As a physical education specialist I can once again say I am guilty of not incorporating technology into my classes very often. There have been occasions that I have observed other teachers in their classrooms and how they incorporate technology. I have mentioned on numerous occasions to colleagues how beneficial it would be to observe other teachers in their areas of strength. By doing so, it would provide me with ideas and things I could take back to my own classroom. I have had a number of conversations with colleagues as to what technology they are using in their classroom. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to see it live; therefore, I can’t relate my teaching or that of others to these particular educational software’s.
My son is 1 ½ and he hasn’t really been exposed to a variety of educational software’s, technologies etc. I have been able to use an Ipad and various apps for learning/viewing purposes, leap frog, a variety of literacy resources (books, computer, Ipad etc.) There have been many people say children under the age of 3 shouldn’t be exposed to television, technology etc. However, I think if our children are growing up in a society that uses technology, why not expose them early on. This way they are one step ahead of the game. I have said over and over, everything is in moderation, I use a variety of resources with my son at home and that’s my parenting choice. Hopefully others will learn to not be so judgemental of the decisions of others.
I would like to discuss two different types of educational software/media that I have been able to use in the past. Although not for teaching there are ways I can see it being beneficial in the classrooms. For the latest project/presentation my group members suggested we use Screen Cast-o-matic. Initially I was stressed, worried, and anxious as me and technology don’t always coincide. My group members assured me it was a great program and fairly easy to use. I began by downloading the program and everything appeared pretty straightforward and easy to use. As an adult I often struggle with new technology and various things related to technology. I can definitely see this program being easy to use for our students. Some of the features that are beneficial for teaching and learning with this particular program are: it can reach numerous participants (they don’t necessarily have to be within the same classroom), the presentation/lesson/teaching can be watched and re-watched as many times as the teacher/learner feels necessary, the program is free to use (I typed in Screen Cast-o-matic on google and was able to download exactly what I needed to create a presentation), the program is step-by-step which allows students to learn things in smaller chunks rather than in one large chunk and finally,this program may be more favourable for brief demonstrations. As a physical education teacher many of the things I do are brief demonstrations. I think this program would be a great way of breaking down particular skills into demonstrations for my students. Often when I have a substitute teacher, I avoid leaving particular skills to be taught because I don’t know if the substitute has a physical education background or if they will demonstrate and incorporate the same information in the demonstration that I would. In this case, this particular program would be great! I could have the demonstration and information prepared beforehand and the substitute teacher would simply have to click a button and run through the presentation. This program also has some negatives that go along with it, however if we look past the negatives and look at the positives the program is definitely worth using in our teaching and learning regardless of the environment. The biggest negative of this program is if you choose different forms of editing sometimes these can be costly, and the people observing the video are unable to ask questions or interact with what is going on (perhaps this may take away from our teachable moments, important questions that students may have in regards to that particular topic).
The second software that I have had the privilege of using (once again not in my classroom) has been Skype. I have been able to keep in contact with a few people via Skype. My sister-in-law missed the birth of our son because she was travelling at the time. We used Skype to keep her up-to-date on her nephew and the many changes that took place with him while she was away. Without Skype she would have completely missed the first 6 months of his life. Skype enabled us to keep in contact and show live the accomplishments and various stages that he was going through.
I have not seen my colleagues or others use Skype in their classroom, however, I have heard of several teachers use it within their classrooms as a teaching and learning tool. Skype like many other software’s and tools has both positives and negatives. Some of the positive things are: we are able to access it anywhere as long as there is an internet connection, it is excellent for collaboration and resource sharing, it can be used across all subject areas and we can invite guest presenters into our classroom virtually. A few negatives of Skype that I see within our classroom environments are privacy issues for students (many students now sign a media release form at the beginning of the year, what happens with the students who didn’t sign or didn’t consent?), WIFI connections are not always be functional from all locations and issues with lagging time and dropped calls.
The article The Importance of Media in the Classroom brought up some valid reasons for incorporating technology that I definitely agree with. Children are exposed to technology all over the place not necessarily just in schools, therefore one of the advantages of using technology in our classrooms in that they are able to access it outside of the school environment as well. Technology does not know the socioeconomic status of the students, nor does it care therefore it is providing equal opportunities for all to learn while they are at school. With the use of technology in our classrooms we are more up to date with their style of learning, we are able to relate on other levels with our students which in turn makes learning more engaging and fun. Lastly, if we are not using technology in our teaching and learning and we send these kids out into society where they are exposed to technology in all areas how do we expect them to be successful. It is our job to set these kids up for success, to ensure they have the necessary tools and resources to be productive, engaged citizens within our society, technology can definitely help us in doing so!
Overall, I think there are many tools that can be used within our classrooms and like anything there are always going to be both positives and negatives with each tool. It is essential that we are teach our students to the best of our ability and by incorporating some of these software’s, apps etc. is allowing us to do so. We need to take the necessary precautions whenever incorporating technology into our classroom and ensure that our students have been taught how to be good digital citizens in and out of school.