What’s the best classroom technology?


January 6, 2011 by readlisaread

I was reading this post that @gcouros tweeted earlier tonight.  In it, Eric Sheninger asks the question “What is the most effective classroom technology?” (PS: his own choice is mobile learning devices –ie Cell phones).

As often happens, though, I was having a right-time/right-place moment and reflected on my Social Studies 9 class from earlier today.  It is my only “academic” block, and I teach it in my IT lab, and so far it’s been a good fit, as I can play movies for them, show them pictures, and video clips, and demo concept maps or page formatting, or whatever we are working on.

Today it happened that I was introducing the Industrial Revolution. I played a couple of short YouTube clips (including this great Horrible Histories one on Victorian Chimney sweeps) and then read them an excerpt from Oliver Twist.   Finally, I handed out the Official Textbook for the class and gave them a brief section to read and then a paragraph to write.  Here is the interesting part.  It happens that while the text for the course is a pretty good one (as far as texts go), today was the first day we actually used it.  For the first term, I had showed them several movies, and had done a lot of exploring and mapping and discussions in the class Moodle page. Somehow we had managed to go from September to January without cracking open the book.  What was interesting, though, is that I asked them to read a short section and write a paragraph. That’s actually not  the interesting part–the interesting part was their reaction to such an old skool approach.  They put their heads down and were quite engrossed in the activity.

So, to answer Eric’s question, I’d have to say that first the best technology is using a different approach every now and then, addressing those varied learning styles, sure, but also just affirming that learning happens in lots of ways, from lots of sources. And sometimes, the Best technology is what you have on hand–but how you present it is what makes the difference.

If I HAD to chose a piece of Actual Technology, something that required electricity, something that if that was ALL I had to use, every day, I would have to go with a computer that accesses the Internet, and an LCD projector. Now, I’m wondering if that reveals something about my needing to be in control and the Centre of attention? Hmmm!


  1. I love this post! You are completely correct. Textbooks CAN be a great tool for teaching and the students WILL grab ahold of it. However, if you’re in them every single day, they get bored. Great post!

  2. readlisaread says:

    Thanks Anthony! I guess the risk is in being afraid to step out of your comfort zone. If I were to think “Oh, this worked well– I’ll just stick with the books” soon enough, the kids would stop being engaged. The same thing could happen with computers–if everyday I gave them a research/write/report activity, it wouldn’t matter how shiny the machine, how flashy the software, repetitious, uninspiring activities beget uninspired results.

    The trick is how to keep it fresh. Hmmm!

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