Bringing technology into the classroom in the most meaningful way for students requires a comprehensive, multimedia approach. Important lessons are reinforced if they are presented in multiple ways, such as a history lesson that is supplemented with music written and performed during that time period. Group assignments that use the web for research and computers or video devices for presentations are another way to generate greater understanding for students.

However, technology can be misused in the classroom if it becomes the focus of students’ attention rather than a tool for obtaining and disseminating knowledge. Here are some do’s and don’ts that will help guide the use of technology.

DO:

  • Use multiple forms of media, when possible.
  • Combine multimedia with traditional lectures, reading assignments, by-hand drawing, etc.
  • Encourage students to work together and mentor each other by setting up miniature computer labs at which several students can work together.
  • Facilitate and support students’ efforts with technology.

DON’T:

  • Show a video for more than 20 minutes at a time, no matter how interesting or important you think it is. Research indicates that more than 20 minutes is too much for most students.
  • Use technology as a reward for good behavior–i.e., “When you finish your work, you can play on the computer.”
  • Use the same type of technology, in the same way, repeatedly.
  • Assume that traditional “underachievers” will fare poorly with technology. It may, in fact, draw out their strengths, and they should be given every opportunity to prove this.
  • Buy software–and definitely don’t introduce it into the classroom–until you have tested it.
  • Let students use the computer without guidance, especially at-risk students.