Currently, students of the Roaring Fork District Re-1 schools in Colorado are eagerly awaiting the new year, as classrooms will then be equipped with new Chromebook laptops.
The district used $4.8 million as part of a pilot program to provide new technology to students in the district. The hardware will be implemented in February 2014, as soon as the classroom computers arrive.
The institutions will utilize a cloud-based strategy, where applications and projects are stored and worked on over the Internet. The district’s technology director, Jeff Gatlin, said the group will gauge the success of the pilot program to consider possible future expansion.
Roaring Fork District is just one school currently deploying technology for staff and student use. Many schools are aiming for a 1 to 1 classroom computer arrangement, where each individual has access to his or her own device. In order for such programs to be successful, administrators and educators must ensure that students are using the hardware properly, creating the need for and effective classroom management software.
What to include in classroom technology management: Tech terms
If not governed adequately, classroom computers can present more of a distraction than an educational tool. However, when teachers manage these assets efficiently, technological devices can be an invaluable supplement to lessons.
Education experts stressed the need to use the correct terms during classroom lessons. For example, educators should ensure that students know what signing into an application entails, including use of a username and password. Teachers can also provide details on the school’s technology protection plan, and warn students of the risks of malware and technology infections. In this way, young users are more familiar with the technology and are better prepared to utilize such systems outside of the classroom.
Create and post and acceptable use policy
Administrators should also establish an acceptable use policy before providing devices so that students are aware of appropriate and inappropriate online behaviors.
“The [acceptable use policy], with clear expectations, provides fair guidelines that can help ensure technology is being used for educational purposes and keep a safe learning environment for everyone,” wrote 1 to 1 Schools contributor Rich Kiker.
Such guidelines should include appropriate times for technology usage, as well as when devices should be put away. For example, many schools discourage students from using laptops during lecture or discussion time, as these endpoints can take away from material being taught.
Gauge students’ strengths
With many technological deployments in schools, educators are learning alongside their students. The devices and programs are new for everyone, creating an environment of unity and solidarity. However, teachers should pay attention to their students’ strengths and provide lessons and materials that play to these. For example, if the majority of users are familiar with using online portals, teachers don’t need to spend excessive time explaining the inner workings of these programs to students. Furthermore, educators should be sure that they are on the same page or at a higher level as those in the class. In this way, teachers can better manage the technology and be aware of students’ online activities.
Perform classroom monitoring
While students are working on assignments or projects on their devices, educators should monitor what young users are doing to ensure the hardware is used appropriately. This strategy is two-fold and should include physical monitoring, as well as classroom control software to create the best learning environment.
Teachers can establish a presence in the classroom during technology time by walking around student workstations and look at users’ screens to prevent them from getting off task. Additionally, educators can take advantage of the capabilities of classroom monitoring software, which provides a platform to supervise students’ online activities from an administrative portal. In this way, teachers can manage technology use in the classroom from their own device. This technology also has audio, chat and broadcast features, which provides opportunities for new types of communication and collaboration among users.