As educators, we are constantly reminded that we should be focused on developing, in our students, the 21st century skills that are needed for them to succeed in this era. It is important to remember that our students are digital natives (an individual born with technology in their life). Today, students are practically born with a smart phone or tablet computer in their hand. Catering to the learning needs of digital natives can be quite a huge responsibility, and it can be especially scary if you are a digital immigrant (someone who has had technology migrated into their life), which is the case for a large number of teachers currently in practice.
Here are a few tips on how to stop your technophobia and seamlessly integrate technology into your classroom.
Tip 1: Start small with just one or two key applications.
Being a digital immigrant doesn’t mean that you are incapable of becoming digitally fluent. Just like with any new skill, it takes practice. Using technology isn’t always easy, and digital immigrants often have to learn as they go. We should try to introduce new concepts one step at a time approach integrating technology into our lives. Focus on mastering one or two applications and then move on to others.
Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
We all make mistakes. Remembering this is the most important thing when trying to overcome your fear of integrating technology. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and if you do, use it as a teachable moment for your students. Students learn by example and when we are brave enough to admit that we also make mistakes, it can encourage our own students to take risks and try new and exciting challenges that are out of their comfort zone.
Tip 3: Use the 4Cs when integrating technology.
In 21st century learning skills an emphasis is placed on the communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. It is important that students master these skills in order to be successful in such a technological advanced society. Choose apps that meet the needs of your students and enhance their learning inside and outside of the classroom.
Tip 4: Ask your students’ opinions.
Remember our students are digital natives and have a natural ability to pick up on certain technology. An easy way to integrate technology into your professional practice is simply to involve your students. Ask them what programmes and applications they find useful to their studies, and socially.
Tip 5: Let your students become the teacher.
Being digital natives, the students often know the ins and outs of the programmes very quickly. I began using Instagram two years ago, because my students kept talking about how much they enjoyed using it. I told them I wasn’t familiar with it and they decided to put together a lesson on how to use Instagram. They presented it the next day for the class. My students took control of their learning and gave their peers a new application for learning, and gave me a new professional tool to share best practice.
By Chassie Selouane
Chassie selouane has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre & Education, a Master’s of Education Degree – Curriculum Instruction with a specialization in ESL. Chassie is the Director of Learning at SAIS-Dubai.