In today’s blog post, I will discuss the integration of a website or an educational content management system into teaching practices. I will analyze the different points of view and try to give the advantages and disadvantages as an ESL student teacher.
First of all, children nowadays are so connected with technology that using it in their learning environment could help some of them get more motivated in school. A two-year old can easily use an iPad without anyone showing him how to use it. Students often have access to old books that schools do not have enough money to change because of budget issues, but teachers have access to incredible sources of content on different platforms and often for free. It can motivate students to do a little bit more effort and have more success in school. They would go on the Internet after school anyway, so why not make it profitable for them. I think that teachers have the responsibility to show their students all the great things on the Internet that can help them learn. We need to teach them to use those tools in a positive and educational way. They have to be able to use technology since it is such a big part of today’s way of functioning in society.
As an ESL student teacher, I think that integrating technologies into the teaching practices is a positive thing for students and for their parents. It is a good way to connect with them outside of the school environment. The Edutopia website mentioned an important point: students know how to use technology, but they do not necessarily know how to use it in a learning purpose. So many great tools exist (Edmodo, First Class, Moodle, Schoology, etc.). As a student, I experienced Colnet when I was in Cégep and I am now using ENA at Laval University. The high school I went to is now using Pluriportail.
Those are all good educational content management systems. The school administration has to carefully choose the one they want to use. They have to think about different things. The Marqui blog has resumed it well, they focus more on higher education, but I think it can apply to any schools in general:
- “Define organizational goals
- Prepare a new content strategy based on distribution
- Do your research, and understand what you need
- Don’t focus solely on the technology”
They all have their advantages and disadvantages, but the analysis of these may occur in another blog post. (You can let me know in the comment section if you want me to talk about those.)
I think that it makes the communication between the parents, the student and the teacher so much easier. When something is wrong, the parents can contact the teacher or vice versa. The problems can be solved in a day. Students can ask questions and get an answer within a short period of time. Many parents of students are separated and might live in different cities, it is a good way for them to continue to follow their child’s progress through the school website. Parents can consult their children’s grades, report card, etc. Parents also feel like they can participate more in their child’s academic progress by being able to know all their evaluation dates and special activities, because everything can be posted on a portal where parents can easily consult all that information. Students can have access to their documents everywhere they go and they can go back to the documents they consulted two months ago for revision. The Education World website emphasizes that it is important that students use their technology tools on a daily basis and not only during computer class for example. It creates a routine that is good for children. The Edutopia website also adds that technology helps students become more engaged in their studies.
Doing homework could actually become a fun moment in their day instead of a demotivating task students have to do every night. As an ESL teacher, I could put up on my website different English YouTube videos that my students have to go watch or TED talks or readings. There are so many possibilities. I can ask my students to hand in their homework that way and easily give them feedback. It saves a lot of paper (we have to think about the planet!). I can post revision quizzes or links to websites with interactive activities. Some educational content management systems have forums (or something comparable) where students can share knowledge or ask/respond to other students. I think that forums are great tools because it creates a real community of students helping each other and what a better way to really understand something than try to explain it to a peer.
However, I think that integrating technology is also a lot of work for teachers that decide to create their own website on the Internet. I spoke about that with my cooperating teacher in my practicum. She has a website where the students can get their homework for the week, planner, different activities, videos, etc. The main point that she mentioned is that it takes a lot of time to build. You have to build it from nothing and learn how to do it if it is the first time. Because the parents and students will consult it, it has to be professional looking and contain all the material. It is a commitment that you do with your students to post new things and always be up to date on the website. She added that once the website is done and that you have been operating it for a few years, it gets a lot easier (your banners and everything is already done). Teachers have to put effort to learn to use those tools.
Technology is still hard to get in some schools because of funding problems. There are so many cuts in budget that buying new computers in a school is hard. Not all schools have access to SMART boards or projectors or any other resources. Teachers can still find great activities to do with limited resources. Some schools make the parents buy the iPad or the laptop, but that is not something that all schools can ask the parents because of the socioeconomic status of the families frequenting that school. I think that a minority of students might not have access to the Internet or computers, but it is still possible for them to go to places like libraries to consult the school website.
I love the endless possibilities that offer technologies. I think that when those tools are well used, they can push education further than we think. Students are excited to use those resources. Teachers have to get on the boat and go with the flow. It might be a little more work for them, but when it shows results it is all worth it.
See you next week with another blog post!