Who has ever heard someone say that they just aren’t “tech savvy” or just can’t get the hang of technology in the classroom? It can be scary when you feel like you should know what you’re doing — putting students and learning and technology together into a perfect storm of learning and innovation. That is a lot to think about and a lot to burden yourself with, especially with so much else on your plate. You’ve heard people say that you just have to dive in and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know about the technology because the students do. That is true. You still need support. You still need ideas. Even Indiana Jones through some dirt on the invisible bridge in The Last Crusade.
Find a partner or network of partners. A group that you can glean ideas from and look to for guidance is important to have. Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto reposted a blog found here by Fabiana Casella about using cell phones in her high school English class. Fabiana reminds us that she is not a technology expert but knew that leveraging technology in her classroom would provide her students with new learning opportunities. She does a number of things well in the classroom experience she describes. Here is what I noticed:
- She got buy-in from parents, students, and her administration. Huge! Each stakeholder should be approached and included in this. Not everyone will necessarily be exuberant, but sharing and keeping everyone updated is a great way for them to feel like they are valued and provides you with useful feedback for growth.
- Leveraged existing technology — cell phones. Fabiana didn’t have laptop carts, mobile iPad units, etc. She had a classroom full of students with smart phones. If that is the tech they know, then why not use it? She realized that a common thread would be needed to pull them all together (Edmodo in this case) but familiar technology they already used was a big boost for their motivation and for the learning curve. This meant more time focused on learning.
- Rolling with the bumps. When students had issues with Edmodo, other students were there to help. This created a classroom atmosphere of inclusivity and peer-to-peer support. This is a foundation for students helping one another to learn the why on top of learning the how.
- Turning distractions into engaging experiences. A student is caught using Twitter. Fabiana puts this interest to good use. We don’t need to throw away good sense and security with social media, but it is a powerful tool to connect with others. The students tweeted in English to practice their skills in a way native and valuable to them.
- Fabiana never stopped learning. The experience spurred her to engage in webinars, read articles and blogs, and connect with others who could help her and from whom she could learn. We should never stop consciously learning!!
Let’s learn from Fabiana. None of us have all the answers to technology and how it can be used in the classroom. We must learn — from each other, from our students, from ourselves. We do need to dive in. Don’t know where to start? Ask Fabiana or others you know who are being bold. Thanks, Fabiana. And thank you to all of you who are willing to discover potential and learning wherever you can.