Technology is great–when it works.
While using technology for learning is easy, mastering it–using it to save time, reduce busy work, and ultimately increase student understanding–is another matter entirely.
Lost passwords, blocked YouTube channels, and 200 unread emails in your inbox can really put a dent in your enthusiasm for consistently using technology. So below we’ve started a list–and it’s just a start–to identify problems and solutions for teaching with technology.
And since it is intended only as a beginning, we hope that you’ll take to the comments section below with a problem/solution of your own. Weak WiFi signals, low memory on tablets, and other issues that challenge your tech integration, and ultimately cost you one of the most valuable resources a teacher needs–time.
46 Tips To Save Time Teaching With Technology
1. Problem: Too Much Procedure, Too Little Student Work
- Adopt a truly student-centered, self-directed classroom. (But this one’s easier said than done.)
- Think of every lesson from two perspectives–the desired outcome, and the student. Then simplify the workflow until they can reach that desired outcome on their own without your micromanagement.
- If all of your apps are focused on student work or assessment for example, diversify. Consider apps for a smoother runnning classroom–that help smooth the flow of interaction between students, activities, and teacher.
2. Problem: Grading of Frequent Assessments
- Create a self-grading quiz using Google Drive.
- Experiment with the digital tools for creating simple quizzes and soliciting feedback from students.
3. Problem: Contacting Parents
- Consider any of these 10 Tips For Contacting Parents Via Social Media.
- Use “one call” apps that deliver mass messages to parents–like a closed-circuit twitter.
4. Problem: District Filters
- Get to know the person (or group) that maintains the filter. Learn what makes them block and unblock stuff, then appeal to those criteria objectively.
- Check that your resources aren’t blocked ahead of time.
- Ask the district for an updated lists—digitally-accessible in a wiki or something—of all blocked site that’s updated weekly.
- Tether your tablet or laptop to your cellular signal in a pinch. (It’s really not difficult; Google it.)
- Use a flash drive–or a memory card in your smartphone as a flash drive.
5. Problem: Student anonymity and privacy
- Assign every student a number that’s exclusive to them, and have them post, share, or otherwise “brand” their work by that number.
6. Problem: Slow Computers
- Bring your own. It’s worth it.) Yes, I know you paid for it. Yes, it’s a considerable expense. It’s. Also. Worth. It.)
- Use a tablet. (They tend to slow less over time.)
- Add a couple of sticks of memory to the one the school gives you. $60, and takes 90 seconds for even a beginning to install. Google it.
- Use a Chromebook, or even a Microsoft “convertible” tablet/keyboard combo (~$350 from Microsoft).
7. Problem: Looking For Apps
- For one, use fewer apps. Looking for apps is like shopping—it’s fun even if you already have all that you need.
- Learn to more thoroughly use what you already have.
- Ask the students to find what you need.
- Read TeachThought. (We curate the best learning apps, too.)
8. Problem: Disorganized Resources
- Organize it—starting in the cloud!
- Use a system of cataloging your content that helps you find what you need faster.
- Use the cloud so that you can find it on your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or whatever new technology that emerges this time next year.
- Tag it.
- Throw out old stuff—or at least drag-and-drop it all into a dumping folder for later.
- Purge annually. Take that folder from above and throw stuff out that you no longer use. (Don’t horde.)
9. Problem: Drowning In Email
- Adopt the email charter—and then hope others do, too.
- Don’t leave it open. Pick a low-energy, low-creativity time of day when you’d be out of it anyway, and use that time to respond to email.
- Know that it’s okay to be brief.
- Know when to pick up the phone.
- Set up two email addresses, and use them strategically (one for this, the other for that).
10. Problem: Finding Resources
- Set up an RSS feed or twitter list of your favorite resources, then skim then daily. Use a reader that allows you to save your favorite posts directly to an app like Pocket, then save the good stuff there to skim again later.
11. Problem: Student Account Access
- Keep a Google or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet of student log-in info that you can access from anywhere, and can make changes to on the go.
- Print a roster every nine weeks with student names, then have them add—and test—their log-in info.
- Have a school volunteer come in every 4.5 weeks and review/test/revise log-ins for all students.
- Realize this is a problem for everyone on earth, and there really is no cure-all.
12. Problem: Too Many Resources
- Go on an information diet–less is more.
- Focus on fewer, more substantive posts and resources.
- Cull your follows on social media.
- Trim your RSS feed.
- Declutter your bookmarks not by removing five or six links, but deciding which five or six to keep.
13. Problem: Mediocre Content
- Be choosier with what you read. Think less about the title or the popularity of content, and more about the credibility of the content creator.
- You’ll find your perspective aligns (more or less) with a handful of educators. Follow them, and make it a point to at least give their content a skim even if the headline doesn’t jump right out at you.
- If the content doesn’t challenge your thinking, find its way directly into your planning and the work students are doing, and/or inspire you, then stop reading it. There’s too much great content out there.
How To Save Time Teaching With Technology