You’ve taken the time to learn [insert new technology here] and you are ready for your classes to start using it. It will be amazing! They will be engaged and excited, ready to demonstrate their learning using [insert new technology here]! But wait…your students don’t quite know how to use [insert new technology here]. Half the battle of initiating technology as a tool in your classroom is the process of teaching students to properly utilize it—whether its an iPad App or a web-based blog program—most students require instruction before the magic of [insert new technology here] can happen.
Here are some basic tips and tricks for teaching students technology for use in the classroom.
Q: How do we successfully use technology with our students?
A: They need to know how to properly use it first!
Biggest Mistakes for Technology Use in the Classroom:
- Assuming students know how to properly use the technology, no matter how basic it may seem. Did you know that many students don’t know how to use MS Word or MS Powerpoint for more than basic functions? Did you know that many students don’t know how to properly research online? Students use technology socially rather than academically.
- Not taking the time needed to teach the technology. If you have a grand purpose for the use of this or that technology in your classroom, it is imperative that you properly demonstrate that technology to your students, no matter how time-consuming it may be—it is useless to their learning if they use it incorrectly or if it becomes a hindrance to their actual learning.
Before you begin:
- Schedule a tutorial/lesson to teach the technology prior to when you wish to introduce the main assignment or purpose for the technology. Don’t choose a day to teach your tutorial that many students are away, so check for field trips, etc. prior to scheduling your tutorial. Also, TELL YOUR STUDENTS TO BE IN CLASS. Like a test or quiz, your tutorial will impact how well they do on their upcoming assignments. You don’t need to tell them specific details about the technology—in fact, probably not a good idea—but a “heads up” that class attendance is important on a specific day will set you up for success.
- Make sure that you have properly working technology—internet connectivity, wireless technology, installed software/apps—this will make things run smoothly. Check your connectivity before class begins, and installation well before you schedule your lesson.
Tips for Teaching Technology Tutorials:
- Live demonstration. Show the steps on a projector/screen. Visual learners will thank you, and it is sometimes easier to show students how to do something than explain it. This is especially true when trying to demonstrate something with menus and tools.
- Make it fun! Choose something silly to use as your “demo.” For example, a Powerpoint about cheese, or a resume for Cookie Monster.
- Speak slowly and slightly louder than your normal teaching voice (unless you are already really, really loud). You are competing with screens, which means you need to command attention. Like a boss.
- Use steps. Break down almost EVERY LITTLE THING into a step. Do not try to teach more than one process at a time. Start each step with “STEP 1,” “STEP 2,” and so on. This cues students to pay attention to you and get ready to follow your instructions.
- Repeat everything at least twice. When demonstrating or explaining a step, repeat yourself. For example, saving a file in MS Word: “Click on the File Menu, THEN Save. File, then save.” Throw in another repeat if your step is complex.
- Be prepared to go extremely slow. You are only as fast as your slowest student.
- Make sure NO ONE GETS LEFT BEHIND. Use “hands up if you haven’t ‘insert step here.’ ” Check and make sure they’ve completed the step. Walk around the classroom.
- Have a finished product. Students should have something to show for their participation in the tutorial. You can let them know at the beginning that you expect to see their completed tutorial.
- Explain your assignment/project using the same “language” you used during your tutorial. Project and assignment expectations should mirror skills learned in the tutorial. If you would like them to go “above and beyond,” then give an example of where/how they might do that.