If you are like most teachers, you want to find a way to integrate technology in your classroom. It’s a digital world full of computers, and you would be doing your students a disservice if you kept them in a state of Luddite ignorance about today’s technologies.
However, many teachers run up against problems when they try to use technology more often. Some of these problems are age-old, while you are only likely to encounter others when you integrate technology in your classroom. How many of these have you encountered?
Problem 1: I don’t have enough money for a class full of computers.
Computers aren’t the only form of technology you can use. Even a video player with a TV program you recorded is a form of technology that can bring variety and add interest to your classroom presentations. The same applies to DVD presentations. However, as computers are becoming more and more important, most teachers will want to use them at some stage in their teaching career. Having an old-fashioned fundraiser can help you get some of the resources you need, and schools can often apply for grants to get a good computer system for classroom use. However, one of the easiest ways to get a number of computers when you want to integrate technology in your classroom is to find a local business that is wanting to upgrade its office equipment – are they willing to donate their old, unwanted computers to the school (maybe for a bit of free publicity)? You won’t end up with the latest flash-bang machines, but what you get will be good enough.
Problem 2: My students always copy and paste text off the internet (plagiarism).
This isn’t a new problem, so solve it how you always have by oral testing. In the past, students were always prone to copying things out of encyclopedias without much thought going into their projects or assignments. The easiest way to overcome this is to make it quite clear that (a) you will be testing them orally on the content of their project or paper (and thus will be able to pick up if they haven’t learned what was in the paper), (b) any plagiarism will result in automatic failure.
Problem 3: The parents are afraid that students will access objectionable material such as pornography.
Use the “history” tool in your given browser, or use a software package that screens out objectionable sites. The first option is preferable – all you have to do is to patrol the classroom regularly while computers are in use, and do an end-of-day check (I know, this is one of the harder parts when you integrate technology in your classroom) of the online history. Site-screening software can block harmless sites by mistake – I have met teachers who have seen the decorous poem “The Rape of the Lock” blocked from a literature class because of its title, and software that does simplistic things such as blocking any site with the word “sex” in it will be a real nuisance for a biology class investigating sex-linked genetic characteristics (and will block this harmless page you are viewing now: QED).
Problem 4:My students go into relaxed entertainment mode when the video player comes out.
Careful planning and avoiding common mistakes will help improve your video lessons and avoid “TV mode”.