The TechCHAT series invites teachers, media specialists and other educators from across the country and around the world to share how they’re using technology to enhance instruction and student learning. Contact us about sharing your classroom tech ideas and lessons learned.
Lindsay Brothers was an ESL teacher in Spain prior to joining LiveHive. In her classrooms, Lindsay integrated the latest software and technology in order to engage students and increase English fluency.
1. Five years from now, what will be different about how schools implement tech?
What’s happening in the corporate world—consumerization of IT, BYOD, etc.—is infiltrating education. Tablets will soon be everywhere, and apps will replace workbooks. I think we’ll see school districts split between providing tablets and asking students to bring their own. Providing tablets, although costly, give schools more control as to what goes on the devices. We won’t see a standard practice of implementing tech; we'll see a lot of fragmentation in how tech is distributed and controlled. The demand for tablets is only growing, and each school district will have to respond on its own terms due to budget and security/control concerns.
2. For schools, what’s the most challenging aspect of tablet management that you see?
Letting go of control. Schools can’t control tablets as easily as textbooks. Considering how quickly technology changes, teachers cannot possibly know everything, and keeping up to speed is nearly impossible. We can guide them in their educational journey, but we can’t get hung up on the fact that kids will sometimes move more quickly than we ever will be able to. Luckily, there are a number of resources and blogs online that help us keep up!
3. What are common challenges for educators integrating technology, especially tablets, and how can these be overcome?
Because it’s still so new, changing behavior is a challenge. Maybe not so much for students, as most are willing to play with new apps and try new things, but more so for parents, educators and administrators. Often, teachers are unsure of how to implement the tablet into instruction, as it can feel like a toy. We need resources for educators so they can understand how this technology fits into the daily learning routine. Word-of-mouth is also extremely important; we need to be able to discuss what is and isn’t working with our students. Sometimes research isn’t the easiest thing on a tablet (there is no switching between tabs), so we have to be very flexible. But these are all skills students and educators need.
Another challenge is budget. It can be a very expensive and arduous process to issue, manage and refurbish/upgrade tablets for each student. Resources and processes must be built to control this. On top of this, selecting digital textbooks can be painful, as prices are still very high. Schools and districts will have to develop processes to manage these issues, which will come with time and listening to educators. For the educator in the classroom, developing an understanding of free and cheap resources can help dealing with budget restraints.
4. Cloud storage is picking up fast, and many tech analysts think everything will be done in the cloud one day. Share a unique success story of an educator utilizing the cloud to engage with students.
When I was teaching English, the cloud gave me the flexibility I needed to share a variety of material with students. I developed a personal library of readings and resources that I used for assignments. With cloud computing, I could easily send and assign them to my students. In Spain, students are required to take an English language test in order to go onto university. I created a Google Doc with various phrases in English useful for writing an essay, and the class helped me translate them into Spanish, all via the Google Doc. These phrases were extremely useful for writing, and it wouldn’t have been half as fun or collaborative without the cloud!
You can find Lindsay Brothers on Twitter: @LiveHiveApp.