Apprehension to incorporate EdTech tools into the classroom is widespread among K-12 classroom teachers. Many teachers experience an initial excitement when shown the possibilities of implementing iPads, but this feeling dissipates as time goes on. Technology Integration Staff need to foster this excitement by engaging and supporting teachers in the powerful use of this technology.
At one time or another, many IT professionals might hear: “That works for _____ (subject area), but it will NEVER work in ______ (subject area the teacher teaches)!” Since I taught mathematics, this frequently came out of my mouth during professional development seminars in which the primary focus of the training was for a subject area other than mine. Then, I moved to the IT side - working with and studying about EdTech - and I realized iPads and applications can make learning experiences even more relevant and powerful, despite the subject area.
During this transition, I observed many elements which can impact the personalized learning experience with iPads, but it all came together during one of my classes when we were forced for first identify learning goals before incorporating the tech. In doing this, I realized the objective, or learning goal, of the lesson is a key point.
Understanding this I recognized there’s no reason to start my lessons from scratch, rather it gave me confidence to modify these “old” lessons to incorporate more and more technology tools in my class; and ultimately, encouraging and promoting more thorough and meaningful learning for students. Which is why I love to share this topic with other educators and IT personnel.
Fortunately, you don’t have to start from scratch (with new lesson plans) in order to infuse EdTech into your classroom. In fact, you can adapt your current lesson plans to enhance the teaching and learning in your classroom by incorporating more technology. The process of adapting pre-existing lesson plans to boost engagement and ensure students are gaining the best learning experience with iPads can be painless.
Initially, you’ll need to review your lesson plan and identify the learning goal and objective addressed in the lesson. This is the key! An example from my classroom is: “students will be able to collect and interpret survey data, including finding the margin of error and confidence intervals”. SAY WHAT?! Don’t worry…this is the same reaction my students have! Once I’ve identified the learning goal I can begin searching for ways to foster student-centered learning with iPad applications to collect and interpret data in a way that is meaningful to my students.
Identifying the learning goal and objective will provide you with the purpose of incorporating technology tools. You want to enhance your lesson to provide the best learning experience for your students using iPads, not just incorporate these tools for the sake of using them. By identifying your learning goals, you can tailor your technology selection to suit the specific goals of your lesson.
Hopefully this will inspire you to review your pre-existing lessons to incorporate EdTech. Start small. Work on incorporating these tools into one lesson at a time based on your comfort level, then progress by adding more or incorporating more frequently. As you begin incorporating more tools, you may find the EdTech integration matrix helpful to assess your level of integration as well as assessing the level of engagement required from students.
My own experience has taught me that students are more engaged when they see the goal they’ll reach. Of course, reaching that goal can sometimes be challenging when using iPads as students tend to get lost with the endless possibilities and access to information. Sometimes this can be a good thing - especially when the goal refers to students discovering on their own. But other times, guidance during class is critical. Because this guidance proves to be so important, Apple released the Classroom App to help teachers guide student iPads for a more personalized learning experience when using Apple mobile devices.
Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. We all face challenges every single day - it’s only when we overcome these challenges we progress. ;-)
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