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How To Utilize Technology To Enhance Learning

24 Jul 2014 by Heather Breedlove

Teachers have access to all kinds of technology today: computers, tablets, student response systems, interactive whiteboards — even students bringing in their own technology. Tech tools are fun to use in the classroom, but how can a teacher harness the power of that technology to foster learning in the classroom? If you want students to learn something by using technology, then it’s time to implement the 4S strategic plan.

1. Start

Start with the end in mind.

Instead of focusing on what tech tool or web tool to use, focus on the learning outcome. First, think about the standards that need to be met and what the students are learning in the lesson, project or unit. Brainstorm possible ideas for what you want students to produce as evidence of their learning.

Getting Started: Novel literature study project My students will be working in small groups to read and discuss a novel. They will be identifying theme, mood, voice and plot elements. I am looking for a way for students to showcase their discussions. Maybe a blog, website, or video?

2. Setup

Setup the learning space.

How many students will be involved with the project? How much technology will you need for the best possible outcome? Is this an individual or a collaborative effort? Where will students be working? Will the students be able to share a device? By visualizing students working on the project ahead of time, you can anticipate any physical obstacles or moving that needs to be done.

Getting Setup: Novel literature study project If the students create a blog or website, I will need a computer lab or the computer cart. If the students create a movie, I will need enough tablets for each group, around ten tablets total. Using tablets, my students will be able to work in the classroom.

3. Solution

Best solution for the lesson or project.

What technology tool meets your requirements? If you want students to work individually, a computer lab would be the way to go, where each student has their own computer. If you are looking for an interactive experience, tablets or the interactive whiteboard would be a good choice. Tablets work best with one student or with partners. Interactive whiteboards can be used by one teacher, one student or by a small group of students. Most likely, availability of technology will be a factor to consider as well. If your school has a limited amount of tablets, mobile learning might not be a solution for this project.

Finding a solution: Novel literature study project The students will work in partner groups to create a book trailer, utilizing iPads and iMovie. My school has a set of 15 iPads with iMovie on them. That’s enough for each group to have an iPad to create their book trailer.

4. Support

Support needed for the technology device or tool.

What kind of support do the students need? Do you need time to experiment and learn a new web tool? Many teachers find it helpful to spend time going through the same process as their students beforehand, to troubleshoot potential issues. Do the devices need to be managed before starting? How will the projects get shared or presented? Think about the project from start to finish and the support needed along the way in terms of hardware, software and training.

Finding support: Novel literature study project I would like my students to work on iMovie on the iPads since they are familiar with that app. I need to check and see if iMovie can be purchased for them. I can connect the iPads to my computer and use iPhoto to get their videos off. Then I can post them our classroom blog!

By working within the 4S framework, you will be able to focus on facilitating learning throughout the project. Using technology in the classroom requires no more planning than any other teaching tool; however, student engagement and motivation will increase.

What are you waiting for? Get started!

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