When it comes to using technology in the classroom there is nothing teachers fear more than a technical problem that they don’t know how to handle. It is one of the many issues in teaching with ICT. In my experience as an ICT teacher there have been many times where I have encountered technical problems in the classroom. At the best of times, the student was able to find another computer to sit at and to do their work on. At the worst of times, it created a lot of disruption in student learning with myself trying to find solutions. Today I am much the wiser and have found the best practices to ensure that there is continuity in student learning.
Just recently I took a teaching job at a local primary school in town as the ICT teacher. As part of state education, this school is probably one of the many smaller schools around. Since I started at the school, I noticed that I was the only ICT person. This is a situation that I think many smaller schools in particularly face – the lack of presence from a resident school technician. Today the local state government does provide a school technician. However, the person can be split between many schools and this poses the issue of ensuring reliable technology in the classroom.
With this in mind, here are my tips to overcoming technical problems in the classroom. The first bit of advice I can give you is that if you can get a hold of your school technician before the lesson starts, ask the person to check to make sure that all hardware and software in the classroom is operational. It is even a good strategy to request their presence at the beginning of the lesson so that if anything goes wrong they can sort it out for you straight away. What if this isn’t a possibly? What happens then?
It wouldn’t surprise you that the most commonly used software in the classroom is MS Word. Along with other generic software used in schools it presents you as a teacher with a fantastic opportunity to develop student ICT capability. Each program allows students to practice techniques which is part but not all of what makes up ICT capability. The good news is when it comes to facing technical problems in the classroom is that students don’t need to be sitting at a computer to be able to develop their capabilities. Having a contingency plan is essential in this circumstance. Here is what you can do. Firstly, it is important to plan and seek every opportunity to develop each component of ICT capability and there are five of them. Secondly, as the generic software mentioned earlier comes with many different concepts and techniques, you can plan a whole class or group discussion about the concepts behind the skills. Ensure that you challenge any inappropriate and naïve ideas about using ICT tools. It would also involve planning questions that will help develop their higher order skills. Finally, provide students with the opportunity to reflect on their ICT learning.