Remember computer labs, once a hallmark of the tech-forward school? Rows and rows of internet-connected desktop computers rendered typewriters and, to some degree, the library obsolete.
But there were only so many labs for so many students at a time, and technology by appointment often wasn’t worth the hassle. So schools transitioned to mobile, wireless devices for students, giving them on-demand access to tools that transform them from content consumers to content creators.
Unfortunately, teacher technology has not unplugged at the same rate. Many educators are still tethered to the fronts of their classrooms by conventional, wired equipment that prevents them from creating fully student-driven learning environments.
When teachers are free to move with their devices throughout the classroom, they connect with students on a more personal level, providing in-depth feedback on student work and helping students become more comfortable asking questions and contributing to discussions. Mobile teachers also can better monitor the classroom, intervening with students who might be distracted by off-task activities.
What’s stopping school leaders from making the same investment in teaching tools that they’ve made in student tools? Perhaps they are hesitant to ask stakeholders to buy in to another major transformation. Moving teachers from the classic power position at the front of the classroom may be a lot for some parents, community members, and even teachers to accept.
But you don’t have to do it all at once.
Pilot wireless alternatives with small groups of eager teachers, allowing them to learn at a reasonable pace, organically grow their enthusiasm, and even train and encourage their colleagues to integrate the tools. Asset refresh plans that replace devices in stages also can be appealing to constituents who are financially conservative about these kinds of investments.
Imagine your teachers sitting with small groups of students while projecting a group’s work to the rest of the class through a wireless connection to a document camera—maybe showing a recording of one of those students solving a problem for the benefit of the rest of the class. They could even then disseminate the video or screenshots of it to be used as a class resource later.
Research tells us that to be truly transformative, educational technology must go beyond merely substituting for a traditional tool. It has to redefine it. For more details on this concept, see Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model. Schools that have substituted overhead projectors and chalkboards with document cameras and interactive whiteboards reflect the lower tiers of this model. Those that allow teachers to use tools for previously impossible tasks are operating at its highest, most transforming level.
Gone are the days of mind-numbing lectures in teacher-driven classrooms, where educators are vessels of information students are expected to tap. Today’s learners thrive in student-driven classrooms, where they ask the questions and are given the opportunity to find the answers. Give your teachers the freedom to provide those opportunities.
—Ryan Troescher leads the Vartek team of IT integration and technical staff at a large Ohio school. Through teams like Ryan’s, Vartek becomes a strategic partner for schools, providing dependable, tailored support so that educators can create the learning environments they envision. Call us at 800-954-2524 to learn more.