For the final project, I was required to pick an app or website that could be used in an educational capacity. I chose Quizlet, as I had heard many good things about its use as a study aid. While I completed the criteria questions, I started to kick around ideas about how I would create a lesson that was based around the use of Quizlet. Eventually, I settled on the idea of a jigsaw learning activity to prepare students for a summative assessment in a literature unit. With this in mind, I began to write my narrative while creating the materials for the lessons in Quizlet.
After completing the narrative, I continued to explore through Quizlet to find features I could showcase on my brochure and in my learning station. As I explored through Quizlet, I began to come up with a brief script of features I wanted to showcase, while also showing off the lesson that I crafted around Quizlet. Ultimately, I came up with a brief three-minute tour of Quizlet that managed to show off most of the important features of the website.
Identify the Important Part
To me, the important part of this learning experience was learning to evaluate to websites and apps for their educational potential. Similar to the app review, I had to read between the lines of each app and think about the less obvious applications. As mentioned in the app review assignment, many apps that could thrive in the classroom are not billed as “educational” apps. Because of this, it takes a keen eye to notice the possible classroom applications for an app.
Although Quizlet is explicitly billed as an educational app, I still had to find applications for the service outside of the obvious “make flashcards and study them” application. In playing around with the service, I stumbled across the ability to combine study sets, and my mind instantly jumped towards using Quizlet as part of a jigsaw learning activity. Being able to make those kinds of connections beyond the obvious uses for apps was probably the main thing I took away from the final project assignment, as I would be able to look at all sorts of technology critically, in the interest of introducing technology into the classroom in less obvious ways.
Put It Together
Honestly, this process reminds me a lot of whenever I write critical essays over literature. Rather than going into an essay with a definite, solid idea about what I’m going to write over, I have to play around and explore the criticism and my own writing. In this process, I eventually stumble across an interesting pattern of criticism or an idea to focus on, which usually takes my essay in a whole different direction.
This is similar to the lesson-crafting process within the classroom, where I would have all these individual pieces that I want to work with, but it takes experimentation before I am able to mold them all together in an organic way that works. Also, sometimes this experimentation can take place in the thick of the lesson itself. For instance, when I was demoing Quizlet in my learning station, Ilene asked me if Quizlet had a search function. I hadn’t messed around with the search function before, so I spontaneously searched for Hamlet notecards, and found several different study sets covering the play. Thus, in the following demonstrations, I talked about that applications of that feature, all based off Ilene’s suggestion. Ultimately, developing lessons and activities needs to be an organic process that adapts to the various factors that may affect your classroom, much like writing a critical essay.
Pick It Apart
I learned a variety of things from this project. First, I learned about thinking creatively and critically when integrating technology into the classroom, as mentioned above. Second, I learned about the variety of apps available to students, ranging from study aids to communication tools. As students have more access to technology inside and outside the classroom, app developers have been able to see new needs within the classroom that technology can address, leading to a great variety of apps that can work in vastly different classroom situations. Considering this, all teachers should really take advantage of this opportunity to integrate technology into their classrooms.
Finally, I discovered that the most important part of using technology in education is to consider the students’ access to technology. If students don’t have access to personal computers or the Internet, you’d have to adapt your lessons to account for that. Thankfully, many more students have access to smartphones, so that’d be one avenue for teachers to explore for students to learn from. Overall, I think most teachers should extensively survey their students in order to plan the use of technology in their lessons so students aren’t left out in the cold because they can’t afford technology access.
Plan to Use
Ultimately, if I were in a school that has one-to-one access to technology, I would dive deep into the app ecosystem of the platform they are using. The easiest way to determine if something will work in the classroom is for the educator to actually use the app themselves. It is important to go into the app with an open mind and clear eyes, in order to figure out innovative and novel ways to integrate technology to the classroom.
In the event of classrooms with limited access to technology, I would have to limit my use of technology to in-class time. Students need to be acquainted with the various uses of technology, but at the same time, students should not be punished because they don’t have the means to use technology outside of the classroom. That would be unfair and counterproductive to creating an equitable classroom environment. I would hate to make technology a footnote in my classroom, but sometimes that is necessary to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to learn.
Until next time,