Updated July 2022
Illustrated by Sutthiya Lertyongphati
We all know that we should be using different forms of information technology to enhance our students learning experiences. In my 11 years of teaching experience, I’ve had the great fortune of being able to experiment with different methods and I’d like to share my findings with you.
One thing is certain: ICT definitely enhances learning, when it is used and planned properly!
I’m going to split the methodologies into four streams for the sake of clarity: Instructional ICT, Supportive ICT, Exploratory ICT and Collaborative ICT. If all four of these streams are used in unison with each other, then teachers will find that their workload reduces dramatically, their students progress rapidly and parents are kept happy and informed. Now what could be better than that?
Make sure your students are safe online. Educate them about the SMART acronym. See this extract from my book below:
MS PowerPoint has been around for more than two decades. My lecturers were using it in university, and I even created PowerPoints as a student when I was in high school. Now I’m 33 years old, and some schools are still content with the notion that using a PowerPoint can count as ‘using ICT to enhance learning’.
I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut the mustard these days.
Try using presentations that get the students actively engaged. Do your students come up to the whiteboard to move objects around, match words to descriptions or interact with simulations? Do you use your PPT or other presentation as a prompt for getting students out of their seats, such as by making them stand on either sides of the room for True/False answers, or asking them to form a human graph?
Tablets, Smartphones and Laptops
Portable technology has revolutionized every area of teaching. When embraced and utilised properly, mobile devices can assist in the the delivery, assessment, record keeping and discovery of content, as well as building up key skills such as communication and collaboration.
I wrote about this exhaustively in my book, which I would recommend for any teacher who wants to brush up their classroom management skills through the use of ICT. For the sake of conciseness, I shall summarise the main themes here.
Don’t be camera shy
Camera’s on smartphones, tablets and laptops can be used for variety of purposes. Try the following:
- Taking photos and videos of experiments, projects and fieldwork to put in reports
- Setting up a QR code treasure hunt where the students have to hunt for ‘clues’ and information around the school campus (great fun). Students can even compete in teams for this task, and collate the information together in a unique way, such as a flow chart, at the end of the lesson. See below:
- You can also use smartphone, tablet, laptop and standalone cameras with students to create videos (which can be shared online), podcasts, radio shows, stop-motion animations and even instructional lectures, such as a model-building demo. I’ll write about this in more detail in next week’s blog post, in which we’ll focus on Exploratory and Collaborative ICT.
Use instructional software
I’ll never forget when I first started using MyiMaths, an online maths tutoring and assessment system, to teach mathematics. It was back in 2013, and it totally transformed my work life.
Why? That’s simple. Students would go into the ICT lab, or use their laptops or tablets in class, and literally be taught mathematics by the computer! The program would even assess the work immediately, and differentiation wasn’t a problem because students could work through the tasks at their own individual pace. The benefits were enormous:
- All of the students were focussed and engaged
- All of the students were challenged
- The teacher had more time to spend with individuals working on specific problems
- The content was relevant and stimulating
- No behavior management issues as the students were all quietly working
- No time was needed by the teacher for marking and assessment. The program did all that for you. All you had to do was collate the data.
Allow for research opportunities
Gone are the days when ‘chalk and talk’ and ‘sage on a stage’ methodologies permeated every school. ‘Collaboration’ and ‘exploration’ are the buzzwords of education now, and we are able to do this better than ever before.
Don’t be shy about allowing students to use their smartphones in class (but be sensitive to what they’re actually accessing, and also be aware that some students might not own smartphones. Have a stack of iPads or tablets ready, to give students the ‘choice’ of using them).
Students can use the web to find out facts about their subjects, as well as for revision. Great websites to use include these classics:
Also, check out this earlier blog post of mine where I provide great websites split into subject areas.
Making graphs and charts and editing images
Any form of data set can be graphed in various ways by tablets and smart phones. This could happen in a history lesson in which you’re studying the number of new cases of the bubonic plaque over a set period of time; a mathematics lesson where the students have conducted a simple survey; a science lesson where the kids are measuring the light absorbance of different solutions or even an English lesson where you’re studying the frequency of particular adjectives in different texts. Good graphing apps include ‘Numbers’, ‘Viz’, ‘3D Charts’ and ‘Chart Maker’ (Apple™) and ‘Simple Graph Maker’, ‘My Graph (Chart)’, ‘ChartGo’ and ‘Juice Labs’ (Android™).
Portable homework diary
Are you sick of your students forgetting their homework? Does your school still use those old-fashioned homework diaries where everything needs to be written down? If your school isn’t using a homework database or a VLE to set assignments, then one way to solve this is to get the students to take a photograph of the homework task after you’ve written it on the whiteboard or projected it. This is also a very good option for students with additional learning needs and those who are operating with English as their second language. Additionally, if the homework is complex and involves multiple steps (e.g. navigating through a particular VLE portal), then students should be encouraged to take photographs of each step in the process.
There are a myriad of programs offered within the Apple™ and Windows™ suites can assist students in the creation of their assignments. You can be very open minded, and give your students the task of ‘using ICT to produce this homework’, or you can even train students in the use of a particular platform first, and then set them the task of creating something with it. Furthermore, online interfaces such as Weebly and WordPress allow students the opportunity to create websites quickly and easily. Websites that students create can be used for:
- Recording topic summaries each month or on a regular basis
- Keeping track of coursework (the website itself can be a coursework log)
- Homework assignments
- Collaboration – working with teams at school or between schools
What if the kids don’t have any ideas?
The following form was included in my book and is great for getting students to think creatively about using ICT, with special reference to future systems that haven’t been created yet: