By Michael Hilkemeijer
As a primary teacher, your aim should be to develop student ICT capability when integrating technology in the classroom. This is best achieved when the technology remains transparent in its use and this is when the students hardly notice that they are using technology to achieve learning outcomes.
This is the key to successfully integrating technology in the classroom.
It is significant to remember that it is the way that the technology in the classroom is employed, not the technology itself that makes the impact on student learning. You will find many strategies for integrating technology in the classroom in our 60 + online technology integration professional development courses (Academy).
To help you get started, here are 8 of the best strategies for integrating technology in the classroom today.
Start with classroom organisation
The way in which a classroom is organised can make a difference to the potential of ICT capability development. It is important, therefore, that the computers are placed in a classroom so as to maximise the opportunities for curriculum activity.
Additionally, if the activities are well planned then good ICT work can be achieved with even one or two computers. Effective technology integration in the classroom can be achieved with just one or two technological devices. Clear planning also concerns the age-group or the curriculum activity for which the technology is best suited.
It will also be important that establish your classroom rules and procedures when using technology in the classroom. Students should be clear about the expected behaviour and how to handle any arising technological issues. An idea would be to number each device and allow students to have a sense of ownership.
Group students and resources appropriately
Successful schools in the past have given careful thought to the strategies for integrating technology in the classroom. Grouping students and resources for ICT activities were influenced by their decisions.
The pairing of students needs to take into account various factors such as the differences in ICT capability, the personalities of the children, sex, and the nature of the task.
It will be difficult to give adequate attention to groups working on different activities so if you have adult assistance it would be imperative to brief them and to use the following strategies for integrating technology in the classroom:
- Invite the children to plan ahead;
- Ask them to listen to what the children say and encourage them to share their ideas;
- Provide assistance and help to children so that they understand that it is acceptable to try their ideas and to make mistakes;
- They need to give the students time to work out their answers;
- Make the most of every opportunity to give praise to the students’ success when they have completed an exercise or developing a computer skill.
Take into account students’ ICT capability when planning
To achieve this, you can plan a mini-lesson that will have an ICT activity that will demonstrate the expected level of capabilities of the students. From here, you can plan for the progression and continuity of their ICT capability.
Teaching a mini-lesson prior to the actual lesson itself is the key as the students won’t be distracted and are likely to fully participate. This is because they will know that paying attention and demonstrating their understanding of rules, procedures and tasks means that they will get to use the technology again.
Become familiar with the ICT resource
It is more important for you to be knowledgeable about one program than it is to be acquainted with many. This is because it is better for students to work with a small number of versatile programs and progressively develop skills and confidence in these through carefully structured activities than it is to learn how to use a large number of programs superficially.
However, being familiar involves more than just knowing how to use the program for a variety of tasks. It is about reflecting on the processes it helps the student to carry out and the ICT techniques with which particular effects can be achieved. It then also requires you to consider how the students will be introduced to the program, what ideas need to be clear before they start and where they might find difficulties.
Make digital citizenship a priority
When students are ready to use technology in the classroom to achieve the learning outcomes set by you as the teacher, it is your chance to develop their ICT capability. This comprises of 21st century capabilities such as routines, ICT techniques, concepts, higher-order thinking skills, and processes. To learn more about achieving this, you will find this online workshop in my Academy.
Monitor progress and intervene to help students
The most effective teaching when integrating technology in the classroom occurs when you have well-planned interventions and are capable of responding to ad hoc opportunities that arise to stimulate learning at important moments. Timely interventions in the past have been proven to be beneficial in developing students’ technical skills and knowledge of ICT in addition to developing their higher-order thinking skills.
Monitoring is also important as it is common for students to appear to be usefully occupied with the task when they are in fact working very inefficiently and failing to exploit the potential of the technology in the classroom. Also, because of the richness of the ICT resource, students may divert from the intended tasks without it being obvious from their behaviour.
In this online course for teachers, I discuss how you can monitor the key characteristics of ICT capability such as those mentioned earlier. Again, you can join this course when you become a member of the Academy today.
Use the power of choice
Integrating technology in the classroom is an instructional choice that generally includes collaboration and deliberate planning. Thoughtfully planned it can engage students in lessons and lead to developing 21st century capabilities. This is only the case if you provide opportunities for each student to make choices over their own learning. By this, strategies for integrating technology in the classroom have a lot to do with providing choices for practice, creativity and discovery.
Successful teachers have employed such strategies for integrating technology in the classroom which has led to the progression of ICT capability. They don’t just teach more and more ICT techniques for their own sake but provide tasks that require sensitivity to information requirements, sophisticated decision-making, knowledge of available tools, and accuracy in evaluation. It is best to teach ICT techniques at the stage where the task provided a subtle context.
Question the whole class
Past studies have indicated that successful teachers have questioned the whole class or group prior to ICT activities to clarify their expectations. This also helped in getting students to focus on what they going to do and also generated ideas about how they might go about it.
During this process, it was found that it was helpful for the students to identify the reasons why they needed to plan their work on paper first so that they had a clear view of the layout of a document or the structure of a database.
Use structured tasks to introduce particular ICT techniques and ensure that students have the opportunity to use those ICT techniques subsequently in more open tasks in which students can make decisions about the choices of ICT techniques.
Understand that there is more than one learning purpose
It is important to understand that ICT activities typically have more than one learning purpose. If you plan to integrate technology into meaningful subject-related activities you will be able to combine the ICT and other subject issues into your discussion and questioning of the class or group.
You can learn more about successful strategies for integrating technology in the classroom by enrolling in one of my many online workshops for teachers today.