Today’s students are surrounded by technology. From laptops to smartphones to tablets, students use devices and apps for personal entertainment, communicating with friends and family, and even for education.
Not only is technology easy for them to use, giving them a central place where everything important is located, they also enjoy using these devices. That’s why when it comes to education, teachers need to listen to students.
In my technology class, students are creating video tutorials that explain how their teachers can use various technologies and platforms (currently we’re making tutorials for Google Apps). The videos are simple for students to make, and we use Snagit to create a video recording of the computer screen, so teachers can see exactly how to use a product with audio narration from the student. Screencasts also allow for anytime, anyplace, any pace learning on any device, which is ideal for a teacher’s busy lifestyle?” These student-created videos are important for two key reasons:
- Students are given a voice in deciding what technologies and apps they want to use in school. Students are going to be more engaged in class and at home if they’re using devices and apps that they already like, such as Google Apps. Since they’re already familiar with this technology there is no learning curve, and tapping into student’s existing tech profiles allows teachers to reach them more effectively. Just consider, if the majority of a class already has a Gmail account, why not use the technology they’re already on to communicate – like Google Drive and Google+.
- Teachers can learn directly from their students. Rather than having teachers attend workshops to learn how to use basic technology and applications, we have students lead this teaching. This enables students to explain exactly how certain technologies can be used, and the learning process is much more efficient then if it was done at a large conference or workshop. Additionally, teachers know which students they should speak with when they have questions or want additional information on a technology or app.
While professional develop courses are still valuable for teachers to attend, our student-produced videos allow teachers to get the majority of their technology training without having to miss classes. These videos are short and to the point, so they can be viewed during free periods, and easily re-watched in case a teacher needs a refresher on the platform. Teacher’s ability to watch these videos in their office or at home is critical, because another benefit of these videos is that with less professional development days, students will have their teachers in class more often, resulting in fewer days with substitute teachers.
Students also love having input on their education. Asking them to help train teachers on technology and platforms they like and use empowers them, and captures their interest, so that when class begins, students are already prepared and engaged. That’s why my class – and hopefully many schools around the country – is making use of the technology and experts that we already have on site to enhance the learning experiences for students and teachers.
Rob Zdrojewski is a technology teacher and director at Amherst Central Schools in New York. Rob can be contacted via his blog at RobZtraining.com or @MrZtechTV on twitter. View his students screencasting projects at MrZclassBlog.org