Saturday, April 7, 2012

Classroom Technology to Support Teaching

When you were going through your teacher training, did you ever wish you could be a fly on the wall in an experienced teacher's classroom so you could see exactly how he/she handled things? You always change the classroom dynamics by introducing a novelty in the form of an observer, so actually visiting a class for real has its disadvantages as well as its advantages. But by using classroom technology, you can be an observer in someone else's class.

Of course, this innovative use of classroom technology doesn't just apply to beginner teachers and trainee teachers. Even more experienced teachers need to upskill and learn new techniques of doing things in class. Again, watching someone else who has done the hard work of developing the new technique is a great way to learn - after all, you probably know how your pupils pick up concepts and techniques by watching them demonstrated on video (if you haven't learned this, you really need to upskill!).

This new development is possible, thanks to a new secure website being set up by a group of Californian educators. This innovation, created by LessonLab, consists of a collection of exemplary lessons by experienced teachers in a real class. Of course, with classroom technology being so common these days, the presence of a Webcam in the classroom is no novelty and the children in the class act like they normally act. The lessons are presented on a split screen, so the viewers can chat online while they watch, and receive answers from an education coach.

Many companies and publishers are interested in this new development. You are probably familiar with books and encyclopedias that are designed to be used in tandem with that most familiar form of classroom technology: the internet. These "internet linked" encyclopedias have now been extended to textbooks, and publishers such as Scholastic Inc. and Pearsons are beginning to produce textbooks linked with exemplary lessons and demonstrations.

You have probably already learned about the different learning styles and how to cater to them in your classroom. And these techniques also have to be remembered by those who teach the teachers. Teachers have their own learning styles, too, and up until now, reading educational journals (and websites and online articles like this one) and listening to presentations at training days have been the main ways of learning about new tools and techniques. Now the visual learners at the front of the classroom are being catered for, as well as the visual learners sitting in the desks.

You may be tempted, when you hear about these exemplary lessons, to just let your class watch the demonstration lesson linked with the textbook so you can both learn at the same time. Don't do this. All videos and all classroom technology has to be used correctly to be effective. Mistakes you don't even know you're making can be impacting your lesson.

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