Monday, January 11, 2010

Technology Infusion and Engagement of Students

'Technology infusion in the classroom is important for a relevant learning experience.'

When this statement comes to mind, what are your thoughts? Mine include descriptors such as exciting, challenging, experimenting, succeeding, failures, and engagement. I want to draw your attention to the last one. Engagement. Engaging your students in your lesson (no matter what subject) is one of the most crucial things a teacher needs to strive for. I am sure you always hear that if your students are engaged, then they are learning, growing and are more likely to succeed. Am I right? Have you heard it before? Well I think this is an extent.

I know what you’re thinking now, 'what is she talking about?', but I promise you my explanation will get you thinking about the way you teach. Here it goes:

As your students walk in your classroom, ask yourself if they are engaged with their surroundings right when they walk in. Answer is probably not. Not unless you are a person who attends to all individuals in all your classes at all times. Chances are, students are not engaged from the moment you see them and they step into your class. Chances are, they are waiting for you to engage them. Waiting for the moment when school ceases to be boring and begins to be something they 'can get into' and enjoy. It may be for just that class, but our job as teachers is to try. We do know that people (even in general, not just students) learn better if they are interested and care about what they are learning. To engage your students, means that they will grow, learn and succeed. Well I have some food for thought on that. If you students are engaged, they will do so much more. Once given the chance, all students have potential to grow on their own. They do not need you to learn. They need an environment that is conducive to their personality and their own learning style. Technology infusion engages students. There is no doubt about it. Most of them deal with technology a hundred times in a day. They text, email, facebook, myspace, IM, play games, etc. If we are not on the wave of the future (aka. technology) then our students are not engaged. Wow, I know that is a big shoe to fill. I am not saying that every class period needs to have technology infused, or that your students will not grow, learn, or succeed without it, but what I am saying is that teachers need to step back from their day to day stuff, maybe the same stuff they have been using for YEARS, and step to the right and go outside their box. If you challenge yourself, your own growth and learning increases, so why not use that simple idea and apply it to your students. If they are put outside their box, maybe by giving them a new assignment that is technology based, maybe their limits soar through the roof. That student that does not enjoy writing has an opportunity to use his gaming skills, since he has been playing World of Warcraft online every day, and put it to good use by developing a WWI famous Canadian battle scenario using flash for a History 20 assignment instead of a report! Do you think that student would be more engaged in the content? Do you want the student to remember the battle or just regurgitate what he/she has read about it? Or do you want him/her to use the talent to grow in more than one way?! This student's engagement is pin-pointed on learning and will achieve the objectives using a modern, fresh approach to something that applies to him! Maybe this technology infusion will be the spark he/she needs to get off the couch and think about a career in computer programming? Maybe you have just broken this student's shell and will see growth and engagement in many other things. My point is, giving technology infusion a chance, even if it means stepping outside your box may mean more to your students then you ever thought imaginable; quite possibly giving all your students a chance at engagement in their learning that they will never revert back from. Try it, what are you waiting for?