Six Ways to Save Time with Technology

photo credit: Barrett.Discovery via photopin cc

photo credit: Barrett.Discovery via photopin cc

Six ways to save time with technology…

      1. Give students a technology toolkit: In the age of the iStudent, all educators are technology teachers. It’s our responsibility, no matter what grade or subject we teach, to help students learn how to use various web tools and applications to demonstrate learning. The best approach is to introduce a new tool or app once every few weeks and instruct students to apply a skill or concept to a learning outcome, using the new technology. As the year progresses, students will build a “technology toolkit,” from which they can choose what will be most effective for particular projects in the future. When students have expertise with an array of technology tools, the teacher can eliminate a lot of instructional time and become more of a coach.
      2. Embrace mobile learning: Today’s learners begin using Smartphones, iPods, laptops and tablet computers very early in their lives. In fact, in 2012, nearly 60 percent of teenagers owned a Smartphone. As mobile devices grow in number worldwide each year, the number of students owning them is sure to increase. Still, too many teachers ask children to put their devices away or, worse, to leave them at home. With Apple, Google and thousands of independent developers creating new education applications almost daily, teachers must realize that mandates to leave electronic devices in lockers is like throwing out millions of amazing resources. These resources can replace many traditional teaching tools that require time to prepare, duplicate and distribute. With 21st-century tools for learning in our students’ hands, an immense amount of time is saved. So, tell your students to bring their devices, and watch learning explode.
      3. Teach appropriate use: One reason teachers fear mobile devices and social media is concern about inappropriate use. “The devices are disruptive, because kids don’t understand boundaries,” I’ve heard educators say at workshops and conferences. This is a legitimate concern, but it will always be a problem if kids don’t understand the boundaries and how to use technology appropriately. This may seem contrary to the theme of this article, but it’s important for teachers to dedicate time to teach appropriate use. In the long run, this discussion will save you time, because the need to interrupt learning to discipline technology abusers will lessen with each reminder of boundaries and appropriate use.
      4. Use one or more blended learning models: There was a time long ago that I had three computers in my classroom. Believe it or not, I asked my principal to remove them. “Everyone wants to use them, and they only become a distraction,” I complained. A few years later, I learned about blended learning. I realized that with a little planning, I could blend the technology with other non-digital strategies. A rotation model, for example, makes it easy to put a few students on computers or mobile devices, while others work on other activities, like small-group discussion, independent study or conversation about learning with peers and the teacher. Use a clock to incentivise students. Each time the clock ticks down, rotate students from one station to the next. There’s much more on blended learning–a tremendous time saver–in Teaching the iStudent (Corwin, 2014).
      5. Integrate social networks into lessons: Students love their social networks. Research indicates that teens spend up to seven hours daily on some sort of media. Instead of discouraging this, why not teach your students to use these beloved sites to demonstrate learning. Instead of spending hours strategizing ways to get 100 percent participation in class, put students on Twitter, Goodreads, Diigo, Voxer or another amazing social network, and inspire them to talk about learning. Consider the time you spend creating 20 math problems for an algebra worksheet, or the time invested in surveying a workbook for the right activity. Use a web tool or video to teach the concept, then lead a conversation about how to apply it on your students’ favorite social network. Hours of tedious work are saved, and learning increases exponentially.
      6. Find go-to web tools and apps for feedback: Putting a bubble sheet through a scanner certainly doesn’t take much time. Unfortunately, there’s not much learning accomplished by filling in bubbles. Plus, you will spend many hours creating that test, prior to scanning answer sheets. Social media creates a marvelous conversation about learning and eliminates the need for multiple choice tests. You can ask as many questions as you want on a web tool, like Socrative, and provide your students with instant feedback about learning. Best of all, they’ll love this form of assessment and feedback. You save time, while students enjoy learning. What could be better?

About the author:

markbarnesMark Barnes is a leading authority on student-centered learning and technology integration. Barnes is the author of four education books, including Teaching the iStudent: A Quick Guide to Using Mobile Devices and Social Media in the K-12 Classroom, part of Corwin’s Connected Educators Series. Barnes blogs at Brilliant or Insane and tweets at @markbarnes19.

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