Technology takes a lot more knowledge than most people think. It can be very overwhelming to someone who does not understand the basics, so as teachers, we must approach technology positively in order to see students grow in their own personal knowledge.
In the classroom, teachers must understand and utilize instructional software. Instructional software is programs that are purposefully designed to deliver or support multiple learning activities. The software has changed over the years. It used to reflect behavior and cognitive learning theories, but it now is designed to support a constructivist approach. There are five different categories of the software known as drill-and-practice, tutorial, simulation, instructional games, and problem solving. Several of them may overlap each other as well. In the classroom, drill-and-practice is used for skill practice which can be done through flash card activities, branching drill, or extensive feedback activities. Tutorial is the actual information delivery. There is both linear and branching tutorials, but it takes adequate record keeping, interactivity, and other specific criteria. It is good for immediate feedback and saving time. Simulations can be physical, iterative, procedural, or situational to use as demonstration and exploration. It can be very beneficial as it gets students involved and makes impossible possible. It also is good for discussion work with the whole class, small groups, or individuals. Instructional games are used for skill practice and exploration as they teach through rules, competition, and entertainment. Students usually have a high interest in the activity and see it as a reward. Problem solving can also be used for both skill practice and exploration, but it encourages more group problem solving and provides structure. Overall, the software system must be used intentionally and accurately.
Computers also are designed for features and capabilities of word processing, spreadsheet, and database software tool programs that can be incorporated in the classroom. Word processing produces documents as a stream of text. It saves time and enhances document appearance through graphics and placement. It also allows sharing of documents and collaboration. It can be incorporated in the classroom through reading and writing assignments at a young age. Later on teachers can use it for easier grading and submission. It should be used for teachers to produce documents and more importantly collaborate with their students in order to save a lot of classroom time. Spreadsheets can be a little more challenging to use in the classroom, but it is still highly effective and used to organize and manipulate numerical data. Though I do not think students should have to work much with spreadsheets, teachers should use it as seating charts, to keep up with grades, and to keep all other information organized in rows and columns, charts, formulas, and manipulations. Teachers may also display spreadsheets to help keep students organized as well. Students may learn at a young age the concept of spreadsheets through a reward system or checklists. Databases take technology to another level allowing users to store, organize, and manipulate data textually and numerically. It allows teachers to increase their instructional skills through records, reports, files, and many other things. It should be used in the classroom by teachers to personalize important documents and to keep an inventory of resources. Word processing, spreadsheets, and databases are all tools that can and should be incorporated into a successful classroom.
The classroom also is a place for teaching and learning task that planning and organizing tools can support for teachers and students. Material generators, graphic tools, content-area tools, planning and organizing tools, data collection and analysis tools, and research and reference tools all help to make the classroom more efficient. Recent developments of new and improved technology have improved the efficiency, productivity, and appearance of technology which allows for more accurate and time information to support sharing and interaction. Some teachers and students use generators such as rubrics, worksheets, PDF makers, and others for instruction materials. They can also use software to create lesson plans and outline tools and concepts. Some support tools are through GPS, GIS, and CAD systems. They can also use graphing calculators, probeware, and reading tools to support specific content areas. Students spend much of their time on electronic encyclopedias, atlases, and dictionaries to look up information. Teachers take information and organize it through electronic grade books, statistical packages, and information, testing, and response systems. I remember my high school English teacher introducing me to the many programs. She gave assignments that required research that also came with using content area tools. I want my students to know how to plan and organize, so I give them tasks to chart a shopping list or draw a map of the classroom. There is no doubt all of these tools can be utilized daily.