lessons during Hangouts that lets viewers participate and ask questions. Hangouts like these have fostered the idea that learning doesn’t stop outside the classroom.
4. English as a second language (ESL) teachers have been using the Facebook game Knighthood to teach students reading skills. The game lets users pretend to be knights depending on how many followers they can accrue. Though it’s not strictly an educational game, its use of language makes if valuable to ESL students.
5. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor worried that children weren’t learning enough about government, so she came up with the idea to start a website full of games that were both fun and designed to promote online learning. The site, ICivics.org has been popular on the education circuit because students have enjoyed the games so much that they’re playing them on their own time as well as for their homework. The games focus on separation of powers, budgeting, immigration and all manner of topics that don’t sound fun until cute cartoon characters are standing next to their titles.
6. Skype is being used in classrooms across the nation and the world as an updated spin on the old classroom pen pal concept. Teachers are reaching out on behalf of their students and letting them interact on web cam with students from different cultures.
7. Teachers are actually using Google+ to connect with each other via the Teachers Teaching Teachers network. The group said the Hangouts work better than Skype for the conference atmosphere needed.
8. After Valerie Gresser received a $20,000 technology grant, she used it to modernize her first grade classroom. She now has students take photos with digital cameras to help them learn what person, place and thing nouns are instead of filling out worksheets and reading from workbooks.
9. The Nerdy Teacher is using iPads in his classroom to give students access to books without having to carry them around, Dropbox to share files with students and dictionary.com’s web app to have them look up words as they read.
10. Michael McKisson uses Google+ to have students discuss research topics amongst themselves before the assignment is due. He says that will give them a better view of what their peers think and allow them to have some buy-in to the assignment.
The ‘problem’ that technology has created by fostering the growth of students who constantly need interaction can also be solved by using technology. Teachers that are tech-savvy and smart enough to realize this can keep the children of today actively engaged in their studies, and learning more than they would with just books and taped episodes from The History Channel.