The recent surge in affordable and simple-to-use technologies has led to a drastic rise in the ability to integrate technology into your creative curriculum. While this is inarguably a positive thing as it expands accessibility to varied forms of instruction and the capacity to cater to different learning styles, it does not come without its fair share of challenges. Any teacher can tell you that classroom management is something that does not come easily, and using new technologies in your classroom and in your instruction can pose difficulties. As Educause reports, if your students are using laptops, e-readers, mobile devices, or tablets, then there’s always the possibility that they’ll do so in a way that poses a detriment to your lesson plan and their engagement. This doesn’t mean, though, that we should move away from technology. Quite the opposite, in fact. Take a look at these few tips for using new technologies effectively in your classroom and ensuring that they aren’t abused:
Honesty and discussion
The best way to manage your students behavior in your classroom is through promoting honest and open discussion. When you’re integrating new technologies into your instruction, be clear with your students about the rights, responsibilities and privileges associated with these devices. One of the best ways to do this is to have a discussion with students at the beginning of the academic year. In addition to affording students an understanding of your expectations, this will also allow them some time to develop a know-how regarding how to use new technology before true instruction begins. If you manage your classes off of an established syllabus, be sure to include a list of your expectations and rules for these technologies. This will allow for further reference on the part of both you and your students as the year progresses.
While establishing trust and open communication with your students should always be your first move, there are external measures that can be taken to monitor your students use of these devices. Assuming that students are accessing the Internet from their e-readers, tablets, or other mobile devices, consider having your school’s information technology department set up a school-wide firewall to block inappropriate sites or sites unnecessary for instruction. This will allow you not only to limit your students’ use of school resources for social media, gaming, and other distractions, but also allow you and your coworkers insight into how much time is being wasted attempting to access these sites. Firewalls, which are akin to parental controls on a television set, can be set up to block specific sites, pages including specified keywords or even general types of content.
Be firm but fair
One of the most important steps to take when introducing new technologies into your classroom is to have an established protocol for the manner in which they’re used. Explain to your students the reasons that you’re incorporating these devices into instruction. From this discussion, students should develop an understanding of the benefits of using technologies integrated into learning, but they should also be aware of the fact that it’s a privilege. Don’t be afraid to temporarily suspend class access to laptops, e-readers or mobile devices if they’re being regularly misused. This will not only boost your instruction and classroom engagement, but will also foster a sense of ownership and personal responsibility within your class.