There are many discussions about the types of technology available to schools (or, the lack thereof due to budget limitations), but what if you could design the classroom of your dreams (or maybe just the "ideal" classroom) with any technology you'd want to include if you had an unlimited budget?
Would you stick to the traditional tools or go all out an bring in every wiz bang technology available? Would you include your students in the decision?
From the educators I've spoken to most would like to adopt more technology into their learning environments, but it is always a struggle to 1) find the time to research what is available (forget about finding the time to get training on anything new!), 2) get stuck with whatever the IT Admins have provided, or 3) simply don't have the resources to figure it out. On one hand there is a desire to create the most engaging environment for your students and just trying to keep your head above water with all the obligations you have to meet standards.
Well, I'm curious to know... what would your ideal classroom look like? Dream big - who knows, maybe it isn't that far away!
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Call me a dreamer. If we had unlimited funds to purchase technology, I would purchase a laptop for each of my 28 students. I have taught 4th and 5th grades in Post Falls, Idaho for the past 10 years. Currently we have two computers in our classroom and we share a computer lab with 16 other classrooms, therefore we are very limited in how we use technology. The students of West Ridge Elementary are hardworking and dedicated to learning, however many of our lower socio-economic students, 40% who qualify for free and reduced lunch, do not have equal access to technology. Most textbooks are now available via the internet at a significant savings to the cost of printing books. To be competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace, research shows that our students must have equal access to technology. Many new innovations in technology have made learning both fun and engaging. On-line resources such as Apangea, an on-line math program, allow educators to individualize their lessons, as well as providing immediate feedback to students. Most importantly, new technology will allow students to collaborate and develop the necessary skills to be successful in the future. As I stated before, I have hope that we will someday have the ability to provide a computer for each student. Call me a dreamer.
I would utilize an interactive whiteboard every day in the classroom (not just for notes, but for video, maps, images, ways to utilize primary sources in the classroom). Anytime we would use the whiteboard for notes, I would record the presentation to post on my website and podcast. Being a social studies teacher, I need ways to keep students engaged as well as ways to keep them active. I would get several "flip" usb cameras to use for class video projects as well as mp3 players for students to use with studycasts and podcasts. I would also utilize 6-8 desktop pcs for in class activities and research.
Let me know who I need to contact about this blank check. I want to make sure they know who to make it out to... :)
Technology is a tool - like a can of spray paint. It can be used very productively or misused. Technology in the classroom is often underutilized. Teachers need to redo their entire curriculum and teaching methods to make use of the technology. If not, then students will not stay on task and will use the computers for leisure activities. I think that most students would prefer social networking and chat for schoolwork, but teachers have not designed scholastic-oriented activities to utilize them. Make teachers re-invent their class before adding technology. My recommendation is to add the technology in the form of projects before making it available on a full time basis.
My dream classroom, and what could MS do for me as a teacher?
I am the library/tech coordinator for my middle school of over 700 students (soon to be 925!) Our entire district uses MS Office, etc., and we are fully wired for the Internet. Each school has at least 5 computers per classroom, although some have chosen to use some or all of these to create labs.
Since I work with everyone, I prefer to answer this question in relation to what my teachers could use...
I believe that if every classroom was outfitted with notebooks that connected to the internet, the use of technology could become more of a seamless part of teaching and learning. I would love to see every classroom in my school outfitted with an interactive smartboard and a mounted data projector. The teachers who have them already love them, although some of them tend to fall back to using the data projector and smartboards as glorified overhead projectors.
However, it is crucial for teachers to see best practices modeled, to have the TIME and training to practice how to use the technology and to understand how to teach using 21st century skills with and WITHOUT technology. (21st century skills encompass MUCH more than new technology!)
The last dream I have about technology is that we would not be so limited in what we are allowed to do with it. Many of us are poised and ready to introduce our students to social networking and online collaboration, only to be stymied by the regulations and "safety" measures employed by our District to limit use of the internet. Many of these measures go FAR beyond the ones required by our government for the internet safety of our minors.
So, there you have it, great technology is available and is used by many, but we have a need for more freedom to engage the hearts and minds of our students in their own learning, using 21st century learning skills, more accessibility to technology and the Web, and more time to learn what we need to know in order to help our "digital immigrants" learn.
I find the new technology as a gift as well as a curse. Yes, it makes the students nowadays who have a really short attention span pay more attention but in the long run how about paying attention to you -- the teacher?! I guess the dream for me would be a classroom with just me the students and a blackboard and another room filled with all the gadgets that we will ever need. The lesson would start with the lecture then the application and research (via the digital room) and then go back to just me and them. The new technology are really great when it comes to providing more information and better communication but still there will be nothing that beat the connection you get during face to face interaction.