There are many times when a school district or the principal of your school will hand you a piece of technology and expect you to implement it within the classroom. Often, these items are given to you without knowledge of how to use them. Depending on the form of this technology, you can use basic features in order to "muddle around" to provide some form of education. However, it may take more than that to use the equipment to its fullest capabilities.
1. Know Your Devices - By understanding what the device can do, you can accomplish a great deal more both on an intellectual level and some entertainment value. For instance, a computer in your classroom for the students can be far more than simply a testing tool and access to the internet. While some teachers are reluctant to research technological tools they have in the classroom, it would be in their best interest to do so.
2. Research What it Can Do - Google and other search engines can provide you with a wealth of information on the tools you have. While college courses in computer sciences could help you understand your systems better, the Internet is rich with free information that can guide you to develop innovative ways to utilize the technology for the student's benefit. In fact, there is a good chance that your IT personnel 'Google' a variety of problems on a daily basis.
3. They Are More than You Realize - Tablets are slowly being introduced into classrooms across the country. However, many districts are slow to provide adequate knowledge to staff about what these devices can accomplish. They don't have to be the social media browsing, game playing, Internet browsers that many think they are. Many IT professionals will use them as tools for network troubleshooting. Books are available for distribution to tablets for educational material. If you're inclined to try, you can research how to build your own apps for free to provide even further functionality tailored to your classroom's exact needs. All of the tools you would need can be installed and a variety of online tutorials are available to you.
4. Attend or Suggest Sponsored IT Functions - While some school districts will offer technological classes sponsored by the very IT department that governs them, many do not. Regardless of the reasons behind why this isn't a mandatory function, it would be in your best interest to attend or suggest these courses to improve how your classroom technology functions. These courses can be everything from preventative maintenance to innovative ways to use the technology. Contrary to the belief of many teachers, the Promethean Board and other smart boards are more than a large surface to show movies on.
5. Learn Every Function - Every piece of software that is installed for you to use by the IT staff should be learned upon. For instance, there is a piece of software called Vision. With this program, you can monitor the student activity on the Internet by watching what they are doing. You can also make the student's monitor black, lock the keyboard, disable the mouse, disable USB ports, and a slew of other functions. However, many teachers do not spend the time to learn what the software can do.
Technology isn't something that should be feared, but it should be embraced. Although some will argue that technological gizmos take away from the learning experience, these devices can engage the children in a way that can help them learn more efficiently. Ask your IT department of what your devices are capable of in a classroom environment and develop methods to improve education.
(*) Ken Myers is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.