Using the art stock of sugar paper enabled other “boards” to be developed; the forerunner of the working wall. Little is really new in education. It just gets recycled, as do the arguments about the relative merits of one approach or another.
While on my final teaching practice, the school had a unit for hearing impaired children. In this unit, I encountered both an overhead projector and the teacher was using a microphone early loop system. In this way, she was able to sit and face the children, so that they could see her face at all times. This observation has stayed with me throughout my career. I became conscious of turning my back on the children and developed an approach that allowed me to speak to writing, rather than writing and speaking at the same time. I wanted to see the children as my “audience”. The same issue arises with other boards.
The Banda machine, with it's accompanying acetate smell, was the staple copying facility for the first five years of teaching. If you got hold of coloured copy paper, that was a vey good day. Otherwise, all resources, such as work cards, were made by hand, so you thought hard about how useful they were.
With the arrival of the photocopier and acetate sheets, pictures could be copied to share with the whole class, which supported discussion. The photocopier, to me, is also a cause for concern, as it is very easy to make thirty copies, so there may be less thought put into resource creation/selection. It is too easy to "copy".
Linking with the overhead projector advantages, I am a fan of visualisers, linked to the whiteboard, to be able to “show and talk”, directly with the children.
The tape recorder supported the reading curriculum, as each child had their own tape and would spend a short time recording themselves and listening to their efforts. Over time, this became a record of progress and they took this home at the end of term to share. This could now be done with tablets and laptops, or with digital microphones.
PCs, laptops and tablets have all superseded earlier technology and, as most people know, there is always something new in technology. When equipping my school with laptops for the first time, it was decide that the philosophy would be to see them as an alternative to the exercise book, so that, at a desk, children could use one or the other, depending on the need. It was seen as a significant benefit that drafting and redrafting would be easier with laptops, with each draft printed and reflected on between sessions. It did occasionally fall down with some teachers using the laptops to get children to type “neat” versions for display, having done paper drafts.
The interactive whiteboard, enabling images from around the world to be brought into the classroom at the touch of a button, to share interactive reading books as guided reading, to share pre-prepared lessons as a “storyboard”, or to link an electronic microscope to look at small objects amongst a wide range of experiences, enhanced learning.
As in all things, some will have spent more time familiarising themselves with the potential uses and applications, while others want “bright ideas”, which in the wrong hands become classroom gimmicks.
So, looking at some simple principles from all this;
- Technology can support all aspects of teaching and learning, if used effectively.
- You buy hardware and software to add value to what you already offer.
- Technology can be expensive. To have it sit idle is a waste.
- Technology demands an alteration in teaching approach. New technology requires some familiarisation (play) time, if it is to be used effectively.
- In all things, teachers should be keeping up to date with change, as their learners will be experiencing these things at home.