Professional Journal 4-5-99 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

PROFESSIONAL JOURNAL Back to School Checklist:

Making Your Technology User Friendly

by Eamonn O'Donovan

Technology & Learning August 1997

As computers proliferate in the schools, teachers must now plan how they will use new and exiting technology in their classrooms. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. However, the law of unintended consequences dictates that the opposite is often true.

The computer is a tool that is suppose to revolutionize education. However, using the computers can be a major drain on planing and instructional time. Reviewing and installing software, learning the ins and outs of an application, computer crashes, lost files can almost make you want to go back to using a typewriter.

Trouble-Shooting/Management Tips

Students have a way of using computers in ways unforeseen by engineers. Preventive maintenance will save frustrations for teachers so a Checklist is provided.

1. Set clear Standards 2. Determine reasonable consequences for failure to meet these standards. Address the following issues in a classroom AUP - Proper use of time - Appropriate treatment of the equipment/prevention of vandalism - Cooperation with partners and peers - Internet etiquette - Security of networks, passwords, and files. 3. Teach the Basics 4. Pre load software and try it out 5. Develop a file manager system use Autilities@ programs and virus checkers. 6. Make templates for assignments that students will do often. 7. Create a multimedia image and sound library on your hard

Preparing for Internet Use

The Web can become an instructional black hole. Pages load slowly or need plugins, or students get lost in the vastness of cyberspace. To maximize the learning time: - Practice first - Set clear guidelines - Teach your students effective research skills - Teach your students how to use Web search engines effectively. - Use kid-friendly search engines like - Tap into education Web sites - Learn the Net on the Net - Make bookmarks for sites you want students to visit. - Learn Net time-savers.

Acceptable Use Policies: A sample From Houston 1. Do not use a computer to harm other people or their work. 2. Do not damage the computer or the network in any way 3. Do not interfere with the operation of the network by installing illegal software. 4. Do not violate copyright laws. 5. Do not view, send or display offensive messages or pictures. 6. Do not share your password 7. Do not waste the limited resources. 8. Do not trespass in any others folder 9. Do notify an adult of violations 10. Be prepared to be held accountable.

Kids As Technology Mentors Take advantage of the technological aptitude of your students: - Select students to act as technology mentors. - Train kid mentors before you let them troubleshoot. - Mentors should show proficiency in a task-oriented quiz - Make a job description for your mentors. - Give all kids a chance to be technology mentors. Setting Up Your Room

Know students= needs and match the resource: - Skill acquisition - Exploration/Research. - Putting it Together - Show What You Know The Computer Lab

- Layout is important - focus on curricular goals - Create lab schedules to maximize access - Give students a simple way to signal that they need teacher help. - Make two printers available - Group similar machines together. - Use older machines for word processing, keyboarding or spreadsheets, e-mail or other telecommunications activities.


I have personally had experiences with transformation of using technology in my classroom. It has been exciting to add the use of computers with curriculum, researching, word processing, and development of graphics. I have found that although the transition has added a new dimension to my classroom, it has also created some problems with execution, implementation time consumption. To begin with, I have requested during my spring ordering that software I choose to buy will be here before school lets out. This allows me to have it on hand during the summer and spend time learning how to use it and find the beneficial areas that can be implemented into my classroom. I have found that if there are any bugs or clichis in a program the students will inevitably find them. Nothing is more frustrating for students and teachers to have lessons or time wasted because of pitfalls. One thing I have utilized in my classroom, to alleviate the frustrations and to involve students in problems solving, is to have the corner of the blackboard labeled Tech Problems. When there is a question I cannot answer or a problem I cannot solve I write it on the black board and tell my students I will find the solution within one day. I give bonus points to students who find the solution. I feel this is a Ateaching moment@ that demonstrates to the students that no one person could have all the answers. In technology Cooperative Learning and Inquiry are as educational as the answers.

However, I feel it is vital to control the amount of glitzes with being properly prepared. It is important to have things in order. A well planned lesson and a well prepared teacher are essential. But, the reality of teaching is that more is being required of teachers making time as the most precious of all our resources. Reviewing and installing software, learning the ins and outs of applications, computer crashes, and lost of files all drains teachers= planning and instructional time. Teachers need a support system to facilitate this change. It is crucial to provide teachers with the training and education needed to take advantage of technology in the classroom.

Earmonn O'Donovan's suggestion of kids as technology mentors is excellent. I agree that pre-training is essential. Mentors need to demonstrate aptitude, attitude, grades and behaviors that will make them useful in that position. It wouldn=t be beneficial to have mentors to create more problems than they solve. Possibly have a test or checklist for certification of mentors would give achieving students a goal to reach. Then, have a program of mentors to teach potential mentors would give extra incentive for students to accelerate their technology skills.

Last of all, after reading this article, it is important to remember that technology is just a tool. It is used to help students learn. It is not an end in itself and it cannot replace a teacher. Teachers need to also make the most of their teaching time by being as prepared and knowledgeable of the technology they are using. I believe that it is essential to utilize technology into the lessons with effectiveness and enhancement. I will always be conscientious of integrating computers and other technological wonders while making the most of the time devoted to technology and learning.

-- Anonymous, April 05, 1999

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