The management of ICT in the classroom is becoming increasingly important as classrooms move closer towards the 21st century needs of society and embed more digital technologies in their practices.
Monitoring student use of ICT is important for two reasons. Firstly, students can appear to be usefully occupied with the ICT activity when in fact they are working very inefficiently and failing to exploit the full potential of ICT and not developing their ICT capability. Secondly, it is so easy for students to become distracted with the ICT resource particularly when they are using the Internet, and as they become more tech-savvy with every generation, this might not be obvious from their behaviour.
In a previous section of this teaching resource, I highlighted what you need to monitor in terms of ICT capability. Classroom management when it comes to ICT needs to start with active teacher monitoring and intervening. It is by doing this, that students should begin to realise that their opportunities to become distracted and do something other than the work you had set out for them is very limited.
Teacher intervention, both planned and unplanned, not only helps you to develop their ICT capability but at the same time allows you to observe what they really have been doing instead. An observation that you are witness to might be that the student is not up to place in the work where you would expect to be and this might become obvious when observing other students’ work with ICT.
The development of student ICT capability will only occur if students are challenged intellectually with their ICT work. Intervention is the time to question their work and their use of ICT techniques. In the assessment of this ICT activity, you will need to judge the decisions they made in order to complete the finished product/solution. Have your questions ready to get them thinking about how they might be able to do things better.
Despite this, there is no simple solution for effective management of ICT in the classroom. Make a note to yourself throughout the year to review what you do regularly as things change. The increasing emphasis on focused literacy lessons is undoubtedly going to change ICT use in the short term. However, as Higgins, Packard and Race (2004) point out, the targets for students’ ICT use, especially for email and the WWW means it will have considerable emphasis, too. They advise the following strategies (p. 12).
- Use ICT resources as much as you can and become competent and confident in your use;
- Use computers to teach and demonstrate. For example, when using a word processor for demonstrations, try increasing the font size or the magnification to explain ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ or to demonstrate sentence level work;
- Be critical. This means ensure that the use of the computer is a good idea for the chosen literacy activity. The software needs to actually help the students achieve the learning outcome you want;
- Be flexible about borrowing and lending equipment. Share the things around and organise your ICT tools and resources to get the best from it;
- Decide the best place for the ICT tools and resources;
- Maximise the time that computers are in use;
- Involve the students in the management of the computers. Train the students to be responsible for switching on and shutting down;
- Limit your objectives to what is achievable. Try setting up a record of who used which program on which day, so that the record is completed by the students themselves. You can then concentrate on assessing and recording their ICT capability;
- Don’t show your frustration when the equipment goes wrong.
Remember, students don't need to sit and use a computer to develop their ICT capability! It is very easy to teach the students the concepts and higher order skills involved through whole class discussions and questioning.
To learn more about managing student ICT use in literacy lessons, click here, and maximise the use of ICT tools and resources such as iPads and laptops in your classroom today through effective management.