We are in a technological age and the pace of change seems to get quicker day by day!
But just how does this affect things in the classroom and how useful are these things?
The technology that is available in schools seems to be ever increasing and ever more elaborate in what it can do – however as Professionals we do need to step back from the “awe and wonder” and look at just how applicable and effective each may be in our learning environment.
I have already written my thoughts on the use of screens in classrooms so lets move along and consider all the other tech items that may come our way!
The first things to say is that the situation in Primary Schools is vastly different from that in Secondary schools. In Secondary schools Technology has a much greater presence and is also taught as a career option – not so in Primary where we tend to use tech much less and can only give the children a flavour of what it is about.
The amount of technology that you meet in Primary Schools will vary from School to School. Whereas most schools have an administrative system that is computer based and more often than not links into the Local Authority or Academy data systems – this is not always reflected in what is found in the classrooms.
This variance from school to school is down to available funds – pure and simple. So that in one school you may find that there are trolleys full of laptops that you can use whereas in others there may be hardly any or none at all. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s Primary schools were able to set up computer teaching rooms with the allocated funding from the government however those days are long gone and there are no “ring fenced” funds to maintain and replace equipment!
Just how a school approaches the required teaching of the “computer curriculum” at this level without the necessary equipment remains to be seen – and that’s without the accompanying tech training that allows the teachers to teach the thing!!
So aside from computers what else might we find in schools.
Class individual Ipads – wouldn’t that be nice ! I am sure there are some Primary schools that have this…personally I don’t know of any here in the UK but I guess there must be some.
Projector/scanners….these are not that common and they are quite expensive but they are great to use. Basically it looks like a big microscope under which you can put a page or a book or anything really even objects. These are then sent to the large screen in the classroom where everyone can see. They are simple to use and easy to get used to. It enable you to share worksheets or mark work as a class or even to show step by step instructions in making an art work! If you can get one then do it!…if you find one like I did once then even better!
Apart from this – in the Primary School, you wont really find much more Technology apart from your own Class laptop. The extent to which you use your tech really depends on you …your training (which the school should have provided)….your own personal confidence and also your professional judgement.
On the last point of using professional judgement – just because we have technology in a classroom doesn’t mean it is the best teaching tool to use. Many teachers make the mistake of thinking that because its new it MUST be better. This is not the case….you need to think about this.
Let me give you an example…simple enough but relevant.
Lets say that you have a class discussion about …oh I don’t know… gravity!
You talk it through and interact with the children and its a good lesson. The children have a practical element to the learning and now its time to get stuff down in the books!
You hand out a photocopied sheet with questions and something for them to colour……..ok let me ask you, as a professional, is that a good thing to do?
The children have to read the questions, tick a few answers and colour a picture – for me that’s a poor finish to what should have been a great lesson. Why – well it requires no effort from the children, it eliminates a huge amount of associated skills that children NEED TO LEARN. Lets consider a few
- Writing and spelling the date
- Fact assimilation of taught concepts
- Chronological thinking
- Presentation and layout skills
- Drawing and labelling
And we could go on…..the example of simply giving out a photocopy eliminates the learning elements that are vital to children’s progress.
The technology that we come across in our classroom environment and in our teaching role needs to be used with care and purpose. New is not always better and you should be Professionally considering not only what can be gained by using new tech but what also may be lost. If we look at the gains and losses it may be that simpler solutions are best in many circumstances.
In a fast changing technological world we need to remember that children’s education is not simply academic. Our use of Technology needs to run in tandem with, not replace the vital developmental skills that children need to learn in the Primary age range – and we as teachers must be aware of their importance.
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