In December 2014, I was honored to be named in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2015/16. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “What lessons can teachers offer to designers of software for the classroom?” – here is my response:
Teachers are designers; they design not only the curriculum they teach but also how their classroom works. They are constantly making changes to suit the diverse range of students in their classroom every day.
In the same way, a car company wouldn’t put their product on the road without in depth testing and analysis from the people that use their product, designers of software for schools follow the same process. The best place to edit and improve the success of a product for education is by testing it in the classroom with the people who will be using it.
Image Source: http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/articles/technology/technology/2014/06/140605_TECH_ClassroomTablets.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge.jpg
By getting into the classroom, designers get to see how teachers and students think and how their minds work. This can only be experienced, not shared or told.
Breaking down barriers is what education is all about. I am passionate about global connections and breaking down the four walls of a classroom to engage students in online learning opportunities. In my opinion, companies need to go beyond offering beta testing of products and meet with educators face to face and truly experience how their product works.
These are the top 6 lessons I believe teachers have to offer designers of software for the classroom:
- Personalize the journey – As educators, we differentiate and personalize learning for our students. The best tools that I use personalize the students learning journey. The more personal an app or game is, the more engaged both students and teachers are!
- The ability to change plans on the go – Students learn quickly and teachers have to adapt “plans” to suit their needs. Software designers need to see how this ‘adapting’ occurs firsthand so they can include these ideas in their software.
- Ask any computer programmer what excites them and they’ll talk about the excitement they feel in creating things that are successful. It is only right for us to place computer programmers in the same creative group as sculptors, writers, and painters. They need to be given the opportunity to see this firsthand in a classroom setting.
- The process a teacher follows when planning a lesson or unit – How much detail goes into the “why”. Justify, justify, justify …. If it won’t improve student learning in some direct or indirect way, then why include it …
- Student voice – an area that I am SO passionate about. Students are more engaged in learning when they have a say in how it happens!
- Be social – people are social creatures and need to be able to connect and engage. I love software that involves some form of communication or the ability to interact and engage students more in learning. That is why teachers are starting to see the benefit of using social tools like Twitter in their classrooms (click here to read more about twitter in the classroom).