Gone are the days of a blackboard at the front of a classroom and a noisy printer connected to a bulky computer up the back. In today’s classrooms, from the age of six, students are using robots to learn about problem-solving, coding and programming
But how do teachers cope with new technologies increasingly being used in the classroom?
Berwick Fields Primary School classroom and technology teacher Anita Green has embraced the use of robots and other new technologies at the school, providing students access to a range of technologies, from iPads and laptops to programmable robots. Younger students, from Foundation to Grade 2, can borrow Bee-Bots for coding, while other technologies used by students include Edison robots, Chromebooks and Lego Mindstorms.
However, Anita admits that one barrier to the introduction and optimal use of technology in the classroom can be a lack of confidence among teachers, who might not be familiar with the newest technologies or feel intimidated by the knowledge of the students.
Drawing on her own experience of ‘upskilling’ – from her role as a classroom teacher and maths specialist to a role teaching technology and robotics – Anita has the following tips for those looking to build their technology knowledge and skills:
- Sign up for professional development. I am enrolled in a two-day course later in the year and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
- Learn from your colleagues. I know there are various teachers in the school who know a lot about technology and are almost experts in robotics. They have been amazing and shared their wealth of knowledge with me as well as forwarding on a range of documents and lessons to help me.
- Join a Digitech group. I have joined the local ‘Digitech’ group, which is a network of local schools that hosts meetings once or twice a term to talk about technology in their school. Even if you can’t attend all the meetings, being on the mailing list is helpful.
- Do your research. I have purchased a few books on teaching technology that were recommended to me by others. I also use Google (or Pinterest!) to search for good ideas, and when I find a useful site (or I am recommended one). I tend to subscribe so I can get their emails and see any new resources that come up.
- Have a play. I definitely believe in hands-on learning. Over the Christmas holidays, I took home some Edison robots, as well as one of the Lego Mindstorms and a Chrome book, and had a play. It is the best way to learn! The Edison robots, which have been the focus of my work this term, have several books with series of lesson plans which are so easy to follow. They have been great! These are available on their website.
Green said that apart from some teething issues, such as charging devices or connection problems and teacher confidence and knowledge, technology could play a vital role in the classroom, engaging students and preparing them for a digital future.
“The benefits must outweigh the practical issues because we keep persevering! Given the size of our school, we have almost full-time tech support which is really handy. And a lot of teachers are willing to learn, which is great.
“I find the students are really engaged in digital technologies. I think digital technology is important for their future so it should be in the classroom each day in some way shape or form.”