Information Communication Technology (ICT) is an area that touches every subject. As educators (whatever our specialism), we need to look at how we embed ICT into our daily pedagogy. I’ve put together here some top tips with primary, secondary and tertiary students in mind:
1. Get students blogging as a way to consolidate their learning. The fact that students have a potentially global audience for their blog entries means that most will spend more time refining their written work, which not only improves literacy but serves as a valuable tool for reflection. It’s also a good opportunity to explore digital literacy with your students, helping them to understand the important concepts of e-safety, netiquette and effective search techniques online.
2. Use word clouds to showcase key words.
A word cloud is just a collection of words that have been tiled together, as illustrated above. The most frequently used words are automatically made to appear larger by word cloud generators, which makes them a great tool for showcasing the learning outcomes of a lesson or analysing the key themes of a text. Many great word cloud generators such as Wordle can be found online.
3. Encourage collaboration through the use of Google Drive.
Google Documents for example, provides an ideal space for students to work together on group essays and research projects. I provide here a review of Google Docs Documents:
4. Promote Assessment for Learning by creating tests and quizzes for your students to complete online. My personal favourite is Google Forms – these can be embedded into students’ email. It provides a quick and easy way to flag up any deficits in students’ knowledge and understanding, which can then be addressed in the follow up lesson.
5. Use a good quality webcam on a stand as a cheap alternative to digital microscopes and visualisers.
As a former Year 6 (5th grade) teacher, I would often project students’ writing onto the whiteboard, and as a class we would up-level the work together. This helps students to see what teachers or examiners are looking for when they mark a piece of work and is a great Assessment for Learning tool. More recently, in my role as a 1st grade teacher, we’ve put our class webcam to good use by looking at mini-beasts the children have found in the playground!
6. Use iMovie on iPads to get students creating video presentations of their learning. These can then be uploaded (private or unlisted) to a class YouTube channel. Not so long ago, if you wanted students to film, record, edit and annotate a video, multiple pieces of kit would be needed. As well as being super portable, one of the best features of tablets is that they come with all the built-in devices necessary, including camera, microphone, keyboard, speakers and screen – not to mention the fantastic video editing software now available.
7. The trailers provided on the iMovie app also serve as wonderful templates in which to create very short professional quality slideshow presentations. I have made many such videos for assemblies, parent workshops and training events. These videos can be made extremely quickly and will easily engage an audience.
8. Microsoft Word has a fantastic review tool. This enables you to annotate work students have sent you, providing comments and suggestions for improvement. The student can then review these comments one by one and action them as appropriate. That being said, it is important that you retain the original copy of students’ work, as annotations made will be deleted from the working version once they are accepted or rejected by the student. This can be done by saving the work under a different name (e.g. Filename original).
9. Search Engines are rarely used to their full potential by teachers and students. Google for example, can be your go to dictionary (just type ‘Define’), an efficient translator (try typing ‘happy in Spanish’), and the advanced search options provide many more possibilities such as allowing you to refine your search by reading level or file type. If you’re looking for a mental maths starter on fractions let’s say, you may just be interested in search results that only show PowerPoints.
10. Remember, with all of these top tips the focus should be the learning and not the technology (unless of course, the learning is about the technology itself). Outstanding use of ICT takes place when technologies are used transparently such that they blend seamlessly into the learning process, enabling students to become creative problem solvers.