How Teachers Can Implement Technology into the Classroom

Nov 13, 2015 by

The generation of technology and social media has switched around how educators teach, how they communicate with students and how students learn. Learn how college and high school classrooms are being shaped by technology around the country.

For example, an Advanced Placement calculus teacher, Stacey Roshan, from Bullis School in Potomac, MD was having challenges trying to engage her students while walking them through a hard mathematics curriculum. In her past 3 years at this school, students were subjected to tedious traditional classroom lectures routinely and in many situations, left the class having more questions than they did answers. They wanted and needed much more time to work on problems in the classroom, Roshan said.

She made some profound changes in her lesson plans so she could meet her students’ needs. She used a video editing and screen recording program called Camtasia Studio to upload her lectures to iTunes and then for homework, assigned them to her students. She goes on to say that rather than lecturing them in class, they get their lectures at their home working the problems out with her (in the class) which changes up the entire dynamic of the class. It’s much similar to having them go home and read an English lesson and coming back into the classroom for an engaging, lively discussion.

Integrating Technology into Education

It is not a one-step process to integrate technology inside a school classroom. According to president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, Bob Wise, it’s not as easy as slapping a netbook (computer) on a textbook and saying that we now have technology. Of course we still have services at our disposal like Custom Writings to get some of the work done. But, there is more to it. Below are a few ideas for using technology inside the classroom effectively.

1. Try Something New

You can find various teacher ‘toolkits’ with devices and lesson ideas to enhance your lessons using technology through The Digital Learning Day website. Animoto is one specific tool that is introduced on the site which enables students to create oral book reports through the use of videos. Other teachers have also submitted digital learning ideas on the site as well.

2. Be an Educational Designer

Teachers must evolve right along with technology. For the past century, teachers have basically have been the main learning bank. They were the only access point that students had of knowledge. However, these days, they are much more like designers in that they can develop their preferred choice of content for their students as well as the type of technology they use.

3. Plan Ahead

In order for the school system to implement technology into their education, there needs to be a comprehensive strategy in place where teachers are also involved in the stages of planning.

When schools are looking to use technology better, goals need to be developed and you have to determine the learning outcomes you are looking to reach, says Wise. Teachers and school leaders have to consider how to improve teaching, which technology to use and how much time will it take to implement it more effectively.

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    I am currently working on a new book that allows programming to be added to a schools curriculum WITHOUT changing the curriculum. Below is a draft of the preface of the book – it explains the idea.

    Teaching a student to program is one of the best ways to develop the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills needed in a STEM-oriented program. It is also a fantastic, low-cost way to motivate students with exciting and relevant, real-world applications. Graphical programs are especially valuable because their output provides immediate feedback that helps students visualize difficult concepts. Finally, programming assignments can encourage student creativity and collaboration.

    Unfortunately there are many obstacles that make it difficult to add programming to a school’s curriculum. Perhaps the largest obstacle is time. I taught college for 33 years and know that teachers do not have enough time for the materials they are required to teach without the complication of adding more. And even if the time could be found, there is the problem of finding qualified teachers with programming experience that can relate to mainstream students.

    This book provides a complete solution to these problems with a series of programming lessons. In this plan, students are introduced to programming starting as early as the 5th grade and then given just two or three programming lessons each year. Let’s see how this can be done WITHOUT adding new material to the curriculum.

    As you would expect, the lessons provided in this text teach programming concepts, but the examples used in the programs have also been designed to help teach subjects that are already being taught. Note: The subject matter being address by each Programming Lesson is listed as the secondary topic at the beginning of each Lesson. This means that new subject matter is not added to the curriculum – students simply learn existing material though a programming lesson. Let’s look at an example to help illustrate this point.

    Suppose a science or physics teacher is scheduled to discuss the mathematics of gravity, but instead of a lecture, they let the students develop a program that demonstrates the effects of gravity on a simulated bouncing ball. I have guest lectured at schools and demonstrated that I can get EVERY student in the class to develop the program in a SINGLE CLASS PERIOD even with students that have NO prior programming experience. And teachers constantly tell me that their students learn more about gravity in that one period than they do from a standard lecture.

    Most teachers will argue that they don’t know how to write such a program let alone how to teach their students how to write it. The great thing about these programming lessons is that they are designed so that students (especially those in middle or high school) can often handle them on their own – either in the classroom or for homework. This means teachers don’t have to be programmers or know anything about programming for that matter. Of course it helps though, if teachers work through an assignment before giving it to their class. This alone will provide teachers with enough information to get their students started, and to answer simple questions and redirect students, if necessary, to keep them on track. Furthermore, the skills needed by the teacher will continually improve over time just by observing and helping the students as they work through the lessons.

    Furthermore, teachers that would like to cover this material with a lecture format (instead of just giving it as a homework assignment), can use this book as detailed lesson-plans. Remember, teachers don’t have to be programmers, they just have to be willing to study the one or two lessons they want to use in their classroom. Note: RobotBASIC offers hands-on teacher-training programs for schools that want to get everyone on board and up to speed quickly.
    Teachers love this approach because this book is a tool that can actually make it EASIER for them to teach some of subjects they already teach. And, as students use these lessons to address their normal classwork, they will also be learning how to program. Early lessons are deceptively simple both in subject matter and programming content. Early lessons, for example, provide information about coordinate systems and geometric shapes as the students learn how to create simple programs that draw lines on the computer screen. Each new lesson builds on those before it and by the time a student reaches high school they can have a solid foundation in programming concepts WITHOUT ever taking a programming course.

    One of the reasons this technique is so successful is RobotBASIC – the programming language used for all the lessons. Samuel Mishal (easily the greatest programmer I have ever known) and I developed RobotBASIC with the goal of helping students fall in love with math and technology. For that reason we give RobotBASIC away FREE to schools, teachers and students – no purchasing costs, no upgrade fees, no site-licenses – EVER! This is not a crippled or timed version. RobotBASIC really is free.
    One of the greatest features of RobotBASIC is its ability to grow with the student. This means schools can use the same language from 5th grade through high school (even some college students and thousands of robot hobbyists use RobotBASIC). Don’t take this point lightly. Most computer languages designed for younger students do not have the power required for real-world projects. RobotBASIC was designed to ensure that students (and teachers) don’t have to learn a new language every few years. Let’s look at an example to illustrate this point.

    RobotBASIC has a legacy PRINT command that makes it easy to teach programming to beginners. The tradeoff is that PRINT is very primitive and does not have the flexibility or power needed for most real-world applications. After students have used PRINT for a while though, they can be introduced to RobotBASIC’s xyString command which also prints information, but unlike the extremely easy-to-use PRINT command, the slightly more complex xyString can control precisely where the printing occurs on the screen. After xyString has been mastered, xyText can be introduced so that text can be displayed in various fonts and styles. Finally, the TextBox and MsgBox commands can be used to create output in a GUI (Graphical User Interface) that advanced users expect from modern programs. RobotBASIC has many features like this that make it the perfect teaching language.

    RobotBASIC uses a modified BASIC syntax that is very easy for beginners – a syntax far different from the cryptic shorthand used by many computer languages such as C or Java. It is this cryptic syntax that bogs students down, keeping them from focusing on the principles needed to actually understand programming concepts. Even though the syntax of C or Java is difficult for beginners, its conciseness and preciseness is perfect for professional programmers. In order to help students transition to more complex languages, RobotBASIC allows variations of the C syntax to be intermingled with the BASIC syntax. A timely introduction of such syntax (as is done in this text) keeps things simple for beginners while ensuring that students are better prepared for college-level programming classes.

    The Programming Lessons in this text take advantage of the great features of RobotBASIC and make programming not only fun but downright exciting. You will not believe how motivational this approach can be until you experience it for yourself.

    And remember, teachers of science, math, and physics, don’t have to alter the subject matter they currently teach. Instead, once or twice a year they simply replace one of their lectures with a programming lesson from this text. Over time, these lessons will teach programming concepts and principles and developing the associated programs will help students acquire a deeper understanding of topics normally addressed by a lecture.

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