Teachers: have you discovered that your students are more tech-savvy than you? Are you struggling to keep up with them? Don't fret just yet! Read on for some advice that can help you make the most of your situation.
Students and Technology Today
Given the world we live in, it's certainly not surprising that students are often light-years ahead of their teachers when it comes to technological know-how. In fact, one 2017 CNN report indicates that mobile devices are present in roughly 98% of households with children eight years and younger.
While you might have a basic understanding of technology, chances are you weren't introduced to it as early as your students, and, unfortunately, this can potentially put you at a disadvantage in the classroom. If your students happen to know more about technology than you do, the following tips can help.
Even though it might be a little embarrassing, be completely honest with your students about your knowledge of technology (or lack thereof). Have a discussion with them that establishes a baseline of what you know and what they know so that everyone is on the same page and has similar expectations. Being honest and open can be easier than pretending you know what you're doing, only to end up the butt of student jokes when you misuse an app or a device.
Let Your Students Do the Teaching
Since your tech-savvy students seem to know more than you do about digital devices, why not let them take over the teaching reins for a small block of time each day (or week—whatever works for your classroom)? For example, you can have them create presentations about their favorite apps or devices that they can share with you and their peers. Make sure that the presentations are researched thoroughly so that your students can explain the reasons behind their choices and how they relate to school. You can even go one step further and have them explain how the app or device could increase engagement and improve learning in a certain subject.
By allowing your students to assume the teaching role periodically, you'll be able to gain valuable knowledge about their technology preferences. Additionally, your students will feel as though you genuinely value their opinions.
Pursue Professional Development
You may also want to consider taking advantage of professional development activities that focus on the latest educational technology trends. Whether it's an online course, a webinar, an in-person workshop or a school-wide conference, professional development can be a relatively easy way for you to get a solid understanding of the most popular innovations and latest issues related to technology in education.
Since most professional development opportunities are short term, you'll be able to apply what you learn immediately, for which your students will be grateful. These opportunities also give you the chance to network with other educators who are a) in your shoes or b) may be able to give you some pointers on using technology in the classroom. Either way, a support system is a bonus.
Make It a Point to Stay Informed
The tricky thing about technology is that it's constantly evolving; just when you think you have something down pat, it can change in a heartbeat. For this reason, you should try to make it a point to stay up-to-date on technology—in several ways—if possible.
Social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter can be rich sources of information related to the latest technology trends in education as well as technology in general. There are several pages and companies that focus solely on these topics, so follow or subscribe to their feeds to get updates regularly.
There are also many websites and blogs devoted to educational technology. Take a minute to subscribe to some quality newsletters or blog posts so that you're always on the receiving end of the latest information. Staying informed will allow you to stay at or ahead of the technology curve, which can be very beneficial when teaching a classroom full of techies.
Teaching With Tech
After reading the tips we presented here, we hope you feel a little less overwhelmed by the state of your technology knowledge. The main thing to remember is that there's a wealth of information at your fingertips, so try to utilize all avenues—students, professional development opportunities, online resources— as efficiently as possible.
You should also keep in mind that the grade and/or subject you teach can play a role in what you need and don't need to know about technology. For instance, an elementary art teacher may not need to know as much as a high school computer lab teacher.
Interested in learning more about technology or any other subject out there? Consider a subscription to Study.com's Teacher Plan, which provides access to thousands of relevant, instructional video lessons that both you and your students can benefit from.