What Keeps Teachers Up at Night?

Do you identify with these sentiments from Ontario educators about technology in the classroom? From connectivity to accessibility to devices per student, read about the key issues that concern these today’s K-12 teachers.

Nathan Karstulovich (Durham District School Board), Lisa Noble (Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board) and Heather Teheijsmeijer (Rainbow District School Board) filled out the ORION K-12 Teacher Survey and won UbiSlate tablets for their classrooms — one more way to show that ORION is here to support the emergence of digital learning across all of Ontario’s classrooms.

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Do you find that certain lessons benefit more from the use of technology than others?

Nathan: Absolutely! Some lessons need that technology as an engagement piece and the technology can really help as a visual. On the other hand, technology can be distracting for some lessons. Sometimes, students will get so bogged down by trying to use the technology, such as laptop programs, that they do not focus on the actual lesson.

Lisa:¬†Technology is very helpful when¬†I can allow my students to go into small groups, or work to share a device and contribute to a brainstorming session, or research a question we’re all working on. However, I also use my SMART board for full-class lessons, and let students interact with websites or manipulatives on the board. I tend to try and make the use of technology seamless in my classroom–if we’re notetaking, some are writing with pencil and paper, while others are typing on their devices (and they can email their notes to themselves, print it out and create a hard copy).

Heather: I think all lessons can benefit in some way from the use of technology, but in very different ways. Learning basic skills, such as math, becomes much easier due to the versatility of technological resources. There are a great many entry points for a lesson, and tons of ways to practice and reinforce concepts through interactive quizzes, games, collaboration–you could almost replace a traditional lesson with technology! Some lessons, though, such as hands-on labs, are tough to replace with technology. But you can enhance them, for example, getting students to use a slow-motion camera app in a motion lab.

Tell us one thing you would change about the technology in your classroom today.

Nathan: It needs work at all times. Too often, the Board server is down or websites are blocked. If we can’t count on it working, [the technologically enhanced lessons] are not worth planning for.

Lisa: Providing 1:1 functional hardware would be amazing. As a Core French teacher, it is sometimes challenging to find lab time, get access to netbooks (when they’re functional), or have ability to set up each child with a device.

Heather: If I could have more bandwidth (faster speed, more reliable connection), I would be a very, very happy teacher.

Roadblocks to eLearning

What one thing keeps you awake at night about your current eLearning situation?

Nathan: Putting technology in the hands of all students.

Lisa: The fact that very few teachers are choosing to incorporate any blended learning in their classrooms.

Heather: So much is based on online resources. What do I do if the Internet doesn’t work tomorrow (or, more likely, cuts out part way through the class!)?

Tomorrow’s Classroom, Today

Would your ideal classroom have better connectivity or more devices?

Nathan: More devices is important. I have the devices but it can be hard to get them into students’ hands.

Lisa: I have pretty good connectivity. Being able to have consistently functional devices would be a huge deal. We have a netbook cart, but there are always issues with start-up time, netbooks improperly shutting down, Wi-Fi access not turned on, and just the general wear-and-tear within a classroom environment. A mix of devices, which would work consistently, even at a 1:2 ratio, would be amazing.

Heather: Can I say, both? I’m always looking for ways to get all students connected, namely, more devices to students from a lower socio-economic area, as not everyone has access to a device, AND make sure that once they have the devices, they can actually get connected.

What is one service you wish existed for your classroom, but currently does not?

Nathan: The ability to evaluate and unblock websites.

Lisa: A safe environment or network in which to set up real-world French/English contacts for my students.

For more insight on the digital advancements and challenges among K-12 teachers in Ontario, read “Teachers Speak: Technology in the Classroom,” our K-12 report which details the full findings of this teacher survey.