Good technology can never replace good teaching, but it can certainly help to amplify students’ learning experience. It’s important to ensure that you and your students have a solid mastery of the tools you’re going to be using, and that those who don’t are given the help they need to catch up.
Take some time to determine what skills are necessary to excel in your classroom, and test your students on them early on.
Technology in the classroom
Many classes, of course, now have an online or digital component. Instructors have to worry about their own learning curve associated with mastering new digital tools. But what can’t be overlooked is the time it may take to ensure that every student has the skills they need to excel in a digital classroom.
For example, adult learners and non-traditional students may be the most technologically savvy students in the classroom, or they could be significantly behind. Similarly, in a very technologically demanding course, such as graphic design or coding, possessing just an average level of technical literacy may hold students back.
So, it’s important to determine if your students will be able to successfully work through there assignments, examinations, and whatever other digital requirements that will be expected of them. And simply asking them may not be sufficient.
Determine what types of digital technology will be used in your classroom, and then decide the minimum skill-set that your students should have to get started. This information can be made available on the syllabus or even the course description as students are initially signing up.
Technical skills may vary widely from school to school. Technical institutes may not need to spell out that students should know how to format text, use message boards online, or utilize character counts, because they are all expected to know this. However, a continuing education program, which welcomes learners of all backgrounds, may need to take the time to determine those skills.
Assess your students
There are infinite ways to test for the skills required to excel in your classroom. After a quick assessment, students that struggle may observe these challenges themselves and become motivated to spend a little extra time building these skills. Some simple skills that may need testing in intro classes might be:
- Character/word limit
- Text formatting
- Navigating between browser tabs
- Online research
However, technical skills are unique to each course and discipline. Some skills in an advanced level graphic design course may include:
- Design software
- IT skills
- Web design
Take a few moments to test students on what is necessary for your classroom. Have them dive into the required software, programs, or websites to complete some basic tasks with the tools. Observe which students may simply need a quick refresher to get them up to speed, and which may require some additional tutoring in order to keep them from falling behind.
If it’s early enough in the semester, there may also be time to recommend students drop your course in favor of a course that will better prepare them for yours if you feel they are too far behind to catch up.