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Are New Technologies Changing Teaching?

I was a very interested spectator when my daughter started school recently and I how much things had moved on since I was a student. Whatever the difference between schooling from my parents age and when I was young has been doubled now for when my daughter is in class. This change has been brought about due to the rapid rise of new technologies that have been rapidly adopted by schools in both the private and public sector.

Some things which are different is in the way that things are taught, but another huge difference is in the technology. Rather than traditional textbooks and teachers writing on whiteboards or even blackboards, we have presentations and things being brought to life on interactive whiteboards and tablet computers.

The interactive whiteboard has been around for a number of years now, as has the iPad and other tablets; it is only just recently that educators are beginning to adapt their teaching to make effective use of them though. In order for these new technologies to be effective in the classroom, what is necessary and what benefits can they bring?

  • The teacher needs to understand how to use the technology and be confident in its application. For example, if the teacher starts doing something on an interactive whiteboard and then gives up because they don’t know how it works then the students will switch off.
  • The power of these technologies lies in enabling different learning styles to be catered for. Students can learn writing by touch on the iPads. Sound and pictures can be used on interactive whiteboards to appeal to visual learners or auditory learners. The teacher needs to recognize and embrace this capacity.
  • It’s necessary for the teacher to appreciate new ways of doing things rather than just thinking in the same old way, but with a fancy piece of kit. When notes are made on the interactive whiteboard for example, the teacher then has the capacity to email them to students later or save them and bring them back up in a review lesson later on.
  • In times of budgetary cuts, having access to resources on the world wide web and low-cost apps for tablet computers can help cut costs and do away with the need for some textbooks, excessive printing and overpriced software for schools.
  • The technologies and use of them in teaching is still very young, this means it is important for users to share experiences and ideas with other teachers of using the technologies. This will help lift the overall level and confidence of the users and improve the range of effective ways with which lessons can be delivered with this new tech.

Technology in schools is pointless just for the sake of saying you have it. It needs to benefit the learning experience of students and also be something that gives the teachers new tools and ideas for getting their message across effectively. It needs to be embraced and its potential explored. When this is the case the technology becomes more than just a gimmick and becomes a real step forward in education.

How to Use New Technology in Your Company – Is the iPad Really Worth It?

More than a toy the iPad is a true technological marvel. Let me first put you into context. You have to know that this comment is coming from a man of a certain age, for whom his very first computer was an Apple Macintosh 512k, with an external 800k floppy drive. I bought it during my last year in university, just before graduating (I won’t tell you what I paid for it). So I have always been a big fan of Apple products.

So how does all these technological gadget fit in with what we do?

I love the iPad. Don’t get me wrong. But is giving one to your staff a good business decision?

Let me share a story. Early in my career, I remember our executive assistant having a real hard time moving from the electric typewriter to a PC and word processing. The boss bought this new technology, new printer, and just put it on her desk. There was some training. I emphasize the word “some”. It was mostly a “figure it out” situation. What do you think happened? Weeks and months of battles on how to use the “darn thing” – thank goodness for the typewriter backup right beside her desk… – and arguing with the boss. So we convince the boss to invest into more training. That worked… somewhat. After a few months, while she ran to the bathroom in tears, a colleague and I approached the boss and said: “do you trust us to fix your problem within 24 hours? ” He allowed us to bring in Apple products, we fixed the software, and the rest is history.

I should have negotiated a raise first.

So today we have these wonderful iPads. I see them around me and a lot of people don’t seem to know how to use them. Sure, there’s Doodle Jump, Solitaire, taking pictures and besides that, what? Perhaps a few apps. Probably lots of music and videos. If that is the case in your surroundings, then it makes it for a very expensive “deck of cards” substitute.

Success in implementing new technology has really not changed from when I was a young lad:

  1. Make a needs assessment. Do you know what you really need? If you don’t know, it’s like jumping in to the car with no sense of where you are going. Of course, giving iPads to your friends, families and employees just to make them happy can be an acceptable reason.
  2. Buy the right technology. Having a good deal on a used iPad, could be a rational decision but really, how about buying the latest iPad technology? By the way, I think the iPad is the best tablet out there. I built a compare chart and tested most if not all of them (available in my market anyway) and the iPad did truly come out on top.
  3. Train, train, train. If your staff don’t know how to use your iPad, will they use it appropriately? Some people figure it out on their own but really, is that wise? Think about how much your iPad costs! Worth every penny, but still a fair bit of change.

With today’s technology, I always search online for learning tools. Especially when I am not so interested in sitting in classrooms anymore and be bored to death with non-interactive training. Why go for online options? Usually it is:

  • Fast.
  • You still learn everything.
  • It’s often cheaper and cheap.
  • It’s easy.
  • It’s convenient.
  • You learn at your own pace.

And I was one of those guilty ones that had limited knowledge of its potential. Using the iPad as our example in this article, you would probably find something relevant by using Google and some relevant keywords such as iPad lesson plan, or something to that effect. In any case, I found that online learning is works for me as it does to thousands of people. Especially when videos are used as a support medium. Still with the iPad example, I found videos to learn how to use the iPad. Hours of videos and all the tricks in the world. It is a good example of what is available for online training. Another example for which I use video support is for my business accounting software.

When you do find them, the videos are convenient: you can watch them anytime. Early morning, mid-afternoon or late evening. Or evening middle of the night. They are waiting for you at the moment that you are ready. All you need is an internet connection which you already have. So what is stopping you from learning everything you want to know about your iPad?

Whatever your training needs are, training online is the better option. In my opinion.