The use of technology in almost every aspect of people's lives has greatly increased over the past couple of decades, which is why increasing the use of educational technology in the classroom has become a primary focus in education. Many schools are starting programs in which every student receives a tablet or laptop to access textbooks and complete their schoolwork or are using whiteboards and multi-touch table PCs to help children learn. Appropriately using more technology in classrooms and other learning environments is good for children, especially since most children are digital natives who have been using technology in some way or another since they were born.
Even though many children are digitally literate, a lot of teachers struggle with using technology and figuring out how to appropriately integrate it into their lesson plans and classroom environment. In their book Digital Decisions: Choosing the Right Technology for Early Childhood Education, Fran Simon and Karen Nemeth share the following tips on how to help educators tame technology:
Self-assessment questionnaires are essential in figuring out the technology skills educators have and the technology skills they need to develop in order to feel more comfortable with using technology in the classroom. Self-assessment forms should include questions about hardware and devices, cloud computing software, apps, software programs, communications, and any educational technology used in the school and/or classroom.
Coaching and mentoring from staff members or experienced colleagues who excel in incorporating technology in the classroom is another great way to help teachers who struggle with technology feel more comfortable. Directors and principals should find good technology coaches and mentors (in both the school and the school district) for educators to formally and informally contact with questions or for technology assistance.
Professional development provides a variety of ways to help educators learn more about using and implementing technology in the classroom. Whether it's a training or workshop that shows educators how to use a new device or an online course that enables teachers to increase their digital literacy, professional development can help all of the educators and staff members in a center or school better understand how to appropriately use technology in educational settings.
Using technology to learn about technology can help educators who have some basic skills and understanding of technology increase and further develop their skills. Browsing the Internet and using search engines to gain access to a variety of technology resources, such as online discussion boards, videos, blogs, professional learning networks, etc., will give teachers who are struggling with technology unlimited access to technology assistance and support.
Technology goals and expectations for the school or center as a whole and for individual classrooms should be shared and discussed with supervisors, colleagues, and staff members. Having everybody on the same page with what is expected of them gives educators’ technology guidelines while also encouraging them to think of creative ways to include technology in their lesson plans. It can also promote teamwork and create a more cohesive learning environment to help educators grow professionally.