Over the past nine months I had the opportunity to explore the use of Educational Technology. I have rediscovered the importance of its use in today’s society. We live in a technological age where children are using technology day and night. As educators we must match what they are doing or lose them in the classroom. There are a huge variety of tools out there. My one regret is that most of them are geared for upper elementary or older. Some of them are able to be used by students in the lower grades, but from practical experience it is difficult.
I have decided to incorporate many of the tools into my teaching, including blogging, Glogster and Prezi.. Also, I am beginning to bring tools that I taught in certain grades down a grade. For example, Google Docs used to be taught in 6th grade, I now plan on teaching it in 5th. Many students are already using it. I also plan on having the children create their own Vokis, because they already create their own avatars on the Wii and Play Stations. For these reasons we need to be ahead of the technology lest we fall behind.
However, all this being said, I still believe there are times that going “low tech” is better. Every teacher needs to remember that the technology should support the curriculum not the other way around.
Ever try to explain how to do something on the computer? Did you every have to explain it over and over and over again. The answer to that is to use Jing. Jing is a screen capture tool that will record your moves on the computer while you voice over directions.
The applications for this is endless. There are many times that I have had to explain things and my students need to use a specific skill while at home. Some specific skills that can be taught are inserting pictures into a Word document, animating objects in PowerPoint or creating a formula in Excel.
I plan on creating a series of tutorials using Jing (if my mic works properly) on how to use specific skills with the SMART Board. If you have any thoughts on tutorials you would like me to do let me know.
Podcasts are an extremely useful tool in education. They have broken the barriers that have long been set by time, distance and money. A class studying the Great Wall of China can now see it and hear first hand what it is like, how big it is and how it was created. Until now that was not able to be done because of the three factors I mentioned before and more. It has opened up a “New Frontier”.
A science class that wants to conduct an experiment and does not have the funds to create the actual experiment watch it on a vodcast. They can actually feel like they are the ones there. Additionally, a class creating an experiment can chronologize it periodically showing how it changes day by day or week by week.
In Jewish education, again there are number things that can be done with podcasts, either creating them or viewing them. Even though you can listen to shiurim on them (children will find that BORING), I think there are better uses for them. The music video created recently by the Macabeats around Chanukah could also be used (in a sense) to tell about the story of Chanukah. Children can act out the parsha each week instead of writing a d’var Torah.
As part of a group children can teach a topic from the torah, history or holidays. They can be put together to form a group of podcasts that will inform everyone about the entire topic or main idea.
In the past, I have not really used podcasts. After thinking about them and reviewing their usefulness, I am a believer and will try to use them more in the future.