New Technology in Your Classroom This Fall?

September 07, 2012
Kelsey Herron
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, United States
CATEGORIES Digital Literacy, In the Classroom, Technology Integration

Do you have new technology in your classroom this fall? Matt Levinson, head of the upper division at Marin Country Day School has some helpful tips on iPads and classroom use. Levinson is the author of “From Fear to Facebook: One School’s Journey.”

Writing at KQED’s MindShift, Levinson stressed the importance of a clearly written FAQ and Responsible Use Policy. He also suggested making video tutorials on the use of different apps, and using the tablets to jumpstart the switch to a paperless classroom.

Here’s a few of his other suggestions that caught our eye:

  • Develop surveys throughout the year to gather student and teacher feedback to gauge the success of the iPads, as well as areas that need improvement.
  • Teach students how to set up the iPads to allow them to take ownership of the process of ensuring that all systems are working.
  • Share best practices and successes with parents through short videos and student presentations.
  • Enlist student ambassadors to teach adults how to use iPads. This can happen at a parent education event or another similar event.
  • Have teachers share their most effective uses and tactics regularly at staff meetings. Those who take the lead can help their colleagues figure out how to better use apps to deepen student learning.

Many of Levinson’s concerns lie in the proper training of both students and teachers in using iPads productively and safely, and without wasting classroom time. As he notes, the fact that there is no ‘tried and true’ method of using such a new classroom technology makes the role of educators and school officials all the more crucial.

“With no standardized system or uniform roadmap to follow, at the moment, it’s up to individual schools to reach out through their networks to find information about best practices and smooth, streamlined service,” Levinson said. “But once a system is in place, educators will intuitively be able to move on with the business of guiding student learning.”

We’ve seen a few great examples recently of schools making particularly exciting use of the tablets. In Northeastern Wisconsin for example, Lutheran High School’s new one-to-one program is giving tablets to every student. Geometry students are using math applications, completing homework and even taking tests via the new technology. And at New Britain High School in Connecticut, teachers are using iPads to administer developmental reading tests. And of course, as with any new technology, iPads in the classroom make the need for digital literacy even more imperative. Check out our free resources for the classroom here.