Technology: it's all a question of (the teacher's) attitude


This is one of my favourite quotations, though it's one I cut out of my conference talk for lack of time.

Using classroom technology successfully (ie. that it produces lots of learning) doesn't depend on the equipment available; it doesn't depend on having a lot of knowledge about technology; it depends first and foremost on the teacher having a positive attitude, on thinking (on believing!) that technology can and will work for them.

I also cut from my talk, because I already had two quotations by him, Doug Johnson's 4 A's of designing technology-enhanced projects:

  • Assignments that matter
  • Activities that involve
  • Assessments that help
  • (Teacher) Attitude is all
Attitude is all: that is so true, and I like to start the longer teacher training courses I do (often with teachers without a lot of self-confidence in using technology) by quoting that short but so important phrase.

Learning to use Edmodo (or any other technology)

We're currently half way through the 10-week face-to-face part of the blended CertICT technology course at IH Barcelona, being run in conjunction with The Consultants-E. I'm observing (and participating in) the sessions with a view to then tutoring the face-to-face component in 2011 [next dates, 4-15 July intensive and 7 October-16 December part-time, with a 10-week online component following after each].

To be honest, before we began, at the back of my mind there was a tiny nagging thought that, having spent much of the last 15 years literally in front of a computer screen, I wasn't going to learn a lot from the course.

Predictably, however, that hasn't proved to be true, and in fact I've learnt a lot. All teachers should spend at least part of the year learning something; I don't think it really matters what — so long as it forces you to think, and to think about what you are yourself doing in your classroom, and the course has certainly done that for me. And, being such a huge subject, technology is something you can always learn something else about…

One of the things we're using on the course is Edmodo. I've known about Edmodo for some time (having first heard about it when José Picardo mentioned it at a conference as one of his 10 tried and tested internet tools for teachers) but until now had never actually used it.

Whether we're talking blogs, or podcasting or Edmodo or whatever, the best way to appreciate how technology might work with your own learners is nearly always to try it out yourself. It's then that you start to see what your learners could do with it — and with Edmodo there seems to be lots!

Like all good technology, certainly any I'd want to use in the classroom, Edmodo is simple, easy to use, and it's both private and Facebook- and Twitter-like. I love it and my students are enthusiastic too.

Now, that's got to be a good sign.

Video sites, not Google, to find out how to do things

One of the ELTON winners is Russell Stannard's teachertrainingvideos.com, which has "walk-through" videos on such things as how to search the internet; how to set yourself up on Blogger; and how to podcast

Russel also has a second video tutorial site, multimediatrainingvideos.com, at a more advanced level, with tutorials on such things as Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop.

You can search Google for how to do things with technology, but look out for the videos in the results: actually seeing how something is done is sometimes most useful.

Rather than going to Google at all, I always recommend trying video sites like teachertube.com to find out how…

Video sites for learning to use technology

Everyone knows YouTube, don't they?

But there are other great video sites, too, which are particularly useful for learning how to use technology:

You can read about how to do something in a manual, or find a text-based tutorial online somewhere, but sometimes actually seeing how something is done is so much more helpful!

Learning vocabulary, learning technology

What sort of training with our new interactive whiteboards (IWBs) should we provide our teachers?

The IWB is like any other technology — the best way to learn how to use it is learning by doing, actually "playing" with it, that is. We're providing sessions but, rather than involving formal instruction, they are opportunities to try the IWB out, to play with it.

Learning to use new technology is also a bit like learning vocabulary, I'd suggest. Apart from learning by using it, you also need to meet it regularly, and recycle it.

It's therefore best to give yourself four or five 15-20 minute sessions with it, on four or five different days — better that than an hour or more on a single day.

If you learnt a new vocabulary word on Monday, you'd have forgotten it by Tuesday. But if you recycled Tuesday, there'd be a better chance you'd remember it Wednesday.

If your first experience of teaching a class with the IWB is Thursday, learn and relearn it until you know it on the preceding days, plural.