Teaching is a noble profession, however, as the world goes forward, so should your teaching courses. Nowadays, more and more skills are required for people to get a job, and since “technological” literacy is a necessity, study programs should evolve to meet these demands, as well. However, it can be difficult to add additional subjects just to teach children how to use certain tools or software.
Luckily, you do not need to have a whole course for such a thing. After all, it’s better if we learn things deductively than inductively. In other words, you should not use technology as a separate course, but as part of your teaching program. The following article will tell you how technology can benefit your curriculum, and how to use it in order to tap into its full potential.
It boost retention
In developed countries, people use technology and multimedia during their lectures for a good reason. It boosts the retention rate of students and helps them form a more solid memory of the whole lecture. Anything new we learn is stored in our short-term memory. Therefore, after the lecture is over, most of the information is cast aside and, after we sit down to study again, we manage to transfer that knowledge to a long-term memory. There are additional factors at play here as well; the number of inputs also affects our memory, and the more inputs there are, the more threads, or paths that lead to a particular memory.
So, if you only use written text and speech during the lecture, you have two inputs, text and sound. However, with the use of technology, you can add videos that exemplify the point, so there is a visual representation and an audio feed. Plus, you are there to elaborate the point even further. This way, students can remember the lecture with greater ease, since there are more factors that we subconsciously take in.
Another reason is simply to boost the attention span, because videos are far more engaging than looking at one speaker in the middle of the classroom. So, this is one way to improve your course. Use technology to polish your presentation skills, and give a more memorable lecture.
Teach them to connect things
As part of your teaching course, you need to teach students how to be resourceful, and teach them to learn things holistically. Holistic learning is an extremely useful skill, and it can come in handy when they need to tackle more serious matters. It basically teaches people to connect things more frequently, and to solidify their knowledge base by turning it into a network of information. Again, this doesn’t mean that you need to teach all of your subjects as part of one course; however, it does mean that you need to get more creative with homework assignments.
For example, you can create assignments where students need to find the shortest path to connect two vastly different concepts. This will help them conceptualize things and explain their links. Plus, they will have to do a little research of their own in order to present accurate information. To exemplify this, say you give them an assignment to bridge two topics, like the Battle of Sekigahara and the Monarch Butterfly.
The shortest thread could go like this (Battle of Sekigahara to Japan, to the wildlife of Japan, to wildlife, to the butterfly, to the Monarch butterfly). The beauty of this assignment is that there are more correct solutions, and you get to exchange information and learn something new. They can do this with Wikipedia, but also, any website with solid information or any science blog will do.
It’ great for implementing the 4 C’s of the 21st century
Now, let’s talk about the 4 C’s of the 21st century, collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. These skills are actually well implemented in video games. So, if possible, you can in a way gamify your teaching course. There were various experiments conducted, one of the most famous is Lee Sheldon’s gamifications of classroom, and it revealed some very interesting and positive results.
He basically recontextualized the grading system. Instead of students losing points, he simply created a system where they gain points, and there is a certain number of points they need to gain in order to reach the desired grade. So, if they did not do well on the test, there was a plethora of opportunities to gain additional points. Why? Well, we perform better if we want to achieve something than if we work under pressure or fear of losing something.
You can also create groups that need to collaborate in order to achieve a certain milestone, and then give a good grade to each individual. This way, you will not create a competitive atmosphere, but an environment where those students who perform worse are offered help from their peers, and those who are better are cheered on by their teammates.
Since no one can achieve the maximum amount of points on their own, you foster collaboration and communication with these types of activities. Furthermore, if you give them assignments like the linking example (Battle of Sekigahara and Monarch Butterfly) you foster critical thinking and creativity.
Lastly, you can use various collaboration tools, for students to stay in touch and work together on group projects regardless of their location. This will help you “teach technology” inductively and it will bolster their communication. You can also always monitor their progress and idea exchange and use tools to help you assess their points and grades. Just make sure you use reliable software providers. Do some research on online education software, read their grades and reviews and you’ll find the one that is reliable.
It can help you optimize your teaching course
As stated, you can use technology to help you with your grading and tracking progress, however, it can do so much more for you as a teacher. There are various tools to help you create study sheets or flash cards, or even hold classes online, in the event you are prevented from coming to school. In other words, embrace these positive changes and optimize your course efficiently. This is also known as project based learning, and it’s one of the more dominant methods of teaching in developed countries.
It is also a well-known fact, how none of us can be good at everything, there are various types of intelligence, and some of us are better at singing, or sports, or math, whereas we may lack social skills, or good orientation, etc. You can track and map these positive traits and drawbacks and form student groups more efficiently. Show them that they need to function as a unit and give everyone an opportunity to shine at something they are good at. One week, the students who are good at sports are stars, the next, those who are good at history, etc. The point is that you can have a well-balanced team of students, and teach them to work together and make up for each other’s flaws.
Students are more engaged
Finally, students love technology they find it fun and engaging. Therefore, if you use it during your lectures and for home assignments, they are more likely to participate. They also feel like they have a teacher who is up to date, and who does convey skills that will be useful for them in the future, which are also powerful motivators.
They will find school more engaging as well, and make a positive association with the whole experience. If you manage to make learning fun, and still convey all the necessary information, then you have become a successful teacher.
There you have it; good reasons and tips on how to improve your study course. Use more technology and tools for evaluation and collaboration, and recontextualize the reward system. The students will be more motivated, you’ll be more fulfilled as a teacher, and both of you will gain a really useful set of skills. There are various tips online on how to organize your teaching courses to be more engaging, so make sure you work out all of the details and readjust the course to your class.