Mistakes to avoid
K. Walsh shared an interesting blog post outlining concepts to keep in mind when incorporating technology into the classroom. Part of that post is reproduced here.
- Using technology that you don't have a basic understanding of: If you are asking students to use a specific application, it is highly advisable that you have basic knowledge of how it works so you can offer some guidance. Students may struggle excessively and become frustrated or do things they really shouldn't do. Learn the basic ins and outs of applications that you plan to use in assignments.
- Using applications that may display inappropriate content: Make sure you think about this. And "inappropriate" can come in many forms—from major issues like overtly sexual or violent content to lesser but still relevant concerns like advertising.
- Using technology that isn't supporting the lesson plan: If the tech is there just for tech's sake, and the way it is incorporated in the lesson plan isn't facilitating the lesson's intended learning outcomes, then why are you using it?
- Not planning for students who have no, or limited, access to the computers, the Internet, etc.: If you require the use of Internet applications for completing assignments, be sure that your students have access. If the work is going to be done in school, where they have access to the tools they need, then there shouldn’t be an issue. If work needs to be completed outside of normal class time, then you need to be sure that if you have students who have limited access to the functionality they need, you plan for ways to help accommodate them.
- Using a lot of technology tools that require the creation of user accounts: Try and avoid this, as it is a bit of a pain for students to remember lots of different accounts and passwords. There is also some gray area in terms of teachers requiring the creation of personal accounts on social media sites, etc., for their students. It may be within a student's rights to refuse to create an account on an Internet site if it seems to somehow violate their privacy (which can depend on the types of info requested by the site).
- Using applications that are highly distracting: One of the frequent complaints I hear about using YouTube in the classroom is that the way they display lots of associated content can be quite distracting. The same can go for many social media sites and for advertising content displayed on sites. If you can embed content from a site into a web page of your design, this can one way to address this.
- Using personal Facebook accounts: You really don’t want to have to friend students' personal Facebook accounts or have them friend your personal account. If you are going to use Facebook as part of an assignment, it is strongly advised that the teacher and students have accounts specifically intended for school use, separate from their personal accounts (Facebook frowns on this in their rules, but it is a pretty common practice).
- Be vague or unclear with technology-based assignment instructions: Make sure your instructions are clear and precise—for example, if you tell students to "post ____ on the Internet" but give no guidance as to how or where, you are asking for potential problems and confusion. Similarly, if you say, "find ______ on the Internet," students may be exposed to inappropriate content or get distracted. Always be sure to give clear guidance for all assignments.
- Using proprietary software or applications that require hardware that not everyone has access to: Strive for either device-independent applications or applications that you know everyone can use (because they are going to work on the related assignment while in the computer lab). Avoid applications that require specific hardware that not everyone may have (i.e. iPad only, if not everyone has access to an iPad) or that require a certain level of computing power that not everyone may have.