The coolest Tech Gadgets for Teachers
The question of teaching and teachers in general has always been one of my favourite topics, as both my and my husband’s mom are teachers. They are both very much dedicated to their profession, although in Hungary the current situation and the lack of money usually hampers their efforts to make the life of children easier and the classes more interesting and enjoyable for everyone.
In the past few years we could witness a great development in technology; during the last decade almost each year brought a new gadget, which can be easily used for teaching purposes. In this article, I tried to present the best ones available.
Why use gadgets for teaching?
- Makes learning more interesting: the use of videos, audio recordings or projections arouse much more interest in everyone – and even the children love digital experience;
- Can reach more students: studies show that children are more interested in interactive learning methods;
- Fits all learning styles: it is common knowledge, that some people can memorize pictures better /visual learners/, meanwhile others prefer audio recordings /audio learners/;
- Provides access to modern technology for all students: no matter where they came from – some students only have the chance to use these gadgets in classes as they can’t afford them at home;
- Computer literacy from an early age: nowadays we need and use computers and modern technology in almost every aspect of life, so it is the best if children become familiar with these gadgets early in their life;
- E-books are cheap: making textbooks and exercise books available in digital, downloadable format is more affordable for students and their parents. This way, students don’t have to carry heavy books from day to day either and they can also easily look up a certain word or phrase in the whole book within seconds;
- Teacher looks cooler: and a cool look can help to build a more friendly relationship with students;
- And all in all gadgets make life easier: with a microphone teachers don’t have to shout in bigger classrooms or attendance roster apps helps them to keep an eye on students without carrying piles of papers with themselves.
A useful teaching app on iTunes
This program was selected as one of the best teaching apps in 2011.
According to its description, it ’makes it easy for teachers and students to stay connected and share information’.
Best high-tech gadgets available to date
- Tablet (iPad): with this gadget teachers can take notes prior to class so they can be 100% sure that they won’t forget anything important to tell the students. They can also prepare a plan for the whole class on these devices. Also, when teachers want to hold outdoor classes they don’t have to bring their teaching equipment along.
- Laptop: as we can see in many popular movies, most students use laptops in university classes instead of normal paper or notebook nowadays.
- Interactive whiteboard: this is the modern, touch-controlled edition of old chalkboards that works well together with any computer. The board is basically like a huge touchscreen, on which teachers or students can write with digital ink and use their bare hands to control the content of the table. It can even be used as huge projector.
- Wireless presenter with laser pointer: for various presentations (for example PowerPoint presentations) this is a very handy tool that allows the teacher to remotely present their slides without having to stand next to the computer and click the mouse or tap the keyboard.
- Wireless microphone: as the name suggests it is a wireless gadget that can be used to amplify the voice of the teacher or even to record the whole class.
- Response pad: so far I have only seen these in TV shows, but they are becoming more and more popular in classrooms as well. With these little ‘remotes’ students can actively engage in classes: when the teacher asks a question students can submit their answer with the help of this clicker and in the end of the class the teacher can reward the best students with a nice grade, etc. In this way students are not only listening and learning during the class, but this game and rewarding approach also motivates them to try to stand out of the crowd with their knowledge.
- Document projector: it is basically a camera that is placed on an LCD projector. With this gadget teachers can simply project images, graphs or even whole book pages onto a screen, where the whole class can see it. With a remote control and autofocus this is also a very handy gadget for teachers.
- GPS receiver: a perfect gadget for geography classes or even for field trips; with this anyone can easily locate where they are or do some geocaching, without the need to worry about a sudden rainfall, as many receivers are now made to be waterproof.
- Weather station: can be very useful in geography or even biology/ecology, as with wireless technology it is able to receive data through its sensors from even hundreds of feet away, without having to go out from the classroom.
- Digital microscope: it is based on the idea of ‘old’ microscopes, but with digital technology teachers are able to project the observed image onto a computer monitor or even onto an interactive whiteboard.
- MP3 player and audio recorder: with the help of these gadgets both teachers and students find classes easier; teachers can use MP3 players to play bits of recordings related to the topic or can record their whole class and post the audio file on the school’s website to enable students to listen to it if they want; meanwhile students can record bits of information they feel important and can use it later when studying for tests.
- Videoconferencing tools: with the help of this technology teachers can easily ‘call’ anyone on the world to engage in the class – for example on marketing related classes it is a great idea to ask the executive of a successful company to be available for some minutes and tell the students some key requirements to success in this field.
This is a handy tool for teachers who want to motivate their students during classes. All they have to do is to give the students (or group of students) one remote (also called Clicker) and ask questions. According to what the educator set prior to class, this gadget will record the answers given by the students and show who was the best.
I guess this is the most known gadget of these 4 - with this MP3 player and voice recorder (as the name suggests) teachers can record their classes and play it later or upload it to the school's website for the students. Apart from this, it is able to store and later play any recordings that have been copied to its 4GB storage space.
Teaching gadgets on Amazon
This great gadget can help teachers during class presentations by allowing them to move freely in the room and remotely present their slides to the students without even going closer to the mouse or the keyboard.
Additionally, with the built-in laser pointer teachers can point out any important information on the table from any distance.
The possible drawbacks of gadgets in classrooms
- Technology is expensive – barely any schools can allow themselves to buy useful gadgets that can be used for teaching purposes.
- Some (mostly older) teachers are unable to get involved in modern technology; many of them feel antipathy towards gadgets.
- Software or hardware problems usually require special knowledge to solve them and hiring a specialist is usually also very expensive.
- Students can be easily distracted by their computer – people tend to check their e-mails or use Facebook quite often and with this they can skip important bits of information in classes.
- Teachers are unable to control students during classes – they might even be able to play games on classes.
- Children and even young adults have difficulties to use handwriting as they got too much used to typing on computers.
- Less attention on classes result in bad grades – students tend to realise to late that they should have listened on classes and they might drop out of school because of this.
- Studies show that some children have difficulties to sit down and focus on tests printed on paper or read a book or an article, as they are already way too much used to constantly moving images and bits of information in front of their laptop.
All in all I think gadgets are essential in teaching as they provide modern and easier ways for everyone to study faster and more effectively.
In my opinion it is not the fault of high-tech gadgets that students get worse grades, it is their responsibility to listen and learn on classes – it is their job; meanwhile parents also have to keep an eye on their children and their daily routine.
Gadgets just provide bigger variety and a better chance for teachers to arouse their students’ interest in sciences.
What about you?
Would you enjoy learning in an environment, where the teachers are aware of the opportunities offered by technology?
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© Copyright 2012-2014, Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy (zsobig)
The Networked Teacher
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