Classroom technology: how long does it take a teacher to come to grips with it?

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 | training | Comments Off

This question is the same as asking: “How long is a piece of string?”

And the answer is the same: “It depends …” Yes, different factors determine the length of time it will take a teacher to come to grips with classroom technology.  For example, a teacher who is already digitally literate should find it easier to make the transition from traditional classroom teaching to one where technology is harnessed.

Not easy to measure the knots and the curves ...

Not easy to measure when there are knots and curves …

When technology training programmes are developed for teachers, bear the following in mind:

Training teachers in the use of classroom technology takes place in stages; it is not a once off event.  Short training sessions over a period of time is better than one intensive course.

The more time teachers spend trying out newly acquired technology skills, the sooner they’ll become proficient.  Allow enough time after a training session for the teacher to practice new skills.

Just in time (JIT) training works better than training a teacher now with a view to applying the knowledge much later.  When teachers are trained, but technology only becomes available in their classrooms months later, some of the skills would have faded.

Each teacher – like learners – will acquire skills at a different speed; the important thing is to practise each new skill often.

Teachers should not despair when they battle to acquire classroom technology skills; from experience they know that fast learners are not necessarily the best learners.

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The real e-learning barriers

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 | technology, Uncategorized | Comments Off


You can overcome any barrier to e-learning

You can overcome any barrier to e-learning

Teachers, do you feel that e-learning is not for you?

Do you believe that there are insurmountable barriers preventing you from using technology in your classrooms?

Most of the barriers you perceive are not real – they only exist in your mind.  And with a bit of effort you can overcome them.

Think about the following:

Barrier #1: My school does not have computer facilities for the learners and therefore e-learning is not possible.

So what?  Start building your own digital skills so that when technology devices become available for the learners, you will know how to use them to improve the classroom experience for them.  e-Learning starts with you, not with technology devices.

Barrier #2: The children in my class know more about technology than I do.

Use this situation to your advantage.  Children love to show off their skills.  Remember, a conductor of an orchestra is not a master of all musical instruments, but draws on the skill of each expert musician to produce beautiful music.  Even with a basic understanding of technology (but with your experience of teaching) you can transform your classroom into an interactive symphony.

Barrier #3: I am technically challenged.

Get over it!  Years ago many of us said that we will never be able to use a cell phone … and look at us today!  If you put your mind to it, also this barrier will dissolve.

The real barriers to e-learning are not a lack of money, or a lack of physical resources, or a lack of a background in technology, but rather an unwillingness to get out of a cosy, comfortable corner and taking the effort to learn to use new tools.

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5 Tips for teachers to get going with technology

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 | technology, Tips | Comments Off

Where do I start?

Where do I start?

Are you a teacher who would like to improve your teaching in the classroom?

Have you considered using technology as a tool to do so?  But you’re facing a dilemma – you’re not a technology boffin and you don’t know how to learn to use it?

Here are a few tips that may help you to get going:

A quick and easy way for you to learn to use technology is to buy it, switch it on, use it and ask for help when you’re stuck.

When you consider a technology training course, remember that Just-In-Time (JIT) training is recommended otherwise new skills can’t be reinforced and are soon forgotten.

You would likely respond best to face-to-face training; the comfort of the warm-body experience must not be under estimated.

A blended approach is possibly the best way of learning to use technology, using different available training options such as: enrolling for a training course; making use of e-learning material; trial and error discovery; and asking a friend for help when you’re stuck.

If you’re a technology novice, you may initially find entertainment available on a computer or a tablet (or even your smart phone) a painless introduction to technology.  Play a game, or download a few videos, or start reading an e-book, or sign up for one of the social networks.

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How much effort should go into teacher ICT training?

Monday, November 12th, 2012 | training | Comments Off

The short answer to this question is: a lot of training.

At least the same amount of money that schools spend on hardware and software should be devoted to ICT training of teachers.

Most ICT tools were not specifically designed for educational purposes; teachers must be helped to discover their classroom potential.

Being computer literate is only the first step for teachers who want to use ICT as a teaching tool.

For teachers to succeed with ICT they need a paradigm shift – this means thinking differently about teaching and learning.  This process can only happen if training takes place over an extended period.

ICT training of teachers is labour intensive but, without it, technology in education has no chance of success.

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There Was a Teacher

Thursday, October 11th, 2012 | education | Comments Off

With apology to Sir J C Squire, I reworked his poem, There Was an Indian, as follows:

There Was a Teacher

There was a teacher, who had known no change,
Who taught content within her comfort reach
Using books.  She heard a sudden strange
Beep-clicking noise: looked up; and gasped for speech.

For in her class, where she had ruled before,
Appeared on desks, by magic, small machines
With blinking lights, and knowledge in their stores
And nimble thumbs that follow prompts on tiny screens.

And she, in fear, this teacher all alone,
Her hands forgotten chalk and board,
Her lips gone pale, a heart gone cold as stone,
And stared, and saw, and did not understand,
A cell phone reigning now as lord,
Clasped firmly in each learner’s hand.

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Should teachers be responsible for their own ICT equipment?

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 | education | Comments Off

The responses that you will receive to this question are likely to be loaded with much emotion!  The facts, however, are rather simple.

When teachers own a personal computer or laptop they can do more work in less time with less effort; techonology also helps teachers to improve teaching and learning in the classroom.  It follows that it is in the interest of everyone – the teacher, the school, the education authorities and, of course, the children – for every teacher to be equipped with the necessary ICT tools.

If  education authorities are serious about productivity and improved teaching and learning, they will provide teachers with tools for personal and classroom use.  Responsible employers provide their employees with the tools of their trade.

Where education authorities are not yet in a position to provide technology to all teachers (granted, in South Africa it is a huge undertaking to provide technology to about 400 000 teachers), school principals who are serious about productivity and quality of teaching will consider the investment required to provide teachers in their schools with relevant technology.

If the school or education department does not provide ICT to its employees, teachers should consider buying their own equipment.  It would not be in their interest to wait indefinitely, while the world around them is becoming technology rich.  Just as working for another qualification will enhance the professional stature of a teacher, so would acquiring technology and the skills to use it lift the teacher to new levels of professionalism.  As they say, “no pain, no gain”.

Not too difficult to figure this out!

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What can motivate teachers to use ICT?

Monday, May 14th, 2012 | education | Comments Off

Computers can’t think – teachers must think how these tools can be used to stimulate the thinking of their learners.  But how can we motivate teachers to use technology at school?  The following suggestions may help:

ICT makes it easier for teachers to build a personal learning network (PLN) with fellow teachers, subject experts and gurus.

The payback for the investment a teacher makes in time to learn ICT must be measured in terms of improved teaching.

Explore the way teachers in other schools use technology – you will get ample tips for your own classroom.

It may also help to remind teachers who find it hard to change to the use of ICT of the technological changes with which their learners must contend.  It is their duty to prepare children in their care for life in the twenty-first century.

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What is necessary for teachers to succeed in the use of ICT?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 | education | Comments Off

It is possible for teachers to succeed in using technology in their classrooms.  The following snippets of advice may be encouraging to them:

The wise teacher who gets stuck with technology never hesitates to ask a colleague for assistance or for advice.

While some teachers are comfortable exploring and creating ICT content on their own, others need it in neatly packaged format.

Your ICT equipment manual – though of limited value in learning how to use the tool – is a quick reference when needed.

What makes it easier for some teachers to come to grips with ICT? 4 things: prior exposure, effort, aptitude and attitude.

Once teachers have become computer literate they must be given the opportunity to keep up to date with the latest ICT releases.

It is useful if a teacher has basic computer skills before attempting to learn how to use an interactive whiteboard.

A big difference exists between a teacher receiving training to use ICT in the classroom and a teacher being skilled to do so.

Teachers don’t have to understand the underlying technology of ICTs – all they need to know is how to use them for teaching.

Teachers who want to make a difference in the lives of learners recognize that technology is already a part of learners’ lives.

When ICT is introduced into a school, a teacher can succeed, but the teaching style of teachers has to change … and that’s not as easy as you may think!  But if there is a will, there is a way!

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A free resource for teachers

Monday, March 12th, 2012 | software | 1 Comment

Over the past years I have used MakeBeliefsComix many times to create cartoons for this blog.  The owner of the software, Bill Zimmerman, has kindly allowed me to use his software at no cost, with the simple request that I encourage others to use the product.

A few examples of cartoons that I’ve created are:

Mobile phones for teaching?

Do you fear change?

Avoid jargon …

Cyber-bullies are cowards.

New literacies required for the twenty-first century.

A new version of the software, with many exciting addtions, was launched yesterday.  Bill writes as follows:

Dear Reader

In its goal to provide more literacy resources for educators, MakeBeliefsComix.com has significantly expanded its offering of writing prompt printables, organizing them by subject categories to help students write and express themselves.

The free online comic strip generator now features more than 250 printables in 50 subject categories, ranging from Bullying and Peer Pressure, to Elections and Political, to Environment and Ecology, to Writing Prompts. These are found at: http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Printables_Categories/

In addition, MakeBeliefsComix has introduced new comic characters with physical disabilities to reflect the diversity of users, including those with special needs. Among the 128 characters that students can now select in creating their comic strips are a boy and girl in wheelchairs, a soldier who lost an arm in war and wears a prosthesis, a blind person with a seeing-eye dog, and an older woman who uses a walker. Each character shows a variety of emotions – happy, sad, angry, thoughtful. Educational therapists increasingly use the online comic site for students with autism spectrum disorders to help them understand social concepts and to communicate. There is a Special Needs section to help educators and parents.

The 250 graphic writing prompts encourage writing and thinking in a quick and imaginative way and foster classroom discussion . A student’s efforts to complete a printable can then become the first step in writing longer essays, poems or stories on the same subject. The printables also can be used with students enrolled in literacy and English-As-Second Language programs, and provide an educational resource for teaching language arts. They are taken from the many interactive books of the site’s creator, Bill Zimmerman, who for many years edited the nationally syndicated Newsday Student Briefing Page, which was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

More than 200,000 educators and students from more than 180 countries visit MakeBeliefsComix.com each month to build their own comic strips and practice language, writing and reading skills. The site was selected by Google as UNESCO as among the world’s most innovative sites to encourage literacy and writing. And the American Library Association chose it as a Great Web Site for Kids.

We hope that you will share MakeBeliefsComix.com with your colleagues, students, friends or readers of your publications and favorite listserv groups. 
As always, we welcome your suggestions and ideas to improve our site.


Bill Zimmerman

I am proud to be associated with MakeBeliefsComix and will continue to use this tool to get e-learning messages across to the readers of this blog.  Have a look at the product … you are sure to find innovative ways in which you can use it for the advancement of education.

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ICT skills make a teachers’s life easier

Thursday, March 1st, 2012 | training | Comments Off

Basic computer skills are of great use to teachers.  The more of these skills you develop, the more productive you’ll become.

Touch typing is an example of such a useful skill.  Once you’ve acquired the ability to type without looking at the keyboard you’ll type faster and more accurately.  If you are using a computer to type things, such as test papers end memorandums, or if you have to enter lots of data, your life will be so much easier if you can touchtype.


Touch typing is a valuable skill for teachers


Knowing all the features of a word processor will likewise make working with text easier.  Word processors have so many features specially designed to help you when you are creating any type of document.  The more familiar you are with these features, the easier your life will become.

The use of a spreadsheet can save you many hours of calculating and recalculating learner test marks.  It can work out averages for you and the possibilities of producing statistics and other valuable information are endless.

Invest some time in developing ICT skills.  It will relieve you of many admin burdens and allow you to focus on what you’re good at and what you are really there for: teaching.

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