When it comes to technology in the classroom, it's no longer a question of whether or not to embrace it, it's a question of how. Rather than being overwhelmed by the manifestation of ubiquitous technology, educators who embrace it are finding many creative ways to use it as a teaching and learning tool. Teachers have the opportunity to teach responsible digital skills which will help students learn useful, constructive ways to engage with technology.
10 Ways to Incorporate Technology in K-12 Classrooms
Before getting students involved in any activity that might involve exposing their identity online, it's important to check with your school community stakeholders, such as your administrators, parents and colleagues. Many school districts have adopted technology and related online sharing policies. It is important to know and follow those policies prior to publishing any student-related material online. Not all students will want to have their work, photos, images or voices published online, even if it is only on the school intranet. Have your safety policy worked out before launching any online activity.
1. Podcasts - There are interesting and educational podcasts on nearly every topic, and listening to a podcast is a great way to build critical thinking skills as well as strengthen language literacy. You can enlist student help in identifying podcasts that might be useful in your classroom, depending on topic and age suitability. The content that students listen to can be used in class discussions, research projects, and writing and storytelling projects.
Students can also work together to create a podcast of their own. After listening to and learning about podcasts on various topics or news stories, teachers can task students with researching, producing and editing an audio narrative on a topic they want to cover in depth.
2. Blogging - Student blogging can be done on an individual basis or as a group. There are several platforms for student blogging, such as Kidblog and Edublogs, or your school may have its own internal network where you can publish student blogs. Blogs can take the form of reporting on classroom news and activities, or topics may relate to what the students are currently studying. It's a way to teach students short-form writing designed to spark conversation. Blogging also gives the teacher the opportunity to teach about commenting and how to give constructive feedback online.
3. Create a Class Web Page - This is another kind of group project that could be published publicly or on a school intranet. Letting the students decide on the design, content and purpose allows everyone to participate, even if they don't want to write for publication. An online newsletter can be the perfect format for a class web page.
4. Create and Maintain Group Social Media Accounts - This gives your students the opportunity to learn about how to use social media responsibly without identifying them personally. Students can be tasked with updating the accounts, learning how to include hashtags, polls, images, and links as well as how to respond to comments and questions.
5. Create Personalized Maps - Google allows users to create custom maps, and this can be a great way to teach students how to use online maps and GPS applications. Students can list all of the cities, states and countries they have been to and then create a map that displays all the markers.
6. Use Webquests - Webquests are free online adventures that students can use to find clues and solve a case or quest. You can use existing webquests or create your own. This is an effective and fun way to teach students how to do research online.
7. Share Online Calendar/Tasks - This is one of the most basic and yet most useful ways your students can learn how to manage time and tasks. Posting assignments, due dates, activities, and holidays can be assigned to students, and access can be given to parents as well, to help them monitor student activity.
8. Study, Review and Critique Content on Web Pages - Finding news stories, articles of interest, fiction or interactive content online is easy. Teaching students how to review and critique this content is a great way to prepare them for critical thinking.
9. Gather Student Feedback - There are many ways to create forms and polls online which you can use to gather feedback and allow students to vote on topics, activities, etc. Responses may even help you see ways to improve lessons.
10. Virtual Field Trips - It's not always possible or cost-effective to take your class on an actual field trip, but there are apps you can use to explore famous buildings and natural phenomena that the students might not otherwise get to see. You can also use Google Earth to preview locations prior to taking a field trip. Many museums and popular destinations have their own websites with virtual tours.
The SOSU Online Master of Education Program
Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) has a 100 percent online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (MEDCI) program with an emphasis in Educational Technology. This program is designed to provide practical foundations for applied learning in the digital age. In addition to the 18 credit hours of core curriculum and instruction courses, the SOSU program includes 12 credit hours of educational technology C&I specialty courses.
One of the courses focuses on "Digital Storytelling/Communications to Empower Learning Communities" in which students acquire theoretical and practical foundations needed to thrive in a variety of organizations. These include K-12 schools, for-profit and non-profit organizations, universities, libraries, museums, and more. The knowledge and skills acquired will help leaders bridge the digital divide locally, statewide, nationally and globally.
Learn more about the SOSU online MEDCI program with an emphasis in Educational Technology.
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