The secret to a successful technology filled classroom is teaching your students to respect the device as a learning tool and not a toy

technology-classroomIntegrating learning and technology can be a tedious task in today’s school systems. We open a whole new world for research, learning, and innovation when we bring technology on a one-to-one basis into the classroom. However, there is a fear, as educators, that we will not be able to “control” our students when they have the freedom of the web.

School technology departments put limitations on devices to restrict student access to certain websites. This can also limit students’ uses of the device by blocking useful research or information teachers plan to use for activities. So, what is the answer to a successful technology filled classroom you ask?

The solution is simple: teach your students to respect the device as a learning tool and not a toy.

(Next page: Creating an engaging environment that is student-centered and group focused)

Create an engaging environment that is student-centered and group focused. Of course, this takes a lot of preparation and classroom management skills, but it can be done. To start this process, consider developing behavioral contracts to establish expectations within the technology-based classroom. One effective practice is to have students place their devices in “polite position” when it is time for instruction or group collaboration.

The University of Texas at Tyler’s Innovation Academy is implementing this exact philosophy in the classroom. Each student is provided with an iPad, which they are expected to treat as a tool. The student takes the device home to use for extensive “at home enrichment,” which allows the student to not only be a responsible at school, but at home as well. Students are taught to respect the devices as well as understand the importance of technology in everyday situations.

The teacher, also known to us as facilitators, write curriculum that not only focuses on content skills, but they also take into account other important life skills. These include 21st Century Skills, STEM education, Project Based Learning, and group dynamics.

The important issue here is that students are learning accountability for their actions. Students learn accountability by using different technologies and skills that allow them to prepare for the real world and college, through collaborative learning, and by self-monitoring their research for appropriate content.

Developing a technology-based classroom can be a wonderful opportunity for students and educators. We have the chance to not only teach but to model skills that are imperative to student success in the 21st century. Learning to integrate technology seamlessly in the classroom is a learning process that will take time, but is well worth the effort.

Kristi Martin is a teacher at the University of Texas at Tyler Innovation Academy.