How to capitalize on classroom technology
There are numerous ways to revolutionize your classroom with technology. And while the latest digital toys can be expensive, innovative teachers are finding ways to bring the information age into schools without breaking the piggy bank, says R. Lewis Cordell, an education program instructor at the University of Phoenix San Diego Campus and a middle school teacher.
“I try to find technologies that I think accurately reflect today’s working world and will also engage my students,” Cordell says.
Here are five suggestions to leverage technology to engage students in your classroom:
This digital USB camera hooks up to a laptop or desktop computer and can project any image, like a piece of paper you’re writing on or a page in a book, onto a wall.
This is a much cheaper option than the popular Elmo® projectors, which many schools can’t afford, Cordell says. He uses his Point 2 View camera whenever he wants all of his students to look at the same worksheet without having to make copies, or when he’s writing a concept on a piece of paper that he wants to share.
Google Docs™ program
For schools that have access to computers, this no-cost word processing application allows students to create documents that are automatically saved “in the cloud,” so nothing is lost. Students can conveniently access their documents at home or from public computers in libraries, since their files are saved online.
“What’s amazing about Google Docs,” Cordell says, “is that the documents are shared online instantaneously. So while students are in the middle of working, I can go in and see exactly what a student is doing and whether they’re following instructions.”
Celly® social network
Teachers can implement this mobile social media tool with kids using cellphones. “With Celly, you create a ‘closed network group’ for the whole class, so cellphone numbers remain private and anonymous,” Cordell says.
There are two ways Cordell likes to use the platform: “I can schedule automatic texts reminding students about homework, which works great,” he says, or he can use the network during class.
“By plugging my iPad® [tablet] into an LCD projector, I can have students pose questions to me via their cellphones that get projected onto the wall — like a Twitter® feed.”
Acer Chromebook™ notebook
Less expensive than most regular computers, Chromebook devices allow students to access the Internet and create documents that are stored online.
Although Cordell only has one of these computers in his classroom right now, he looks forward to the day when he can have a complete set for his entire class. “I think something similar to Chromebooks is going to replace textbooks in the future,” he says.
Classroom technology grants
For teachers struggling with the cost of getting technology into schools, applying for a National Education Association (NEA) grant could be the answer, Cordell suggests. He plans to apply for an NEA grant this year so that he can provide more frequent Internet access to students.
The NEA has given $8.5 million to nearly 4,000 teachers who demonstrated how the money would positively impact learning, Cordell says. Educators can also check out eSchool News or Smart, which highlight other avenues for raising IT education dollars.
Point 2 View is a trademark of IPEVO Inc.
Elmo is a registered trademark of Elmo Co.
Google Docs and Chromebook are trademarks of Google Inc.
Celly is a registered trademark of Celly Inc.
iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.