Can you see the difference?

What would I say to a teacher who is not using technology in their teaching in learning, if they were to ask me what difference it makes? This week I had an experience where technology made a huge difference to a lesson.

As part of the Grade 3 theme on Food and Health this term, I included a Computers4Kids lesson on caring for our teeth. The children hear about dental health every year – blah, blah, blah. This year we have an Internet connection in the lab and I was able to make use of the online video bookmarked in the Computers4Kids curriculum. The video takes the children to Zoothland where they see a super hero version of dental hygiene.

The actual lesson activity is a template and involves inserting text into text boxes and writing their own oral hygiene tips, using graphics as prompts. I have taught the lesson for a couple of years now and it’s been good but not dynamic as far as the kids are concerned. This year was a memorable lesson because I started the lesson by showing the short online video clip using the data projector. I had four groups during the week and every one of the kids was riveted by the scenario and the catchy music had them moving and shaking in time. I hardly had to give any ideas for sentences as in past years because the “lessons” they learnt through the video are memorable and definitely their kind of thing. They loved it and produced good results for their portfolio.

So what difference does technology make? I well remember how teachers had to choose educational videos they would need from the National Film Library Catalogue six months in advance! They would arrive on the given date and too bad if the teacher wasn’t ready for them because they had to be returned by mail two weeks later. One never knew what to expect in terms of content and condition of the video. Who remembers the old wind on, noisy projectors we used back then? What a pleasure to click on a link on the computer, open the video and review it a day or two before the lesson.

And that’s just one difference technology makes to teaching and learning….

We had another great experience this week. A few of the children who stay at school  for After Care joined me at 4:00pm to Skype a class in Jacksonville USA. The Jacksonville kids are doing a tour Around the World with 80 Schools. It was a real WOW experience for the boys as they saw and spoke to children so far away in real time. They caught a glimpse of life beyond our school or city. Most of our learners have not travelled outside of Port Elizabeth and few have access to computers or the Internet outside of school, so their general knowledge is a bit lacking. This morning when I checked my Twitter account there was a link to a video clip that Silvia had edited and uploaded for us which means the rest of the grade 3’s can view it next week. So thank you to innovative and creative teacher, Silvia Tolisano for the experience. Which brings me to another difference technology makes in education. Twitter. I would never have met Silvia without Twitter. Three little boys’ lives have been enriched by a 15 minute Skype call and hopefully it will ignite a desire to learn more. Technology in education is dynamic!

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