Technology Tools for Classrooms: Building a Community of Learners Part II

Technology Tools in Classrooms: Computers and the Internet
Computing in the classroom setting has been around for approximately 30 years. In those thirty years we have seen a variety of computing companies come and go (remember Radio Shack computers?). We have see a variety of resources be developed.

Did you know that the Internet is just a little over 5000 days old?
We have seen an expansion of tools that are useful for sharing information. We have seen a development of tools that allow for collaboration both locally and globally. We are beginning to see a change in the way our instruction for our children is being delivered and being assessed using the tools now available to us via the internet. Needless to say, this growth and constant change has brought about a sincere amount of consternation among teachers, administrators and parents about where to go next, what do first and what are the skills and concepts that students should truly be learning in order to successfully compete for admissions into the best colleges and universities around the world. To me though, the bottom line is the classroom community. Look no further than the homeroom students that we serve day in and day out through and academic year and look to give them the tools to use to be effective, competitive, and able to learn with the best and I believe we will not miss our mark for excellence by far.

Because of this I have, with the technology leaders and administrators at our school developed what we feel is list of classroom based tools that will translate well in our current environment as well as in the environment we are building for our future classroom environment. Many of you have heard me speak in past weeks about moving our school’s technology programs forward by placing into the hands of our students web-based learning tools. Over a backbone of dynamic data networks, I believe we can lead our students to first engage in learning with the classroom peers and then build and audience with their peers world-wide

Community vs. Audience
As we step forward with technology planning at SAS, we must keep in mind that there is a certain priority to our work. I believe the number one priority must be to establishment of a strong “community” locally. With the tremendous tools that allow for global collaboration, it is easy to jump to the “audience” level without considering the classmate across the room or down the hall. Web-based tools like Blogs and Wikis allow our students to create and share and collaborate and expand their knowledge, but without the face to face follow up our children miss out on the key reason we send them to school in the first place- to learn in a dynamic environment lead by qualified instructors!

It is after the local work is completed, that the “audience” can be expanded and further sharing, exploration and even collaboration can be exploited from the web, and thus the importance of having a solid, classroom-based set of resources.

Resources for the Classroom
As simple as it sounds, the classroom must have a basic set of tools. For a start, projector that can show an image of a computer screen (LCD projector) is a basic tool for all classrooms today. As I enter my daughter’s classroom in kindergarten, I see her teacher using an LCD to create learning opportunities for the students as the work through their lessons, just like I see an IB science teacher doing their work. Secondly, a classroom must be prepared to have the tools for sharing multimedia projects. Multimedia in its current format will include movies with sound and possibly animation. The LCD projector takes care of part of this equation and the inclusion of a simple sound system will accomplish the rest. Finally, a basic tool for classrooms is also a tool to use to share, collaborate and demonstrate, and that a document camera. This tools allows a teacher to share with the classroom a book, a drawing, a microscope, and even their own two hands. The more dynamic part of this is the fact that it serves as a recorder of lessons and demonstrations as well, allowing for the lessons to be reviewed and shared within and outside the classroom community.

Classroom Environments are key in the Future of Learning at Our School
It is because of this focus that we move the idea of Technology 2012: The Future of Learning. The technology team has worked hard to solidify the concepts of technology use in the classrooms of our elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, based on building learning communities and giving the powerful tools to the students for the future.

It is our hope that as our students visit the back corners of their memories of their school experience, they can tell the story of school that took bold steps to give them the tools to learn, collaborate and share both locally and globally.

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2 Responses to Technology Tools for Classrooms: Building a Community of Learners Part II

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