Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Six Tips for Using Technology to Help Lower-Level Learners

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Six Tips for Using Technology to Help Lower-Level Learners

Article excerpt

Making your classroom digital can enable learning in FE - enhancing vital digital life skills in the process

Since the FELTAG report was published in 2014, the use of technology and the idea of the 10 per cent of provision being delivered online has been high profile in FE and adult education (bit.ly/tesfeltag). However, despite the increased coverage and emphasis within providers, one of the aspects of the current focus on technology and digital learning that concerns me is the fact that it seems to be overwhelmingly focused on its use with those learners from level 1 and above.

Should we just not bother with technology for lower-level learners and stick with pens, paper and Post-It notes? Of course we shouldn't (although I'm as much a fan of the sticky note as most teachers). We just have to think about what is appropriate and effective. This is equally important for all technology use, but I wonder if it can sometimes be easier to "get away" with less principled planning of tech use at higher levels.

Here are a few tips and ideas to bear in mind when using technology in the classroom with lower-level learners.

Build in 'play time'

If you are introducing new technology in any form, it's crucial that you include time in your planning for the learners to play with the tech itself and get to grips with it.

You may have planned the most amazing activities, but if the students don't actually know how to use the app or tool that you have chosen, you will already be excluding a large number of learners and may be left wondering why things went pear-shaped. It may seem incredibly obvious, but it's also important that you know how your tech tools work too. Otherwise, you will look a little ridiculous when trying to explain tasks - even to the most enthusiastic learners.

Choose wisely and bed tech in

Think about what tools will be most effective for your learners and then use them regularly over a period of time.

This allows you and them to get used to the tools and get the most out of them. At my college, we have been using Edmodo a lot with our entry level Esol (English for speakers of other languages) learners, some of whom had never used a computer until coming to college. After a couple of weeks, they all know how to do the basics and expect to find tasks to complete on there. It's a wonderful thing to see a complete beginner posting a comment and then being able to see their classmates' replies and contributions.

Emphasise safety

Get learners thinking early on about digital literacy and online safety. …

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