Harnessing Technology, Improving Education
Without a doubt, the capabilities of technology dwarf those of conventional teaching methods. However, teachers are still hesitant to use new teaching methods which integrate technology into education as they are still untrained in the use of new technology, although they are willing to learn. There are a wide variety of educational technology resources available, all of which improve learning within the classroom to a certain degree. The top three that I would like to become proficient, and subsequently train teachers in, are the Smartboard, Clickers and Troubleshooting Projectors and Computers.
The Smartboard is capable of a multitude of different functions. Because of this versatility, Smartboards can be used to improve learning in most, if not all, facets of education. A recent survey conducted by the IDC4U class established that students of William Lyon Mackenzie rated the Smartboard as the most effective way of learning, besting long-time educational kingpin, the Overhead Projector, with an average score of 4 out of 5. With Smartboards gaining popularity amongst students, teachers must be trained in order to take advantage of what the Smartboard is fully capable of. A Smartboard can be thought of as a pair of wings. Like wings, a Smartboard can be a burden. But like wings, a Smartboard can take education to new heights, ones the schooling system never could have reached without it. The untrained teacher may see a Smartboard as a simple whiteboard, or L.E.D. Projector for a powerpoint. The savvy teacher, on the other hand, sees interactive games, dynamic visuals, and much, much more. For these reasons, I would like to become proficient in the use of a Smartboard, and then pass that knowledge onto teachers.
The first time I was exposed to Clickers in Grade 9, I was wonderstruck. The idea of simultaneously answering a question as a class, and then receiving instant feedback from the teacher, was brilliant. I could see the percentage of the class that got the answer right in the form of a graph, a graph that showed how many students chose each answer. If I was wrong, I could see how common my mistake was. Also displayed was the class average of the current Question Session, which let me know where I stood relative to the rest of the class. The change from paper and pencil to Clickers isn’t a big one, since most classes already have the basic technology required to use Clickers. Because of this, the transition phase should be a short one. This little change made a world of a difference to me. I’d like to have that kind of positive impact on another student’s learning, by training teachers how to use Clickers properly.
3. Troubleshooting Projectors and Computers
Mr. Parise enters the classroom, wheeling in a L.E.D. Projector along with a computer. He is planning to show his students a useful educational video online regarding today’s lesson. 15 minutes, and two student helpers later, the wires are finally in the right sockets. He presses the power button. Nothing. Again, he tries the power button. The screen remains blank. Flustered, he is not sure why nothing is happening. He blows through the vent of the L.E.D. projector, as if it were a Nintendo game, to no avail. Finally, there is an image on the wall. “No Input Detected” flashes, over and over. Taunting him. He takes a moment to collect himself. And then he notices them. 30 pairs of eyes, fixed on him. Judging him.
The above scenario is a teacher’s nightmare, and is one of the main reasons why teachers are hesistant to use new technology in the classroom. If something goes wrong, they don’t know how to fix it. Technology, which was supposed to enhance learning, now has the opposite effect. If teachers are trained to solve common problems with technology, they will be more willing to try using it in their day to day teaching. Teachers would be able stray from their comfort zone, knowing that they can solve a problem, if one arises. I would enjoy training teachers to troubleshoot problems with a projector or computer, especially if it encourages them to use technology more often in classrooms.