Today I have a guest post from Sam Melton. Sam is in his final year at Winthrop University studying Middle Level Education and will graduate with his teaching credential in May, 2014. Please feel free to connect with Sam at sammeltontalks at yahoo.com.
I asked Sam to share with us what he sees as the future tech tools for tomorrow’s classroom. Here are his thoughts:
I’m wrapping up my time in school and soon, I’ll be a certified teacher in my own classroom. Throughout my education, there’s been one integral aspect of my success: technology. I’m always online researching, using apps to stay organized, keeping my thoughts in check with a blog and using a tablet to get online from anywhere.
Those apps, devices and technical knowledge are something I’ll transition to use from being a student in a classroom to being a teacher in one.
Technology has been creeping into classrooms for years, and is now something teachers should be prepared to use – and be prepared for their students to use, too. There are certain technology apps and tools that future teachers like myself should become familiar with before they are in the classroom.
Google Apps for Education
This is perhaps the easiest application suite for teachers to get used to. Most of these apps have been designed for everyday use; for example, Google’s Drive, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Vault, and the Google Plus social network (G+) are all free services available to university students now. One good example is configuring an online course sign up system on Google Calendar and embedding a widget on a website or intranet space.
The best part of using Google apps? They’re so, so easy to get affiliated with. They sync up together, and are simple to use on a daily basis.
Google Glass in the Classroom
According to a June article on the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Google Glass wearable computing gadget is already being snapped up by some teachers and college professors who will be early adopters of these devices in the classroom. One the ideas already being suggested include a facial recognition system that will allow a silent roll call for attendance at the beginning of every class.
While this might be a while before it’s a classroom staple (laptops just become a student-norm in pre-college classrooms in the past 5 or so years), it’s still smart to have on your radar as a teacher.
Microsoft’s DragonBox Algebra 5+
One of the greatest issues that math teachers face when teaching algebra is that students often feel intimidated when facing concepts, formulas and equations that they have never seen before. DragonBox Algebra 5+ is a wonderful interactive program that teaches algebra entirely as a game. Children as young as four years old are able to solve problems after using DragonBox a few times.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that millennials have grown up with technology. They’re used to it and are comfortable using it. So, using a tool like DragonBox is a way to maybe make them feel comfortable learning something uncomfortable.
Looking Beyond Windows
Teachers should aslo expect to be assigned to a school where iPads are preferred over Android-powered devices. Other schools, however, may choose to implement the Microsoft Surface tablets due to their ruggedness, and yet other schools will go the Linux route.
For this reason, it is imperative that we become familiar with as many operating systems as we can before we enter the classroom. Beyond the operating systems, fiber Internet options like Google Fiber and Verizon FiOS add Internet speeds that have previously not been readily accessible.
Online Social Networking
Many schools these days have implemented online social networks as a way to augment education and expand learning. University students these days are very likely to be familiar with Facebook and Instagram, but they should not be surprised if the schools they are assigned to use G+ or Twitter; these two social networks are, in fact, gaining wide acceptance in many schools due to their functionality.
Twitter for example, is a great way to keep your students up to date with what’s going on in the world. Journalism teachers for example might make creating a Twitter part of the course curriculum so that students can follow the AP, newspapers, reports and magazines to stay on top of breaking news.
In many school districts, bilingual classrooms are replacing the English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum. To this end, many would-be teachers are concentrating on learning to teach in more than one language, but the migration to multilingual classrooms is still in the earlier phases.
Teachers who are assigned to ESL schools are encouraged to pick up additional languages as soon as they can, but in the meantime they should become familiar with tools such as Google translate to help them better communicate with students who use English as a second language.
The bottom line? It’s inevitable that technology (whether its apps, devices or software) go hand in hand with education. But, with a little preparation, you can use these tools easily and efficiently. At least, I plan to.
Tomorrow, check in with us to find out 7 education trends you don’t want to miss.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.