I have never been someone who has gone crazy to use the latest technology, and in many ways I feel like my life is better because of it: I don’t get Facebook envy because I never use Facebook; I still know how to talk to people because I never got a smart phone until my newest employer gave me one. Furthermore, I don’t regret staying away from flashy technology: it’s saved me thousands of dollars.
In some ways, however, I wish that I had embraced technology much more wholly than I did, because I feel like I completely missed out on opportunities in my classroom to help students learn better. Sure, I had my reasons for hating education technology, but if I could go back in time, I would definitely do things differently.
One Technology Product I Wish I Had Used in the Classroom
Camtasia – Holy Cow! The more I think about what might have been, the more I realize that I missed out on a great opportunity. Rather than giving the same lesson to five or six (or even seven) classes, I could have carefully planned out my presentation, recorded it, and then done something else while my students watched the presentation. Over the years, I repeated myself time and time again as I showed my students different concepts like, specifically, how to do internet research. Man, I wish I would have invested in the Camtasia software, spent a little time after school and in the summers, and made videos for everything that I explained two or three thousand times. If I could go back to when I was a teacher, I would give the makers of the software my money, and I would make video after video after video.
How I Would Use Technology in the Classroom…if I Were Still in the Classroom
I spent twelve years in the classroom teaching students to be self-directed learners and teaching them how to think. I’m confident I prepared students for academic life years down the road (not just for a test at the end of the year). However, I wish I would have used technology more to help students collaborate with their classmates and even with other students around the world.
Leaving the classroom has opened my eyes to the world beyond college—a world I never entered until I was thirty eight because I went straight from college back to middle school. We need to prepare our students for the global economy we’re already in. Doing the usual group work (like making a cute menu when teaching adjectives—yep, I’ve assigned that) is somewhat beneficial, but that’s not going to prepare students for working with coworkers in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. How much cooler would it be to collaborate with other students in China and South Africa on a chemistry experiment or a social studies paper! Or even, it would be awesome to have a student give a presentation in English class that is broadcast virtually to another teacher’s science class. Technology has opened the business world; we need it to open up the education world.
ELB Education has some great products that will help students be more prepared technologically for the global business world. For one, Nureva Span allows people (students) to collaborate with each other digitally anywhere in the world. Gone are the days of sticky notes on the wall. With Nureva Span, students can send virtual sticky notes projected onto an actual wall or onto the shared file in their computer. Also, the Prowise LED touchscreen flat panels allow students to collaborate at a computer like they never have before.
Part of my job as an Education Consultant is to help districts and schools get the best technology for their needs, and then help teachers use that technology to not just learn long division, but to be prepared for a virtual, global world. I’ve left the classroom and I’m not going back. Now, my job is to help other teachers not wish they could go back in time after they leave teaching behind.