Reflective Teaching – Day 13

Te@chThought‘s Day 13 Challenge is: “Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.

I love educational technology! It was difficult to rank by effectiveness, because in reality the use changes based on student preferences and needs. My list is somewhat in order, but I’ve shared my thoughts related to each tool.

  1. Data projector: mine is always on. It is used in connection with a SMARTBoard, AppleTV, a huge variety of dongles, a hardwired “teacher” computer, etc. It allows students to quickly see what others are seeing. It makes sharing easy. I think that this suite of technology (projector, SMARTBoard, AppleTV, VGA dongles, speedy computers, and good quality speakers) are an essential minimum in a classroom.
  2. Student devices (BYOD): this has its challenges, but is still so new to me that I am enjoying the possibilities. Having students choose their own device means that they are using something that they have selected. They have personalized it. And most importantly, it travels with them. BYOD helps to break down the walls between home and school learning. The challenge is the variety of devices. You cannot become partial to particular apps!
  3. A single classroom (ideally 5-10) iPad(s): having an iPad dedicated to your own students is ideal! We had a single iPad that was only for our class use. Actually, it was intended as a “teacher” iPad, but I prefer to use my personal iPad. This iPad has our class Twitter account open, class blogs open, and a variety of other commonly used apps available. This iPad became the chosen tool for creating projects, for filming our antics, for a quick “Google”, and trying new apps before deciding to add them to personal devices. Having a class iPad was helpful for when students left their own devices at home or when we had issues with depleted batteries. I would really like to see about 10 dedicated devices in each classroom.
  4. Class set of iPads: I had this for a few months. It was great! It gave a lot of control to the teacher. It was easy to set up the iPads and extract what students were creating. We have strict Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy laws in British Columbia. The issue with a class set of iPads is equitable distribution. They now have to be shared throughout the school, which means you can not count on having them available when something comes up, document and project management becomes a bigger challenge, and the iPads can be returned in a variety of conditions!

Thinking about the edtech that I’ve enjoyed over the years makes me wonder. . . What’s next?

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Reflective Teaching – Day 2

Day 2

Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.

I am still in search of the piece of technology that I need to try in my classroom this year. I posted on Twitter seeking out some help, but I have not yet found the needed tool. If you have any ideas, please share below!

I am looking for something similar to AppleTV that will work with all platforms seamlessly. I was the only classroom participating in BYOD last year and I had a class set of iPads for part of the year. The school iPads work well with the school AppleTV and allowed students to quickly share their ideas and work effortlessly using our data projector. Our district invested in a Crestron AirMedia device that allowed some sharing through a variety of devices, but it did not work as expected. Students had to download the app to make it work, they had to be on the same wifi as the device, and the Crestron only allowed images to be displayed – like a digital photo frame. The first hurdle was the wifi. We have several different streams of wifi in our district and the students were not able to be on the same wifi as the device. The district set up temporary access to allow student access to the device, but the permissions never worked. The limitations of showing only still images was also a huge factor for me. When the students were using iPads, sharing was instantaneous and easy. They shared anything and everything! A big favourite was the Discovery Education Science Techbook. Students would become excited about something that they found and share it out, and be able to show how they found the resource, supporting other students in their navigation to the exciting discovery. Youtube clips would be shared often, as would student work (completed and in progress). When we switched to BYOD, I found myself purchasing multiple VGA cables and running lengths of audio cord. I still don’t have all the needed cords! And, it is time consuming for students to leave their work area, connect their device correctly (after finding the right cord), remember to plug in their audio cable and then share their work. This would come with all sorts of fumbles: rotating the screens, attempting to gracefully use their plugged in device without accidentally disconnecting it, and the deterrent of standing at the front of the room and speaking in front of their peers. 

So, I am looking for the tool that will allow my students to share their discoveries seamlessly from wherever they are in the room, without losing momentum. 

What am I hoping to see out of this edtech integration? I am hoping to see an increase of student voice in my classroom. I believe that the appropriate tool will ensure that the culture in our classroom will be student-centred, focused on student interests, where curiousity is celebrated and ever-growing.