How to Evaluate Technology in the Classroom

Teaching Strategies

By Michael Hilkemeijer

Integrating technology in the classroom should be about exploiting the here and now of the available technology and this brings me to me second point. It is easy today to overlook and misuse much of the available technology as we use it as much as we all turn on the radio in our car or watch television.

However, did you know that these one the best ICT tools and resources students can use to develop their ICT capability? Generic software or content-free software is ideal for this purpose because it allows students to use computers as tools.

It can be used in many different ways and the ICT techniques students learn are transferable throughout its use in the curriculum as content-free software is widely incorporated into student learning activities.

They also allow you as a teacher to challenge students intellectually. In addition, students have full control along with the added bonus that the decision making is quite high thus promoting growth in higher order skills. These are the attributes and capabilities that are desirable in the 21st century.

So whilst you are directing students to complete an ICT task, you as the teacher can capitalise on this opportunity and help them fully develop their ICT capability.

 

 

In relation to higher order skills, let me just add as well that along with learning new ICT techniques, students will also need to understand the process of deciding the appropriateness of using a computer for achieving a task or creating a solution. To achieve this, will simply require you to provide purpose activities in meaningful contexts.

 

Here are the question which I ask when evaluating technology integration in the classroom.

 

Evaluating Early Childhood Technology in the classroom

Technology in early childhood education and care is a challenging area due to the fact that the rate of technological development continues to increase. Along with every new technology comes new ways of learning and therefore, you need to be critical but open-minded about these transformations.

Developmentally appropriate technology in early childhood needs to be chosen in alignment with eight principles given by the DATEC project.

These are:

  1. Applications should be educational.
  2. The technology must encourage collaboration.
  3. Can the technology be integrated into the curriculum and play?
  4. Does the technology give the child full control? This is the best way to develop a child’s ICT capability.
  5. Is the application transparent and intuitive?
  6. Does the application contain violence or stereotyping? If so, forget about it.
  7. Are you aware of the health and safety issues to do with ICT use?
  8. Does it allow for the educational involvement of parents?

 

 

READ ABOUT: Why not to use drill and practice programs in ECE?

 

 

Evaluating your choices of ICT Tools and Resources

Now that we have established that the best technology in the classroom to integrate is that of generic or content-free software, Bennett (1997, p.21 as cited in Kennewell, 2000, p. 105) points out four key questions to answer when determining the educational potential.

These include:

  1. What features and facilities does the software provide that might be used to extend children’s learning?
  2. How easy are these features to use?
  3. Will the children need to be instructed in their use before or during their use of the software?
  4. What is the educational purpose underlying the child’s use of the software? (e.g. to develop ICT skills? To learn how to use the software? To use the software as a means to an end? To develop communication skills and knowledge?).

 

If your lesson is numeracy focused, Easingwood and Williams (2004) can help determine if the software will actually meet the objectives of the lesson. For example, does the software you want to use have the flexibility and is sufficiently interactive?

Interaction, from my point of view, falls in alongside allowing students to have full control – a point I raised earlier. Although, there are software that is interactive but when the computer is in control like Integrated Learning Systems or subject-specific software.

Then there is the question as to whether it will allow collaboration amongst students. He continues to raise questions which he believes are important for software that you intend to purchase. Coincidently, you may already be aware of generic forms of software that you can use and which is readily available. It is my view that these are the better options as not many teachers have the time for anything else.

 

 

What makes good educational software?

There are several factors that you need to be aware of and consider. These are:

  • It is fundamentally important that the software needs to be appropriate to the objectives of the lesson and any tasks that will be given to the children.
  • The software should not only match the key functions above but should match them well.
  • The software needs to support the teacher’s requirements and fit into the teacher’s preferred teaching style.

 

Key questions include:

  • Does the software teach the children what the teacher wants them to learn? Does it enhance the learning objectives?
  • Is the software easy to use?
  • Is it intuitive?
  • Does it use common commands?
  • Is the manual short?
  • Is there online on-screen help, and if so, is it short, helpful, and easy to read?
  • Is the screen interface clear and easy to follow? Is it bright, attractive, and appealing to the user?
  • Can icons be clicked easily? Are they large enough for younger children to be able to use?
  • Is the reading level appropriate to the reading age of the user?
  • Is the content accurate? Is it free of bias?
  • Is there an options facility so that the teacher can change the ability level?
  • Can I get a trial copy of the software either as a download from a company website or on approval through the post?

(Williams & Easingwood, 2003, p. 38)

 

Technology in classroom teaching

How to Evaluate Teaching and Learning with ICT

Continuing in the lines of evaluating in education it is important that when using technology in the classroom you spend time reflecting on your teaching and learning with ICT. So I am going to show you how to evaluate learning activities after technology use in classroom practice.

The Importance of Reflection in Teaching

Evaluating learning activities is about you as the teacher reflecting on a number of different things that occurred throughout the lesson. It is to do with answering questions in relation to how well you planned the learning activities and just how did make an impact on student learning.

 

According to QCAA (2020), teacher reflection is critical as it encourages teachers to:

  • Regularly evaluate their approaches to teaching and learning.
  • Understand more about the positive impacts of high-quality effective pedagogies on children’s learning
  • Become more aware of the importance of high-quality interactions, including strategic intervention and substantive conversations to maximise children’s learning
  • Use action research approaches — e.g. drawing on alternative teaching strategies to help
    children to learn when familiar methods fail
  • Co-construct learning with children and other partners so it is responsive to the child’s family and
    community

 

 

It is important that teachers do reflect on practices and take the appropriate steps to improve them. These teaching strategies for the classroom can help you go a long way in ensuring that outcomes are learned by students.

As teachers, you should encourage students to reflect critically and evaluate their own work with ICT, so too must teachers.

It must involve determining which parts of the lesson went well and which ones were less successful. From here, they can make adjustments and plan for better lessons accordingly.

For this to occur, they need to look deeper into the practices ask the questions as to why a particular approach was a success or failure.

Classroom reflection such as this is said to promote thinking about classroom activities and the beliefs associated with those actions (Kennewell et al., 2000).

 

Clarifying existing ideas about teaching helps to forge new ideas or modify old ones. A powerful reflection involves carrying out action research. That is the approach where teachers are required to take a more rigorous look at the quality of their teaching and learning.

 

For judgments here to be made, evidence such as the following in relation to classroom activity needs to be taken into account:

  • Lesson plans and schemes of work.
  • Comments from observing teachers.
  • A diary of classroom activity.
  • The results of students’ class and homework and.
  • The results of examinations.

 

Teacher Reflection Questions to further show you how to evaluate learning activities

The following teacher reflection questions can be used as a guide (Kennewell et al., 2000, p189). Reflection about teaching strategies with technology in the classroom will help you analyse your teaching strategies in the future. They include lesson reflection for teachers that cover the learning of outcomes planned for students.

  1. To what extent am I catering for the abilities of all the students in the class?
  2. Are students able to build on prior learning?
  3. Have I considered common misconceptions associated with this topic?
  4. Are the students able to use what they have learned in a new situation?
  5. Did the students appreciate that they were making progress?
  6. Did the students improve their confidence in the subject and the image they have of themselves as a learner of the subject?
  7. Did the students develop good habits of work, including perseverance and concern for correctness?
  8. Did the students use their initiative, exercise imagination, and think for themselves?

 

Other teacher reflection questions

  • How was the ICT activity integrated into the normal running of the classroom?
  • What skills did I need in order for the ICT activity to succeed?
  • How did I ensure that all students had access to the ICT activity?
  • What were the learning outcomes for the students in ICT?
  • What assessment opportunities were there?
  • How does this experience add to my understanding of teaching ICT capability in literacy development?
  • What will I do next time?

 

Here are some lesson reflection for teachers:

  • Did you need, for example, to alter the timings of the introduction to ensure understanding of what was required for all the children?
  • Did you find that you talked too much and the children needed more time and more independence in their work?
  • How far did the lesson achieve the intended learning objectives? 
  • Make a judgement based on your identified assessment opportunities. If it is part of a sequence of activities, how much is there still left to do? 
  • Comment on how the lesson went for the children experiencing difficulty and for those children of high ability. 
  • How well were you able to meet the needs of those with English as an additional language? 
  • Did children with special educational needs have full access to the activity and were they able to succeed?

     (Allen, Potter, Sharpe & Turvey, 2012, p.36)

 

Technology in the classroom

6 More Tips to evaluate technology for your school

In this article, I will share with you what you need to consider when evaluating technology use in the classroom at your school. With so many choices for technology in the classroom today, it is essential that you choose the best technology for integrating into classroom practices.

 

First, what is considered technology in the classroom? These days it could possibly be any technological devices that promise educational value. It needs to be able to be successfully integrated into curriculum learning and most importantly, be used as a tool for students to achieve the learning outcomes that you have set for them as their teacher.

 

Technology integrated learning is essential for the 21st century as the students of today are the workforce of tomorrow that need to survive and thrive in a ‘technology integrated’ economy. Integrating tech in the classroom will provide them with the skills and knowledge in relation to using to technology as a tool designed for a specific purpose and not just for social interaction. It also enables them, with the facilitation of research-based teaching strategies with technology in the classroom, to develop their ICT capability.

 

Technology in the classroom examples include:

  • Word processors
  • Desktop publishers
  • Coding programs that age-appropriate.
  • Graphics programs such as drawing and painting software
  • Web creation tools
  • Email
  • Animation programs.

 

Such software can be found on iPads, desktop computers, laptops, and smartphone use in schools. Other technology may also include digital cameras and video cameras. I consider these the best technology for the classroom as they are generic which means that they are already available in schools, content-free and enable a high level of decision-making on the behalf of students. Best of all they give students full control over it.

 

You don’t need the latest technological development as you just don’t have the time to learn about it, practice it, reflect and evaluate its use in your classroom practice. All teachers are time short so why try to the latest fad when you can optimise these first.

 

 

So like promised, here is what you need to know in order to evaluate technology use in the classroom.

 

Identify the technology goals of your school

Your school will most likely adhere to your states or national technology goals for schools. Ensure that you consider this before you purchase.

 

Seek input from all stakeholders

By stakeholders, I am talking about the school committee that should include students, teachers, administrators, parents and other community members involved in the school decisions. The more heads there are on this topic will help you make the best decision about technology integration in the classroom.

 

Gather information from other sources

Don’t just stop at the stakeholders and committee, ensure that you check out Google Plus communities and Ed Tech Twitter chats and LinkedIn.

 

Pilot the technology

Don’t go all out at first. Purchase a few and make sure that it is supported and scaffolded effectively in classroom practices so that you can effectively evaluate its use.

Ongoing online professional development for teachers using technology in the classroom

It is only by supporting teachers and colleagues in their enrolment in online PD for teachers that they will effectively learn how to integrate technology in the classroom in a meaningful way. Such programs like our “Train the Trainer” online workshops are ideal if you want to develop this approach. Encourage teachers to visit classroom also where there is good technology integration in education.

 

Get students involved

Gather a few students in the beginning stages of planning. Then if possible have those students involved in evaluating technology use in the classroom.

 

 

The path to integrating technology in the classroom effectively can be filled with many obstacles and challenges. However, integrating technology is not about waiting for the next big technological development to come around and solve your technology problems. It is about the here and now of the available technology and imaging their potential for learning within the context it is taught.

 

technological tools

How to use Technology in Education

 

Using technology in the classroom provides many benefits to both student and teacher which is why its presence in the classroom is vital.

 

What is technology in the classroom? We encourage the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) such as:

  • Smartphones.
  • Computers;
  • Tablet computers;
  • Digital cameras and video recorders.

 

However, this just covers the hardware side of things whereas when you look beyond this, the use of technology in the classroom also covers software and this is where the true benefits are realised.

 

Therefore, further examples of technology in the classroom include:

  • Word processors;
  • Databases and Spreadsheets;
  • Drawing and painting programs;
  • Coding and programming software;
  • Desktop publishers;
  • Presentation programs;
  • Web design and creation programs;
  • Emails;
  • World Wide Web and;
  • Virtual Learning Environments.

 

What does technology integration mean in education?

The integration of technology in the classroom is about imagining the potential for learning within the context that it will be taught of the here and now of the available technology as opposed to waiting for the next big technological development to come around.

 

That is why we consider these examples of educational technology in the classroom the most appropriate.

 

Integrating technology in the classroom is also about your ability to ensure that you equip students with sufficient experience to enable them to use technology in the classroom without them having to stop and think. It is about achieving your ultimate aim as a primary teacher, for example, of developing student ICT capability. That is making the integration of technology in the classroom ‘transparent’ in its use to the extent that the children become so focused on using ICT as a tool to achieve other outcomes that they hardly notice that they are using technology itself.

 

This can only be achieved when using the right technology in the first place.

 

How to integrate technology in the classroom?

This is a common misconception that the integration of technology in the classroom is just the simple exposure to it. However, the ‘taking for granted’ of technology by children has drawn similarities with earlier forms of technology such as TV. Information and Communication Technology is fast becoming too familiar to the generations of today.

 

Two key strategies for integrating technology in the classroom include:

  • To plan and seek to develop all components of ICT capability and;
  • Focus on the concepts behind the skills.

 

Additional strategies include:

  • Use a range of ways to support students and;
  • Use student data to assess attainment in ICT capability.

 

Developing an Integrated Approach in Primary Education

If you are to be successful in the integration of technology in the classroom, you will need a good understanding of ICT concepts and their relations to other areas of the curriculum.

You will need plan for students’ ICT capability prior to using ICT in other key learning areas so that students can focus on subject specific objectives.

 

 

 

Integrated Learning Systems – Do they work?

Not all technology in the classroom is ideal for developing technological literacy and ICT capability. When the computer is in control of the student there is little to no development in their capability. Your aim may be to solely facilitate the learning of a subject such as literacy and numeracy and this is fine if that is your goal.

However, don’t expect too much from them technology-wise. Integrated learning systems requires minimal capability on the part of students and demands more attention from teachers in order to access and analyse students’ progress.

So in fact, it will do more for teachers than it will for students in relation to developing their capability in ICT. No matter which subject you use them in the result will always be the same.

 

Are they worth investing in?

Whether or not an ILS is effective depends a lot on the quality of teacher intervention. Research also shows that if they are to have an impact on a student’s literacy and numeracy learning (as they are traditionally used for), teachers must first undergo training in the system. Training to be able to go through the system and analyse and diagnose the results of a student’s progress.

Your choice of technology in the classroom depends on the role you have decided upon - to support subject learning, to develop ICT capability or both? 

 

Other issues

The widespread use of ILS across the curriculum also raises questions as to whether they beneficial for special education. Studies have indicated that a baseline of ICT skills would need to be identified before students would even be able to interact with the system. For example, do they know how to use Delete or Backspace, are they able to transfer visual attention from keyboard to screen etc. Therefore, if ILS is to be effective then it must employ strategies that meet the needs of these students.

 

Technological tools to engage students

 

Besides the technology tools that have already been discussed, other technological tools can also be used to engage students in your classroom.

 

Google Forms

This is probably one of the simplest apps on the list and one of the best ways to engage students is to give them an easy way to ask questions. Google Forms allows you to do this. You can provide specific questions or you can prompt students to respond to an exit slip.

 

Kahoot!

My daughter mentioned this the other day and I thought that it is great that her teacher is engaging students this way. You can create class questions or quizzes and so it is handy to obtain data that can be used in graphing assignments.

 

Class Dojo

A popular and fun tool to gamify your classroom. Avatars can be made by the students and they each can either gain or lose points due to their behaviour.

 

So there are some of the technological tools that are around that you can use in the classroom to engage students and if you want to learn more about them, just click on the links.

 

ICT Teaching Strategies for Primary School – Online Workshop

With this approach, as the ICT capable teacher you can foster these strategies for integrating technology in the classroom that emphasises higher order thinking skills. 

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