July 27, 2017

With the new year already strongly on the way, a lot of teachers are finding themselves in the strange position where personal devices have invaded their classroom. Whether it is phones or tablets or laptops, the fact is that it is a game changer. Suddenly you have to deal with a myriad of new problems (and opportunities)  What a way to make you feel uncomfortable in your own classroom. We have been using tablets in some of our classes for two years now, here are the top tips our teachers share on how to manage personal devices in your class.

You are not alone. Lots of teachers have been where you are, felt what you feel and came out on top. And you can learn from them.

  • Always remember that you are the teacher in the class and you make the rules. If you tell them to put the tablet away, it should be put away immediately.
  • If something can be done just as well with pen and paper, it should be done with pen and paper.
  • Just because learners have access to devices, does not mean it has to be used it in every lesson. Like most things in life, if you overuse it, it loses it effectiveness.
  • If you are not planning to use the tablets in the next 10-15 minutes, tablets should be face down on their desk. (A standing tablet is a guarantee that they will be distracted. If they are not going to use them at all in the lesson, tell them at the start of the lesson not to take the tablets out.)
  • You never sit down, while your learners are working on their devices, whether they are working from ebooks, doing some research or busy with an activity. I was taught a teacher never sits down while there are kids in the class, this rule applies even more when they are on tablets.
  • Never compute in public.” Try not to look for files, or post things on Classroom while the learners are waiting. That is the perfect time for them to get up to nonsense. Have all your files open and programs running before the lesson.
  • There are definitely some minuses to having tablets in class, make sure that you use the tablets enough that the pluses cancel out the minuses.
  • If learners are using the devices actively, they are less likely to use them to play games or check social media.
  • Notifications on devices is a real distraction. Whenever you are not using the tablets insist that they are face-down on the learner’s desk. That prevents them from being distracted every time a message comes in, and teach them a valuable life lesson.
  • Consider letting learners work two-to-one (two learners on one device) not only does this encourage conversation, but it prevents learners from going off task. When you are working alone on your device, it is easy to swop over and check your email or Facebook. When you are working with somebody, you are less likely to do that.
  • If you want learners to use digital sources (ebooks, websites) give them a hard copy of the worksheet to write on. If you want them to complete an electronic worksheet, give them hard copy sources. It is very difficult to constantly swop between two apps.
  • Be consistent. If you post notes electronically, post all the notes electronically. Otherwise, learners get confused between there hard copy and electronic notes.
  • Think carefully before you give learners access to your notes. There are lots of value in copying notes down in your own words.
  • eBooks tend not to have page numbers, teach learners to make use of the Table of Contents to find something.
  • Kids might be good with social media, but they do not know how to work on their devices, help them to manage and organise their notes.
  • Always have a plan B. Wifi, devices, power all have the tendency to fail once in a while.

I hope these top tablet tips make your transition into the world of eLearning more comfortable.If you have some tips that you found worked very well, add them in the comments below. Let’s help each other and share our experience.

Do you have any tablet tips to share with us? How do you manage technology in the class? Or maybe you are just starting out. What questions and fears do you have about this new stuff in your class?

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