No matter where you turn, you can probably see that education isn’t quite what it used to be. Nearly every classroom you turn to seems jam-packed with the latest technology – web cams, computers with wireless modems, laptops and even video conferencing tools. OK, maybe not every classroom has every piece of equipment, but it would be a rare classroom that doesn’t have at least one computer to accompany the more “conservative” equipment such as a machine for playing educational videos (either a VCR or a DVD player) and audio equipment.
If you are serious about doing the right thing by your students and giving them the education that they need to take them into the workforce of the 21st century, then you will have to make sure you know how to use this classroom technology efficiently. However, if you have learned the techniques of using educational videos in your classroom, you will easily be able to adapt to using more modern techniques and tools.
Don’t overlook “old-fashioned” educational videos as part of your lesson. Whether you’re in a school that has all the gadgets and tools, and you’re well used to communicating with students and their parents via your own blog, or whether you’re in a school struggling for funding, you probably have access to a video or DVD player. And a video can be used creatively in a range of ways to enhance your lessons to provide variety and to capture the imaginations of your students. You don’t have to plug and play – in fact, you shouldn’t do this. This is about education, not entertainment.
But if you’ve mastered the use of the DVD player, you can easily use a number of newer tools to enhance your lessons.
Use short online video clips. Clips from YouTube can be used in place of a “normal” educational videos or DVD but with two advantages: Firstly, the clip is already in a short bite-sized form, saving you the hassle of hunting for the right segment on a longer DVD or video; secondly, students who have internet access at home or at an internet cafe can re-watch the clip to reinforce the lesson.
Use blogs, forae (plural of forum) and email newsletters to communicate with your students and with their parents. This can be a more reliable method of communication between home and school than slips of paper via Pupil Post, but you will have to ensure that all parents have access to the internet. Email communication is best used as a back-up to paper communication and phonecalls.
Math drill. Not all computer games are mindless! Often, computer games are the best way to drill children in times tables and other mathematics facts. Out-of-school tutors often use computer games to provide times tables drill, and students find this much more fun and rewarding than flash cards. Multiplication.com is one site with a wide range of fun games for learning times tables.