five_critical_080914_opt

5 ways to help teachers cope with the intrusiveness of devices in the classroom

Just four years ago most schools had policies against devices in classrooms. The typical way for teachers to deal with smartphones and devices was banning their usage in class. School policy was to force students to leave phones and iPads at the door of the classroom so as not to disrupt lessons or other students. It was a fearful subject for teachers to address. How would teachers know what students were doing on their phones? How would they keep kids engaged in learning when they could access the internet, facebook, and text their friends?

Even more frustrating was the fact that unless smart phones and other devices were confiscated upon the start of class, students would continuously try to sneak peeks at their phones at all times of the day. This posed even further disruption to learning. Fast forward to 2015 – students are not only allowed to have their own devices, Chromebooks and iPads are given to them for classroom use! OR, even more crazy options are enlisted such as allowing students to bring in their own devices for classroom use and mandating that they be incorporated into classroom instruction. A lot has changed!

It takes years of experience for teachers to nail down lesson plans that engage students while incorporating the required course curriculum, competencies, and instructional benchmarks. Perfecting a lesson that engages students, teaches effectively, and produces good results is no easy feat. Teachers don’t have time to revise tried and true means of lesson delivery to include the use of internet-connected devices. But that is what is happening in schools today as districts are adopting BYOD policies and buying up Chromebooks in droves.

If your district has adopted BYOD policies or purchased a gaggle of iPads for student use, here are some helpful resources to assist teachers in coping with the intrusiveness of these new technology happenings:

Device inclusive lesson plans

One of the biggest issues that teachers have with having a classroom full of smartphone touting students is altering their lesson plans to include the usage of them. Adjusting lessons to include new activities takes time, and goodness knows time is at a premium for teachers. To help with this districts can compile a list of resources available for teachers to work from to revise lesson plans to include technology. Here are some examples:

Internet4Classrooms

Boise State Education

Kathy Schrock’s ipads 4 teaching

Chromebook teacher user group

A strong IT maintenance policy

In order for teachers to feel comfortable with the usage of Chromebooks, iPads, smartphones and other handheld devices in their classrooms it is imperative that school districts set up an ironclad IT maintenance policy. Teachers need to know that there are resources for properly maintaining the devices that are now incorporated into their lessons. Nothing is more frustrating than beginning a lesson only to have 3 or 4 students with devices that aren’t working. This can cause distractions that are nearly impossible to defuse.

To alter maintenance policies to include BYOD and handheld devices, IT departments need to:

  1. Know what, where and how many devices are being used in the district
  2. Evaluate and secure enough IT resources to properly maintain all devices being used
  3. Create a process that is accessible and understandable to teachers, allowing them to go through the proper channels to request and receive service in a timely manner.
  4. Train teachers on usage and maintenance of technology so they can take care of issues themselves as much as possible.

Getting parent buy in

The more parents know about school technology usage for learning, the better. Give parents as much information as possible about why and what technology items students are using, how they are using it, and what parents can do to reinforce technology learning, rules and resources with their children. If technology usage at home is congruent with the classroom there are less headaches for all.

When implementing new devices in classrooms many public schools are creating technology education portals on their websites for parents access such as these:

Lemont High School

Keystone Local Schools

Louisburg BYOD

Educating students on proper usage

Especially in schools that purchase personal technology devices, educating students on proper usage is of utmost importance. The more students are educated on why and how devices can be used to properly enhance education, the better the experience will be. Don’t assume that students know how to use a device. On average children are 12 years old when they receive their first smartphone from parents. But schools are providing iPads and Chromebooks to children younger than that on a regular basis these days. This means that there are many children who are only getting access to devices in the classroom. They need to learn how to use them properly for learning so that there are as few distractions as possible due to improper use.

Device monitoring solutions

Perhaps the most encompassing of all needs to reduce the intrusiveness of personal technology devices in the classroom is the ability to monitor what each student is doing on said device at all times. Providing teachers with the peace of mind that students’ activities on smartphones, laptops and tablets allows them to focus on the most important of tasks; engaging students in learning. Having software running in the background that logs websites, apps, and conversations going on gives teachers the freedom to keep on teaching without continuously looking over students shoulders. This is probably the single most important key to implementing devices into every classroom. Impero Education Pro is a great solution for monitoring devices of all kinds. Contact us for more information on our classroom management solutions.