Introducing technology into education is a great idea to motivate students and sometime simplify teaching actions. But there is a crucial problem evolving in our school concerning the use of technology. Teachers and institutions are all introducing different tools and platform for students to use so it can simplify their studies, but, in fact, it becomes confusing and frustrating for the students because information is getting lost in the process. Some teachers use social networks or discussion boards with news feed, the problem is that they act like a trunk where you stuff a lot of information; it quickly becomes disorganized. The news feed system is great for hobbies, photo sharing and chitchat but not for an information storage like students need. Another problem is that students are asked to use too many different tools, in one class they use facebook, in another tweeter, they receive information by emails in others, this is a situation that I am currently living and it is frustrating. Well the solution might be using forums regrouping everything a student needs to access for his studies.
The most important point is that the institution and all the teachers must agree on ONE tool to use for giving out informations to student. Here is a simplified example of what you can use to do so:
Imagine a single class of sixth grader in intensive english. The teacher want a way to reach them virtually and give them digital information. The most efficient way to do it is by setting a class forum. Here is an exhaustive list of pros about setting up a classroom forum but some of it may include: a way for students to ask questions outside of school time, forums are professional and user friendly in order to find the wanted information, they are intuitive to use, they are a great way to share information, all the needed information is gather in the same place and organized. Members of the forum can be notified through their email or smartphones of forum activity so they can keep up. In other words, they have the pros of social networking without the cons.
Forum motion a simple tool for teachers to set up a forum. It regroups all the options you need to create a forum followed by explanation and tutorial such as : creating categories and sub-forum, security parameters (who can write in wich sections), appearance and customization, calendar tools, internal mail settings and much more. Here is a simple example of what you can do, I made this forum in under 15 minutes.
Like I said before, the most important thing to keep in mind when using technology in a classroom context is : Am I simplifying the life of my students and motivating them? If the answer to one part of this question is no you shouldn’t try it.
If we scale up to highschool or higher education then the institution should set up a portal or platform to regroup all the different subjects. But in this case, you need a lot more ressources then I can give you. But if you want to read on the subject, moodle is a free portal service for schools if you already have a domain.