The dream of many when it comes to technology in the classroom is for 1-to-1 devices (actually for some it is 1-to-many). However, for whatever reasons, this is not always the case. (See for example Bill Ferriter’s attempt to raise funds for cheap Chromebooks for his classroom.) Therefore, sometimes we need to be resourceful and think of a different solutions. Here then are some thoughts on different activities that help rethink the use of technology to support learning.
The ideal situation is having each student with a device. This provides a means for all students to be actively engaged in learning. Here are some suggestions of activities:
- Making and Creating: There are so many different ways to publish work, whether it be typing up a story, making a slideshow, creating a digital poster, recording an audio or videoing a presentation. Maybe it is using Microsoft Office or Google Apps, what application used depends on what device you are using and what you are trying to achieve.
- Communicating and Collaborating: One of the greatest benefits of 1:1 situation is the potential to connect and collaborate. This can take many forms, whether it be openly engaging with different ideas and information within various virtual spaces, such as Edmodo, Global2 and Google Classroom, or collaborating via applications such as Answergarden, Google Apps and Piratepad.
- Sharing and Reflecting: There are many ways to share and reflect. Socrative allows a mixture of predefined quizzes and on-the-fly questioning. Similar to Socrative, Kahoot! provides the means to create game-based quizzies. For a different way of sharing, Verso provides the means to engage in a safe environment anonymously. In regards to surveys and reflections, Google Forms provides for a range of options and a useful summary of responses when finished. While Padlet provides a simple way to collect and share ideas and information.
Not every activity necessarily needs 1:1 devices. There are often benefits to sharing devices, especially when working collaboratively. Whether it be Sigatra Mitra’s 1:4 or Donald Clark’s suggestion of 1:3 or simply 1:2 as the YVeLC pushed. Here are some suggestions:
- Collaborative Presentation: Although presentations can be done individually, they can also be created with others. For example, students can use Audacity to record and edit a podcast, use Google Apps to work collaboratively, work together to create a blog on a topic or add commentary and feedback to a presentation.
- Research: Providing groups with a device allows them to find information. Sharing forces students to work together to clearly define what they are actually searching for. This can be useful as each person takes a role, whether it be as leading, questioning, taking notes or searching.
- Rotations: The BaM Video Delay iOS app allows students to record themselves and then watch back in range of ways. In Physical Education, this can be used to provide students with regular feedback when there are multiple stations running.
- QR Codes: Using a tablet, QR Codes provide a range of possibilities, whether it be tabloid sports where students watch a short video and then complete the task or a scavenger hunt activity which involves using codes that provide clues to the next code. QR Codes can be a great way of getting students moving around.
Whether it be a desktop computer or a solitary iPad, there are many ways that we can use just one device to help drive learning. Some ideas include:
- Research Computer: So often after students have finished using computers to research they have those odd queries that arise that they just need to look up quickly. One solution is to set up one computer and limit students to a couple of minutes to find their information. To maximise this time, make it an imperative that students have a clear question when coming to the computer, as well as a plan as to how they search for the information.
- Class Creation: Technology does not have to be (nor should it be) the main focus of a lesson, but can be means of giving voice to it. Even with one iPad in the classroom, apps like Adobe Voice and Book Creator allow you to quickly and easily create whole class presentations. This can be an alternative to having every student stand in front of the class and present, while it also offers the possibility for the user to gain instant feedback and make improvements.
- Documentation: There are so many ways to use technology to collect documentation. Gary Stager suggests that video and photography offer the easiest means of capturing learning in the classroom. However, there are other useful applications that allow you to build on and organise these, whether it be Seesaw or a class blog. You could even use the interactive whiteboard. These artefacts provide a way of extending, clarifying and modifying ideas.
- Measuring the Pulse: Although the easiest way of gaining feedback is in a 1-to-1 environment, there are different things that you can do with an iPad, such as using Plickers, which allows you to easily gauge student feedback by holding up cards, while Post-It Notes and iBrainstorm provide different means to gain information using sticky notes.
In the end, there are so many potentials when it comes to technology, sometimes we just need to think differently. Whether it be a camera, Chromebook, an iPad, a netbook or a desktop computer, each device offers something unique. What needs to be remembered at the end of the day is that first and fore-mostly, no matter what devices you have, it should all start with learning.
So what about you? What are some of the ways you go beyond one to one devices in the classroom in order to create different learning possibilites? As always, comments welcome.