Remember when you were a student, facing the desk rather than being behind it?
Your teacher had a trusty projector and acetate sheets in their hoards, and I bet you still remember messing around on the mini whiteboards they’d give you, drawing that elaborate ’S’ sign again and again. Remember that feeling of relief when your teacher would roll in the video set, knowing that it wasn’t just going to be another lesson of worksheets, and the precious hour in the computer room when you could sneakily nudge someone on MSN? Let’s not forget that some of us belong to the generation that were either phone-less or proud owners of Nokia bricks, so passing notes and being limited to a game of Snake was the norm.
I don’t know about you, but having lived and seen the swift technological innovation of the past two decades, I’m amazed at how much it’s all progressed. With social media and smart software a staple to our daily lives, though, I’m definitely not surprised to know that scientific evolution has changed the face of education forever.
Nowadays I can’t tear myself away from a screen, but the schooldays were an escape from it – no, I’m not that old, it’s just that I think we got a slow and steady exposure to what modernity had to offer. Today, however, tech is no longer a thing for kids to marvel at, but the absolute ‘must’ that follows them through the school gates. iPhones and Instagram are to hand in an unlimited manner from the touch of one small button and the selfies and statuses they post never leave them. IT lessons were regarded as a bit of a treat on Friday afternoons, and pressing the internet button on your phone was a stressful moment as you wondered how much credit was draining away, but since 4G became the standard technology’s swayed from being appreciated in small doses to having the same value as a PE kit, or a pencil case – it’s just there, in other words, another one of the student essentials.
Tech is the be all and end all to the generation you now teach, so much so that they’ve gotten used to its limelight, and what does that mean for today’s teachers but complete disruption, right?
I know that teaching in this decade is a different ball game entirely – I hear it all the time from teachers I speak to – and I know you’re past counting the amount of times you’ve caught someone texting mid-lesson, or heard the term ‘snapstory’, or dealt with someone who procrastinated so much on BuzzFeed that they missed their coursework deadline, but tech doesn’t have to be the bad guy in this story.
I’m not saying that you should throw the towel in and let your kids run wild with their tech love affairs, but that there’s a way to capture their attention and do your job more effectively than ever without them having to time travel back to our own school lifestyles – enter apps such as Kahoot, which merges together the classic group quiz with your class’s smartphones, and Google Classroom, an assignment tool that reduces both your marking time and the imaginative ‘I couldn’t do my homework because’ excuses you’ve heard a lot of. Trello is there to ensure you manage projects to efficiency, Remind is around so that you can share information with your class without having to raise your voice constantly, and with the invention of iKnow!, you can rest assured that your students are learning independently and setting their own personal goals, alleviating a little bit of your stress come exam season.
In short, a wealth of online resources are in your corner to make your life easier, capture students’ imagination and cater to their generation specifically – there may be a million distractions available to your class to detract them from your lesson, but there are a million more that’ll pull them back in effortlessly. All that’s left to do is use them.
After all, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.