5 tips to transform education in the classroom
We asked our National Technologist, Damon Kahi to share his insights on how to apply tech in the classroom for maximum student engagement at minimum cost.
Share the expense
Damon’s number one tip is for schools to start talking to each other.
From 3D printers to laser cutters, each is rarely in use for a full term. Instead of budgeting for both, talk to your neighbouring schools to see if they’d be interested in sharing the costs. It’s then just a matter of managing a timetable so there’s no overlapping of classes and everyone gets a fair share of equipment.
Know your budget
The second tip is to find out what your class has an allowance for.
“We’ve had feedback from teachers that they’ve put requests in for equipment, but have no idea whether they have budget allocated for such expenses.”
Damon also suggests that whatever equipment you do purchase to ensure that it has at least three uses and even better if it can be utilised across different subjects. ”All it takes is to be creative with lesson plans.”
Experiment with cost-effective tech.
Damon recommends looking into small, hand-held devices such as micro:bits, which were developed specifically to encourage Year 6+ students to learn programming in a tactile way.
“Costing less than $30, micro:bits are tiny handheld programmable computers with small LED lights which can flash messages. They also have motion sensors and can be hooked up to devices through Bluetooth and cables.”
For younger students, Damon suggests teaching through electronics by optimising motors to build things like scribble bots and wobble bots.
Invest in your own computers
Spend time figuring out ways to subsidise for computers in the classroom and optimise browser-based software that’s free to use.
“We’re living in a digital age, it’s never been easier to create and save projects. Plus most of the programmes we’re using are open-source, with the added bonus of having an online community that can help you. Plus since it’s browser-based, students can continue their learning at home.”
Damon suggests trying out these free software programs to encourage students to engage with digital tools for learning:
- Tinkercad.com – An easy-to-use app for 3D design
- Scratch – Introduction to learning code and making games
- App Inventor – Software to help build fully functional apps
Encourage parents and caregivers to donate their old electronics and utilise them for an e-waste collection that supports creativity and inventiveness in the classroom.
“There are so many things you can do with older systems. You can unpack them, get the motor out and plug them into a battery to create a robot, or just let students be inventors and see what they can come up with. It’s a great way to encourage student-led activity.”
From networking outside your school area to utilising recycled devices and optimising open-source programmes – these are just some of the economical ways to explore tech in the classroom. If you have any tips you’d like to share we’d love to hear from you – contact firstname.lastname@example.org.