Few of these technologies are groundbreaking, and you’ve likely heard of them all before, but listing them all in one post for inexperienced teachers just getting started seemed to make sense. So here we are.
There is no getting around technology in the classroom. You can try to wrench the smartphones from a student’s iron grip, or you can cater to that desire to explore technology. Not every piece of technology is easily accessible, but focusing on even one of these assets will help your students learn and grow outside the classroom.
Interactive whiteboards project images generated from a computer onto a surface that you can write over. These boards let your draw on sites you see, highlighting important concepts and turning a lecture into something more engaging. You can even encourage students to follow along on their own devices to help improve their desire to learn.
Set up is easy enough for two people to install the whiteboard. Connect it to your computer via an HDMI cable and test the resolution on the projection. You should adjust the font size and screen lighting intensity until you get the desired effect. Also, be sure to prepare slide shows or bookmarks ahead of time so that you can decrease the amount of time spent searching for files during lecture. It helps to keep everything for the day on the desktop of your computer.
WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and others are easy-to-learn blogging platforms that you can use to create a classroom page with. Add pictures of new concepts you are studying, cite informative articles that support your lesson plans, or add instructional videos for concepts you hinted at in class. Some platforms, like WordPress, allow you to assign roles to your students, enabling them to comment or post articles. You can also restrict access with privacy settings that protect the integrity of your classroom.
YouTube has a wealth of instructional videos, but you can record your own lectures and place them on a YouTube channel for yourself as well. Some professors will film important lectures presented at conventions, but everyday lectures like last week’s Egyptian history unit might prove invaluable to a student studying at crunch-time. YouTube to MP3 software can turn your video lectures into audio files, which you can then host on your blog or home page.
A class Facebook group is one way to reach out to teachers and students alike. Groups let you restric access to parents and students, moderate content and create a safe community for your classroom. Post interesting articles that you find around the Web, along with classroom updates for parents to get a glimpse of what kids are studying. You might even inspire dinner time conversation with the right articles.
Group posts filter right into a user’s newsfeed, so your classroom content shows up on a Facebook user’s wall if that person has opted into your group.
Email & Social Media Messaging
Professors who embrace email are able to stay in contact with students outside of the classroom for more in depth discussions that office hours might not permit. Sometimes a student has a question that warrants deeper though, other times there are updates that you need to send out to the class. It’s helpful to suggest that students create an address to use just for school, and you should give out your school email address as well for questions and concerns that students might not wish to share in class.
Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive and Apple’s iCloud are just few in a long list of document and cloud sharing solutions that exist for you to pass along important documents. You can even allow students to turn assignments into mutually shared folders, where you can grade and comment on their work in real-time.